Dramatic Gradient Mask Backgrounds

with 15 Comments


I love using Anna Aspnes’ products. They have a way of making me feel like I’m an artist. As you put her elements on a page, something magical happens, and before you know it, you have a work of art.

As I was working on a page, using her ArtPlay Palette Give Thanks kit, I knew that I wanted to play around a little bit with light and dark. I wanted that to be a big theme of my page.

As I experimented, I found a way to blend papers using the Gradient tool that gave the look I was going for. It seemed to add a little drama to my layout. And, you won’t believe how easy it is to do!

Step One: Prepare the Workspace

  • Create a new 12 X 12 inch document (File > New > Blank File) at 300 ppi with a white background. (Photoshop: Choose File > New.)
  • Get the Move tool.
  • Open a first piece of paper (File > Open).
  • While holding down the Shift key, click on the paper and drag it onto your scrapbook page.
  • Repeat the above two steps for a second piece of paper.

Note: I am using papers from ArtPlay Palette Give Thanks by Anna Aspnes. My bottom paper is SolidPaper1, and the paper on top is SolidPaper2.


Step Two: Create a Gradient

  • In the Layers panel, activate the top paper layer.
  • Click on the Add Layer Mask icon.
  • Click on the white layer mask to make sure it is active.
  • Get the Gradient tool.

Note: At this point your Color Chips should have reset themselves. If they haven’t, press the letter D to rest the Color Chips.

  • In the Tool Options, open the Gradient Picker and choose Foreground to Background. Click on the Linear Gradient icon. Set the Mode to Normal, the Opacity to 100%, and check Transparency and Dither. Reverse should be unchecked.

Note: If you do not see Foreground to Background, open the drop-down menu and choose Default. (Photoshop: Open the fly-out menu, choose Reset Gradients, and click OK.)

  • On the document, position your cursor at the top of the document.
  • Holding down the Shift key, click and drag downward about two-thirds of the way down the page.


Note: Experiment with the gradient until you find the look you want.

Here are some examples. I had the darker paper on top of the white paper for these examples.

Change the direction:



Change the type of Gradient and drag your mouse across the whole page or just part of it:


Here is the page that I ended up with. I was really happy with the dramatic effect that blending the papers had on it. If you want to know how I added all the light in this layout, check out the credits for the tutorials I used.


Digi Scrap Tutorial: Dramatic Gradient Mask Backgrounds by Nannette Dalton
Layout: Tell You of God by Nannette Dalton
Kit: ArtPlay Palette Give Thanks by Anna Aspnes
Tutorials: Create a Photo Glow by Barb Brookbank and Create Some Dramatic Flair with Filters by Nannette Dalton
Fonts: Myriad Pro, Allura

Download this Digi Scrap Tutorial

15 Responses

  1. Mungo
    | Reply

    Thank you, this looks good

  2. Kasuku
    | Reply

    This is sooooooooo beautiful! I love it, love it, love it!
    Thanks for always sharing your wonderful ideas.

  3. Janice
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing – the final page looks amazing!

  4. Pixie
    | Reply

    Great tutorial, Nanette! And I love that you incorporated a couple other tuts in the final LO. I can hardly wait to try it.

  5. GramaKJ
    | Reply

    Awesome, just what I needed today! I so appreciate that I can download a pdf of your instructions! THANKS!

  6. Jo
    | Reply

    Thank you so much. Love how this turned out! Can’t wait to give it a try.

  7. Nannette
    | Reply

    Thanks all. I am glad you like it and can use it.

  8. beverlyc
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for this fabulous lesson! It worked beautifully!

    • Nannette
      | Reply

      Oh Yippie! I am so glad to hear that.

  9. PattyW
    | Reply

    Thanks for the tutorial! Did you use PSE or Adobe Photodhop?

    • Nann
      | Reply

      Patty, You are so very welcome. I used both. The tutorial has instructions for either program.

  10. Kait
    | Reply

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I love that I can download a pdf version!

  11. Woodie Sprague
    | Reply

    I love this technique..and by the way….love your new “do” too 🙂

    • Nann
      | Reply

      Thanks Woodie…. that is so sweet!

  12. Tammy Graf
    | Reply

    I haven’t played with the Gradient Tool much before but with this easy tutorial I think I will give it another go. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.