Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Easy Alphabet Re-Coloring

Alphas are one of the most versatile, but sadly under-appreciated tools in digital scrap-booking. In this simple tutorial you'll see how easy it is to re-color an alpha (in effect, creating a new alpha!). I am using PSE11 in my tutorial, so if you are using a different program, the screen might look slightly different for you.

I loved the hand-drawn look to the alpha in Celeste's School is Cool kit, and wanted to duplicate the look she created in the kit's word art. Here's the layout I created using the kit, re-coloring the alpha in the word art:

Like most things digital, there is more than one way to re-color an element. In this method we're going to use one of my favorite tools, the magic wand. Open the letter or element you want to re-color in your program.

Step 1: Click on the magic wand tool on the left tool bar. With the letter layer selected, click your cursor down in the middle of the solid part of the letter. This will start the marching ants, which tells you that is the section of the png that the program will target.

Step 2: Add and select a layer above your letter or element layer. With the marching ants still marching, click on Select on the top tool bar, then click on modify, contract, and then a box pops up to determine the number of pixels by which you want the image contained within the marching ants to contract. I used 5 pixels for my sample, which left a nice black border similar to the letters in Celeste's word art in this kit.

Step 3: With the blank layer above your alpha or element selected, click on the paint bucket. Make sure your foreground color is the color you want to use to re-color the element. Then click down on the screen within the marching ants to "paint" the section of the alpha or element that is in the contracted marching ants from step 2. How cool is that?!

Step 4: You may need to clean up the stray pixels a bit using the eraser tool. I prefer to create a layer mask on the color layer, so that if I erase too much I can easily correct the mistake without having to repeat steps 1-3 to re-create the color layer.

Click on the mask tool above the layers palette, make sure the foreground color is set to white, then click on the eraser tool. Pick a small, hard round brush, then click once more within the mask in the layers palette (to ensure you are erasing using the mask), then use the eraser tool to erase the stray pixels on your image.

Last step: You will want to link the color layer to your original alpha or element, so that when you move the alpha on the screen, the color will stay in place.

Have fun!

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