Beginner's Guide to Digital Scrapbooking: Making a Layout Step by Step | Two More Days

Welcome back to my Beginner’s Guide to Digital Scrapbooking. Now that you’ve chosen your software and have some supplies and basic techniques, let’s start working on our layout.

When you first start out, a template is a great place to start. Using a template means you don’t have to feel intimadated by a blank page and it will usually give you some inspiration for your page as well. If you want to use the template, I’m using it’s the free November challenge template from The Lilypad.

When you open your template in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you’ll see that the document already has some layers. Some of these we’ll clip papers to and some are just markers for where we might put an element or word art.

Remember that anything on a template can be deleted, modified, or added to. You can “mess it up” as much as you want to make it your own. It’s okay to just use it as is, too. I  can’t leave a template alone, so the first thing I’m going to do is make some modifications to this template.



You’ll see that I moved everything up the page quite a bit. I also decided that while the green block was intended as a paper mat, I think it would make a really great photo mat. I moved some of the paper blocks off to the side, so they wouldn’t obscure my photo. In the process, my blue block lost it’s shadow, but I’m not worried because I’ll be adding my own shadows.

Sometimes I have a kit that I want to scrap with and I use that to decide what photo I’m going to scrap. Sometimes I have a photo I want to scrap with and so that determines the kit I use. In this case, I know I want a photo that will look good in a long landscape crop, so I’ll start there.


I think this picture of Isaac cuddling with his elephant will work well, so I open it in photoshop. My camera always saves at 72 dpi, so the first thing I want to do is change my photo to 300 dpi with Resample Image unchecked. Than I place it into my layout.

Obviously it’s a little bigger than I really need it to be, so I’m going to scale it down and use a Clipping Mask (Cmmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G) to clip it to the green block. (If you’re unfamilar with clipping masks, this tutorial by Krista Sahlin is a great introduction to them.)


Now we’ll start to decide what papers and elements we’d like to add to our layout. I’m a chronic one kit scrapper, so I’ll pick out a kit I want to work with, but don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to one kit when you make a layout. This is another thing that just depends on your style and preferences. Try out using one kit, a couple of kits with a similar color palette, or papers and elements from a bunch of different kits. While I prefer cleaner layouts and usually only used one kit, Carly can seemingly fit her whole stash on one layout and still make it look amazing.

About the closest I get to mixing kits is purposeful collaborations, so in this case I decided to use Fresh by One Little Bird and Sahlin Studio. I picked this kit because it’s bright colors match the colors in Isaac’s blanket.

I started out by layering a neutral paper on top of a pattenered paper. I scaled down and turned the kraft paper so that some of the red pattern would show behind it. When you are resizing elements, it’s a good idea to hold down the Shift key so that you don’t distort them.

Be sure to shadow your papers as you stack them. If you don’t add shadows, you’re pages will end up looking weirdly flat, but you also don’t want your shadows to look overly deep. Check out Peppermint’s mind-blowing shadow tutorial for some basic tips on shadowing. At this point, I also deleted the included shadow style from the green photo mat and added my own. If you use the included shadows, make sure that all your shadows match them in direction.

I pick out a few more papers and clip them to my other paper layers. Be sure that when you are shadowing when you are clipping items to a layer, that you shadow the layer the items are clipped to or your shadows won’t show up. I actually don’t really like how the blue hexagon paper looks, so I’m going to pick out a different paper for that block.


I think I like this subtle blue damask better. I’m not really feeling the banner, but I like the balance of it so I decide to use a bead scatter instead.


I follow Amy’s suggestion for element placement and put a big flower on top of the paper blocks. The flower was bit too big in its original size so I scaled it down a bit. My kit doesn’t have any plain stitching, but it does have some stitched trim, so I add that. But I think it would look weird on the top, so I’ll just add it to the bottom.  Then I delete my stitching guide.Instead of a paper circle, I add the circular “perfect” label and add in the “freshly squeezed” word art since it is a perfect match for my photo.


I add the doilies to add some more interest to the page and decide I don’t like the beads on the top and move them towards the bottom. At this point, the element suggestions are more distracting than anything, so I turn them off. I also delete the green trim, since I decide it’s not really working on my layout.


I add the sweet life word art to the bottom, then add the rings behind the photo. You will notice that at this point a lot of what I’m adding has nothing to do with the template. That’s okay! Remember that templates are a great starting point, but you shouldn’t feel limited by them.


I also added the mists on top of the rings. To do this, I put a layer above the rings and clipped it to them and then added a copy of the mist to the layer below the rings. This makes it look like I really sprayed paint on the page.

I want a bold title, so I think I’ll use an Alpha even though I don’t usually use those either. Fresh doesn’t inclue an Alpha and though I have a free add-on alpha for it from Sahlin Studio, I don’t really think it matches the feel of my page.

While I was considering what Alpha I should use, I decided I wanted to bring in the paper blocks a little and add a tilt so that they match the tilt of the paper bag.

I tired out a few Alphas (basically all the ones I own, since I rarely use them!) but none of them were working, so I finally decided to just use some text and clip a paper to it. This is a great way to “make your own” alpha. I knew I wanted to use “Squeezes” for my title, and while I was picking out my papers to clip I spotted the “100% All Natural” word art and the lemon, which makes for the perfect little title.

I was going to put it on top of the photo, but it felt out of balance, so instead I deleted the word art I had on the bottom of the paper bag and placed it there.

There! I’m pretty happy with this, so it’s time to save. (Actually, I’ve been saving all along and it’s always a good idea to!)

I save three versions of all my layouts: A layered .psd file, in case I want to change something about the layout later, a full-size high-quality JPEG for printing, and a 600 x 600 px 72 dpi JPEG for sharing online.

First, I’ll just head up to file and  click on “Save” (or Cmmd/Ctrl + S)  to save my .psd file.

Next, I will go to the “Layers” menu and choose flatten image. Instead of “Save,” I choose the “Save as..” command and choose JPEG from the drop down menu. I also add “-print” to the end of my filename, so I know this is my high quality print copy.

I always save this JPEG at the highest quality, so that I get the clearest image when printing.

Screen Shot 2012-11-26 at 7.55.59 AM

Now, to save my web version, I’m going to go to the Image menu and choose “Image size…” I change the settings to 600 px by 600 px and then change the pixels/inch to 72.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.30.00 AM

To make my web layout have the clarity of my print, I do one extra thing at this point. I’m going to duplicate my photo layer, then go to Filter > Other > High Pass… and choose the radius where you can see the lines of your layout, but no color or large blocks. .2 Pixels looks about perfect for my layout. (It’s hard to tell in the screen shot, but everything was just lightly outlined.)
Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.37.33 AM
Screen Shot 2012-11-26 at 8.00.36 AM


Hit OK and then choose “Overlay” from your layer blend mode options.

Screen Shot 2012-11-26 at 8.01.46 AM

If you turn this layer on and off, you should notice just a slight difference in the clarity of your layout. Play around with the radius to get the results you like. For this layout, I actually think I’m going to use the .3 radius. Now, flatten your image again and go to File > Save for Web. Make sure you choose “JPEG” and adjust the quality slider until your file size is under 250kb, which is the maximum file size for most galleries. Hit “Save” and add “-web” to your file name so you know that this is your web version.

That’s it! Here’s my final layout:


In the next part of the Beginner’s guide to Digital Scrapbooking, I’ll show you the different ways you can share your layouts with family and other Scrapbookers. You can always subscribe to the feed to make sure you never miss a blog post. If you just joined us, don’t forget to check out my guide to digital scrapbooking software and supplies and basics.


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