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  • Making Tape Look Realistic in Photoshop Elements

    One way to make digital tape look more realistic is to add shadows that make it look taped down. In just a few steps, your digital tape can appear pressed into the item below it. Katie Pertiet has a great tutorial on her blog for creating this effect in the full version of Photoshop: In the Studio: Adding Depth. This is the workaround for Photoshop Elements.

    Choose a piece of digital tape and an element you want to "tape" to the page. This can be a frame, a slide mount, a journaler, a photo, etc. For the tutorial, I've used a frame.

    Open both images in your software.
    Get the Move tool and drag the tape on top of the frame. In the Layers panel, the tape layer should be one position above the frame layer. If you can’t see the Layers panel, select Window > Layers from the Menu bar.

    Select the tape layer, then click the Create a New Layer icon in the Layers panel.
    This will create a new transparent layer above the tape layer. If you wish, you can double-click the layer and change the name to something more descriptive like "tape shadow."

    Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) the THUMBNAIL of the frame layer in the Layers panel.
    This will make a selection in the shape of the frame.

    Click your "tape shadow" layer in the Layers Panel to select it.
    Choose Edit > Fill Selection from the Menu bar.

    From the fill dialog Contents box, choose Black.
    Set the Blending Mode to Normal and set the Opacity at 100%.
    Untick the “Preserve Transparency” box at the bottom of the Fill dialog. Click OK.

    Now you’ll have a black shape on top of the tape and frame.
    Press Ctrl D (Mac: Cmd D) to remove the selection.

    Select the "tape shadow" layer. Choose Layer > Layer Styles > Style Settings from the menu.
    Tick Bevel. Move the size slider to about 10 pixels and for the direction, tick Up. Click OK.

    Now change the Blending Mode of the "tape shadow" layer to Screen. The Blending Modes are found at the top left corner of the Layers panel. Select the shadow layer before changing the mode.

    At this point, you'll see the tape taking on the shape of the frame, but you’ll also notice a bevel on the frame.
    To apply the bevel to just the tape, Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) the THUMBNAIL of the tape in the tape layer of the layers panel.
    From the Menu bar, choose Select > Inverse or press Ctrl Shift I (Mac: Cmd Shift I) on your keyboard.
    Now select the "tape shadow" layer. Choose Edit > Delete from the Menu bar.
    This deletes the portion of the bevel that is outside of the tape.

    Finally, tweak the Opacity of the shadow layer to give it a more realistic effect. You’ll find the Opacity slider at the top right corner of the Layers panel. Select the "tape shadow" layer and drag the Opacity slider to the left until the bevel is as soft as you like.
    You can always alter the bevel size by double-clicking the fx icon on the tape shadow layer and dragging the bevel size slider. Click OK to confirm the change.

    Adding this little shadowy dimension gives your tape a bit of realism, making it look like it's really attached to your page.