Video Tutorial: How to Recolor PNGs

Cathy ZielskeProject Life, Tutorials57 Comments

I designed a new set of 3 x 4 cards last week called Check Cards. The cards are perfect for use in your Project Life pockets and some might say they’re kind of adorable.

The set comes as a PNG and ABR set, but also includes sheets of printable PDFs (cards come in black ink only) for those who don’t have Photoshop. Today I wanted to show you how to change the color of the PNG files in Photoshop Elements. Once you have this basic approach down, you can apply it to any PNG file you can get your hands on. Following is a short video that demonstrates the steps plus also how to size the cards down for a perfect fit into Project Life Design A page protectors.

HowToRecolorPNGs from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

1. Open the PNG file.

2. Go to Edit > Fill Layer. Under Contents, click on Color….

3. From the Color Picker, choose a color you’d like to apply. Make sure “Preserve Transparency” is checked. Click OK. Then click OK again. The color will apply to only the image content.

1. To change the width of the card to 2-7/8 wide (the actual width of Project Life cards), or 2.875, go to Image > Resize > Image Size. In the Width field, type in 2.875. Make sure that Scale Styles, Constrain Proportions and Resample Image are all checked. Click OK.

2. To change the height of the card to 3-15/16 (the actual height of Project Life cards), or 3.9375, go to Image > Resize > Canvas Size.

3. Click on the Center Anchor Point. Change the height to 3.9375.

4. This will add an equal amount of extra space to the top and bottom of your page. Your card is now sized correctly.

1. Take your finished PNG file and flatten the file (Layer > Flatten Image), then double click on the locked Background layer to create a new Layer 0.

2. Create a new 8.5 x 11 document (File > New > Blank File).

3. From the upper control bar area under the Arrange Documents icon, choose Float All in New Windows.

4. Click on the PNG file window, then go to the Layer 0, click on the layer and drag over to the 8.5 x 11 document and release. The file should copy into the new document.

5. To add a trim line to the card file, go to Layer > Layer Style > Style Settings and check the box before Stroke, then change the stroke weight to “1 px.” Click OK. Repeat for more cards.

As mentioned in the video, I have this nifty little chart I use all the time when working on digital and hybrid scrapbooking projects. It converts fractions to decimals and millimeters which is very handy when converting for sizing in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Download, print and enjoy!

Download CZ_Fractions2Decimals

Questions? Comments? Post in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. And look for my full Project Life post on Thursday.


This set is on sale today at Designer Digitals. To purchase, click here.


Cathy ZielskeVideo Tutorial: How to Recolor PNGs

57 Comments on “Video Tutorial: How to Recolor PNGs”

  1. #1

    I LOVE LOVE these cards and wanted something this cute for my PL. My thoughts were to have cards that my kids could fill out some days. This way no pressure on writing to much or not knowing what to write, these are PERFECT!! Thank you Cathy for making my wish come true.


  2. #2

    Cute cards….I’m going to go broke buying all these digital elements for my Project Life….LOL! But I love these….so I have to get them! Thanks! Yay Aidan and Cole!

  3. #3
    Sherry Eckblad

    Thanks Cathy! Another great tutorial and as I have said in the past I am learning so much about PSE through your videos. I can’t wait to play with this set now that I purchased it.

  4. #4
    jacquie d

    I caught these over the weekend at DD, along with your new Tine-ay Templates, and got ’em all! Could you make keeping up with PL any easier?? Thanks Cathy. How awesome for Aidan and Cole. You must be so proud!

  5. #6

    I love these and I’m ready to hit purchase but I am struggling with printing. I need to print as many as I can on one sheet. I have no idea which boxes to check to make sure nothing is resized after I hit print.
    I had to throw away several printed photo and cardstock sheets. For the love of paper and ink, please help.

  6. #7
    Lisa M.

    CZ … I’ve said it once & I’ll say it again … your videos are the best! Your instructions are clear & always entertaining. I purchased this cool little set for PL & am looking forward to your type class @ BPS. Thank you!

  7. #8

    Kristin, when you send to print in PSE, if youve gathered many on a sheet, then you need to make sure in your print window that you choose the proper paper size (US Letter, or 8.5 x 11 if you are gathering many cards onto a letter sized sheet of paper) and then making sure you choose the correct print size until Select Print Size (usually referred to as Actual Size (8.50 x 11.0).

    Also, in the video, I show you how create a card, color it, size it, then flatten the file and drag to a new 8.5 x 11 document. The instructions are also here below the video! Good luck!

  8. #10

    Thanks for replying, I’ve gotten that far. What about minimizing margins and bounding bozes and borderless printing. That’s where I am having a problem.


  9. #11

    I would not recommend that ONLY because when I do that, for some reason, my printer prints everything about 4% larger that it should. However, you should have options under Select Paper Size that address the full bleed option. On mine, its called Letter.FullBleed. That is how you would get it to print edge to edge. I would try it on some copy paper in Fast Draft mode first, but that is where you choose full bleed, under Select Paper Size.

    Of course, it depends on what type of printer you have and whether or not your printer supports edge to edge printing. It might be called something different in the drop down menu. : )

  10. #12

    Thanks for the tutorial, Cathy. Your tutorials over past few weeks have taught me so much about what was big and scary PSE! I bought these at the weekend with all of the TTs and I can’t believe recolouring the PNGs is so easy.

    I do have a question though. All goes swimmingly until I try to print a bunch onto one sheet. Everything goes fine, images recolour beautifully, images flatten and change to new Layer 0, move to the new document ok, but my PSE then refuses to play ball when I try to add a trim line. When I’ve dragged the card to the new doc, with that layer still selected, and go to Layer>Layer Style, my Style Settings are greyed out so I cannot add a Stroke as you showed. I’ve tried clicking out and then reselecting Layer, but it still won’t let me. Am I doing something really dumb and PSEnewbie-ish? – is there a setting somewhere I just need to check?!

  11. #13

    Wow, Jules, it sounds like you are doing everything right. Its usually pretty easy to figure out for me, on PSE questions. I dont know why your style settings would be greyed out…. you click on the layer youre trying to add the outline to, make sure its the only layer highlighted in the layer palette… make sure you are using the Move Tool (that might help, but not sure). If this doesnt work, I would try restarting PSE, and trying again.

    And after restarting, you could always draw a shape, go to Layer, Simplify Layer and then try to add a stroke to the shape you just created. Just to see if you CAN add a stroke.

    Keep me posted, okay?

  12. #14
    Chris H.

    Soo, I was thinking…gee wish I had some 4×6 templates kinda like the TAHNY Templates in 3×4…hmmm and there they were in DD when I looked at these cards.

    I like your style, Cathy…clean and crisp.


  13. #18
    Chris H.

    So if I emailed you and said “Hey, what about the $114 million lotto, voila…I win???

  14. #19

    Thanks for replying, Cathy! I tried shape as you suggested but can’t add a stroke via Style Settings at all – maybe a bug in the way my PSE is set up.

    However, adding a stroke via Edit> Stroke (Outline) Selection was a resounding success.

    There’s always a workaround, huh?

    Now I can get busy printing out my pretty recoloured cards, hurrah! Thanks again.

  15. #20
    chris zempel

    I have already bought and used these and love them and your tiny templates, too. Thanks for the tutorial on how to recolor as I really did it the hard way when I was putting together my page yesterday.

  16. #23
    Marsaille Knight

    Oh and ROCK IT KIDS! I would so go see them if I lived close. What a cool play. And cool kids.

  17. #25

    Susan, yes you can, but you would have to add a background (or flatten the file) and then add your own text box using the text tool. These are PNG files. They come as you see in the video. Black artwork on a checkerboard background, no text box for you to type in. Hope this answers the question! PNG files are really easy to customize for your own needs. Once you figure out how to add your own text, you can add text to anything. : )

  18. #26

    Thanks for the help. I figured out how to create a text box, a new layer. Is there a way to make the text fit on the lines?

    do you have any video about saving layouts when done? If I have this out I need to save every layouts 3 ways: 1- pse so I can edit, 2-jpeg 2000 so i can send the layout for example to costco for printing and 3- to web so i can email it. Is that correct?

  19. #27

    I dont have a video per se, but you can change the leading to fit the lines. You highlight your text then change the leading in the upper tool bar under Set the Leading the two stacked A icons. I found that 18 is a great leading to use that will fit these lines. You may have to move your text box a bit to line the lines of words up!

  20. #28

    Cathy – I love the fractions/decimals info but for some reason, when I try to print it, all I get is a blank page. Can you help? Thanks in advance.

  21. #30
    Jamie Danford

    Yo…C-Dawg, what’s up??? It’s been like two weeks since we’ve gotten a good ol’ Cathy post!

    Sure, I’m sniveling and whiney, but dangit I’ve got Cathy-withdrawal! You aren’t holding out on us regular blog readers and givin’ all your good stuff to your Move More peeps are you?

    Come on, how ’bout a chub fightin’ post… a Dan post… a kiddo dressed up like a super hero post… Pleeeeeease???? Pretty pleeeeeease???
    I miss you!

  22. #31

    I think we might need to start a PL journal card anonymous soon! Last week I printed your Monday – Sunday cards and can’t tell you how much fun it was (and calming) cutting them up. Good therapy!

  23. #33

    Janie, Im not sure what to tell you. I would try restarting your Acrobat program, or re-downloading the free version of Acrobat. : ) If it still wont work, I could always try saving it as a JPEG file and emailing it to you personally. Email me at : )

  24. #38
    Kathy A.

    Hi Cathy, Just wanted to thank you so much for your PSE tutorials. I love that you SHOW us how to do it through a video and also TELL us how to do it through the written instructions. As a PSE newbie, I need both ways of getting at this information – it can be quite confusing. Thanks for making it oh so simple! Kathy

  25. #40
    Abby P.

    First of all, congrats to Aiden – I’m sure she’s stoked; second, Thanks again for ALL the Tiny Templates – it’s allowing me to add so much more commentary to my PL project than I would have otherwise(a project, mind you, I had NO intention of starting, but you got me HOOKED). You da bomb, CZ.

  26. #42

    Cathy I think I am developing a serious womance (what do you call the opposite of bromance?) with you – albeit one sided because you don’t know me! LOL. I LOVE these cards! I have already purchased them and they so totally rock!

    I can’t wait for the Type class and although I am struggling with the MMEW class (health issues) you keep me hopeful.

    Oh and your kids are so darn adorable.

  27. #44

    Hey Cathy,

    I’m trying to change the color on a png file that I already have and when I choose the color and select ok the card is a solid color. I chose color and preserve transparency. Any ideas why it is not changing just the colored background? Are all pngs created equal and this should work no matter the file? thanks!

    P.S. Can’t wait for a new MMEW month!

  28. #46
    Jane Simmons

    Ok, got it on recoloring PNGs and got it on creating a new layer via cut and recoloring, but how do I recolor a patterned background layer? It’s a .jpg file. I swear I used to know how to do this but I’m having no luck with fill layer or the paintbucket, just covers up the pattern. I tried adjust hue/saturation and replace color but I don’t think I’m using them correctly. Even dragged out my Renee Pearson books. Any advice? Looking forward to type class…

  29. #47

    Jane, not sure what to tell you. I mean, I would probably not do what youre doing. I just rarely tweak the colors of patterned papers, but I would definitely use Hue/Sat in full Photoshop. : )

  30. #48

    I swear I could watch you work in PSE for hours – I’m struggling to figure it out and your videos really help!

    I do have a PSE9 question if you have time to answer. My text always has jagged edges. I’ve watched a ton of tutorials and they say to choose smooth or strong to correct that but I cannot find that option in PSE9. I’ve turned anti-aliasing on and off and can see a difference but it’s still not as crisp as I would like it to be.

    Any information you can share on this topic would be appreciated!

  31. #50

    When I print it’s usually small enough that it looks ok, but I’m usually making designs for my blog such as a block of color with text on it. It looks jagged in PSE9 and when I post it to my blog it still looks jagged.

  32. #51

    I am not sure what to tell you! Sorry. I know how to troubleshoot some things in PSE, but that isnt one of them. Have you tried Googling a question about it?

  33. #52
    Ann G.

    I love reading your blog Cathy and the Check cards are so darn cute I wish that Becky would use this design as an option for PL as I’m not much of a digi girl and don’t have PSE and I love them in color so I would want to print them this way! Anyway, I love all of your ideas and inspiration, keep them coming. 🙂

  34. #53

    Hi Cathy

    Your videos are really helpful – but I’m having a small issue I can’t get my head round! When I drop my PNG file into a new document, which I’ve created as per your instructions, it throws it all the way over to the left, no margin around it at all, and I can’t figure out how to centre it on the page for printing. Please help!

    Well done to both Aidan and Cole for their roles, by the way!

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