Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

July 10, 2008

Hybrid/Digital Scrapbooking : Working with Layered Templates

[ supplies: Template: Ali Edwards Template 12; Background: Anna's Weathered Neutrals; Patterned Papers: Anna Victoria Pina Designer Paper Pack; Overlay: Title + Journal Travel Overlay ]

This is a full digital scrapbook layout created entirely on the computer. This is the other end of the spectrum from simply adding brushes and overlays to your photos, printing them out, and adding them to your paper layouts.

Take a deep breath before reading below. Once you get the hang of these they are super fun and easy but can definitely be a bit of a challenge in the beginning.

The basic design for this page comes from this layered template:


What is a layered template? I like to think of a layered template as an interactive map. “Interactive” is the key word because it is not like a sketch in that you use it simply as an example, rather it is literally the layout you add your elements to on your computer. Everything is laid out for you in advance (you can follow it exactly or you can move things around – those choices are completely up to you).

When you look at the image above there are a bunch of different shapes. Each of the shapes can be “replaced” with a photo or patterned paper by following the instructions below. Each of these shapes lives on it’s own layer in the layer palette.

The best thing about these templates is that you don’t have to stare at a blank slate if you don’t want to – these are there as a guide to give you some direction. From there you get to customize/choose your own papers, colors, etc (compared to a Quick Page where all the patterned papers, theme, etc are already chosen for you).

As with everything I have talked about this week there is a bit of a learning curve.

Here’s a basic screen shot how-to for working with layered templates: [ Note that I am sure there are more than one way to work with these templates - these are the steps I take to put my layout together. ]


1. Open the .PSD file in Photoshop. You do need to have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to work with these layered templates. One of the keys here is that this is a LAYERED TEMPLATE meaning that none of the layers have been flattened or merged together. You can see each individual layer in the long palette above. Each element has it’s own layer.


2. Choose a patterned paper you want to include on your layout and open it.


3. Drag and drop the patterned paper onto the layered template (you can also use copy + paste). In the layers palette, move the patterned paper layer to the spot directly above the area you want to place the patterned paper. One thing to know: the layers palette goes from top to bottom. The elements at the top of the list are on the top of the pile of layers in your layout.


4. With the patterned paper layer selected, on my Mac I hit “option + command + g.” Hitting those keys will “clip” the patterned paper into that little shape. On a PC the keyboard shortcut to create a “clipping mask” is “control + g.” You can also master this same task by going to the top of the layer palette. There you will find a drop down menu in the upper right corner. With the photo/paper layer selected choose ‘group with previous’ and it will ‘clip’ the patterned paper to the shape of the layer below.

Repeat this same process for all the places you want to add patterned paper.


5. Follow the exact same steps as above for adding your photos.


6. Drag and drop your photo onto the layered template. In the layer palette, move the photo layer (click + drag) to the spot on the list directly above the layer you want to clip the photo into.


7. Repeat step 4 (above) to clip the photo onto/into the layer.

And that’s pretty much it. Seriously, once I got the hang of this I was really excited about how easy it was. The most challenging part becomes choosing the patterned paper to use!

If you are interested in checking out my of my layered templates at Designer Digitals go here.


Need to read someone else’s words or get more information? Check out these layered template tutorials:

Taylor Made Designs (includes a free template to download and try out as you follow along with the instructionsvery detailed step by step with great screenshots)

Misty Cato Designs

Cassie Jones from Designer Digitals has a great tutorial called Getting Started with Templates ($5.99) that is a full-color 21 page PDF with screenshots. Totally worth having that as a reference and a starting point.

Also check out Jessica Sprague’s free digital kits at the bottom of this link – the perfect way to check out some of this crazy digital stuff without spending any cash.


And a common question:

I don’t have a 12×12 printer. How would I print my layouts?

1. Adjust the size to 8×8 and print from home.
2. Upload to a service like, Shutterfly, or Costco. They can print these as 12×12 and you can add them right into your albums.

Here’s the layout above the was re-sized to 8×8 for printing at home:


This layout will go right into my 3-ring albums. I may adhere it to a piece of cardstock so it will fit in a 12×12 or 8.5×11 page protector, or I will cut + stitch a page protector to fit.

I am actually really excited about the possibilities here. I love that this is simply another option I have in telling my stories. I love that these layouts go right into my albums, complementing all the other stories that have been told in creative ways.


For more information on hybrid and digital check out Getting Started With Digital Scrapbooking.


  • 1.
    Melissa said…

    Love the layout of they boys….thanks for the ideas….i am always open to new things. :-)

  • 2.
    Trina said…

    Love the theme this week, Ali! I’ve been hesitant to try the whole digital scrapping thing, but you make it look so easy and fun, I may have to give it a try. I purchased some of your overlays the other day and already made one layout using it! It was super easy and I had a great page made in just a few minutes.
    However I have one question….do you print your total digital layouts (like the one above) on cardstock or do you use photo paper?
    Thanks again for sharing so much info this week…looking forward to tomorrows post!

  • 3.
    Ali said…

    Hey Trina – good question. Photo paper is what I use :) .

  • 4.
    heatherle said…

    Ahhhhhh so that is how it is done. So many articles assume you have figured that out and now need tips. Thanks for the basic info.
    And that ride was my absolute favorite when I was Simon’s age too. I’m so glad to see that it is still around.

  • 5.
    Nicky Anderson said…

    Ah, so exciting!!!
    Thanks Ali

  • 6.
    Nicky Anderson said…

    One question for you – I understand that the layered templates must be used in photoshop or photoshop elements. Can you use the brushes in anything else, or just in photoshop or photoshop elements.

  • 7.
    Megan said…

    Where were you when I was learning about clipping masks?? You are an excellent teacher.–Luckily I also had Jessica Sprauge to fall back on. Excellent lesson. I love digital!

  • 8.
    Susy said…

    I’ve had the same question as Trina for the longest time. I never knew which kind of paper to print on so therefore I never ventured to digital scrapbooking. But you make it look so simple that I’m actually willing to give it a try now. Thank you so much for this!!

  • 9.
    Amy K in FL said…

    Ali: thanks for all the great info…love this series you are doing this week…it does seem pretty simple the way you explain it, so I might just have to give it a try! With nearly 4000 pics from our recent Europe trip, I have to find a way to start scrapping!

  • 10.
    Jacki said…

    Very exciting. Thanks for sharing! I am VERY new to the digital side of scrapbooking. I love your templates. I saw your template book as well. I am curious how those books work. I saw your Shutterfly book on their website too. The Shutterfly book comes with all the colors and words preset (not layers), so i can’t change anything, right… just add photos, right? The layered template “Today” book I add my own colors, and papers, and photos, right? Can I also modify the words? or are the words stuck? Thanks!! I am amazed!

  • 11.
    Ali said…

    Hey Jacki – you are right on. The Shutterfly Celebrate Everyday book is all preset – you simply add your photos and your text. The Today You template is just like the layered template above where you can change things up (papers + words + accents) as you go.

  • 12.
    Christene said…

    Hi Ali. Don’t you ever sleep? (just kidding.) Thank you for this series, I am just eating it up! Each day gets a little more exciting, and I’ve finally reached my ‘Aha!, I can do this’ point. So, naturally, the next question is… how do I make my own templates? I’m going to guess that is way beyond the scope of this class, right? :-) Do you have any reference suggestions for that? If only my accounting classes were this much fun (I can practically hear my professors rolling their eyes!!!).

  • 13.
    Shannon in WA said…

    Thanks for demonstrating how to use templates on both Macs and PCs! I’m still learning how to use my Mac so this is extremely helpful. I’ve been dabbling with digital for a couple years now but only recently discovered how easy templates are. This is a good place for novices to start. I also wanted to say that I’ve used to have some 12 x 12′s printed out and the quality was excellent. I would highly recommend them to anyone!

  • 14.
    christie said…

    Love your digital page! Makes me want to try it myself! Your designs are fantastic!

  • 15.
    Maica said…

    Dear Ali,
    Many thanks for your tutorials. I copy every day and paste it in a special folder.
    Well, I have aquestion about paper that you use for printing at home. Is it Glossy or Luster ?, bescause photos look great in glossy but patterned paper better in luster (in my opinion).
    Thanks again for everything.
    Best Regards from Catalonia

  • 16.
    Anneke Nevels said…

    Hi ali,
    I think your digital layouts are amazing. But how do you print them? Are they the same size as the real scrappaper (12×12 inch I think, it’s 30×30 cm in Europe) Have you got a special printer for this? If so, which one do you use?
    Thanks for your inspiration!

  • 17.
    Becky Swisher said…

    ali. all i can say is… oh my god… no glue! And no mess on my desk!
    I am truly inspired to learn and “master” digital scrapbooking. thanks for the great week of ideas.

  • 18.
    annie said…

    thank you so much for these great tutorials. when you print out the layouts, do you just use bazill cardstock and, if so, can you print on the textured side?

  • 19.
    D'Nese said…

    Hey Ali-
    Thank GOD you are doing this cause I have no clue where to start. I truly love this week your doing on your blog. I do have a question though, is there anyway that to have this put all into one section to print off for future reference when us ladies attempt to master this skill? Or if you can suggest something, that would be wonderful.. =)

  • 20.
    melissa said…

    Well I must say I feel as if this post was completely directed towards me and I must say THANK YOU. I had to laugh at your email yesterday when you said the directions were enclosed with the template file. Those are NOT directions, but your post sure is. I managed to accomplish a finished layout using your email last night and I appreciate the fact that you are the “Amazing Ali Edwards”, but managed to find time to help. You will never know how much you inspire all of us newbie’s out there. Keep the good stuff coming because I will be here to soak it up.

  • 21.
    Jessica said…

    What type of printer do you use?

  • 22.
    Ali said…

    Jessica – I use a HP Photosmart D7360. Picked it up at Office Max. It’s been great.

  • 23.
    Carole Hepburn said…

    Ali ,
    Thank you for the inspiration and the “how to” to go with it ! I am venturing into digital and think I can do it …. Have a great weekend.

  • 24.

    Ali. Beautiful. I have a question for you. Is life artist a trademark or copyrighted term? I have been using it for my blog and I am hoping that I am okay with that. Please email me.. thank you..
    Thanks for your constant inspiration.

  • 25.
    Jen G said…

    What I love about doing these is that when you get towards the end of the year you print a bunch of each and put together albums as Christmas gifts. THis is what I make/give to my aunts and uncles. They don’t need/want stuff. They are too far away to be a part of our daily lives. But they love us, they love my girls and they love to know what is happening in our lives. These provide a yearly glimpse.
    The first year, I did this for my mom’s sisters. Mom got a *gift* but she held these albums like they were made of gold and asked… could she please have one too. SURE! click, print, adhere, bind with ribbon. Happiness in an 8×8 package.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  • 26.
    Becky said…

    I’m new to the whole digi world, so I just love seeing transformed templates! Thanks for sharing! :) Becky

  • 27.
    Lily said…

    Wonderful template. I’ll have to play with it later!

  • 28.

    Loving your site so much. I discovered you not too long ago and have become totally fascinated with everything you share and all you create. I love photos and word documentation. I especially like how you put your own touch on everything. The one thing about scrap booking that I never could relate to and sort of turned me away is the “overkill” of embellishments. Thanks for showing it can be original and simple. This makes me much more excited to give scrapping a go.

  • 29.
    Kimberly White said…

    Thank you Ali! I’ve been taking Jessica’s classes and have fallen in love with Digi scrapping! I really love all your new product in the Designer Digitals store! Thanks for this week of inspiration! Hope you have a wonderful day! Kim

  • 30.
    Emily said…

    I love reading your stuff about digital scrapbooking. Being a digital scrapbooker and designer myself, it’s fun to see people dabbling in it! :)

  • 31.
    Kate said…

    Ali…I will see you in Chicago…one of these days I will take the hybrid plunge…just need time…have any extra?

  • 32.
    Vanessa Gooch said…

    I am loving your blog and this post was awesome! I am just starting to dabble in the world of digital scrapbooking and just got Photoshop Elements for my b-day, so this will help! Thanks so much!

  • 33.
    vinnie said…

    Looks great Ali!

  • 34.
    MyEbella said…

    loving your templates…
    Need to get some shopping in!!!
    P.S… I have recently coverted to 8.5×11 3 ring books and sadly my 8×8 page protectors don’t fit, so for now I am just putting my 8×8 pages in the 8.5×11 protectors and just leaving as is…
    we’ll see if that changes, but what i’m doing!!!!

  • 35.
    Jodee said…

    You do a wonderful job of explaining this so that we understand! Thank you for that. I have not ventured into digital, but you do make it seem easy and fun and maybe worth a shot! You are great like that!

  • 36.
    Michelle in Colorado said…

    PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS USERS: No clipping mask function is avaible but “group with previous” does the same thing! Took me a while to figure this out!!!

  • 37.

    thanks so much for the post, Ive been looking all over the web to learn more about my wifes favorite passtime in hopes of finding the perfect christmas gift. Great infotmation, I will have to share this with my wife.

  • 38.
    Peter Kirkham said…

    Well I have to say that this is quite a clever use of layers that makes digital scrapbooking just so much more accessible to those that aren’t very familiar with graphics programmes. Seems so obvious once you’ve seen someone else do it! Will definitely have to show this one to my wife and try to create some blank templates for her in Photoshop Elements or Corel Photo-Paint. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • 39.
    future said…

    Very simple and very interested^) Tnx

  • 40.
    Christine Guest said…

    Very helpful tutorial.
    Something you might be interested in: you can open the files with their layers in the GIMP, an open source program. I’m only just beginning to play with digital elements in it, I haven’t found any tutorials for working with it, so I’m wading through the forums on-line that are on different topics to figure out what I need to know.

  • 41.

    First off I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question which I’d
    like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to know
    how you center yourself and clear your head before writing.

    I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting
    my thoughts out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing however
    it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any recommendations or tips? Cheers!

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