Easy Inked-Up Edges!

with 34 Comments


Hands up, who loves a bit of grunge? I do! Worn papers, distressed alphas, splashes of paint . . . they all add character to a page. I have always adored inked edges in paper scrapbooking, so it’s exciting to be able to simulate the look digitally!

There are various ways of applying inks to edges of papers, mats, frames, tags, etc. The most common way is to use texturizing brushes. But, the method I’m going to show you today uses filters to put an artistic slant on a stroke outline. It’s a simple, non-destructive way to add the look of inked edges to your scrapbook pages . . . and doing it digitally means you get to keep your hands, and your home, nice and clean!

This technique works on various shapes and sizes of papers, and even some elements. For the purpose of this tutorial, though, I am keeping it simple and working on a small, square piece of paper. And, here is the page I will be finishing. I feel that it needs some grunge added due to the age of the photo—early 1970s!


Okay, so now we’re all set. Follow along with me and see how easy it is to add some grunge appeal to your layouts.

Step One: Prepare Your Workspace

  • Open an existing multi-layered scrapbook page (File > Open).
  • In the Layers panel, activate a paper layer.
  • Double click directly on the name of that paper layer and rename it “Paper.”
  • Click on the Create a New Layer icon.
  • Double click directly on the name of the new layer and rename it “Ink.”

 Step Two: Create a Stroke Layer

  • In the Layers panel, Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) on the thumbnail of the Paper layer to get a selection outline.


  • Make sure the Ink layer is still active.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose Edit > Stroke (Outline) Selection. (Photoshop: Choose Edit > Stroke.)
  • In the dialog box, set the Width to 25 px, the Location to Inside, the Blending Mode to Normal, and the Opacity to 75%. Click on the Color Chip, choose a suitable color, and click OK. Click OK to commit the changes.

Note: I used Hex color #87c6be for my Color Chip.

  • Press Ctrl D (Mac: Cmd D) to deselect.

You now have a stroke outline on the ink layer.


Step Three: Blur and Smudge the Ink Layer

  • In the Menu Bar, choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
  • In the dialog box, enter 5 pixels for the Radius and click OK.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose Filter > Artistic > Smudge Stick. (Photoshop: Choose Filter > Filter Gallery. Click on Artistic. Open the drop-down menu and choose Smudge Stick.)
  • In the dialog box, enter the following settings and click OK:
    • Stroke Length: 10
    • Highlight Area: 13
    • Intensity: 2

Note: The settings may vary, depending on the color you have chosen. Play around with them until you are happy with the results.



Step Four: Clip the Ink Layer to the Paper

  • In the Layers panel, make sure the Ink layer is active.
  • Press Ctrl T (Mac: Cmd T) to get the Transform options.
  • Holding down the Alt key (Mac: Opt key), click and drag outward from a corner handle. (Photoshop: Press and hold Shift Alt (Mac: Shift Opt).) Enlarge the ink layer until it slightly overlaps the edge of the paper layer below.
  • Double click inside the Bounding Box to commit the changes.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask to clip the ink layer to the paper.



Now you have some fabulously grungy, inked-up edges that will make your papers and elements pop right off the page! Repeat the steps for as many of your scrapbook layers as you wish. Have fun trying out different settings and varying the colors to suit. Rotate the ink layer very slightly to skew it a bit and give it a more natural, hand-finished look. You can also change the Blending Mode and the Opacity if desired.


And, here is my finished layout. I used the inked edges technique on all the small paper squares, the chevrons, and on the background papers to give the whole layout a little extra pop!


I hope you have fun with this tutorial. Please share your layouts in the Digi Scrap Tutorial of the Week Gallery . . . I’d love to see how you all customize your pages with a smudge of inky grunge!

Happy creating!
🙂 Hx

Digi Scrap Tutorial: Easy Inked-Up Edges! by Helen Ash (aka SimplyHx)
Layout: Mother by SimplyHx
Kit: Mother Is A Verb by Krystal Hartley (originally included in the May 2013 Premier issue)
Fonts: Myriad Pro and Courier
Software: PS CS6 and PSE 11

Download this Digi Scrap Tutorial

34 Responses

  1. Jenifer Juris
    | Reply

    This is awesome!! Can’t wait to try it!!! 🙂

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      Thanks, Jen, I’m so glad you like it! Can’t wait to see your layout . . . I know it will be awesome as always!! 😀 Hx

  2. Sharron
    | Reply

    Thank you – this is a wonderful tutorial! I don’t like grunge as a rule, but I like these edges very much. Thanks again.

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      You are so welcome, Sharron! And, it’s great to hear that even someone who’s not too keen on grunge can find a use for this technique! Yay! 😀 Hx

  3. Priscilla Galbraith
    | Reply

    This attractive technique will be used over and over; thank you so much! Priscilla

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      That’s so wonderful to hear, Priscilla! Thank you for your lovely comment! 🙂 Hx

  4. Jenrou
    | Reply

    You must have seen the question marks in my mind! I love overlays and have been trying to make them. This is a tutorial I will be sure to use.
    Thank you!

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      Oh wow! I’m so pleased you can find a use for this technique, Jean! I’d love to see the overlays you make. 🙂 Hx

  5. Carol
    | Reply

    Thank you, this looks like a great idea, but I’m confused on step 3.

    I tried the method on a 12 x 12 sheet of paper and the 25 px stroke was very narrow so I increased it to 200 px. I could not figure out what to do to the numbers in step 3 to get a comparable look.

    Step Three: Blur and Smudge the Ink Layer

    In the Menu Bar, choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
    In the dialog box, enter XX pixels for the Radius and click OK.
    In the Menu Bar, choose Filter > Artistic > Smudge Stick. (Photoshop: Choose Filter > Filter Gallery. Click on Artistic. Open the drop-down menu and choose Smudge Stick.)
    In the dialog box, enter the following settings and click OK:
    Stroke Length: xx
    Highlight Area: xx
    Intensity: xx


    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      Hi Carol, I see your dilemma, and I am so sorry you are having problems with this step.

      I have just experimented with this and found that increasing the Gaussian Blur Radius to around 100 pixels for a 200 pixel wide stroke worked well. By blurring the stroke more, you will make it softer, less opaque and, therefore, more open to being smudged by the Smudge Stick filter. The Smudge Stick settings can remain the same since the Stroke Length is at its maximum already. The Smudge Stick filter uses diagonal strokes to smudge the pixels. The Highlight Area settings modulate the color and the Intensity settings modulate the brightness.

      I should make it clear that this technique does give a very subtle appearance of ink being smeared on. Also, on my example 12″ x 12″ layout all the inked edges were made with the 25 pixel width stroke, as I wanted them all to look like they had been inked with the same ‘stamp pad’. However, that’s my own personal preference and I understand you wanting the inked edges to be more pronounced. I hope this helps you find the result you’re after. You might even find that a 100 pixel wide stroke (with a Gaussian Blur of 50 pixels) will be adequate on a 12″ paper . . . large enough to be seen, but subtle enough not to grab the spotlight! 🙂

      Have fun, and many thanks for following along with the tutorial. 😀 Hx

  6. Nannette
    | Reply

    This Is brilliant so easy to do and what a difference it makes on you page.

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      Thanks so much, Nann! 🙂 Hx

  7. Vivian
    | Reply

    Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing your work with us.

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      It’s my pleasure, Vivan, thank you! 🙂 Hx

  8. Shirl/grambie
    | Reply

    This is a wonderful way to eliminate the repetitive hand strokes that give me physical pain when I attempt to add lightly stroked edge grunge to my layouts. With your method, I will be able to have more control within a smaller time frame. Thank you for this wonderful tip. It will be used often by me, but as you said with variations. Blessings. 😉

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      Ohh, Shirl, to hear that this will allow you to do what you enjoy, without adding unnecessary pain, is music to my ears! You’ve made my day!! Blessings to you too. 😀 Hx

  9. HeleneB
    | Reply

    Thanks for the tutorial. This worked so well. I love the effect.

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      I’m so pleased to hear that, Helene . . . thank you for your kind feedback. 🙂 Hx

  10. char
    | Reply

    Love it, Helen! This is easy to do yet really very customizable – I had fun “messing around” although for the spread I happen to be working on at the moment decided to go with a very subtle effect – and yet it does make a difference! Very very clever – and easy to vary the amount, color, intensity, etc.

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Char! I will have to take a peek in the gallery soon to see what you’ve been up to . . . I know it will be fab! 😀 Hx

  11. dorisedgar
    | Reply

    I love your page I will try this as soon as I get my windows 8 going my vista
    died on me I was wondering how this will work on 8.5 x 11 pg that is what
    all my scrapbook pgs are

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      Aww, thanks so much, Doris! I found this worked well on various sizes of paper. On my finished example layout I inked not only squares of all sizes but also a rectangular paper strip (bottom right corner), so I’m certain it will work fine on the 8.5″ x 11″ pages too. Oh, and I hope you get your Windows 8 up and running soon. 🙂 Hx

  12. Kathy Black
    | Reply

    Love this Helen!! Will be trying it as soon as I get home! xx

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      That’s great to hear, Kathy! Thank you! 🙂 Hx

  13. Diane
    | Reply

    What am I doing wrong? When I get to step three for the blur and smudge layer, I get the error message that no pixels are selected. I have the ink layer active. I’m using the newest version of PhotoShop Elements on a Mac with the most recent OS. I’m hoping to make this work and am sure it’s something I’m doing or not doing.

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      Hi Diane, I’m so sorry you’re having trouble with this step. Hmm, I did a little experimenting just now in PSE 11, and one way I got that message was when I had accidentally put the Stroke directly on the Paper layer, instead of on the new layer above it. So, when I tried the Gaussian Blur filter, there were no pixels on the Ink layer to blur! Could that, by any chance, be what you might have done? In Step Two, after “Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) on the thumbnail of the Paper layer to get a selection outline”, it is quite possible that the Ink layer was not active whilst adding the Stroke. Could you let me know if that is possibly what has happened, please, and if it is not then I will try again to work this one out for you! I really want you to be able to enjoy using this technique! 😀 Hx

      • Diane
        | Reply

        That seems to have been the mistake I made. Tried it again and it worked great. Thanks so much. Now I know what to do as well as what NOT to do.

        • Helen Ash
          | Reply

          You’re very welcome, Diane, I’m glad we got that sorted. I hope you have fun with the tutorial! 🙂 Hx

  14. Laura
    | Reply

    This is GREAT! I like the look of inking edges when I do paper scrapbooking and it has been missing from my toolkit of digital tricks. Thanks for the new tool!!

    • Helen Ash
      | Reply

      Same here, Laura! I love inking edges in my paper scrapbooks and on my hand-made cards, too. Ohh, I’m so glad you will find this technique useful . . . thanks so much for the feedback! 🙂 Hx

  15. Carol
    | Reply

    Thanks so much for the reply, I will give it a try today.

  16. Jennifer Spear
    | Reply

    The full tutorial does not seem to be showing anymore even when I am logged in and have refreshed the page.

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Jennifer.
      I just tried it and it worked for me. Make sure–after you log in–that you scroll down past the scrapbook page. That is where the tutorial begins. Let us know if you continue to experience problems.

      • Jennifer Spear
        | Reply

        Hmmm. I am not sure what is going wrong for me. Is there anyway I can get you a screen shot of what I see? I tried to paste one here but I cannot paste in this box.

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