Tag Archives: book cover tips

Cracked Skin (PHSH Effect #25)

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Since it’s summer, I thought I’d stay on theme and show you how to make a cracked skin effect.

Not only is this effect relatively easy (and fun) but it can also serve as a good reminder to wear sunscreen and lotion!

Step 1

As always, you’ll want to make sure you’re starting in a New Document. You’ll also want to use a picture of a person for this tutorial as well as a cracked texture of the ground. If you missed the first tutorial in this series, you should be able to find either of these pictures on a royalty free image website such as pixabay.com. You’ll need to make sure you’re using royalty free images if you plan on using them for your book’s cover or promotional posters.

If however you’re here just for fun or practice, you can use a search engine to find the pictures you need.

For the cracked ground picture, you’ll want to use one that has no obstructions, many cracks, and is more or less level.

For the person picture, you can use any picture you’d like, as long as there is a clear spot of skin somewhere. I haven’t tried this effect on clothing, but I’d imagine it would still work. Any picture with a clear spot of skin will do.

To keep things simple, these are the pictures I’ll be using.

Once you choose what pictures you’d like to work on and have them in your work document, go ahead and Duplicate the person layer. If needed, you can also rename the layers to keep things straight. I renamed the original person picture “Woman”, the cracked texture “Cracks” and the duplicate layer “Duplicate”.

 

 

Step 2

Now that you have yourself all set up, change the Cracks layer Opacity to about 50% or lower. You’ll want to be able to see the face underneath, but you’ll also want to be able to see the cracks. If needed, you can also Hide the original person layer by clicking the eye next to it’s thumbnail in the Layers panel and/or rearrange the layers so the Cracks one is on the top.

Once you’ve changed the layers Opacity, go ahead and align it over your person picture if you haven’t already done that. If needed, you can also rotate and/or resize the picture. The goal here is to get the best looking cracks over the person’s face.

Make sure you don’t resize the cracked texture picture too much, you’ll want to keep it slightly bigger than your person for the following steps. Don’t forget you can always erase what you don’t need at the end.

 

Step 3

Next, using the Polygon Lasso Tool, select the parts of the cracked photo that are NOT over the face (the ones you don’t need) and then Delete them.

You can Delete your selections by hitting the Delete button on your keyboard.

You’ll also want to make sure you leave some of the texture over the hair and neck (for example) because we’ll need a bit of wiggle room to work with in the next few steps.

 

Step 4

Once you’ve removed most of the unneeded parts of the Cracked picture, right-click on it, and select Warp from the drop-down menu.

Next, Warp the Cracked layer to fit the face on the below layer. Do this part as slowly as you need to, doing a little at a time. If you warp the cracked texture too much, you may end up doing so to the point it doesn’t look good.

Once you’re happy with the amount of warping, click Enter to apply the changes.

 

Step 5

Bring the Opacity of the Cracked layer back up to 100% and change it’s Blending Mode to Multiply.

 

Step 6

Next, you’re going to create a New Adjustment Layer by going to the Adjustments box that’s on top of the Layers panel, and clicking on the Levels button.

In the Properties panel that pops up, check mark the square at the bottom (next to the eye) this will Clip to Layer. (Meaning the effects will only affect the Cracks layer, instead of the whole project)

After that’s checked, drag the Midtones arrow toward the left. You’ll want to drag it until the Cracks are roughly the same shade as the skin of your person. For me, this was about 2.24.

You’ll also want to drag the Highlights arrow to the left to even out the lighting. Again, this will depend on the picture you’re using, but for me, it was 158.

Once you’re happy with the adjustment, go ahead and close the Property panel. Do this by clicking on the double arrow at the top right corner of the box.

 

Step 7

Next, we’re going to create a Layer Mask for the Cracks layer. To do this, head to the bottom of the Layers Panel, and click the Layer Mask button.

Once you have a Layer Mask, make sure your Foreground colour is set to Black, then use your Brush tool to mask the areas of the Cracks picture you don’t want. You’ll want to make sure the Brush Opacity is at 100% and the Hardness is semi-hard. (Anything over 50% Hardness would work)

You can also use this method to get rid of extra cracks that are on the persons face. (If you feel there are too many)

Alternatively, you could just use the Eraser tool for this, but you’d have to be more careful when erasing the cracks over the face.

 

Step 8

After you finish that, we’re going to add another New Adjustment Layer. This time, it’ll be a Hue/Saturation layer.

Just as before, make sure the box on the bottom of the Properties panel is selected so the Hue/Saturation layer is Clipped to the Cracks layer.

You’ll want to change the Saturation to something low (mine looked best at -66) so the Cracks layer is almost indistinguishable from the skin colour of the person on the other layer.

 

Step 9

The next step is to Merge our layers. To do this, hold down Control on your keyboard and click on: the Duplicate, Cracks, Levels and Hue/Saturation layers, then right-click and select Merge Layers from the drop down menu.

After you’ve Merged these layers, you may want to change the Layer name again so you know what it is. I went with Cracked Person, to differentiate it from the original person picture that’s still in the file. However, the name can be anything you want.

And after you’ve done that, you’re done!

You may be wondering: why did I ask you to duplicate the person picture if we didn’t end up using the original?

That’s a good question!

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it in past tutorials, but duplicating your “base” image is a great hack when you’re learning new PHSH skills. In case you mess up, you can just delete the duplicated (messed up) layer, and start over with the original. Keeping it in the work file allows you to keep working without having to stop what you’re doing to go digging through your cache of pictures to find it again.

Don’t forget to save a PHSH file (.psd) of your work, as well as a .jpeg/.png. That way, if you want to go back and edit or change anything (or remember what you did) you can use the PHSH file to help jog your memory.

I hope you had fun with this tutorial. The next one isn’t coming until October, so you’ll have plenty of time to practice!


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Pointy Teeth (PHSH Effect #22)

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Now you can transform yourself into a vampire – just in time for Halloween! 🧛‍♂️

Step 1

Find yourself a picture that has a nice, clear view of the teeth. I was lucky enough to find one that already has a few pointed teeth on it.

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This is the picture I’ll be using. I’d like to note, your picture doesn’t have to already have pointed teeth, just a clear view of teeth, as this will make it a lot easier to attach the points will be making.

Once you have your picture, go ahead and open PHSH, and start a new project. Then, bring your picture onto it.

 

Step 2

Now that you’re ready to start, make a New Layer, and call it whatever you want. For the purposes of the tutorial, I’ll call this layer Tooth Outline.

On the new layer you just created, use your Brush Tool, and make an outline of what you want the pointed tooth to look like. Do this in a colour that is as close to the tooth colour as you can.

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To get the colour of the tooth, you can click on Colour Swatches in the left-hand side Tool Panel, then when the Colour Picker pops up, click on the part of the tooth you want to use the colour from.

 

Step 3

Once you’re happy with your outline, use the Pen Tool, and trace around the entirety of the tooth. Make sure you get both the pointed part you drew, and the tooth that was already there.

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After making the outline, go to the Paths section (one of the tabs in the Layers Panel), and turn it into a Selection by pressing CTRL while you click on the Work Path layer. You’ll know you’ve successfully Selected the outline when the line turns to a dotted, flashing line.

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Step 4

Now that you have the outline selected, make another New Layer. This layer, we’re going to fill in the rest of the tooth’s colour, so you may want to rename it to something appropriate, like Tooth Colour.

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Renaming your layers isn’t necessary – the effect will still turn out if you don’t name them – but I find it’s easier to keep track of which layer is which when you rename them. If that’s not your thing though, you can go ahead and disregard the renaming part of the steps.

 

Step 5

Once you have the entire tooth filled in, and it matches the colours of the tooth that’s already there, you can go ahead and Deselect the outline. (To do this, you can go to the Rectangular Marquee Tool (the tool directly under the Mouse in the left-hand Tools Panel), and right-click on the selection, then pick Deselect from the drop-down menu that appears.

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After you’ve deselected the outline, make another new layer. This layer is going to be the highlight for the tooth. Go back to your Brush tool, and use a very light white colour, then use that colour and paint a highlight down one side of the tooth.

You may have to change the size of the brush, so the highlight doesn’t look too out-of-place.

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Step 6

Once you’re happy with the highlight you made, you can switch back to the Tooth Colour layer. Next, go up to Filter – Blur – Gaussain Blur, and apply it to the layer.

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You’ll want to use something small, around 0.4 – so that it helps blend the colours, without making the tooth look like it’s fuzzy/blurry.

After you’ve applied that to your layer, go ahead and zoom out, to check out your handiwork from a not super close angle.

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Hopefully, the pointed part of the tooth will look like it’s part of the original.

If not, you may have to go back to the Tooth Colour layer and match more of the original tooth colours to the point.

Or, you may just need more practice!

But, not to worry – this is the last PHSH tutorial for the year, so you’ll have plenty of time to practice before the next one!

This was actually the 2nd tooth I vampire-ized on this picture. I used this one for the tutorial instead of the first, because I felt like this one turned out better.

What do you think?

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Like this tutorial? Check out the rest of the series here!

Glitter (PHSH Effect #20)

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This article was written 21.11.25, please excuse any reference/joke that’s no longer applicable.


Now that it’s summer and we’re finally getting to go back outside in the nice weather, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to pivot away from the ‘depressing’ rain effect I showed you last time, and show you how to make something much ‘happier’: Glitter!

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Also, Pride is this month, so it seemed extra fitting, albeit a little cliché.

Let’s get started!

Step 1

First step for this effect, is you’ll need to find a Glitter Texture picture, and have a picture you want to add glitter to. For simplicity, I’m going to be doing this tutorial with a picture of an eye, and apply the glitter to look like eye shadow.

That said, you can definitely use this technique to add glitter in more fantasy-based pictures, if needed. (I’ll show you an example at the end of the tutorial)

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this yet or not, but if you haven’t found a good royalty-free website to get pictures from (unfortunately you can’t just use Google-d pictures for book covers), Pixabay and Pexels are great websites.

Once you have both pictures, open a new PHSH project, and place both the glitter, and base picture into it, and resize if necessary. Then, (if needed), drag the glitter layer so it’s on top of the base picture.

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You can also change the glitter layer’s Opacity so you can see the base picture through the layer.

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Step 2

Once you have your pictures set, we’re going to use the Eraser tool to erase parts of the glitter picture we don’t need. Using a pretty big sized brush, and a high percent of Hardness, start erasing the parts of the glitter picture you don’t need.

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In my case, this would be everything except for the part of the picture that’s covering the upper eyelid.

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Step 3

Once you’ve erased everything on the glitter layer you don’t need, you can go ahead and change it’s Opacity back to 100%.

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While still in the Layers panel, go over to the Blend Mode (which is the drop-down menu directly to the left of the Opacity), and change it from Normal to Overlay, or Screen. Use whichever one looks best with the picture you have. In my case, I used Overlay.

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Step 4

Once this is done, go ahead and clean up the edges of the glitter layer, if needed. You can also slightly lower the Opacity if you need to. Depending on your image, I wouldn’t make it too low, though, since you want the glitter to be seen over the picture.

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And there you have it! A simple way to add glitter to most pictures.

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Obviously, this is a pretty simple way to show you how to add glitter to something. However, the steps are almost exactly the same, even if you, for example, wanted to make a vampire/give a person glittery skin.

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For this image, I started with the exact same steps as above, but I ended up lowering the Opacity a little more, and, I also right-clicked on the glitter layer and used the Warp function to give it a slightly ‘bent’ appearance, so it would look more like it was attached to the girl’s skin.

Warping the glitter layer is an optional step. I’ve found it tends to only work with certain images, while on others, you can’t tell at all that it was used.

But go ahead and play around to see what works best for you.

You’ll want to get pretty good at applying glitter to images, because the next tutorial I’m gonna be showing you is an effect that just so happens to pair well with this one:


Like this tutorial? Check out the rest of them here!

Boarders (PHSH Effect #9)

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*IMPORTANT*

Aside from my final Product Review (Dec. 13th), this is the last post of 2019!

I will be taking the final 3 weeks of the year and half of January off from posting. I should be back at it Jan. 17th with the first Throw Away Fic of the year. (The next PHSH tutorial will come either come Jan. 20th, or sometime in Feb. Keep an eye out on my Twitter account, as that’s where I announce new posts)

Whether you wanted to up your book cover game, or start your own merch shop, or just wanted to have some fun, I hope you’ve found these tutorials useful.


This is the very last PHSH Effect of 2019!

In honour of this time of the year, I thought I’d show you something that could help you spruce up the annual x-mas card. I’m talking about boarders, of course! You can make a boarder look like pretty much anything you want to, but in keeping with the holiday spirit, I’ll be showing you how to make a ‘snow-y’ boarder like the one below.

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It’s a lot simpler than it may look, I promise! And, once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably want to do them all the time for whatever you’re creating.

Step 1. Create a Solid Colour layer from the bottom of the Layers panel. It can be any colour you want. For simplicity, I’m making mine blue.

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Step 2. Click on the Layer Mask (the square of colour that’s closest to the Layer name) This is the part we’re working with, not the actual layer.

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Double click the Layer Mask square to bring up the Properties panel, then click on Invert. This will make the square go white (or black) – don’t worry! This is just to show it’s inverted. The Layer Mask square may be black now instead of white, too.

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Step 4. Next, go to your Brush tool (left-side tool bar) and select one of the Creative Brushes from the bottom of the list. Because I want this boarder to look snow-y, I’m selecting a brush that looks somewhat like snow-flakes. (They’re just little dots, but still)

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Step 5. Once you find a brush you like, you can draw a square/boarder around the edges of the document. This is how you make the ‘boarder’ for the document. The colour you picked in Step 1 may appear through the lines you drew, that’s supposed to happen.

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Aaand it’s at this stage I realize I did the steps backward. (I’m human, okay? Sorry to shatter the illusion) So I changed the background colour to blue, and made my boarder off-white, so it looked more like snow. I also changed the size of my brush so you could see the ‘dots’ more clearly, instead of having it look like a solid line, so it more closely resembles snow.

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Now, if you’re not doing snow, this is pretty much it, you can add whatever picture or text you want, or even go back and change the colour of the boarder or background.

If you want to stick with me and make this look like snow, it’s gonna take a while. This boarder looks fine, but doesn’t really look too snow-like. Since I’m using a dotted brush, now I’m going to add a bunch of dots (or ‘snow’) over more of the background, to make it look more like it’s snowing.

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After this is done, as I said above, then you can add any other pictures or text you like, and then that’s it! (Don’t forget to save your work.)

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Carved (PHSH Effect #4)

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This month, we’ll be keeping with the word effects, and I’m going to show you how to make a carved/chiselled effect on wood, metal or concrete.

There’s two ways I’ve found to do this, so I’ll be showing you both. They both take roughly the same amount of skill, but one of them works better for making the words looked carved into a variety of backgrounds, and the other is more specific to the three backgrounds listed above.

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This is the first way, which looks best on either a wood, metal or concrete background, using the Times New Roman or another similar font.

This is the second way to do it, and as you can see, it easily works on a non-wood, metal or concrete background, and doesn’t need to be done using the Times New Roman font.

Way #1:

Step 1. Get a metal/wood/concrete background. You can do so by either finding one on a royalty-free image site (such as Pixabay.com) or, you can right-click and save the two pictures below to use as the background for this tutorial.

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Step 2: Once you have the pictures, open PHSH and make a new document. Drag the pictures to your work document and resize if necessary. Once that’s done, type a phrase or sentence you want to change. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll just use ‘Carved’. Also, to keep things simple, I’m just going to use the Times New Roman font, and made it 150pt size. (My canvas size is roughly 25cm x 17cm)

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With this way to do it, you’ll want to make sure that your font colour is just plain black.

Step 3: Right-click on the Type layer (‘carved’ word) and go to the Blending Options.

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In the Default Blending Options (the panel that opens right when you click on it), go to Blend Mode, and select Screen from the drop-down menu.

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Step 4: Once you select Screen, you’ll notice the word disappeared. Don’t freak out, it’s still there (as evidenced in the Layers panel), we just can’t see it right now.

Next, go to Bevel and Emboss, and copy the values listed below:

  • Style: Outer Bevel
  • Technique: Chisel Hard
  • Depth: 200%
  • Size: 12 (or 6 depending on how the finished product looks)
  • Angle: -45, 30 (be sure to uncheck the Use Global Light box)
  • Highlight Mode: Overlay, Opacity: 100
  • Shadow Mode: Multiply, Opacity: 75

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Step 5: Once you’ve got that all changed, then go down the left-side list to Inner Shadow, and input these values:

  • Blend Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Angle: 120 (uncheck Use Global Light)
  • Distance: 16
  • Choke: 16
  • Size: 12

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Once that’s done, go down the list again to Colour Overlay, and apply these values:

  • Black
  • Blend Mode: Overlay
  • Opacity: 55

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Once you’re done applying all three of those effects, click Okay to apply them to the Layer.

You should notice the text changing while applying each of those effects, and once you apply the Colour Overlay, you should notice the word now looks like it’s carved into the wood.

And that’s it for this way! You can press on the Eye symbol in the Layers panel that’s next to each Layer, so you can see the effect on the teal metal and the concrete backgrounds.

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Now that I’ve shown you how to do that way, I’ll show you how to do it the second way below. Be sure to save the above work so you don’t lose it!

Way #2

Step 1: Open a fresh document, and drag and drop any other background you want to use. (This time it doesn’t have to be a wood/metal or concrete picture) For this one, I’ll use a room with wallpaper and a chalkboard.

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Step 2: Type the word/phrase you want to use. Again, I’ll just be using ‘carved’ for the tutorial.

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Step 3: This time, go to Fill, which is in the top of the Layers panel, and change it to 0%.

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Step 3: Now, we’ll be going back to the Blending Options, and back to Bevel and Emboss. Change the values to:

  • Style: Outer Bevel
  • Technique: Chisel Hard
  • Depth: 100%
  • Direction: Up
  • Size: 10, Soften: 0
  • Angle: 145, 40 Degrees (Uncheck Use Global Light)
  • Highlight Mode: Screen, Opacity: 75%
  • Shadow Mode: Multiply, Opacity: 75%

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Carved Effect - Way 2 Bevel & Emboss - phsh effect, writing tips, book cover tips, indie author tips, self pub tips

Now go back down to Inner Shadow:

  • Blend Mode: Multiply (Black), Opacity: 90%
  • Angle: 145 Degrees (Uncheck Use Global Light)
  • Distance: 15, Choke: 30, Size: 15

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Carved Effect - Way 2 Inner Shadow - phsh effect, writing tips, book cover tips, indie author tips, self pub tips

And lastly, back down to Colour Overlay:

  • Blend Mode: Soft Light
  • Colour: Black
  • Opacity: 75%

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Carved Effect - Way 2 Colour Overlay - phsh effect, writing tips, book cover tips, indie author tips, self pub tips

Once you’re done that, click Okay to apply the effects. Don’t forget to save your work!

As they are now, both these effects look pretty much the same. The one (big) difference here, is the first way tends to not look right if you try to use a font that’s not close in nature to Times New Roman, and doesn’t work that well if you change the font colour from black.

This second way works for a myriad of different fonts and colours. It’s also faster to do, which can help save you time so you’re not spending too much time on one effect.

Another thing I’ve found works best using the second way, is changing the colour used in the Colour Overlay.

For example:

AterImber.com - Writing - Writing Tips - PHSH Effect Series - Carved Effect - Way 2 Carved Chalkboard - phsh effect, writing tips, book cover tips, indie author tips, self pub tips

Looks fine on the chalkboard background, too. Although we’d need to rotate the text to make it match.

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Here, I used way #2, but instead of using black for the Colour Overlay, I used red – giving the poster a bit more of a morbid feel by making the words look like they have blood in the dents.

Feel free to play around with different colours, angles to see which combination works well for what you need. Also, a quick side note: the Distance/Choke/Size values will most likely vary depending on the size of your font. Don’t be afraid to play around to see how the effect will look in different situations.

As always, don’t forget to save your work as either (or both) a PSD and/or PNG file. I’d hate to have you get the effect just right and then lose all that hard work because you forgot to save it!

Next time I’ll show you how to give a picture a transparent background. Keep your eye out for that July 29th.


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