More Fun With Digital Expressions

Class samples from a workshop with Susan Tuttle

If you’re like me, you can’t learn too many nifty photo-manipulation tricks—particularly ones that are easy. Susan Tuttle recently shared with me a very quick way to give your photos a soft look with rounded corners and she’s going to let me include the technique here for you, too! She is excited to share that she has a new workshop launching March 1 called Toy Camera with Photoshop. Susan assures that it’s not necessary to have taken any Photoshop workshops with her prior to taking this one. You can get all the details here.

Susan knows so many great digital tips and tricks, and you can learn many of them yourself from her book Digital Expressions. After trying out the rounded corner technique, I was itching to try something else, so I went back to my copy of her book and tried out the Merging Transparent Layers technique. Fun!

I’ll share with you what I did, but first, I know what you really care about is learning from Susan yourself, so, here you go.

Rounded Corners by Susan Tuttle

1. Open original photograph: File> Open.

2. Select the “Rounded Rectangle” tool from the pull down menu in the tools palette.

Set the Radius (top left of screen) to your desired pixel count (I chose 150 for this photo). Note: The smaller the number, the smaller the corners. Play with the setting until you achieve the desired size for your corners.

Make selection on photo (if there is a Fill Color, reduce the Opacity level to 0% in the layers palette).

3. “Right-click” somewhere in your selection and choose “Make Selection” from the box. If you are not sure how to “right-click” with your mouse, you can press the “Ctrl” button on your keyboard and click with your mouse somewhere on your selection. Sometimes the “Ctrl” button is spelled out “Control.”

In box, set Feather Radius to 0 and check the “Anti-Aliased” box. Click “OK.”

4. If you are using Photoshop Elements: Edit> Copy Merged File> New> Image From Clipboard.

If you are using Photoshop/CS: Edit> Copy Merged File> New (make sure file is set to “Transparent” and click “OK.”) (Note: the new file will automatically be made the same size as your photograph file)

Edit> Paste.

For both programs, save by going to “Save As” (I save any new projects this way.)

Note: The transparent background, which is visible at the edges, will only stay transparent if you save your file as a .gif or .png (I do this by going to File> Save for Web). I prefer the .png format, as the colors will be better preserved than with a .gif. Saving it as a .jpg will turn the transparent parts to white. This is important if you wish to post your photo on a website or blog that has a background other than white. The .png will ensure that the edges remain transparent.


I found this very easy to do and now I may have to refrain from doing it on all new photos I play with . . .

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I also tried my hand at combining some layers (with the help of Susan’s book), and here’s the result of that. First, the original photos (the blue texture photo comes on a disc with the book!), and then the merged file.


If you want to learn more (and your probably learn all this stuff easier than I do anyway), you owe it to yourself to take a workshop from Susan or to buy Digital Expressions. Either way you’ll love what you learn.


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