Grab life by the handlebars

Today I have an upbeat project to work through with you today, and it all begins with a magical transparency that I got as a freebie from E-Scape and Scrap and made by one of my favorite designers, G & T Designs.  When I first saw it I thought, “Na, I don’t want that; I’ll never use it.”  I did download it though and came across it while I was looking through backgrounds.  When I saw it that time I fell in love with it and thought it absolutely perfect for this project.  I had to flatten the image to post it here, but the original is a transparency where the windows have been masked out.


The theme of the finished piece I hope elicits the joy and freedom of biking, and it’s called Grab life by the handlebars.  It has many layers, elements and groupings so let’s get started with some of those.

Below are the papers used in addition to the main background and all of the elements.





I began with a new white layer in PS size 12 x 12.  To that layer I added the butterfly layer that I duplicated twice putting an oil paint filter on one dupe and a find edges filter on the other.  Blending mode and opacities are shown above.  I then formed a group from those three layers.  The main layer was added along with the white crinkled paper and the brown overlay to add some color.  I quick-selected the window area, created a mask for the butterfly group, and painted out the part of the butterfly group that appeared in the window.

The photo behind the window is a free image found on Creative Commons, which I duplicated putting a find edges filter on the dupe.  The original photo was set to multiply mode with an opacity of 55%, and the dupe was set to multiply with an opacity of 75%, so the photo actually looks more like a drawing.  I made a group from the photos, and again I had to select the window frame and mask out the parts of the photo that overlapped.  The red bike was placed in the window frame.

Then it was time for the really fun stuff.  I composed a yield sign that had a ‘To Bikes’ sign (made with the small brown paper and text) and a Bike Route sign clamped to it, and I made a group from these elements, so they could be moved around as a whole.  I took the lines of stitching and cropped out the line I wanted, which I placed along the bottom edge of the brown overlay to make it look like a road, and placed the blue bike, to which I had added a basket of flowers and made a group of them, onto the ‘road.’   The yellow tricycle tries to keep up behind it. 

The birds flew in next…a bluebird on the window sill, a hawk in the sky high above and some little birds on a wire.  I only wanted one line of the birds on the wires, so I set the blend mode to darken, which hid the white background, created a layer mask and painted out all the other wires and birds.  This I tilted a little and added the text, ‘Be free. Be happy.’ above tilted at the same angle.

Under that text came another line of text, ‘Grab life by the handlebars,’ with an underscoring of twine and some black hearts, all grouped and then one more text line ‘and FLY’ also grouped.

Finally I added the red hearts in the upper left and another line of stitching across the top.  Just because.  And here’s how it looks.  


Makes me happy.  And I hope you like it too.

Tip: In the previous post I talked about collecting all the images, backgrounds, and elements you can get your hands on, and I forgot to mention the very simplest of all.  Scanning.  Scan fabrics, leaves, flower petals, your own scribbles & doodles, anything to which your imagination takes you.



2 responses to “Grab life by the handlebars

  1. Loving these tutorials and the happy spirit of this one!

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