Editing Mock-Ups in Photoshop: Don’t Forget to Hide Layers You Don’t Want to Show

In May, I wrote a blog post tutorial on how to edit Mock-Ups in Photoshop for a professional looking 3D book cover image. I understand it went over some heads (Photoshop is not for everyone), but for those of you who are familiar with it already, be sure that you are hiding the layers you don’t want to use so your image looks more authentic.

Everyone is using Mark Monciardini’s Mock-Ups (Covervault) because they’re free. While everyone is using them, not everyone is familiar with the basics of Photoshop in ways they can get the most out of the experience. It’s like copying someone but because you don’t really know how to do it, it doesn’t have the same look. Mark is the real artist and we are all copying him pretty much. He has extended his expertise to us newbies by generously giving away his mock-up templates. Now anyone, with just a basic knowledge of Photoshop, can have professional looking 3D book cover images. But, make sure you are hiding layers you don’t need so your images don’t look the same as everyone else.

I’m going to use the wine bottle glass template as an example.

What you have here is everything as it is originally. One of the first things you’ll probably want to do is change the book cover. Most people stop here. Boom, they are done. Save. You can do that but it won’t look very original.

Here’s mine with Renaissance cover. It looks good but not very original. I did change something though. Can you guess what it is? No, not the cover. (Learn how to change the cover HERE) I changed something else.

I hid a layer and took something away. That’s right, there are no sparkles.

To switch things up, all you have to do is hide layers you don’t need or want in your image.

To hide the particles, I went over to the layers and clicked on the drop-down menu next to particles. Next to the sparkles, (I like the word sparkles better. Sounds more girly lol), I clicked on the eye to hide them. That is literally all I did.

You can do this with anything you don’t want in your image. Even the background. Don’t like the wine bottle look? Get rid of it.

If I don’t want the background at all, I can hide the background and upload my own. All I did was click on the eye next to backdrop and hid it (you can also delete layers but I prefer hiding them in case I want to use them again).

Here’s a closer look:

Basically, whatever you don’t want in the image can be hid. You can now use the space to add text, a logo or whatever you want. While all this is optional, remember that if you’re going to add text to a mock-up that has a lot going on, we won’t be able to read it clearly if you don’t hide or delete those layers first. Let’s look at one more:

This is the original but remember, you can completely make it over so it looks more you.

First, you want to get rid of all these leaves (unless of course you want them there which I don’t). To hide them, go over to layers and click on the eye to all the leaves. Light Leaf, heavy leaf and big leaf. Hide them all.

The leaves are gone but that background still makes it look leafy. Unless you want that, you can change the background too or hide it altogether.

To change the background, go over to layers and hide the entire background.

What you have is a blank slate. You can now add text, logo, whatever you want.

You can actually upload your own background but we’ll go over that at a later time.

The point is that if you’re going to pay for Photoshop you may as well get as much from it as possible. To help your images to look more authentic, be sure to hide (or delete) layers you don’t want or need.

Here’s a finished one using one of my WIP:

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – Capturing the Good in Harlem

 

Yes indeed, twins make history again. Meet Marvin and Morgan Smith, painters who focused on capturing the positive side of Harlem during the decline of the Harlem Renaissance and the birth of The Great Depression.

“During the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, Harlem spread itself before the cameras of Morgan and Marvin Smith like a great tablecloth, and eagerly they went about devouring what it had to offer.”

– Gordon Parks Sr.

We often discuss the writers of the movement and the musicians while the artists are often left out. Names like Kwame Brathwaite, Aaron Douglass, Lois Jones, and Morgan and Marvin Smith, are not as well known.

Morgan (right) and Marvin (left) Smith were born on February 16, 1910 in Nicholasville, Kentucky. The boys found a talent for art but wouldn’t pursue it much until the sharecropping family moved to Lexington in the late 1920s. Here Morgan and Marvin attended Dunbar High School, the only Black High School in Lexington at the time, and developed further their artistic abilities. They worked with oil paintings and sculptors until eventually, cameras.

In 1933, Morgan and Marvin graduated High School and pursued their art full time. However, Kentucky at the time provided little to no support for the young men and as I imagine, they could not grow in the way that they wished. They moved to Cincinnati with hope of a better future but not finding opportunities there, decided to move on to New York.

Marvin and Morgan

When they arrived to Harlem the twins did manual labor for the WPA or Works Progress Administration and took art lessons from Augusta Savage (another sculptor of the Harlem Renaissance) at her studio. Through Savage the twins became connected with the 306 Group, a collective of African American artists who worked and socialized together in Harlem, New York in the 1930s. The name of the group came from the address of a studio space, 306 W. 141st Street, used by two of the artists, Charles Alston and Henry Bannarn.

Marvin and Morgan became acquainted with prominent figures through Savage but it wasn’t until 1937 when the twins really came into the public’s eye when Morgan won an award for his photo of a boy playing.

Awwue!

After 1937, the twins decided to focus their attention on the  community of Harlem overall. Their interest was in capturing the good instead of the bad. With the stock market crash of 1929 and The Great Depression smacked down in the middle, there was plenty to complain about, I am sure, and much of the glitter and glam of the Harlem Renaissance had begun to fade. People weren’t as interested in Black culture and art during these tough times which brings Marvin and Morgan into focus.

They look more alike as old men than they did when they were younger…or is it just me??

Over the next 40 years with their paint brushes and cameras, the brothers would record what remained, refusing to document anything negative. What’s cute is that the brother’s married identical twin sisters on the same day and three years later both divorced on the same day. They would die exactly ten years apart, Morgan smith at 83 and Marvin at 93. I am happy to see that they both lived full lives.

The 306 Group

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The artists of the 306 W. 141st Street WPA Art Center. Back row, left to right: Add Bates; unidentified; James Yeargans; Vertis Hayes; Charles Alston; Sollace Glenn; unidentified; Elba Lightfoot; Selma Day; Ronald Joseph; Georgette Seabrooke; ——— Reid. Front row, left to right: Gwendolyn Knight; unidentified; Francisco Lord; unidentified; unidentified.
© Morgan and Marvin Smith. Reproduction from the Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundation, http://iraas.columbia.edu/wpa/introartists.html

Editing Mock-Ups in Photoshop (In 12 Steps)

I didn’t plan on sharing this but as I was editing some mock-ups I thought it would be nice to share what I am doing.

I am not a professional photographer, and I don’t always have a chance to take professional images. Therefore, I love using free mock-up templates to create professional images of my books. I am learning Photoshop also because if I can master it, I can also start to create my own book covers! (OK, that’s a far way off but a sista can dream).

But, while I am finagling (am I the only one who thinks finagle is a funny word?) around with this, I decided to put together a quick tutorial on what I am doing for those of you who use Photoshop. It’s super easy and if you have Photoshop, you should be able to get started right away.

Note: I’m not a professional “Photoshopper” and have instead found my own way of editing mock-ups because this way is easier for me but there are lots of other ways to do this.

Step One

Get Photoshop. You can get Photoshop CC for as low as $10/month. For me it’s worth the money because I use mock-ups often. However, there is a free trial you can use for seven days if my memory serves correctly. http://www.adobe.com/ (There are also plenty of free ways to create 3D images. I use Photoshop because the quality of the images is top notch.)

Step Two

Once you have Photoshop, find a free mock-up that you like. Be sure the license allows you to use it. Most of them do as long as you don’t try to sell the mock-up as your own. You can find some great ones at http://covervault.com/

Step Three

Download a mock-up you like. I’m going to use this one.

Step Four

Click on the zip file and double click on the Photoshop file to open it.

OK so you can pretty much change anything on here to make it your own. Eliminate the background, upload your own images, change colors, etc. But…

I’m just gonna show you how to change the book covers.

Step Five

Go to the side panel here. Let’s start with the front book cover. Click on the arrow next to Front Book, scroll down to front cover and double click on the space where the front book cover is…right where my arrow is.

It will bring up the mock cover here..

Step Six

File > Open > Find the cover (or image) you’d like to use on your computer and click on it….and

Screenshot (601)Screenshot (602)It will open in Photoshop. When it does, unlock it at the bottom. If you don’t unlock it, you cannot edit it.

Step Seven

Click on your cover and drag it to the mock layer.

Step Eight

This one has lots of special effects I don’t need. If ever you don’t want something in the image you can either delete the layer or hide it. Click on the eye next to the layers to hide them. I want to hide the mock-up text and other things…

If you did it correctly it should leave only your cover and look like this (below)…if you look at the layers next to where my marker is you will see that the eye is closed. This means I am hiding these layers so they don’t show.

Step Nine

As you can see, when you move your cover to the layer (see step seven) it will be too big. On your MAC click command T to highlight it to resize. On PC click ctrl T. Now just resize it to fit the space.

Step Ten

Save your resized cover. File > Save as (save it under a name you will recognize. You will need to remember where you saved it.)

Screenshot (621)Screenshot (627)

Step Eleven

Go back to the panel and right click in the space next to the front cover.

Step Twelve

If you did it correctly, it should bring up the box below…where you see replace contents, click on that.

When the box opens, find your saved image from Step Ten and replace the mock image with your own.

And that’s it!

For the back cover follow the exact same steps:

  • Click on the arrow next to back cover.
  • Double click on back cover
  • File > Open > Choose the image for your back cover
  • If it’s locked, unlock it
  • Click and drag your cover to the mock layer (you can’t move it if it’s locked)
  • Hide any layers you don’t need/want
  • Resize image > Command T (MAC) or Ctrl T (PC)
  • File > Save as to your PC
  • Back to the panel, right click in the space next to the back cover > Replace contents
  • Find saved image > place

The last thing you will do when you have both the front and back cover done is to File > Save as > PNG

You’re done.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story Book One. July 15, 2017. yecheilyahysrayl.com

Blog Photos: I Scared Myself Away From My Own Post

OK, you may want to sit down for this one.

A couple weeks ago (or was it last week?? LOL), whenever it was, I had a blogger to comment on a post I wrote asking me to go into more detail concerning photos in a blog post. I never consider myself a “blogging pro” or “advice giver” so her question made me feel very positive about the post as feedback often does. Here’s her question and my response:

Q. Can you share more about your thought that sometimes pictures can take away from a post?

My response:

Sure. Pictures are a great way to compliment a blog post but photos in blog posts is about strategy and not just decoration. If the pictures don’t tie in well with the article it can take away from the written content and become a distraction. Photos chosen should have the potential to reveal something about the post even if there were no words because images set the tone for the post itself. Sometimes I decide not to include pics because I want the focus on the words and a photo in this sense can just be distracting. All in all bad image choices can have a great impact on how people see our blogs. 

This morning I did not intend on writing this post, but after scrolling through the reader I experienced something that validates just how important photos are in a blog post. I scared myself away from my own post.

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Yesterday, I wrote a post that included a picture of Flavor Flave. When I scrolled through the reader this morning I was shocked to see that photo front and center on my timeline associated with that blog post (go ahead, take a look). I startled myself because I would not have chosen for that picture to be the one used to feature the post. As I opened with “We all have our favorites…” needless to say Flavor Flave was not a good look. I do not nor have I ever been a fan. I do not take back my thoughts in the article and using the photo in the post did look good when I drafted it because it represents what I was speaking about, but it did not mix well with my opening statements or as an advertisement for the post in the reader.

Did I say advertise? Yes. It may not seem important at the time, but photos in blog posts tend to act as promotional items for our blogs before people actually click to see what the post is about. I wouldn’t say to stress out about it, but whether or not people are clicking to tune into our blogs have a lot to do with the way that people think in general and we all know by now (c’mon, say it with me) “Pictures are worth a thousand words”. Just keep in mind that the first picture used in the post will more than likely be the photo that stands front and center as representative of your post. My little experiment proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that image choices is not just about what looks good, but it is also about strategy because the photography tends to set the mood for the article itself. The photos you use in your post can have the potential to downgrade the quality of the article if it does not blend well with the written content.

Experiment: Conduct your own experiment. Write a blog post and use an image, any image. Go back to the reader and see which one shows up! If your not too chicken to risks a few likes and views, this can help you to see  how the pictures in the post shows up when people are actually scrolling through the reader.

Writing 101 – Assignment #13 – The Third Eye: 203-Word Story

The Third Eye

Mrs. Labno was a small woman. Short and petite with a splash of hip. It would not have occurred to me that she was mid-wife to my third eye. That this little lady would lend it to me all small and delicate and black, and I cherished the way it hung from my neck like a giant eye engraved in my chest. I wasn’t an alien but I had transformed. One minute I was in class and the next I was at an assembly. I could record twice as much information and move between space like the wind. No one saw me coming. It wasn’t until later that they saw how I invaded their privacy, catching their mouths in the middle of conversations and freezing basketballs mid-air before they reached the hoop. Cheerleaders died when I separated their teeth and caught the gum underneath their tongues. No one was safe. The optical controls were far more attentive than my other two and the vibration reduction kept the images still that wished to crawl away. I was a junior in High School when I joined the yearbook team and Mrs. Labno introduced me to photography. I would forever uphold passion for the third eye.

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Writing 101: Assignment #4 – A Story in a Single Image

Conquering Mountain

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They say mustard seeds can move mountains. So how did I end up on the opposite side of it? Its tough exterior mocked the clouds hanging in the sky, mimicking their shape. Deceiving them like it did me the day Claire walked out the door. She didn’t take my heart with her, just some toiletries she didn’t really need. You know typical girl stuff. I wonder if she was being sarcastic again. She’d rather hold onto an old toothbrush than an old me. Claire was tough like that; tall but delicate. She had the appearance of a lightweight but I knew I could never carry her. She was a rare stone, or a beautiful picture carved into concrete. The wind blew a cool breeze slightly. I silently prayed it would rain. At least then I’ll have an excuse for why reality crawled its way out of my throat. Besides, they say men are not supposed to cry. Claire always thought that was stupid logic. Maybe that’s because she was always around water, so water on cheeks wasn’t a big deal to her. I smiled weakly. I’d always been in love with her mind. No wonder I found myself here; on the edge of the dramatic Columbia River Gorge, a steeply pitched, creek-like river chasm where the hills roll over and over like new carpet, and the water spread its body over the land like fine silk. I gave Claire silk once. An anniversary present for our six months together. She said it was too soon. That I should stop taking so much time out of my vacation to visit her. How can love ever be too soon? That is something we always disagreed on. Anyway, enough about Claire. I read somewhere that they were closing this place down. No more tourists they said. I bet it was Claire. This trip was supposed to be my celebration for finally having the strength to not care about her anymore. She may have me now but dear Mountain Claire, I will reach you soon.

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