Whether you are just beginning to digiscrap with Photoshop Elements or have some experience, there are a few key skills everyone should have. Using a combination of these tips will assist in making great pages every time. I’ve followed each hint with a link to a perfect tutorial to help you learn more. If you know of even better tutorials, feel free to leave links in the comments!

5 things YOU should know about PSE

1. How to work with layers – With the layers palette, you can move papers and elements on top or beneath one another. You can create, delete and stylize layers. Understanding how layers work is the true foundation of using PSE or any graphics program.

2. How to make a clipping mask – Clipping masks are not as difficult as they sound. They involve taking a shape that you have created or one that is in a template and “clipping” another image to that shape. You can even use clipping masks on top of elements you get from kits to make something totally new.

3. How to create a drop shadow – There are many tips and tutorials on creating realistic drop shadows. It is first critical to know that any shadow, even a “just OK” one, helps create dimension and realism on your page. In the Effects palette, under Drop Shadows, I find the “Soft Edge” preset to do the trick in most cases.

4. How to adjust colors with a layer mask – I didn’t understand the utility of this feature until I tried it. By adding a layer mask to adjust the hue, you can change the color of a paper or element to most anything you want. This works best for tweaking colors just a bit to complement your photos.

  • Watch Episode 2 of Jen Caputo’s Digital Scrapbooking TV podcast for a great tutorial

5. How to save for the web – If you plan on uploading your layouts to a gallery, you’ll need to use the “Save for Web” feature to reduce the size to 600×600 pixels and 150K.

  • About.com lesson on the Save for Web commend

These tips only scratch the surface of PSE’s power, but these are true basic skills anyone should have. Start by mastering these, and then dig further.