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Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Lesson 2 of 20

Conceptualize & Narrow Down a Theme

Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel

Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers

Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel

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Lesson Info

2. Conceptualize & Narrow Down a Theme

Lesson Info

Conceptualize & Narrow Down a Theme

Conceptualization for a layout. Conceptualization simply means that you're brainstorming, okay. It's not that hard. It is hard if you don't do it. (laughing) If you don't put some thought into it. But really it's about thinking, "Okay, "what do I want my final piece to look like? "Where am I going with that?" I suggest doing that before you sit down at your computer to create a composite based page. You have to put into some idea what your thought's going to be, and how you're going to get it done. Now, this is a very simple process, but lemme break it down. I like to think of it as mentally visualizing. I'm just sitting here goin', "Oh man, that would be really cool." That's how it, I just do that, like that. I think of a scene or a background that I really want to create and surround my subject. So, I want to ask you guys. I'm gonna ask you guys in the audience here. What kind of visual stories do you think about telling? What is something that you would want to see as a conceptualiz...

ed piece? Anybody want to jump in and discuss? I travel quite a lot. Well, relatively to other people I guess. And so I would love to be able to tell stories about everything that I encounter when I like visit new cultures, and meet new people, and get to explore new places. Okay, that's good. So if you had a particular page that you would want to create, like where's one place that you've loved that you went? Well... I'm leaving San Francisco August 31st, so I would love to do something of like closure kind of thing. Okay. Okay, so when I think of San Francisco, which it's my first time here, I think of a lot of the landmarks, you know, that I visited. So I would conceptualize a page that had a bridge in it, you know. What are some of the other ones. I haven't even seen them that would be a great landmark, in your mind. Well I see the Transamerica Pyramid from my window, so that's one that's in my mind all the time. Uh huh, okay. And I really love the Palace of Fine Arts because it's a beautiful space. Yeah. And there's... Some others that are not landmarks, but are nearby to where I live. Okay. Like... So your page would be really big. (laughing) But that's cool. That's cool. She has an idea of all of these things that she would need to create, and composite together on her page. She has to figure out where the photos are gonna come from. She has to figure out all the small spaces that's gonna fill the gaps. What are the thematic things that need to be used to create the page? Including photos of yourself, right? Yeah, maybe. Maybe not. Okay. All right. No problem. Thank you Laura. Anybody else who wants to chime in. So I think about food, a lot. Oh yeah. And I actually love going to the farmer's market too, and I love photographing like fresh fruits and vegetables, you know, because I just think there's so much natural beauty. Yeah. And you really can capture at angles and certain lights, and it doesn't really even look like the vegetable. It looks like something else. Oh that's awesome. So what kind of background would you want to use, maybe if you were thinking about having pictures of food in there? Good question, huh? Yeah, Yeah. I'd have to think about that 'cause there's different ones. There's the natural background where it came from. There's also a table, right? And there's sort of rustic or... Right. I mean there are actually lots, I guess it really depends on the food too. Yeah. Yeah. 'Cause if you're doing like vegetables, you could do farmland. I mean, you could really go out of your way trying to figure out the background for it. So, thank you Jen. So, conceptualizing is as simple as that. Is really putting together all of the things, but I like to take it a little step further, and say, "Okay, yes I can think of the food, "and I can think of San Francisco, and I can go there, "and make it simple." And that's cool. You can also go well beyond that piece (laughing), and go above and beyond. So, it gives you a chance to make it simple. It gives you a chance to super charge it and make it really big. Some of the examples. I think of simple and the difference between simple and supercharged is if you have some kids and they're doing a tea party. You instead make it into a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. So you put the Mad Hatter hat on one of the kiddos, and then you add a Cheshire Cat in the background or something like that, you know, really fun stuff. Or, you can take pictures of a beach and water and add a wild ocean and sharks and a tornado water spout in the background. Which is something I would do. It would be ridiculous. You can go above and beyond, but if you're just simply looking at the smaller aspects and saying, "Well I could do this, but what would be the extreme?" If I boosted this super power up, what would be the extreme? Then find somewhere in the middle, okay? Doesn't have to be too simple. Doesn't have to be too complex either. The waterspout idea probably is a little bit over the top, I know, I'm sorry. But you can come somewhere in the middle, where maybe there is a wild ocean. There's more ways than what you added. So there's a lot of different ways to conceptualize it together. You're just limited to your imagination when it comes to it. So I would says as a scrapbooker, go overboard, you know, when you're conceptualizing things. Just don't start simply. Figure out what would be the extreme and then work your way down. Okay, I also like to use movie posters and artistic scenes. So things that you've seen. My favorite is like the Leonardo DiCaprio, the Titanic scene, he's at the boat you know? And if I ever have boat photos, you guys know that I'm compositing a page that's gonna have somebody standing on a boat (laughing), okay? So television ideas, movie ideas, artistic scenes that you see, and the scream. If you can create all of that vibration in the background with colors and things. Those are still compositing ideas where you're taking one aspect, different images, and putting them into a single piece. You're rebuilding the piece. But to do that, you're gonna need supportive stuff. You're gonna need help. You can't just design everything. I'm gonna show you how to design a couple of things that you typically will use. The sunburst seems to be the most regular one. So we're gonna do that one. But I like to have some help, who doesn't? (laughing) First thing, if you're already ready. If you're already a digital scrapbooker, going inside of kits and looking for your favorite kits is probably the first place to go. I do know some... Wonderful, fantastic kit designers, who design fantasy style. So if you love that fantasy style look with the faeries and the mushrooms and the flowers, there's some really good people who do that. One of my favorites is Lorie Davison if you want to write her name down and Google her. Lorie Davison. She does some really amazing stuff, and she is in the digital scrapbooking industry. But that will help you, if you don't want to build everything from scratch. However, you can, okay? You can go out of your way and look in stuff that you have, and you might be surprised. Your own photos are a resource too, so if you have photos of cars or airplanes such as I did in my layout with my son here. This is an actual photo that I have of an airplane. I didn't have to go too far to look at it. We're from, you know, we're military, and we live near a military base, and so this plane is part of a military base that we're always seeing. It's a, in a, in the boneyard of planes where they go to retire them. And they give the public free access to look at the planes. So if you go to a museum or something like that. All of them, you can use those photos. You may not want to extract it, but you can blend it into the background. Those are ways that you can add content to your page so you're not just kinda going, "Well, where, what else "should I add to my page. "How am I going to explore this page a little bit more. "If I want to build a tiny hero, what other concepts "or images do I need to add to the layout?" So this guy right here, was part of my photos that I already owned, and so I didn't have to go looking in a kit or looking online, or trying to figure out what to do. It was already available. So definitely look through your stuff for cars and airplanes, pools, buildings, roller coasters. I want to do a layout with the rollercoaster coming through, and maybe make the car kind of spin off into the background, and looks like it's falling off the rollercoaster. That would be awesome! But add to the story visually, so you probably already have a lot of content and don't have to dig through it. When we're conceptualizing pages, unless you're doing like a fantasy style layout, reality, the reality of your photos and what you photograph will work better in your pages. I didn't want to use a comic book illustration or a line art illustration of a plane. I needed to use a real plane. What better way to go, than using my own photo of a plane, okay? The internet of course is gonna be your friend. I suggest starting with the Google of course, and... With Google you're gonna find some stuff you can use, at least personally it'll be a lot easier. And so, for example, with my layout I wanted to use a flag. I needed to find a flag. I needed to find one that was with reuse, obviously. And Wikipedia has images up there that will have Creative Commons license that can help. So here's our Google page here. We can search the tools. We can show the sizes so that we can see how big something needs to be. If you're looking through Google and you're looking for images, you at least want them to be 1,000, 1,500, maybe even 2,000 pixels. These are in pixel sizes. The little black bars that you see when you look for sizes. If it's too small, then it's gonna be too small on your layout. It's gonna be a web version. You need something that's going to work for a 3, pixel size page if it's gonna be 12 inches at least. So this flag, which has 4,491 pixels by 3,361 pixels works perfectly because it's gonna be big enough and it's not gonna look pixelated or rastered on my final layout. You can also search those tools by just going to the size. It usually will say lot size and you can say large, and so you can filter down your results to get what you're looking for. And then with this flag, who I had to name the credit as well, in this instance was Jnn13. But this is a credit in that we can use it because he's provided to Wikipedia and said, "Hey, "Creative Commons and do what you will." You know? So you can really find these types of things, and unlike mixed-media where you're trying to look for something that's already extracted. In this particular instance, I'm looking for something that has a background because it makes it easier to blend. It would be nice if it was a PNG, but it doesn't have to be, so don't feel like you have to find something that's already extracted. You can work with things that are not extracted all the time for compositing. We're gonna talk about that. Of course, searching royalty free stock images in the public domain is still another good way to do it, especially if it's free. And so, like I said yesterday, this is a really good resource site to take a look at and see what you can find. You'll find them all over the web, okay?

Class Description

Scrapbooking is the experience of pulling together disparate elements of your life and creating stories that could never otherwise exist. And yet scrapbooking in the physical medium still limits your creative scope to what exists in the real world. Digital scrapbooking removes that barrier. By mastering the practice of compositing your personal photos, you can build fantastical, entirely impossible scenes around your favorite subject material.

Join Tiffany Tillman-Emanuel for this intermediate-level class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to develop and digitally sketch a theme for the page.
  • How to find and gather complementary photos for the fantasy theme.
  • How to use graphic design principles to improve the overall aesthetic of the final page.

Fantasy composites are difficult digital effects to create, and require the confident use of a photo editor. Tiffany will walk you through implementing the right kinds of blend modes and adjustment layers for different compositing results. You’ll learn her tips and techniques for creating quality selections and extractions, and applying them to your composited photos. Add new dimensions to your scrapbooking practice. Transform the things you love, and send them into worlds that exist only in your imagination.

Purchase to get the in-depth Compositing for Digital Scrapbookers workbook. The workbook includes step-by-step instructions on digitizing media, altering elements in Photoshop, and so much more!

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Blending Practice Files

Cosmic Girl Working Files

Exclusive Bonus for Students

Outter Space Papers

Tiny Hero Working Files


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I was in Tiffany's Mixed Media class and was also lucky enough to be in this class. Tiffany is an AWESOME instructor and well organized. Her Mixed Media class was a great building block for this class. The class is well worth the money--well organized workbook and other great bonuses. If you want to take your scrapbooking to the next artistic level, I highly recommend Tiffany's two classes at CreativeLivel.

a Creativelive Student

Great course with easy to understand ways of blending more than one photo together for a great composite layout. Excellent materials and workbooks.. Thanks Tiffany for a wonderful class! - Christa (cfile)

E.L. Bl/Du

I think Tiffany is good at explaining it so those who arent pro photgraphers can start at the basics to learn photoshop. I really liked watching this even tho my vision is in another direction, I like how she explains how to get there in photoshop. She makes it not so scary to jump in. She is clever mom too, every parent wants their own kids to be a star and she surely did that. What a neat thing to "scrapbook" the photos. I liked learning adjustment layers, would like more in curves too. But great place to start out in ps. I recommend if your lost in PS.