PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics and is a type of image file. It differs from JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group in case you're wondering) in that images saved with this format have better color and image resolution, support transparency (more on that coming up) and are considered 'lossless' meaning their quality does not suffer in the editing process. This makes for a versatile image you can do all sorts of things with. Their down side is they take up more memory than JPG files.
This tutorial serves three purposes:
- To explain what is the difference between JPG and PNG digital stamp files and to show how you can use a PNG digital stamp file.
- How to remove the surrounding white background from a digital stamp and create your own PNG transparency effect.
- Make your acquaintance with CraftArtist 2 software in case you've not been formally introduced.
Serif CraftArtist2 Professional software is a great program. It's easy to learn, extremely versatile and at $39.99 (£24,99, €29.99) in my opinion, it is the best, most affordable digital scrapbooking software on the market. I use it more now than Photoshop, which I paid hundreds of dollars for. There's even a free CraftArtist compact version of the software you can take out for a test drive, although it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the professional version.
1. If you drag a JPG digistamp file into CraftArtist 2 (CA) it will look like this:
I've placed the stamp against a blue background to show how it looks. This stamp is from Digistamp Boutique's (one of my favorite digital stamp companies) Sewing Kit set (on sale for only £0.99).
2. If you take the PNG version of this same stamp and drag it into CA it will look like this:
See how the white background around the stamp has been removed? In the PNG file this removed area is transparent.
3. This set has some cute sewing themed stamps I want to combine with the sewing machine. If I take the 'normal' JPG pincushion stamp and drag it on top of the sewing machine it's going to look like this:
4. Let's try that again, but this time with the PNG version of the pincushion stamp. It looks like this:
Ah, yes, that's much better . . . now you see the possibilities of a transparent background PNG. This is one reason I like Digistamp Boutique stamps so much. Digistamp Boutique PNG files remove the white outside edge only. This means you can easily layer and combine their PNG stamps to create ever more designs.
5. Not all digistamp companies do this. Let's bring the sewing machine back again, this time with a PNG digistamp from another company. This PNG digi has had all the white removed.
As you can see Mr. Snail PNG does not play well with others. He's completely transparent except for the line drawing. Unless you're using the digi in a digital scrapbooking composition that requires transparency, you don't need this. White as a color does not 'print'. Print a black and white JPG digi onto patterned paper and it will automatically be transparent. These kind of PNGs serve no purpose whatsoever for me.
6. Since PNG files are less likely to have that grainy look, some designers use PNG files only, even with with no transparency. You open it up and it looks and acts exactly like a JPG. Shoot! You have another digi background stamp this digi would be perfect with. What to do?
Let's put the sewing machine away for a bit and open up this free pond digital stamp by Opal Manor.
Opal Manor has a super cute free digi Mr Frog stamp that would look grrrrrrrrreat with this pond digi. The downloaded frog freebie – say that three times fast – is a PNG file, but it is not transparent.
Let's hop to it and fix that!
7. Drag Mr. Frog onto the pond digi and it will look like the screen below. Select Mr. Frog and then click on 'Cutout Studio', where the green arrows are pointing. We want to get rid of the white surrounding Mr. Frog so we can see the pond behind.
8. Mr. Frog pops up in the Cutout Studio screen, as seen below. Click on the bottom icon to show discarded areas as transparent. It will look like this:
9. Now, you want to select that part of Mr. Frog you want to keep. Click on the first keep brush icon, as shown below. Put grow tolerance to zero at the top. Begin to brush over what you want to keep. Your keep areas become white. I have a graphic Wacom pen tablet that makes this kind of thing much easier. If you've never used one of these tablets, give one a try; they're worth the money and you won't believe you ever got by without one!
10. I use a larger brush size from the bar at the top and do a quick brush over first. Then I select the second discard brush icon, as shown below, and start to remove the excess. I change the brush px size at the top by typing in 3 to do between the toes and the other tight corners. Be sure to keep the black outline. If you accidentally erase it, simply click on the first keep brush again and brush over it to get it back.
11. When you're done, Mr. Frog will look like the screen below. Just click OK at the bottom right of the screen and the Cutout Studio screen will close.
12. Now see what you have:
Doesn't that look nice?! Mr. Frog's background has been removed and you see the pond digi behind. Scroll back up and look at the before to compare. Save the combined stamps as a CA file and/or export as a JPG or PNG file. You could even copy and save Mr. Frog all by himself as a CA file, then export as a PNG to use again elsewhere.
Here's how layering PNGs from Digistamp Boutique's Sewing Kit set turned out.:
This is a great card idea for someone who likes to sew, don't you think? The paper is from the long retired The Paper Studio Yarn & Thread Emporium paper pack, the image has been colored with Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 pencils, and I've added a few buttons for embellishment. If you read my recent tutorial on coloring with colored pencils, you can see the difference in a stamp colored with many pencils like this one and a stamp colored with just one pencil as in the tutorial.
I'm linking up with: 613 Avenue Create #140 – Anything Goes, TTCRD Chall. 08/09-14/09 – Anything Goes, Sweet Stamps September – Anything Goes, Tuesday Throw Down #261 – Anything Goes, Crafting From the Heart #76 – Anything Goes, Craft Your Passion #278 – Always Anything Goes, Love to Scrap #61 – Do a Double Take, Not Just Cards #24 – Always Anything Goes, Creative Corner Linkup Party 06/09/15 and DigiStanp Boutique September Customer challenge.