This month we are shining the spotlight on Courtney of Courtney’s Designs. Courtney is one of the premiere mixed media designers in the industry and I’m over the moon to be highlighting her incredible work. If you aren’t familiar with Courtney’s designs, this is your chance to become just as enthralled with her edgy, artistic flair as I am! She specializes in hand painted art dolls, elements, stamps and brushes and her papers are just divine! One of my favorite things to do is layer her papers over more traditional papers to add a bit of drama, artsy flair and texture! You can see one example of this in my layout here.
Let’s get to know Courtney a little better, then she has a tutorial, FREE template and challenge for you all!
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I guess you could say I’m a stay-at-home mom. I used to work for lobbyists, but the stress became unbearable, which led me to go back to school to get certified in Landscape Design and ended up starting a small business, which was quickly growing. With the birth of my youngest son, I ended up having to give all that up to care for him. He was fairly high-needs and required a lot of attention.
Though I am a mixed media designer and was previously a landscape designer, art has always been a part of my life one way or another. Ever since I was a child, I took loads of art classes and art history classes, even winning me a couple of awards at art shows when I was a teen. After my 20’s, thinking I could never be an artist, I stopped doing art all together, much to my regret. My mother also used to paint beautifully, as well as my grandfather from my mother’s side. He was an amazing painter. Alas, I think the talent has ended with me ha ha. My boys have no interest in it.
I later went back to school in my late 20’s and received a degree in Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin with the sole intention of going into law enforcement. Another thing I never used ha ha! But, I am still proud of my accomplishment!
While taking care of my youngest, it led to many boring days. I’m not used to just sitting around a lot and ended up learning digital scrapbooking. I was taking loads of pictures of my kids and I wanted a way to preserve their memories. A designer saw my layouts and wanted me to be on her team. Shortly there after I started making freebie kits and she suggested I should really try my hand at designing. In January of 2011, I did just that! I have been designing ever since!
Do you design full-time or do you have another job?
Digital Mixed Media Design is pretty much all I do. It doesn’t really pay the bills ha ha, but I am so fortunate to have a husband who makes enough for the both of us. In reality, I couldn’t work a full-time job even if I wanted without staying home. I have too many health issues. I DO spend many many hours doing this work, so it’s almost full-time. But, I find it quite enjoyable to convert my art into something others can use for their own art and memory keeping.
What are the top three places on your travel bucket list?
I have been so fortunate to do a lot of traveling already. I have been to Spain, Italy, England, France, Hawaii several times, Canada, Central America including Mexico, several islands in the Caribbean, North Africa. We also lived in El Salvador when I was a child, which I think has a LOT to do with how I feel about people and the world today. But, all that travel just makes me want to get out more!! My father worked for the U.S. Government in Foreign USAID. So, he had to travel all the time. We couldn’t go with him because the places he went to were dangerous. But, he would travel so much he would save up his miles and we would get free tickets to travel. We would meet him somewhere after one of his trips for a vacation.
I really would love to visit my husband’s home country of Vietnam. I think it would be a wonderful experience for all of us and especially having our youngest see his heritage. Now, I don’t know how much I will be able to handle the heat and humidity lol, but it will be worth it.
Another place I would like to visit is Prague, Czechoslovakia. It’s supposed to be one of the most gorgeous cities ever to visit. My parents visited there once without me and I never forgave them for it! LOL!
I would also like to visit Scottland and/or Ireland. It always seems to have this mysterious beauty to it. Maybe because of all the historic movies done about them LOL! But, I would really love to visit. I have been to England a couple of times and next time I would like to make those excusions.
Tell us about your family.
My family consists of my wonderful and supportive husband and two boys. My oldest is Stewart, who is now a 15-year-old sophomore and learning to drive!! I have a coronary just thinking about it lol. He’s actually very attentive and he’s always been good with sticking to the rules. He has a fabulous sense of humor and incredibly smart, but I could be biased. He could be so successful and make straight A’s if he weren’t so lazy though lol.
My youngest is Anderson, who is 8 1/2. He just started 3rd grade. He had some issues when he was born with jaundice. It was so bad, he was 1 point away from a blood transfusion. It’s just the Asian blood he has, which apparently is common. He also had a sensory disorder. He was struggling for sensory input. It resulted in reduction of talking, sleeping, eating, extreme hyper activity and the worst; no sense of pain. After falling on his head on the tile floor, that was it for me. He didn’t even cry! The reason I was staying home and helping with all his therapy to get over it and “re-wire” his brain. By 18 months, he was almost back to normal! There are lingering symptoms that never go away, but before he wasn’t talking now you can’t get him to shut up lol. He is an incessant talker.
We also have two bad doggies. Zoey a pit-mix who was abused and abandoned when she was younger. She’s a handful because of that, but she’s so supper protective of us and we love her. Then there is Jett. He’s our mixed Chihuahua. Stubborn to the core and if you leave him out of his crate when you leave the house, he will soil it! Bad boy! But, he too is so sweet and we love our babies.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I think you could say I have too many! I like to crochet, though I’m not very good at it lol, but I’m learning more complex patterns and love making scarves. I make several each year and maybe I should consider selling or giving them as gifts as they are pilling up lol. I also like to paint and do art, of course, though I don’t generally sell. You may be surprised I rarely keep an art journal. I don’t journal really anyway. I don’t like to process my thoughts on paper for some reason. I have tried repeatedly, but it never takes. I just end up rehashing when I go to bed, which is probably why I don’t fall asleep quickly ha ha. But I do love doing mixed media art and have been slowly filling up my walls with my own art. I also take loads of mixed media classes. I have several I haven’t finished yet. It’s time consuming, but nice to do when I have some downtime.
I also love to read! I have tons and tons of books, though I have tons of books on my Kindle as well. I also love video games, believe it or not! I only play a few as I’m not good at them lol, but there are a couple I play all the time. One is the Dragon Age trilogy. I like Civilization, which you build your empire. I also like the Mass Effect series, which is the only gun game I play because it’s story game with role playing. I also play Minecraft with my boys. It’s a good bonding thing we do together.
Now that I’m feeling better physically, I also have been trying to get back into landscaping my yard. It’s slow work, but it’s slowly looking lovely!
Tell us a bit about your latest project
My latest kit is all about Solitude. For me, I have always been an introvert. I love my alone time. It’s hard to come by these days with children lol, but as they get older, they get more independent and I’m allowed more alone time. Too much noise and goings on can get me a bit stressed out, so I have to unwind quite frequently. I am fortunate my husband can give that to me as well. He understands I need that time to be by myself. So, this kit is about that quiet time one needs to renew and breath and meditate. And, that it’s OK to be alone for a while. Being able to be alone has helped in my ability to maintain good relationships. I wanted to create something that reflects that a bit. The colors are pretty muted. I wanted it to have a calming effect and I hope I conveyed that in this kit. It was all handmade by me.
And, here it is in use:
Click Image for Download
This Artsy Template is FREE as a thank you for reading!! You can keep the template as is to recolor and add a photo because it’s already done for you!! Or use it as a guide and make your own creation! (This template is in PSD format only. It’s quite large and any other formatting would make downloads very long!)
I am also hosting a challenge in the Oscraps forum! It’s all about Solitude. Share in a layout how you express solitude either visually or in journaling. This is for a chance to win a $10 coupon to my store!!!
TUTORIAL – watercolor(ish) photo treatment
I thought I would show you a way to convert photos into a watercolor…ish photo treatment. This is from a tutorial I found on YouTube using Photoshop. But, my tutorial uses PSE 12, to show how flexible PSE is. I was just following along to see if I could even do it in PSE and I can, so thought I would share this with you. I would like to note, before I get started, that images are going to vary using this technique. It all depends on how detailed your image is and how large or small your image is. The tutorial is based off an image that worked for me, but you can play around to get the effect you would like to see.
1. Chose your Image, Make a Copy, Rename Layers:
The image I chose is from Unsplash. This site has GORGEOUS photos that are free to use. I like it because I don’t always have the photos I need to convey the imagery that I’m trying to obtain. If you really want that artsy look, choosing the right photo is almost as important as creating the layout. I like this one because it was whimsical and loved the subtle coloring.
Open your image by going to either clicking on the “Open” button at the top left of PSE, click on “File” and then “Open”, or you can simply click “Ctrl+O.”
Once you choose your photo, go to your layers panel on the right and double click on it to rename your layer. Rename your layer “Base.”
Rename to Smart Blur
Make a copy of your image by typing “Ctrl+J”. Rename that layer “Smart Blur.”
2. Smart Blur
Open Smart Blur
Smart Blur Settings
Click on “Filter,” “Blur” and “Smart Blur.” It will open up a panel where you can make adjustments. My adjustments are: Radius 3, Threshold 25, Quality High and Mode Normal. Play around with the sliders to the effect you would like. The key is subtle simplification. You don’t want it too blurry.
3. Pencil Lines
Click on Base
Copy and Rename
Next, in your layers panel, click on your “Base” image to select, type in “Ctrl+J” to copy it. Then simply drag the copied image up to the top of the layers panel. Double click the copied image to rename the layer “Pencil Lines.”
Pencil Lines Settings
Go to “Filter”, “Stylize” and select “Glowing Edges”. It will open up a panel to make appropriate adjustments. My settings for this is are: Edge Width 4, Edge Brightness 12 and Smoothness 15. This is what I used, but you can adjust as you want. You can make your lines thicker, thinner, etc.
We don’t want the image dark, so we need to invert the colors. To do this, simply type “Ctrl+i”. You will see the colors completely inverted (opposite). Next, we will need to desaturate the colors. To do this, type “Ctrl+U” to open up your Hue/Saturation panel. Drag your “Saturation” slider all the way to -100.
Go to your layers panel, make sure you are still have the top layer selected, click on the drop down box that says “Normal” for your blending tools and select “Multiply.” Then, change the opacity (circled in red) to 80%.
5. Using Brushes
Copy Smart Blur Layer
This is where the tutorial gets more detailed. Select (highlight) your “Smart Blur” layer in your layers panel and type “Ctrl+J” to copy it. Then double click the new copy and rename it “Brush.”
Make sure your “Brush” layer is still clicked and you are now going to invert that image by typing “Ctrl+i”. After your image is inverted, go to your Blending Tools (drop down box that says “Normal”) and select “Color Dodge” to blend with no color.
While still in the “Brush” layer, open up your brushes, which can be found on the left tools panel with the “brush” icon. You will need to make sure your brushes are reset and aren’t using other brushes. To do that, click the tool icon at the top of the brush panel (it looks like three lines at the top right of the brush panel). Then when it opens up the menu scroll down and click “Reset Brushes.” Then in that same brushes menu, click on Small List.
**Make sure your colors, at the bottom left, in the tools panel are set to Black/White.
There you can see the brushes as well as what they are called. You will need to find “Dry Brush.” Select “Dry Brush” and reduce it’s Opacity and Brush size. Brush size is determined by the size of your image. The larger the image, the smaller the brush. I would make it fairly large, but not too large. I didn’t resize my image and used the size that was given to me, which is 48×72 at 72 dpi. It’s quite large, so I needed to enlarge by brush quite a bit.
My brush size is 400 and I lowered the Opacity to 10% on the sliders.
** Note: I am sure you can use any brush you feel like and I would love to see different effects with different brushes. But, this is just for tutorial purposes only to use what is already provided for by PSE, so no new brushes are required to do this effect.
I take my brush and I lightly brush over the image. It doesn’t need to be detailed. Just a quick brush over. I mainly focused on the girl here.
Wet Media Brushes
Brush Size and Opacity
Next, you will need to go back and select new brushes. At the top left of your brushes menu, there is a drop down list of brush choices. You need to select “Wet Media Brushes” from the “Default Brushes.” You should still have your brush list set to “Small List.” In your brushes menu, select “Watercolor Textured Surface.” My brush settings are 592 for size (It doesn’t have to be that exact size…that is just what I chose) and my Opacity is 50%.
Now brush along image. You will note that if you stop brushes and re-brush over areas, it will look a bit like a watercolor. The brush work will be darker, looking like they overlap. I mainly focused on brushing the girl and little else. But, you can do your whole image, if you wish. And, you don’t have to do it thoroughly, just enough to achieve the look you want.
6. Last Steps
Pencil Line Layer
Select your “Pencil Lines” layer in your layers panel and click the “Adjustment Layer” (little half black/half white circle at top of layers). Then click on Hue/Saturation. You can also just do what we did before and click “Ctrl+U.” The original tutorial tells you to adjust the “vibrance” this way. But, PSE doesn’t see to have “vibrance.” So, I slightly increased the saturation to 40.
Composite Snapshot and Texturizer
To give the watercolor effect, it’s good to have the “watercolor paper” look with it. Now this is entirely optional, but I did it here. Go to “Filter” at the top of your menu bar, click on “Texture” and then “Texturizer.” This will open up the Panel as seen below.
In the settings, choose the “Sandstone” texture in the drop down menu, Scaling at 75 and Relief at 3.
Final View with Texture
Here is a close up of what we have done. The texture is subtle, but you can see it better while you are doing it on your PSE.
Here I merged everything by going to “Layers” at the top menu, clicking on “Flatten” at the bottom of the menu. The I went in and repeated the “Pencil Lines” section here. I wanted my lines a bit stronger for the effect I was going for, but this is totally optional.
8. Using Treated Photo
Choosing Photo Mask
Clipping Photo to Mask
Insert into Layout
To add a bit of extra texture and interest to my layout, I chose one of my painted photo masks. I drag my photo from the bottom of display panel on top of my photo mask. I click on the photo in the layers panel to select and on the line between the photo and the mask, I click “Alt” at the same time click the “eye”-looking icon you see when your mouse hovers over that line in between the two layers. That will shape your photo to your mask. You can still enlarge or move around your image in the mask and set it to how you want it. Then simply click “Ctrl+E” to merge the two layers. That’s it. Drag your image to your background and work from there.
Here is the photo created within my layout.
I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial and have fun! Thanks for reading!!!
Connect with Courtney’s Designs