How to Design a Scrapbook Layout Using a Digital Template

(Instructions are for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements)

What is a template?

A template is a digital file, usually in PSD format, that contains individual layers for each paper and photo space on the layout. By placing your individual photos and papers into the template document and clipping them to the template layers, you can quickly and easily create layouts that look great! You can also adjust the template to fit your needs, adding elements and embellishments, adding or removing photos as needed and making the layout your own. If you like, look at templates like a jumping off point for your own unique designs. The hardest part (deciding where to put the photos and paper) is done for you!

From template to digital scrapbook layout

How do I use one?

  1. Open your template in Photoshop or Elements.

    : PixelsAndPix-template01-3-photos.psd
  2. Open a photo or paper you would like to use in your layout. Be sure to match horizontally oriented photo slots in the template to a horizontally oriented photo (and likewise with vertical photos).
  3. Decide where you want your photo or paper to be inserted in the template.
  4. Identify the layer that includes the shape you want to eventually contain your photo or paper. (You can quicky identify this layer by holding down Command on a Mac or Control on a PC while clicking the photo shape in your template design.) Click on that layer.

    : I want to place my background paper right above the layer called “background.” (See below.)Template instructions
  5. Drag your photo or paper into your template document. Your photo should be inserted as a new layer directly above the layer that includes the shape you want to contain your photo or paper.Sample: My blue patterned background paper is directly above the layer called “background.”

    Template design instructions

  6. Make sure your photo or paper layer is selected with the move tool (arrow at the top of your tool box). Clip your photo or paper to the shape layer directly below it.In Photoshop, you can hold down the Option key while clicking on the line directly between the two layers in the Layers Palette. You can also go to the Layers Palette flyout menu and choose “Create Clipping Mask.”

    In Photoshop Elements, make sure your photo or paper layer is active and is placed directly above the layer you wish to clip it to. Hold down Ctrl+G (Command+G on a Mac) to clip your paper or photo to the template element. You can also choose Layer > Group with Previous.

    Sample: The background paper I wish to use is placed directly above the “background” template spot. I made sure the layer was active, then option+clicked on the line between the two layers to clip them together.

  7. Continue to follow these steps for each layer in the template.For text, select your text tool, then double click on the layer text to make the text active. Choose a font you have installed on your computer, then delete the existing placeholder text and replace with your own.

    All template layers are placed as suggestions only. Feel free to add a photo, delete a photo, move elements, change sizes, etc. Just be sure to make any changes before you clip your photos into place in order to avoid skewing your photos. (You can move a template layer without skewing your photo if you leave the photo clipped, rather than merging the photo and the template layer.)

  8. Once all layers are filled with your desired paper and photos, embellish the layout as you desire, adding stitching, tags, ribbons, flourishes, titles, etc.

 Simplified summary of steps

  • Choose photo or paper.
  • Make active (click on) the template layer you wish to contain the paper or photo.
  • Drag your photo or paper into your template document. Your photo or paper should be placed in a new layer directly above the desired template layer.
  • Clip the layers together.
  • Repeat for each layer.
  • Embellish as desired.


Download this tutorial as a PDF: PixelsAndPix-How2DesignLayoutUsingTemplate-sm


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