Heart shaped mask using Elements

We show you how to create an attractive heart effect in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

| Portraits and People
Words & Pictures Peter Bargh

We often get the chance to be a guest at a wedding, maybe even asked to take the photographs. If you want to make the images you've taken have that extra special look you can apply effects using an image editing program, in this case Photoshop Elements. We will use the shape tool to create a heart shaped vignette and turn the result into a card.

Heart shaped mask using Elements

1 Open Photoshop Elements and look at the toolbar that appears on the left. The fourth tool down on the left hand column is the Shape tool.

2 Click this and select Custom Shape Tool from the drop down list. This bring up the shape menu bar along the top of the screen.

3 Click on the arrow at the side of the Shape box to bring up a selection of options and choose the Heart.

Heart shaped mask using Elements

4 Click on the color square at the right of the strip on the top bar and select pure white (R255 G255 B255).

5 Click on the top left of the photo where you want the heart to start and drag holding down on the mouse to the bottom right. Keep holding the mouse down and you will see a heart shaped selection appear. You can reshape this while ever you're holding down on the mouse. When you are happy with the location let go and the selection will fill with the white foreground colour.

Heart shaped mask using Elements

6 If you now display the Layers palette you will see the custom Shape has appeared as a new layer with two icons. The left one is the adjustment mode which in this case is a white colour. Clicking here allows you to change the colour, but we don't need to. The right hand icon is a mask. Areas in grey are masked so the layer below is not affected. Areas in white allow the upper layer to show to the bottom one giving us the white heart.

7 Right click on the Shape1 icon and choose Select Layer Transparency. This places a selection around the white heart shape.

8 Now press the delete key or backspace to remove the white leaving just the selection. Notice the shape layer has gone and the selection is now on the background layer.

9 Create a new layer by clicking on the Create a new Layer icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

9 Go to the Select menu and choose Inverse to change the selection from the heart to the background.

10 To avoid a hard edged vignette we will soften the edge using the Feather tool. This is accessed from the Select menu and allows you to vary the softness by entering the Feather Radius. The setting is a matter of preference but as a starting point set a value to 1% of the width of your picture (in our case 10 pixels)


Heart shaped mask using Elements

11 Make sure the foreground colour is set to the colour you intend to have as a surround, in our case white (X key toggles black towhite)andgoto Edit>Fill. As we are using white we can select this orblackfromtheContents>Use drop down list. The foreground or background colour can also be selected from here. Click okay and the surround to the heart will be filled with the colour of your choice with a subtle soft edge around the heart.

Heart shaped mask using Elements

11 It's at this stage you can see whether you placed the heart in the right spot and at the best size earlier. Don't worry if you didn't, it's easy to change. Select to the Move tool (top right icon in the tool bar) and click anywhere in the image. Hold and drag to reposition the heart aperture over the picture. When it looks right let go.

12 Now flattentheimage-Layer>Flatten Image. You may be left with a heart that isn't in the middle of the picture and a strip of background running across or down one edge. So use the crop tool to remove excess waste and ensure the heart is in the centre of the page. You could allow more space at the bottom for a caption (see below).


Heart shaped mask using Elements

13 By positioning the heart at the top two thirds of the page you will leave space for a caption to go below. Select the Type tool indicated in the tool bar with a letter T and choose a suitable font that has a had written style. Type in a few words and then use the move tool to reposition the type so it's central.

14 Print out on high quality paper and present to couple. Or reduce in size and make a web page for the happy duo.

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