The Progressive Page

Welcome to “the progressive page.” In this column we take a good, basic page layout, then take it to the intermediate level, and finally to the advanced level. With each step we show you how more advanced tools and techniques can add to a page. This month we feature a layout by Editorial Board member Anna Aspnes. The image at right is Anna's final page. Read below to find out how she got there.

Materials: Photoshop (Adobe) • paper, alpha, journal block from “Orchid Row” kit, “Touch Up Paint Brushes” by Katie Pertiet; “Always Corner Brushes,” “Paisley Forest Overlays” by Mary-Ann Wise ( • white notebook paper from “Book Bag Essentials” kit by Gina Cabrera ( • “Spider Brush” by Anna Aspnes • Dream Orphans and SlabserifXhigh fonts

Software: Photoshop CS2

There’s more to spring than Easter and the flowers bursting into bloom. This was my inspiration for my “Immaculate” page, which describes how I feel about spring right now.
I assembled the basic page using a neutral paper and simple elements with the addition of a Drop Shadow Layer Style to create dimension. (Realistic Drop Shadows have a maximum distance and size of 3 pixels and are gray as opposed to black.) I like to place digital elements behind and in front of my photos for visual interest. To move and resize the three photos simultaneously, I selected all three photo layers in the Layers palette at the same time. I used brushes to complement the title and complete the page.

Anna’s basic page layout.

A simple way to add complexity is by experimenting with Blending Modes. These are located in the Layers palette in a drop-down menu (the default is Normal). Blending Modes create cool effects by changing how one layer’s light qualities are mixed with the qualities of the layer beneath it.

Location of Blending Modes in the Layers palette

Experiment with Blending Modes to get a feel for when and how to use them. You can scroll through them by pressing the DOWN ARROW. Select each one to try it, and then use the Undo command (CTRL+Z) if you don’t want to keep the effect. You can also add these modes to digital elements on top of a photo to change the photo’s appearance.
For example, I applied the Multiply mode to the top photo and script layer to allow my background paper to show through. I used the Color Burn mode on the middle photo to "burn" the image onto my background, and I added the Overlay mode to the journaling block layer on top of the bottom photo to lighten it. I also added Pin Light mode to the notepaper layerto add subtle interest.
Often when you apply a Blending Mode, some of the image details can become either lost or too vivid. You can use the Burn tool in the former to darken areas of an image or the Dodge tool to lighten them. Both tools work the same way as the Brush tool, in that you can adjust their size, hardness and opacity.

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