Reverse Your Template Layers in a Snap

with 21 Comments

Barb BrookbankEveryone thinks differently. I was contemplating this as I was designing a template for my Instagram photos. I created a square, and then I proceeded to create 11 more.

As layers are created in the Layers panel, they land on top of the last layer and are numbered accordingly. The lowest number is at the bottom, and the largest number is at the top.

Now here’s my problem. I think number one should be at the top because I like to work from left to right and top to bottom when arranging photos in a grid. Luckily, there is a quick little trick to help solve this problem.

In this lesson, I’m going to show you how to create and arrange a grid design which will be a snap to use when it comes to adding photos.

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.)
  • In the Menu Bar, choose View > Grid. (Photoshop: Choose View > Show > Grid.)
  • Choose Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid. (Photoshop: Choose Guides, Grid & Slices.)
  • In the dialog box, set the Gridline to every 1 inch and the Subdivisions to 4. Click OK.

Step Two: Create a Square

  • Get the Rectangle tool.
  • In the Tool Options, click on the New Shape Layer icon. (Photoshop: Set the Tool Mode to Shape and the Path Operations to New Layer.)
  • Open the Geometry Options and choose Fixed Size. Set the Width to 2.5 inches and the Height to 2.5 inches.
  • On the document, click once to create the shape. (Photoshop: Click and drag slightly to create the shape.)
  • In the Menu Bar, choose Layer > Simplify Layer. (Photoshop: Choose Layer > Rasterize > Layer.)

Step Three: Create and Position the First Row of Squares

  • Get the Move tool.
  • In the Tool Options, check Auto Select Layer and Show Bounding Box. (Photoshop: Check Auto Select and Show Transform Controls.)
  • On the document, click on the square and drag it until the top is at the 3.5 inch mark on the Horizontal Gridline and one Subdivision line in from the left edge of the page.


  • In the Layers panel, double click on the name of the layer and rename it Square #1.
  • On the document, while holding down the Alt key (Mac: Opt key), click on Square #1 and drag to the right to create a new square.
  • Position the new square two Subdivisions to the right of the first square.
  • In the Layers panel, double click on the name of the new layer and rename it Square #2.
  • Repeat the above steps two more times, renaming the layers as Square #3 and Square #4.

Step Four: Create the Second Line of Squares

  • On the document, while holding down the Alt key (Mac: Opt key), click on Square #4 and drag to create a new square. 
  • Position the new square one Subdivision directly below Square #1.
  • In the Layers panel, double click on the name of the new layer and rename it Square #5.
  • Create three more squares, positioning and renaming as in Step Three.
  • Beginning with Square #8, repeat Step Four one more time to create a third row of squares, numbered 9–12.


Step Five: Reverse the Layers

  • In the Layers panel, click on the top square and Shift click on the bottom square to activate all the square layers at the same time.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose Layer > Arrange > Reverse.

Check it out! In the Layers panel, Square #1 is at the top, and Square #12 is at the bottom. It makes perfect sense to me!

I typed the name and number for each square on the document for illustration only.



And here’s the page I made with my lovely Instagram template. I’m sure I’m going to be using it over, and over, and over again!

dst_put that in reverse_04

Digi Scrap Tutorial: Reverse Your Template Layers in a Snap by Barb Brookbank
Background paper: Bloomed by Susan Bartolini, from the mini kit included with the Costco CD
Word art, dot target: Me Personally by Amanda Taylor
Font: Feena Casual

Download this Digi Scrap Tutorial

21 Responses

  1. Mary Pawlowski
    | Reply

    I love the Chevron’s!

    I enjoy reading the newsletters and daydream about various pages I will create. Lately it seems I create more in my head than on paper but I love reading the tutorials and all the interesting ideas along with it.


    Va Beach

    • Barb
      | Reply

      Glad you like all the ideas, Mary!

  2. char
    | Reply

    How cool is this! One of my favorite templates of all time is the “Grid of Nine” that Linda taught several years ago. I had never renamed the shapes and they were also in reverse order in the layers panel. I quickly renamed them this morning and used your one-click magic to get the layers panel into order. Presto! And now I’m making your “Instagram” 12-square template too. Today is off to a great start, thanks! Also, I love your LO and your clever title, LOL 🙂

    • Barb
      | Reply

      Glad you like this, char! Now my day is off to a great start!!:)

  3. Thejage
    | Reply

    Beautiful page, Barb. I noticed in the bottom row (square 11) that it is a rounded rectangle – that was on purpose I’m sure! Great idea!

    Your contribution to chevrons” about your new DSLR is great!

  4. Barb Brookbank
    | Reply

    Thank you, Thejage! The palm tree corners were rounded by the app that I used when I took the photo and I decided to leave them that way. It does add a bit of interest… 😉 Thank you for your comment on my chevron page – it was fun and inspiring to use Susie’s products!

  5. Rosina
    | Reply

    Thanks so much for this tutorial, Barb. I’ve been wondering for a long time how to do this and just this past weekend, I started searching for a tutorial. I own all the Scrap-It-Now Templates but for my purpose, I really need to learn how to create some of my own in the style you’ve shown. I haven’t taken the time to read through the entire post yet so I apologize if you’ve mentioned this but I read something about highlighting the left ones and making them left aligned and doing the same for the other side. I hope I can find that post again as my problem with changing around the Scrap-It-Now to what I need, is that I never can get the boxes aligned even when I have the grid on. Somehow, it always seems off by a couple millimeters and visible when printed.

    • Barb Brookbank
      | Reply

      Thank you, Rosina! So glad you like this tutorial.

      As for your question, it sounds like you may be referring the the February 14, 2012 Digi Scrap Tutorial “Distributing Shapes: Get Your Ducks in a Row! It describes how to distribute shapes evenly. It is now available to Premier members. But if not, it is possible to align left edges… what version of Photoshop are you using?

      • Rosina
        | Reply

        I am using PSE8 but also have PSE 11 waiting to be installed. In the meantime, I’ll check and see if I have the tutorial you’re referring to.

  6. Sharron Lamb
    | Reply

    Another “WHO KNEW?” moment! Thanks Barb!

  7. Mungo
    | Reply

    This is a really neat idea, thank you for sharing it with us

  8. Holly
    | Reply

    wow@ just this past week I was trying to set up some grids for a photostrip look and this tutorial is very timely in helping me get it right!

  9. Peggy
    | Reply

    Fantastic tutorial. I may be a bit of a newbie and behind in lessons but how do you get the photos into the squares now? Do you just drag and drop and they resize? Thanks so much for your generosity in sharing these lessons!

  10. Peggy
    | Reply

    And what do you save it as? PNG, JPG, PSD?

    • Barb Brookbank
      | Reply

      Peggy, you would want to save it as a PSD to preserve all the layers.

  11. Jeanne Pahl
    | Reply

    Thank you for the great tutorial! I used it tonight for alphas on individual layers. I always found it confusing when things were spelled from the bottom up. voila! used your tip and I was right side up! I find out so much easier to arrange a title that way. who knew 🙂

  12. Nann
    | Reply

    Thanks so much Barb…. learn so much from you.

  13. Sharon
    | Reply

    Thank you so much! I have been dragging every layer up and down for years to get them in the correct order. What a time saver!

  14. newtoscrapping
    | Reply

    Hi Barb, I was able to find the tutorial from Feb 14, 2012 that you referred me to. Between the 2 tutorials, I will be able to finally make some of my own templates to meet my needs. Can you just tell me quickly how I would add a coloured border around each of the cutouts? Occasionally, I like to have a border around each.

  15. Roxanne Hardegree
    | Reply

    say! I learned a new trick! thanks

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