CREATE: Reducing Layer Opacity in Photoshop

how to reduce layer opacity in photoshop

As a follow up to last week’s tutorial on creating image masks, I wanted to show you a super fast tutorial inspired by a reader comment (hi, Jackie!). Jackie specifically asked how to reduce the opacity of an object in Photoshop — which basically means that it’s slightly transparent, and you can see through it. It’s another fab technique you can use on its own (or even combine it with clipping masks) to create great graphics for your blog!

In the example above, which is one of the easiest and most common, you can see that the white rectangle has a slight reduction in the opacity, so that it’s not a completely solid white box. This allows us to see the chairs in the image behind it. Let’s take a look at how to do this.


Open up the image you would like to use in Photoshop. In this first example, we’ll use our chair image again. Size the image to your blog body column, or whatever the project at hand requires.  Read more »


quote embrace the limitation

I got the idea for this post after a few things came together. One was watching the TED talk ‘Embrace the Shake’ by artist Phil Hansen, another was just my own thinking of how people less fortunate accomplish amazing things with whatever they have to work with, the show Project Runway (I’ll explain), and the last was when I showed a recent painting I did to a few ladies that live in my building and they asked how I did it and I told them I had some leftover paint from another project, so I just used it. They said, that’s a true artist, someone who will just use whatever they have to create something.

Those four things I keep in mind when I get frustrated. Usually I’m frustrated by the endless amount of options of paint colors and a blank canvas. What direction will I go!?! But when there is some sort of limitation — usually in any situation — it becomes easier to start and finish a project, or in this case for me, a piece of art. That limitation could be as simple as a client wanting certain colors and a specific look, to being out of one material and having to use another instead. But if you want to take things to another level, you can limit yourself in ways that will help you create things you never thought where inside of you.

To fully understand what I’m talking about, watch Phil Hansen’s TED talk. He literally says, “I was paralyzed by all of the choices.” I feel that way all of the time. Especially when I’m putting together product posts. I”ll think to myself, well maybe there’s a more perfect pair of shoes for this post, when I already have a great pair picked out.

And when I talk about thinking of how less fortunate people accomplish amazing things, it just helps me put my life into perspective and not complain about anything and just keep forging ahead. It also helps me realize that I don’t need “ideal circumstances” to get things done. I just need to stop thinking and work with what I have! I think about people like Liz Murray who wrote Breaking Night, also known as Homeless to Harvard, and that motivates me to get moving.

I mentioned the show Project Runway because I think that the time and sometimes material limitations they put on the contestants (sometimes) makes them end up creating amazing items that they never would have thought of otherwise. It really stretches them creatively. Even though it’s beyond a stressful experience, having those limitations and time constraints makes the designers just go for it. If they don’t want to be kicked off that episode they have to create something. One great example that comes to mind is the bird seed dress. No one would ever think to do that unless they were limited with materials.

The limitations can actually be freeing. If you say you can only do something a certain way, or with one marker, or in 10 minutes with whatever you have, you end up just going with what you have and possibly creating something beautiful.

Next time you are stuck, or just for fun, think about limiting yourself. Whether it’s on a post, or on a piece of artwork, or on a project. See if by creating limitations you can become more creative. I’m definitely going to start doing this more myself! Don’t assume that everything you create under a limitation will be amazing, of course it won’t be. Maybe 4 out of 5 will be crap, but maybe that 5th one will be beyond amazing, or maybe the process will help you learn a new technique with a new material you never thought of using before. You never know…

Have you ever felt paralyzed by too many options?

Have you ever limited yourself and something amazing came out of it?


meg sig




creativity takes courage - HENRI MATISSE - megan matsuoka

Let’s end the week with a quote by the famous artist Henri Matisse:

“Creativity takes courage.”


You can purchase this print on Megan Matsuoka ‘s Society6 shop.


Have a great weekend!


DON’T FORGET: Twitter Chat this Sunday (here are the questions!)

b-bar-twitter-chat-etiquette reminder

Don’t forget, our next Twitter chat will be taking place this coming Sunday, July 27, at 1pm eastern time. The topic? Everything blogger etiquette. The chat will last a half an hour. Ready for the questions?

We’ll be covering two main questions related to blogger-to-blogger etiquette:
Q1. What courtesies do you typically provide other bloggers or publishers when working with or linking to them? (A few things to share with your fellow chat participants: how do you handle image crediting? What about emails from other bloggers asking to guest post or asking you to guest post? How do you respond to bloggers who are asking for favors, especially if you don’t want to comply?)

Q2. How do you approach blogger-to-blogger etiquette around social media? Do you respond to everyone who tweets you or leaves a comment on your Instagram? How do you introduce yourself on social? Do you jump in on Twitter conversations between other bloggers?

Then, we’ll look at two big questions related to blogger-to-brand etiquette:
Q3. How do you respond to a brand when you’re not interested in what they’ve pitched? (This could be a simple gifted item, a sponsored post, anything!)

Q4. What are the “polite” business practices you as a blogger should do when working with a brand?

Finally, we’ll open it up to your own stories and experiences:
Q5. Either from your own experiences or from behavior you’ve observed, what’s one etiquette no-no a blogger should NEVER do? What’s one thing a blogger should ALWAYS do?

Now remember, each question is numbered (Q1, Q2, Q3), so during the Twitter chat, we recommend numbering your response tweets A1, A2, A3, etc, as your responses correlate to the questions. This way, other participants can follow the conversation! It also means that if you hop in late, you can still answer a question from early in the chat.

And, don’t forget, we want to be sure we can see your tweets, and that everyone else in the chat can see them too (after all, you are fabulous). So while we definitely appreciate you tagging us at @shopthebbar in your tweets, be sure you include the #BBarHH hashtag. It’s the easiest way for everyone participating to see what you’re sharing!

We’re so excited to connect with you all again on July 27. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please let us know!



create your own projects 600

When I first started working for myself I wasn’t sure how to organize myself as I was figuring out what exactly my business looked like. I felt like creating projects and scheduling meetings — with myself — was strange. But once I realized that starting and organizing actual projects for myself, even if they weren’t for clients, even if they were just something I wanted to explore in a serious way, making it an actual project helped me get it done and make it more than just some random thing I do sometimes.

For me, some of these projects have turned into actual businesses, some of them were just fun or expanding my creativity, some were for blog content. All were worth it.

You can be as strict or flexible with it as you want with your project, but by scheduling a time to sit down and think about it, naming it, putting deadlines on it, outlining it with goals, and getting to work on your project, it will help you stay on track and actually finish what you are trying to accomplish. And who knows, maybe it will turn into something more.

A few examples:

A lot of people who are trying to hone in on their photography skills will do an Instagram challenge. You can just Google or search for Instagram Photo Challenges and find lists for certain months. There will be a word or phrase for each day of the month and usually a hashtag to go with it. Or you can always make up your own Instagram challenge for yourself! Write it out and follow it. You can even post the details of the challenge on your own Instagram, give it a hashtag and see if any of your followers want to do it with you. For year-long example: Kelly of Design Crush is doing #365quotes on her Instagram.

An example of mine is when Katie and I created to & from gift guide magazine. We had an idea, planned it out, and got to work. We had no idea if it would catch on, or if advertisers would be interested in it, but because of our preparation, planning, and pitching, it worked out and became a business.

The Uniform Project™ started in 2009 by a woman who was bored with her advertising career. Creatively and ethically drained by the corporate world, she came up with an unusual creative challenge; to wear the same dress for an entire year, but this is where the real challenge came in, she’d have to make it look unique every single day. She also vowed to make the challenge more meaningful by turning it into a fundraiser to send less fortunate kids to school. Read more about The Uniform Project™ here. The project caught on, and a year later she was giving a TED talk in Dubai.

Lisa Congdon started a blog in 2010 called A Collection A Day. In December of 2009 she decided to start planning a year-long project that she would document on the internet. Every day (365!) she would post a photograph of one of her own collections or a drawing or painting of an imagined collection on a blog called A Collection a Day. This project ended up getting amazing press and turned into a book published by UPPERCASE.

Talk about a project turning into something amazing! Can you imagine if one of your projects turned into a published book! It’s possible! So start brainstorming your next project! If you feel inclined to share your project with us, please leave a link in the comments!


meg sig

Image Credit: Death to the Stock Photo