When I paper scrapped, I loved to use stencils! I could quickly and easily create a custom background paper that would coordinate perfectly with my photos.
I would usually start with a light colored paper as a base. Then I would get out my stencil, put it over my paper, and tape it down in the corners. I would get out my brushes and paints and apply paint wherever there was an opening. When I finally removed the stencil, I was left with beautiful designs ranging from dots, to splats, to chevrons.
In Photoshop, layer masks work in a similar way. You open a piece of paper or a photo and cover it with a layer mask. Then you use tools to reveal or conceal whatever is beneath it.
When a layer mask is black, everything beneath it is concealed. When a layer mask is white, everything beneath it is revealed. If you paint with white on top of a black layer mask, the parts that you paint white will reveal whatever is beneath it. Conversely, if you paint with black on top of a white layer mask, the parts that you paint black will conceal whatever is beneath it.
In this lesson, I’m going to show you how to create an element from a piece of paper using this technique. You will then be able to use this element as an overlay to add drama and interest to your scrapbook page.
Step One: Prepare the Workspace
- Create a new document (File > New > Blank File) that is 12in by 12in at 300ppi with a white background. (Photoshop: Choose File > New.)
- Press the letter D to reset the Color Chips to the default of black and white.
- Get the Move tool.
- Open a piece of paper (File > Open).
- While holding down the Shift key, click on the paper and drag it onto your scrapbook page. I’m using a paper called “map-honor” from the Duty, Honor, Country kit by Danyale Lewis.
Step Two: Add a Layer Mask
- In the Layers panel, make sure the paper layer is activated.
- In the Menu Bar, choose Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All.
- You will now see that your scrapbook page is completely white. The layer mask is black, which conceals the paper completely.
- The Foreground Color Chip will automatically switch to white.
Note: If you have Photoshop Elements 8 or earlier, your version of Photoshop Elements doesn’t have a layer mask. Download the Layer Mask Workaround here.
Step Three: Create the Overlay
- Get the Brush tool.
- In the Tool Options, open the Brush Preset Picker, open the drop down menu, and choose Pen Pressure.
- Choose #91 Rough Brush and set the Size to about 1000px.
(Photoshop: Open the flyout menu, choose M Brushes and click OK. Choose #39 Dry Brush.)
- Set the Mode to Normal, and the Opacity to 100%.
- In the Layers panel, make sure the layer mask is activated by clicking on it. You will know it’s active when you see a line around it.
- On the document, click and brush to create an artistic shape.
Step Four: Apply The Layer Mask
- In the Layers panel, make sure the paper layer is activated and choose Layer > Layer Mask > Apply.
- Double click on the name of the layer and change it to Overlay.
Play around with blend modes. Each blend mode will give different results on different papers.
I changed the blend mode of the overlay to Pin Light at 100% opacity. Then I duplicated the overlay and changed the blend mode to Normal at 10% opacity.
And, here’s my finished layout after I added a background paper from Art Play Palette Family by Anna Aspnes.
Digi Scrap Tutorial: Layer Mask Overlay by Barb Brookbank
Layout and photo by Barb Brookbank
Paper for overlay: Duty, Honor, Country by Danyale Lewis.
Background paper and frame: Art Play Palette Family kit by Anna Aspnes
Fonts: Lucida Sans Typewriter and Bickley Script LET