Feathered Marquee Masks

with 32 Comments

Lydia Tarbox

I love using lots of different patterns on my scrapbook pages. I even like using busy patterned papers for the main background paper. But, there are times when a more subtle approach is called for. In these cases, I want the look of a soft, neutral background paper. And, then again, when I create a layout with a simple background, I often find myself wishing that I could add a little more pizzaz without making the background too busy or distracting. So, I’ve come up with a super simple method for adding some of my favorite patterned papers to my layouts without sacrificing the softness and light of a simple, neutral background. And, you won’t believe how easy it is!

Here’s the layout I’m going to work with in this tutorial. It’s quite lovely as it is, but it needs that extra little “something.”


Tutorial:This complete Digi Scrap Tutorial is available to our Digital Scrapper Plus and Premier Members. If you’re a member, please take a moment to log in, then just come back here and refresh this page. Not a Plus Member? Find out more information here.

Create a Feathered Mask

  • Open a layered scrapbook page (File > Open).
  • Press the letter D to reset the Color Chips to the default of black and white.
  • In the Layers panel, activate the layer on which you would like the masks to appear.
  • Click on the Create a New Layer icon.
  • Get the Rectangular Marquee tool.
  • In the Tool Options, click on the New Selection icon and set the Aspect to Normal. Set the Feather to 200 px.
  • On the scrapbook page, click and drag to create a selection outline around the area where you want the mask to appear. Hold down the Space Bar to reposition the mask while dragging.
  • Press Alt Backspace (Mac: Opt Delete) to fill the selection with the foreground color.
  • Press Ctrl D (Mac: Cmd D) to deselect.
dst-feathered-masks-img02    dst-feathered-masks-img03

Clip Paper to the Mask

  • Open (File > Open) a patterned paper of your choice.
  • Get the Move tool.
  • On the document, holding down the Shift key, click and drag the paper onto the scrapbook page, placing it on the layer above the mask you just created.
  • In the Layers panel, while holding down the Alt key (Mac: Opt key), position the cursor between the paper layer and the mask layer and click when you see the Clipping icon appear.
  • Activate the paper layer.
  • Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) to merge the paper and mask layers together.
  • Continue creating masks and clipping papers to the masks to achieve the desired look for your scrapbook page.

Add the Finishing Touches

Here are some tips for different ways you can experiment with the masks to achieve different looks:

  • In the Rectangular Marquee Tool Options, adjust the Feather for each mask to change the softness and roundness of the edges.
  • In the Layers panel, reorder the masks to change the ways they blend into each other.
  • Reduce the Opacity of any or all of the masks to achieve a softer look.
  • Experiment with different Blend Modes.

Note: In Tool Options, reset the Marquee tool Feather value to zero when you’re finished making clipping masks. This will keep you from unintentionally creating a feathered selection the next time you use the Marquee tool.

And, here’s my finished layout. I love the subtle addition of color and patterns that the masks give to the layout. I hope you’ll give this method a try and let us see your creations in the Digi Scrap Tutorial Gallery.



Digi Scrap Tutorial: Feathered Marquee Masks by Lydia Tarbox
Layout: Love & Music by Lydia Tarbox
Kit: Perfect Harmony by Digilicious Designs (included in the August 2013 Premier issue)
Font: Aphrodite Slim Text 

Download this Digi Scrap Tutorial

32 Responses

  1. Tora
    | Reply

    wow how cool is this 🙂 thanks for the tut

  2. Ngaire
    | Reply

    This is just such a wonderful and easy way to make a page so much more interesting and pretty. I love this tip. Thank you Lydia

  3. Catherine
    | Reply

    Great tutorial. Never thought of using masks that way. thank you

  4. Plm1
    | Reply

    I love the softness of this and the interest it adds to the layout. What a great tutorial! I am anxious to give it a try, thanks so much.

    • Lydia Tarbox
      | Reply

      Thank you so much! Can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  5. Barbara
    | Reply

    Thank you for this terrific tutorial! I just finished a recipe card using the technique, and I love it! I’m going to play with some photos of my favorite people using this technique, and I think it will lend an exciting element to my scrapping!

    • Lydia Tarbox
      | Reply

      I’m so glad you were able to use it right away! I’d love to see your recipe card, and I also think it’s a great technique to use with photos!

  6. Sally
    | Reply

    Love this look! It replicates the look of mixed media layers and adds depth to the page.

    • Lydia Tarbox
      | Reply

      Yes! This is a great technique for art journaling style layouts.

  7. Terry
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I’ve tried blending papers before, but never thought to use the marquee tool with feathered edges!

    • Lydia Tarbox
      | Reply

      I’m so glad it will be helpful to you! It’s so easy, you can’t go wrong! 🙂

  8. Selra aka Jane
    | Reply

    Great tutorial! This is one I will actually use. I hope to see more artsy techniques in upcoming tutorials.

    • Lydia Tarbox
      | Reply

      I’m so glad you like it and will find it useful. I’ll have to think of some more artsy techniques for the future. 😀

  9. Bonnie Cuddihy
    | Reply

    Wow! How wonderful. I love this. I would think this would work for a photo as well as a paper. Thanks for the tutorial, Lydia–it’s a great one.

    • Lydia Tarbox
      | Reply

      Yes – I think it would work well for blending photos! I’d love to see what you do if you try it with photos!

  10. Pat Gibbs
    | Reply

    Great Idea! Thanks so much

  11. Annette
    | Reply

    Terrific idea. Can’t wait to try it.

  12. Diane
    | Reply

    Thanks for the tutorial. I know that is a method of making a feather but never used it to combine it with a paper as a background and feather off a bit. Need to incorporate this technique in my pages more.

  13. Lucille Peterson
    | Reply

    Exciting! A wonderful way to use many of the patterned papers in a kit! Thank you very much.

    • Lydia Tarbox
      | Reply

      That’s exactly why I love it! I feel like I get more use out of the papers in a kit when I can add them to the background. I’m glad you liked this tip!

  14. Barb
    | Reply

    Thanks for the fun idea for using this on the papers. Looking forward to trying.

  15. Zita Allinson
    | Reply

    Great idea can’t wait to try it.

  16. Marzia
    | Reply

    A perfect way to add a little more interest to the page, thanks for this super useful tut, I’m gonna try it out very soon!
    Masks are my personal nightmare, I’m always afraid to use them!
    grazie mille!

  17. Eileen
    | Reply

    Thanks! I love this tutorial. I will give it a try soon.

  18. Marie Faubion
    | Reply

    Wow, wow, wow… Thank you so very much!!! 🙂

  19. Kathy Black
    | Reply

    Wow!! I love this!! I love to mask the background! What an easy way to do it!Thank you Lydia.

  20. Doris
    | Reply

    Great tip. Nice and simple.

  21. Paula
    | Reply

    Great tutorial. Your directions were complete and easy to follow. I love the results and can’t wait to use it in my August lesson. Thanks so much!!!

  22. Natalie
    | Reply

    I love this technique! Can’t wait to try it.

  23. Eileen Albrecht
    | Reply

    Thanks. Love this. I just tried it with great results.

  24. dorisedgar
    | Reply

    I love the tut on feathered marquee masks. It is so simple the way you explained it.
    thanks ever so much for passing it on. It has been one that I easily accomplished.

  25. Tammy Graf
    | Reply

    Your Tutorial presents unlimited possibilities for backgrounds! I’m so excited and can’t wait to try it.

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