Nitwit Digital School Lesson 2: Learning Photoshop Elements

Posted By on Jan 28, 2013 | 3 comments


I hope that you have all had a good week since our first lesson, and had a chance to get your program loaded onto your computer.   In today’s lesson, let’s get to having some fun…..enough of the minutiae of getting going……let’s create!

First off, let’s open up Photoshop Elements (I’ll refer to it as PE from now on to reduce the words here).  You should have a blank screen that looks like this……….( You can click on any image in this post to make it larger and easier to see)


Let’s explore what all of these things are.  Not to worry that it looks like a lot of stuff because as I mentioned before, PE is easy enough to use if you are just starting out and has so many features that you will be able to be an expert and still use this program.  Here are some descriptions of the main areas that we will use (don’t worry that your Tools bar looks a little different from mine, I just prefer to have this view of it)


Now all of these “Labels” for these areas are not just to make you smart when you’re talking to your friends, but will make it easier when I am describing things later on in this and other lessons.  Take a look around at all of these areas.  Go over to the Tools Bar and place your cursor over each of them……it will bring up the name of the tool.  Now you have more info…..look at how smart you are becoming!!  Now click and hold down your left mouse button on the “T” or Text Tool in your Tool Bar.  See the new menu that pops up; it gives you many more options.  You will see some of the tools with a little triangle in the lower right corner of the tool icon.  This means that there are more optional tools in this one, and all you have to do is to press and hold your left mouse button in order to bring these additional tools up.  In order to access one of these additional tools, while you are pressing and holding down your left mouse button, simply move your mouse over the tool you want, it will highlight, and you will then let go of your mouse button and it will bring up this tool.  It will also now change the icon in your tool bar to that tool.

If you take a look at the top of the screen where I have labeled the Main Resource Bar.  This is where you open a new project, can open a previously worked on file, and many, many, many, many (OK I think you get the idea) more options.  We will use and talk about some of them in future lessons.

Let’s start by creating a new digital scrapbooking layout.  If you are following along and are making a card, everything will be identical in these lessons other than your project size.  All other methods of creating, placement, and features will be exactly the same.

In order to start a new project take a wander up to your Main Resource Bar in PE and click on File.  You will now have a flyout menu that comes up, and you will want to choose “New” and hold your cursor on this and another menu will show up.  Please choose “Blank File”.  You will now see this window come up on your screen……


You will have different values than the ones you see in my screen shot.  Please change the Width to 12 and click on the word pixels where you will want to choose inches.  Next, change the Height to 12 and change pixels to inches.  Now change the resolution from 72 to 300(this will give you excellent print quality vs. leaving it at 72 which is web quality).  Lastly, in the Background Contents you will want to choose Transparent rather than white as this allows for transparent files to be used such as with a photo card, etc. and is easier to work with.  Once you have made these changes, simply press the OK button at the top right of the window and presto, and new blank 12 x 12 page will appear on your screen.  If you are making a card you can change the sizes from 12 x 12 to 4.25 x 5.5 or whatever size of card you would like.  The same goes for a digital scrapbooking layout, you may want to make the width 8.5 and the height 11 so in case you do not have a wide format printer, and wanted to print out your finished layout.   I think you can see that I’m really not a Little General, look at me giving you all of these options to chose what suits you best!ha,ha

For the creation of this layout I am using our new Always & Forever Collection but you can use whichever kit you would like and follow along step by step to create your first Digital Scrapbooking Layout or Digital Card.  Please choose the Move Tool from your Tools Panel (the first tool).

Photoshop Elements makes things easy to “drag and drop” your images into the program.  We will add them one at a time.  Go to your computer and navigate through your computer (by pressing on your Folder on your lower task bar on your computer screen, not in Photoshop Elements) to get you to the folder with your FQB – Always & Forever Collection or whichever kit you are using.  Now choose the bg_lace_maryfran paper in the FQB folder by pressing and holding down your left mouse button on top of the paper.  While holding down your left mouse button, drag that piece of paper onto your PE screen onto an area which is NOT your new project page.  You will now see your paper on your screen in a new tab and also at the bottom of your PE screen in your Project Bin like the photo below.


Your screen should look like mine.  If not, just reread the last paragraph…….it may look like I have written in Swahili but just take it one step at a time and it will happen for you!

The next step, which will always be the step when you add a new element or paper to PE is to choose the first tab at the top of your workspace to display your working page (which currently is your blank page).  Now while your blank page is on your screen, grab the paper from your Project Bin and drag it onto the blank page.  TIP:  If you press and hold down your Shift key on your keyboard while doing this, it will place your image in the exact centre of your working project.  You’re once blank new project has the background page added on it and you will now notice on your Layers Panel a layer.

Now go back to your folder in your computer with your FQB – Always & Forever in it and choose the flower_2_maryfran flower and drag it onto your PE screen.  Once again choose the first tab at the top of your workspace (which you should now have your working project on your screen which shows the paper we put on it) and drag and drop the flower_2_maryfran onto your background paper.  Don’t worry about where it is.

Let’s talk about this Layers Panel now and what it all means.  You will now see the flower on the paper and a second layer in your Layers Panel on the right side of your screen. Each new graphic, paper or image that you add creates a new layer on top of the others.  Think of layers simply as stacking pieces of paper on your desk in front of you.  Each image (whether it be a paper, graphic or photo) is it’s own layer and you simply change around the order to insure that you see what you want to on your screen.  As an example of how they work, think of it as a paper scrapbooking page.  You first take your background paper and lay it on your desk.  You then grab the flower and place it on the page, this is your second layer……and so on and so on and so on.  Will will revisit the layers later on.

Make sure you have your Move Tool selected from your Tools Bar, and now place your cursor over the flower and press and hold your left mouse button and move your mouse around, which will move only the flower.  Now before you give yourself vertigo, choose where you would like your flower and let go of your left mouse button.  There it is!  Don’t worry, since there is no glue, you can move it again whenever you like! (And no glue on your fingers in case you’d like to take a sip of your drink or munch on that cookie sitting over there!)

Now, I am going to show you the finished project to give you a little help with what it will look like when we’re done and maybe help with laying out this creation.


Yes, yes, I know, she is a cute dog!!! Don’t tell her, as she has cast her fairy dust over us and is getting a little spoiled!!ha,ha

Now we are going to add in the word tag “Love is in the Air”.  Go back to your folder with your Lil Bits Always and Forever and choose the wordart_1_maryfran.  Drag and drop it into PE.  Now once again choose the first tab from the top of your workspace to get you back to your working project and drag and drop the wordart from your Project Bin onto your layout.  There it is now on your page.  You will now have several tabs at the top of your workspace, to make it less cluttered, click the “X” on each tab to close it EXCEPT for the first tab as this is your working project.  See how easy clean up is in working with digital elements!!

You should have your Movc Tool selected still and you will now see three layers in your Layers Panel.  Move around the wordart just like we did with the flower, and notice how it is above the flower (it will cover the flower image if you put the wordart image overtop).  You can see from my finished layout that it is actually underneath the flower.  Now how did he do that you may ask?  Well, I’ll tell you!

If you go over to your Layers Panel right now your wordart layer is highlighted. Place your cursor over the wordart layer, press and hold your left mouse button down and drag the wordart layer down one spot.  Your layers panel should now match mine with the paper being the first layer at the bottom, the wordart will now be the second layer, and the flower will be the third or top layer.  Go back to your project, make sure the wordart layer is highlighted in your Layers Panel and using your Move Tool move the wordart around now.   See how it is now underneath the flower.  You can now make it match my layout in terms of placement and the wordart will appear underneath the flower.  Take a moment to get used to moving things around on your project.  Rather than always going over to the Layers Panel to highlight which layer you want to work with, simply hold down your CTRL key (or CMD key on a Mac) and click on the flower.  See how PE now has highlighted the flower image and it has now highlighted the flower layer in your Layers Panel.  We always want to make things easy to do and Adobe has done this for you!  Now hold down your CTRL key once again and click on the paper.  See how it is now your active layer.  This is the easy way to keep your cursor on your layout, but quickly move things around.  CTRL click on any image and it now becomes your active layer to move, shrink, etc.  Please note that all of this happens only when you have your Move Tool selected as the tool you are using.

Now you’re probably thinking, hey, he missed a step, my flower and wordart are a lot larger on my page than on his.  No, this is not magic, or a distortion because of my screenshot, I have resized the image to the size I think looks best.  In order to do this, CTRL click on the flower to tell PE that this will now be our active layer.  See the dashed box around the flower?  This is called the Bounding Box.  It allows you to resize and rotate the image to what suits you.  To resize the flower go to the top left corner of the bounding box around the flower (on the square corner) and you should see your cursor change from the Move Tool triangle to a straight double sided arrow.  This lets you know that you are in the right spot on the bounding box in order to resize.  When this double sided arrow appears, click and hold your left mouse button and move your mouse so that it shrinks the flower.  When you have the size you like, release your mouse button.   You will now see the green check mark and the red circle with the line through it (basically the Yes and No buttons) underneath the bounding box.  You must select one of these before you can move on.  If you are happy with the size, simply click the green check mark.  If you are not, click the red circle with the line through it and your image will go back to the original size and you can try resizing again!  Do this until you are happy with it and click the green check mark.

Let’s now deal with the wordart.  CTRL click on it to make it your active layer, and then resize it to what looks best for your eye.  Now if you go back and take a look at my finished project it is not perfectly horizontal on my page but tilted downward.  To do this move your cursor over one of the corners of your bounding box until you get the Curved Double Sided Arrow (place your cursor just above the square corner on the bounding box).  This now lets you know that you are in the right spot to rotate the image.  Again, press and hold your left mouse button and move your mouse to rotate the image.  When you think it looks good, let go of your mouse button and you will get the green check mark and red circle to say yes or no.  Choose the green check mark if you are happy and then move it into position under the flower.  If you are not happy choose the red circle, start over until you are happy with it press the check mark and move it into position.

In order to save your project, whether completed or not, simply go up to the Resource Bar and choose File.  In the menu that drops down please choose Save As.  A window will now pop up and ask you where you would like to save your layout to.  I would suggest creating a folder in an easy to remember place (such as possibly your desktop for now) and you will see that it will be saving your project as a .psd file.  This is a Photoshop file which preserves all of your layers.  If you were to save as a .jpg or other type, when you go to open it once again you will no longer have your separate layers.

Now this has been a lot of information I’m sure!!  I remember when I started on it, and let’s just state that I haven’t been in school for years, it was all a little much!!  What’s say I stop writing for this week…….but it doesn’t have to stop you from playing in your program.  I encourage it!!  Once you get comfortable with adding in your images (embellishments, papers, photos, etc.) and resizing and rotating it will make the next lessons so much easier.  So, why not take the week to finish this layout to look like mine or somewhat like mine and play around by creating your own layout or card.  Just remember, this is a hobby and don’t let it frustrate you.   Just follow the steps we covered today and refer back and reread my instructions and it will become second nature in no time.

Good luck, happy creating, and next week we will finish this layout complete with shadowing, etc.

Once again, don’t hesitate to post a comment or question about this lesson.  I’ll be happy to answer to insure that we are getting the most out of this course and feeling comfortable in our program.








  1. avatar

    Hi Glennie….thanks for your comment and update on Photoshop Elements 2018. I have not used this version myself, so I cannot say if this is a program error at the moment, or whether they have discontinued this practice of drag and drop. I can help with your issue, though!

    Instead of drag and dropping the element or background paper into PE, simply go to the top left of the screen where you will see the word titles. Click on the word File and then choose Open from the menu that comes up. In this Open window you will now navigate to the Nitwit Collections kit folder (wherever you have it located in your computer) and click on the paper or element that you want to add. Press OK at the bottom of this window and it will add it to your screen in Photoshop. A quick tip, if you know that you’d like to add multiple items, hold down your CTRL key or CMD key on a Mac, and click on all of the items that you’d like to add and Photoshop will add them to your workspace, each in a separate layer and window.
    You can now drag these opened items in Photoshop to your working creation and it will add it to it where you can then resize, rotate, etc. I hope that this helps but please email me through our store and I’d be happy to offer further assistance.

  2. avatar

    It appears that as of this date, June 18, drop and drag no longer works in Photoshop Elements 2018. Help!

  3. avatar

    Morning – great lesson. Just wanted to suggest to any followers who are new to all this. It would be a good idea to buy a file and print each week off. This way you can look through it at the same time as doing it. Until you get the hang of things. You can also add your own notes to help you remember and anything that your just not sure about, you can just ask. Might be nice to add a picture of your own creation too. Then when you look back you can see for yourself how you have developed.

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