Monday, February 9, 2015 - A Little Bit About Photoshop's Layer Masks. ~ February 2015 - A Little Bit About Photoshop's Layer Masks. ~ February 2015

Nov 19, 2014

A Little Bit About Photoshop's Layer Masks.

A while back we had a request from a customer asking us if we could provide some information on how to use the Masking Layers in Photoshop. This is a great feature that can be used for many different purposes. Think if you would about a Halloween mask, behind which you can hide portions, or all of your face. The masking layers then are the same, allowing you to hide or reveal as much as you want of an image, without sacrificing anything by cropping or erasing portions.

To show you some of what it can do, we came up with our own project. Since it's currently the time of Valentines and romance, our task was all about love and marriage. The photos we chose were #264581 and #783838, newlyweds and a rose background, respectively.

The first step was to turn the former into a black and white image as we felt the contrast between it and the lush velvety hue and texture of the roses would be striking. To do so we went to 'Image' > 'Adjustment' > 'Black and White'.

We next combined both images into one Photoshop document by dragging the smaller bridal picture onto the background, which we had renamed "Roses". (This was done by selecting it in the Layers window then double clicking.)

Next we highlighted the layer for the photo of the bride and groom, and clicked the icon at the bottom to create a 'mask'. (This can also be done by going to 'Layer' > 'Layer Mask' > 'Reveal All')

With the mask selected we used the Brush tool from the bar at the left, (which you can find easily by tapping the B on your keyboard) and 'hid' the edges of the black and white photo beneath the roses so it appears as if the bridal couple are floating among the gorgeous blooms.

One of the magical things about Photoshop is that you don't have to know all of the things it's capable of doing to be able to use it to your advantage. You really can go along quite well with just a few of the basics. But should you want to increase your knowledge there are many helpful tutorials that allow you to learn as much as you want, or as little, at your own pace.

What's even more fun, though, is that if you decide to experiment and explore, the tools and techniques you can utilize to transform your images are many.

To learn more about how to put your creativity to the test with Layer Masks check out this great link:

A Featured Collection:

Continuing our theme of love and romance we thought we'd highlight a new collection of some beautiful Valentine illustrations:

From Our FAQ:

When I try and download a WMF file it opens in a program and I cannot save it to my computer.

When you get to the instruction page screen, please right click directly on the continue button and this should give you the option to "Save Target As". When you choose this option a file save box will pop up and you will have the choice of changing the file name and choosing a directory to save the image in. Please ensure the file extension is correct before you save the file.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - Turn a Great Photo Into a Watercolour. ~ November 2014 - Turn a Great Photo Into a Watercolour. ~ November 2014

Nov 19, 2014

Turn a Great Photo Into a Watercolour.

When you search among the photographs available on or it doesn't take long to discover the variety and quality. There is something to suit every need and style.

However, as much as a photograph can provide the perfect visual detail to a project there are times when it's necessary, or just fun to put a different spin to them. You might, for example, wish that the image you liked was a painting rather than a photo. With image editing software, you can of course achieve this. While the process might not exactly make you a Van Gogh, the results are satisfactory for most purposes and come without the expense of hiring an artist.

Author Seth Godin has said that art is not in the eye of the beholder, but in the soul of the artist. Well, the 'artist' we set onto this task has a basic understanding of Photoshop but a strong desire to learn through experimentation. The key point is how much fun it can be to take an image and see what you can do with it through a little trial and error.

The first step, obviously was to select a photo that we thought would make a great 'watercolour'. This gorgeous shot of autumn in New York's Central Park (#296795), one of the most popular downloads this season, seemed ideal.

Opening the image in Photoshop, we didn't bother changing the size, but it will be something you'll need to do to meet your needs. Our first step was to brighten the overall picture and intensify the colours just a tad by going to 'Image'>'Adjustments'>'Hue/Saturation' and changing the settings to -3 for Hue, 2 for Saturation and 1 for Lightness.

Next we renamed the background layer to 'original' then right clicked and created a duplicate copy.

With this one highlighted we chose 'Filter'>'Artistic'>'Dry Brush'. The settings used were Brush Size, 3, Brush Detail, 2 and Texture, 1. Play with these to get the effect you like. Next change the 'Blend Mode' to 'Screen'.

Highlight the original layer and select 'Filter'>'Artistic'>'Cutout'. For this purpose we set the Number of Levels to 7, the Edge Simplicity, 3 and the Edge Fidelity, 2, but again, you can play with these setting to get the result you want. Choose Soft Light for the Blend Mode and you're done.

From Our FAQ:

Can I use your images in my iPad/iPhone app?

This usage is usually covered by special licensing. Please email with full details of your project, including the approximate number of images you require.

A Featured Collection:

There's a nip in the air and a chill in our bones as we look ahead to winter. This collection of photos remind that there is beauty out in the cold:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - Showing Our Customers How Much We Care Is... ~ August 2014 - Showing Our Customers How Much We Care Is... ~ August 2014

Jul 2, 2014

Showing Our Customers How Much We Care Is...

One of the things that Vital Imagery has always taken great pride in is our level of customer service. We strive to respond to emails as expediently as possible, rarely outside the window of 24 hours and typically within an hour or two. As well we are here, in person, to answer your calls from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Monday to Friday.

These days when you contact us by phone, it is likely you will have the pleasure of speaking with the newest addition to our VI family - Lisa McLaren, who took on the role of customer care at the end of April. Prior to coming to us, Lisa had spent five years as an advertising consultant with The Goderich Signal Star. There, in addition to building a relationship with her clients she was also involved in graphic design, creating the ads.

"I enjoyed customer service and graphics, so when I decided to change jobs I felt the position at Vital Imagery would really suit me," said Lisa.

However, even a good move comes with some apprehension, of course. "I was nervous at first. After working at a place for five years and knowing the job, I did feel a bit like I was moving into unknown territory." Her cheerful, outgoing personality has proven to be the perfect fit for the company, though, and the transition was seamless.

"I love the people I work with here and I really do enjoy helping people from all around the world. I think it's amazing that we work in such a tiny town, but have such a large presence on the internet for images and animations."

The change in employment also brought about a big change in her personal life. A mother of a young daughter, Lisa made the decision to relocate closer to her new job and moved in with her boyfriend of 2 1/2 years and his two sons. "Leaving the paper was a big decision. Making the move to combine our families was an even greater one."

Now, spending time with her expanded family is the number one priority on her off time. "On the weekend, I am usually hanging out with the kids, but when I get time I do enjoy kayaking, fishing and camping, and reading a good book. I'm also known to be found in the kitchen trying my hand at a new recipe."

With her VI family, she looks forward to the continued challenge of life in a new career. "Every day I am learning something and seeing a new side to this unique and exciting business."

From Our FAQ:

Why does the quality become very poor when I make a JPG/PNG/GIF image larger?

The problem is, when image editing software makes a raster image (JPG, PNG or GIF formats) larger, it has to add pixels that were not there before, leaving it to guess as to what these new pixels are supposed to look like. The larger you try to make your image, the worse your image is going to look. If you need a larger file than we offer, you may wish to purchase a vector version (if available) and then use the editing software to save the image to the required size.

A Featured Collection:

It might be the dog days of summer but it won't be long before we notice the shortening days and cooling nights. The final weeks of vacation are coming to an end and youngsters everywhere will be making their way back to school for another year. In preparation, we hope you enjoy this featured collection from Back to School Collection.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - Create a Photo Collage. ~ July 2014 - Create a Photo Collage. ~ July 2014

Jul 2, 2014

Create a Photo Collage.

Whether you're an avid scrapbooker, graphic designer or just simply enjoy playing around with images, there has probably been a time when you wanted, or needed, to put together a collage of photos or illustrations.

When it comes to personal use, a collage can be the perfect way to display photos. Compiling pictures into an ordered group can be a meaningful gift for family and friends. As well, when space is limited, a collage is a great way to gather several favourite shots into one image suitable for framing.

You don't have to be a professional either to achieve a satisfactory end result. All it takes is a basic understanding of Photoshop, a little time and, of course, the right images. If you're new to image editing, and looking for a way to showcase a special person or place it's the perfect project.

With World Cup fever in the air, and to show how easily this project can be done, we've put together a collage of a young soccer player. To begin, we selected a background, in this case image #672732. After opening a new 8" x 10" document in Photoshop, we then opened the illustration and dragged it onto the page. This is the first Layer. (It's good to rename each layer as you do it to make it easier to work with them. Simply double click on the layer name to do this.)


To change the size of the picture, we used 'Edit' > 'Transform' >'Scale'. Then we held down the Shift button and moved the edge of the picture. When we had the size we wanted we hit Return.

The pictures of our handsome little soccer player are #679317, #679241, #679602, #680199, #680104, from The idea was to put a theme shot, in this case a youngster's legs and a soccer ball, in the centre, then fit a selection of photographs of the player himself around it.

To place the first picture, we clicked on the background, then went to 'File' > 'Place' and made our selection. Next, after renaming the layer, we wanted to add a small frame which we did with 'Layer Style' > 'Stroke'. We chose the size and colour we preferred (8 and 0024ff) then added 'Drop Shadow', 'Outer' and 'Inner Glow' from the options at the side. You can play and have some fun with these to see what effects you like.

The steps were repeated for each of the images. The steps for turning the bottom two were 'Edit' > 'Transform' > 'Rotate'.

Once we'd achieved a look we liked, the only thing remaining was to add some text. While the collage would have been fine without anything else, we opted to put a name and date to complete it as a keepsake. After selecting the Type tool we picked the Tahoma font, regular, at 50 pt in white.

Nothing fancy, super simple, and a great memento for yourself or others.

A Featured Collection:

Summer is in the air and with it comes blooming gardens full of colours and textures. This lovely collection of photos celebrates that beauty: Summer Photos Collection.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 - Great Valentine's Day Craft Ideas for Kids. ~ February 2014 - Great Valentine's Day Craft Ideas for Kids. ~ February 2014

Jan 29, 2014

Great Valentine's Day Craft Ideas for Kids

Winter winds chill these days, but as we move slowly towards February there is one heartwarming thing to look forward to Valentine's Day.

While traditionally we think of sending messages or giving symbols of love to our romantic partners on Feb. 14, acknowledging affection for others close to us is also common. Little ones in particular enjoy creating special Valentine gifts for Mom and Dad and with images from teachers can devise imaginative ways to help them say I Love You to their parents.

What we've chosen to do here is a flower made by one of our staff for her granddaughter, using two images. The first is an easy-to-snip illustration of a simply daisy outline #395861. It can be coloured either with a crayon or, for subscribers to the site, online.

The leaf (#396103) was also coloured before two copies were printed and a personal message added. Next the flower was taped to a wooden kebab skewer (a pencil would work too) before the 'stem' was wrapped in green pipe cleaners. Finally the leaves were attached, then we put a wrapped-chocolate candy in the centre. (A sucker would work too, but you would need to attach it right after the flower so you can wrap the stick with the pipe cleaner as well.)

And there you have it. An easy-to-make, sweet treat for Valentine's Day, or any day when flowers and candy say it best.

In conducting our search for ideas we came up with a number of other possibilities that could be made with images, so thought we'd suggest a few. To start, why not create a banner with a special message using some of our lovely alphabet collections:,, and

Choose the ones you like, print them on sheets of paper, then attach them to enough string or ribbon to hang them in a suitable place.

Another suggestion is to fill some small clear packets with potpourri, soap, bath salts or candies. Select a nice image, perhaps something like #178589 to print on a tag which can then be used to seal the package.

For the book lover, here are step-by-step instructions from Martha Stewart's website to create a bookmark using clipart:

Mugs are the perfect starting item to create a special one-of-a-kind gift. Purchase a plain dollar store mug, print letters or select a font or image from and glue them to the mug. This website tells how: Finally, fill the mug with candy hearts or kisses.

What Folks Are Saying About Us

"Thanks iCLIPART I love what you do, what you have and how you offer it. You're the best."
Louise, Author/Illustrator of the My Parents First Computer books

A Featured Collection:

Snow is all around and there's lots of winter still ahead of us. People who love the season's sports are making the most of it, throwing rocks, shooting pucks and hitting the slopes. This featured collection of illustrations from has them all. Winter Sports Clipart

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - Send a Christmas Card With a Personal Touch ~ December 2013 - Send a Christmas Card With a Personal Touch ~ December 2013

Dec 3, 2013

Send a Christmas Card With a Personal Touch

Christmas cards are an excellent opportunity for staying in touch with old and new friends, family near and dear. As technology has inspired variety, more and more people are turning away from the standard boxed greetings and exercising a little creativity to add their own personal touch in sending out seasonal messages.

Besides extending best wishes to loved ones, neighbours and friends, this holiday tradition is a great way of updating folks on how you're doing. To that end including a family photo has become a popular option. People who don't see you often, appreciate this memento. Rather than just slap that picture inside, however, why not make it part of the card?

We decided to give it a try using one of the fantastic festive backgrounds from the collection to frame a photograph of a father and daughter. It was quite simple and only required a few steps to complete.

To get things started you will first need to open a new file in Photoshop, then alter the size. For our purpose we went with a 6" width by 4" height. Next, go to 'File'>'Open' and select the image you have chosen. We opted for a subdued snowflake background (Image #536373). As this particular illustration was square, rather than rectangular, we did have to crop it to fit before dragging in onto the open Photoshop file.

To ensure an even border you will want the rulers visible. ('View'>'Rulers') You can now set the guides to create the guides to outline the frame, by choosing 'View'>'Show'>'Smart Guides', then 'View'>'New Guide'. Move the guides to set your border at the desired width.

With the frame in place you can now open your picture in Photoshop. (We selected #678791 from Size it to fit the centre portion of the card, cropping if necessary, then drag it onto the file. If it's still a bit large, use 'Edit'>'Transform'>'Scale' to alter it. Hold the Shift button while you move in the corners to where you need them, then hit return/enter.

Finally, while pictures may speak louder than words, it's likely you will want to include some text. Choosing the fonts can seem a daunting prospect with so many choices available. Obviously in this case something festive is what you'll be looking for. In addition to the ones on the website,'s Pinterest page gave us several Christmas font suggestions. You can check them out here:

We chose Allura for "Merry Christmas" and Prelude for "From our neck of the woods to yours." Using the eyedropper tool in Photoshop we clicked on the hat and snow to match them to the fonts. Simply highlight the text, click, and voilá - a Christmas card cover that's truly all yours.

What Folks Are Saying About Us

"With all the online business transactions that take place every day, it is rare to have a company with employees like you who really do their best to take care of their customers. I know, and I am grateful."
J. Miller, Horn Lake MS

A Featured Collection:

This time of year all thoughts are of Christmas. has hundreds of wonderful festive images to suit every taste and need. However, if adorable is what you're looking for this collection is sure to appeal: Christmas Clipart

Thursday, November 7, 2013 - And in the Accounts Department we welcome... ~ November 2013 - And in the Accounts Department we welcome... ~ November 2013

Nov 6, 2013

And in the Accounts Department we welcome...

A new face has joined the team at Vital Imagery Ltd. Recently the company bid farewell to Accounts Manager Allyson Cardiff and with great delight has welcomed Jane McCutcheon to the position.

In her role at VI, Jane will be handling customer service calls as well as the day-to-day financial operations. Though she has had previous experience in those fields, Jane is particularly excited to use her knowledge of IT and software application to benefit the company. Prior to coming to VI, Jane spent two decades working for a company where she helped develop and implement new software to improve efficiency in administration and production, as well as gaining experience as a customer service manager.

"Now, when I'm speaking with VI customers, that background enables me to feel comfortable discussing operating systems and different software that will be of interest to them in using the images from our site. I love to be able to talk to people all over the world and use my expertise to assist them. I am well-versed on what customers expect from a company."

Never one to run from a new challenge, Jane is a self-described trailblazer, professionally and personally. Her first career move was working as a distribution operator for Ontario Hydro. "I was actually the first woman in the control centre and prior to that climbed poles training to be a lineman. I love new challenges and experiences and I'm not afraid of trying new things."

That spirit also took her to unexpected places in her personal life. Born and raised in the heart of metropolitan Toronto, Jane met and married a young man from the rural countryside of South-western Ontario. Now living on a mixed-farming operation, with her husband and two children (son Luke is a high school student, Hannah is off to university) Jane spends leisure time in a variety of ways though hockey is her first passion. "I have a love for the Leafs."

She also enjoys golfing, hot tubs, wine and photography.

Now Jane is excited to be working just a short distance from home with her new extended family at Vital Imagery Ltd. With enough time under her belt to be settled in to her the office chair, Jane says, "I like working for a company that understands what it takes to please people. The appreciation shown to their customers is shown to their staff as well. I love my job."

What Folks Are Saying About Us

"Thank you very much for the tip on desaturating and adding back the colour (From the September newsletter) It is ALWAYS great to learn new tricks in Photoshop. I am a person who learns quicker from trial and error and of course tips like yours. Please keep them coming as you have just save me loads of time and painful erasing!!! Thanks very much also for all your clipart. I am starting to design quite a bit of work and your site is priceless."
Andrew W. Alicante, Spain

A Featured Collection:

The American Thanksgiving is on its way. Here's a collection of just some of the great images from our site that will be perfect for your holiday projects: