There must be something in the air – I’ve gotten at least a dozen questions this week about flattening, grouping, what the difference is, and why in the heck would you want to flatten something?!?! So today I’ll do my best to shed light on the subject.
Let’s start with the easy one – grouping. Grouping allows you to select more than one element and temporarily combine them into one element. I say “temporarily” because this action can be undone (the elements can be ungrouped) at any time, even after you have saved the page or project.
[Just a reminder that you can click on the pictures/instruction pages to see a larger image!]
One of the reasons why you would want to group something is so that you will not inadvertently move an element that belongs with others. Examples of this are: a text box on top of a piece of paper or a shape, two pieces of ribbon and a tag, one element that is in color while the rest of the picture is black and white, word art elements, small elements like staples and brads, a shaped photo centered on a shaped mat, etc.
Other times you may be making a design or border where you want certain elements to be filled with the same paper or color – you can group those elements and fill them all at once.
1) On the elements panel, click on the first element you want to group, then hold the shift key while selecting the other elements. Now click the drop down arrow on one of the selected elements and choose “Grouping” and then “Group”.
2) On the editing screen, click on the first element you want to group, then hold the shift key while selecting the other elements. Right click, choose “Grouping” and then “Group”.
3) Select the elements you want to group by using one of the methods just described. On the Arrange ribbon, click the Group icon.
You will notice that the elements on the elements panel are now merged into one single element; however, when you select it and move it around, you can see lines around the individual elements.
Now let’s talk about flattening. Before we get too far, let me just remind you that you don’t have to know how a television works to be able to turn it on and watch a program, do you? It’s kind of like that with flattening. Flattening is a process that is NECESSARY to allow you to “cut” a digital image or letters in a text box.
You probably know that your pictures (really virtual images) are made up of lots of tiny little pixels – sort of like if you had a cake pan full of BB’s. If I handed you a biscuit cutter and asked you to cut me out a circle of BB’s, would you be able to do it? No. But if you could somehow make the BB’s stick together to form one piece, you could! Bottom line here is if the program tells you that you must flatten something before you can do what it is that you want to do….FLATTEN IT!!
Here’s the important piece to remember though – flattening is a permanent change after you SAVE the page and/or MOVE to another page. Flattening also takes away the photo or text properties of an element – you cannot use the formatting options for photos or text after you have flattened a photo or text element. That’s why I taught you how to use the mat function to make your photos into a shape instead of cutting them! But what you can do is simply re-insert a photo or text box if you flattened and saved and then changed your mind. No worries!
Some of the functions that require you to flatten a photo or text box are using the cutters, the custom cutting tool, and the magic wand and adding features (like using filters) to your text. We'll talk about them on another day, but until then, have fun with it!