Layered Templates 101

It’s been quite a while since I’ve given away a freebie on my blog so I’ve decided to kick off the new year with this little gift to you – a new press plate (layered template)!


click here to go to download link
(you must be logged in to download)

Check out what my fabulous CT gals have done with the template!! (click on image for credits)


Are you inspired yet? I hope so because I want to see what YOU can do with this template!!! And to make things extra fun, I’m running a little contest. TWO winners will receive a $10 gift coupon to my shop. One prize will go to the most innovative/creative use of the template and the other winner will be chosen by random drawing. To enter this contest, create a layout using this template, upload your creation to an online gallery then come back here and post a link to your layout in the comments section below. I will be taking entries until Sunday, January 11th at 11:59pm.

Are you new to digital scrapbooking or aren’t quite sure how layered templates work? Check out the LAYERED TEMPLATES 101 section below and make sure you download the template so you can follow my step-by-step tutorial. note: this tutorial is created for photoshop users.

* * * * * * * * * *
Introduction to Layered Templates
Basically, a layered template is a sketch or diagram of a layout. It contains design cues (where to place your photos, title, journaling, embellishments, etc.). The best part about the layered template is that each design cue is housed in its own layer (which can be found in the layers palette – see diagram below) so you can manipulate and customize it to fit your exact needs.

Let’s take a moment to review each design cue.

I always include a GUIDE (usually the very top layer) with my layered templates. I like numbering the clipping masks (more about clipping masks later) because it’s easier for me to work with the template and jump between layers when I can easily spot the numbers. So the GUIDE layer is simply a navigation tool.

When you are finished with your layout (or simply consider the GUIDE a nuisance and want to get rid of it), you can do it one of two ways: (a) DELETE THE LAYER – click on the GUIDE layer and then click on the trash icon at the bottom right hand corner of the layer palette or (b) HIDE THE LAYER – click on the eye icon next to GUIDE (see below). I recommend hiding it while you are working the the layout and deleting the GUIDE layer after you have finished designing your layout. This way, if you forget which clipping mask corresponds with which layer during the design process, you can always click on the eye to make the GUIDE visible again.

The design cues for title placement and journaling placement are usually included in a layered template as an editable text layer (you can tell if the text layer is editable by the “T” icon).

The design cues for photo placement are usually included in a layered template in the form of a CLIPPING MASK.

Notice how several LINK icons appear when you click on the 1 – CLIP PHOTO HERE layer? This means that these layers (the clipping mask, the photo mat and the photo mat drop shadow) are meant to function together as a unit. That is, if you click one of these linked layers and move it around on the template, all of the other layers that are “LINKED” to that layer will automatically move with it. Neat huh?

This bottom layer is the foundation of your layout. You can choose to use this layer as is or customize it by adding your own patterned or textured paper(s).

* * * * * * * * * *
Layered Template Step-by-Step Tutorial
Are you ready to test drive your first layered template? Let’s get started.

Download my freebie layered template Press Plate No. 13 (you must be logged in to the store to download). Unzip the downloaded folder so you can access the files.

Open the template in photoshop. File > Open > navigate to where you saved paislee-pressplateno13.psd and click on it. (mac users: simply drag the paislee-pressplateno13.psd icon and drop it onto the photoshop icon found on your navigation bar)

Before you do any work on the template, it is always recommended that you first create and work in a duplicate copy of the template so your original template file stays intact. You can do this one of two ways: (a) SAVE AS – FILE > SAVE AS > type in a new name for your file. I named mine 1-celebratingone or (b) DUPLICATE FILE – IMAGE > DUPLICATE > type in new file name.

There are many different ways to use a layered template – depending on style and how you approach “building” your layout. I am a photo-centrist scrapper so I usually start with the photos. Open up the first photo you want to add to the layout (FILE > OPEN). Your workspace should now have the following files open: the template, your photo, and the layers palette open as shown below. (Note: if you don’t see your layers palette, go to WINDOWS > LAYERS > and make sure LAYERS has a check mark next to it).

Before we add the photo to the template, we need to do a bit of “prep” work. Find the CLIPPING MASK layer (1 – clip photo here) that you want to attach your photo to and select it (you can tell which layer is selected because it is highlighted as illustrated below).

This is an IMPORTANT step because when you introduce a new element to your template, it will automatically go ABOVE the layer that you currently have selected. By selecting the CLIPPING MASK layer before you drag your photo onto the template, you will ensure that your photo always ends up as the layer ABOVE the CLIPPING MASK. This works out perfectly because in order to “clip” your photo to the clipping mask, the PHOTO LAYER must be directly above the CLIPPING MASK LAYER. Make sense?

Now, to add your photo, click anywhere on your photo file to bring it to the forefront. Select the move tool (the crisscross arrows icon in your TOOLS PALETTE), then drag the photo and drop it onto the template.

Your screen should now look something like this – the photo is now on the template and the photo layer appears ABOVE the 1-CLIP PHOTO HERE layer.

Right now the photo is just “floating” on the layout. To get it to appear ONLY in the shape of the square clipping mask (1-CLIP PHOTO HERE layer), we are going to “CLIP” the photo to it. To do this, move your cursor so that it hovers between the PHOTO LAYER and CLIPPING MASK. When you see your cursor turn into an overlapping circles icon, click once on your mouse and voila! Your photo is now clipped to the square mask like so:

note: instead ALT+click, you can also press ALT+CTRL+G

Now that you’ve successfully clipped your photo to the square clipping mask, your next step is to resize and or move it around so that it is placed exactly as you want it. To resize your photo, please CTRL+T and a BOUNDING BOX will appear like so:

Notice how the corners of the bounding box do not appear on the screen. That’s because the photo is quite large and spans beyond the 12×12 template canvas.

I’m going to reduce the photo down to a size that I can see all four corners of the bounding box. There are several ways to do this and I’m going to show you one. At the top of your navigation bar you will see a W (width) add H (height) box, both with values of 100%. To reduce the size of the photo, simply reduce the value of the percentage (50% and 50%). Make sure the percentage values are the SAME for both the width and the height so you retain the proper proportions of the photo (we don’t want that fun-house, stretched look on our photos!).

Your screen should now look something like this:

Move the photo around until you get the exact image/perspective you want. I ended up moving the photo down and reducing it a bit more so the top of Audrey’s dress shows. In the above step, I showed you one way of reducing your photo – by changing the percentage value. You can also manually reduce the photo by dragging any corner of the photo TOWARDS the center point. This method works well when you need to do minor tweaking. Once you get the size you want, click on the check mark (at the top navigation bar) to accept your changes.

To add your second photo, repeat steps 5 thru 7. This is a screenshot of what my layout and layers palette looks like:

Now that I’ve got both photos on the layout, I’m ready to add my paper. Before we bring up the paper file, make sure you click on the CHOOSE YOUR BACKGROUND layer on your template so when you add your paper, it will be in the right layer sequence. Ok, now we’re ready to introduce a new element! Open the paper file you want to use (FILE > OPEN or drag and drop for mac users). To add the paper, simply drag and drop the paper onto the template. TIP: Hold down your SHIFT key while dragging and dropping and your paper will be perfectly positioned and centered on the template!

To add custom text, simply highlight the text (see below) and start typing:

You can further customize your text by changing the font, the size, the colors, etc. Your text properties can be found in TWO different places on your workspace. (1) at the top of your navigation bar (only when you have the TEXT TOOL selected) or (2) the CHARACTER PALETTE (WINDOW > check CHARACTER to make this palette visible). Here’s a screenshot of the CHARACTER PALETTE:

To change any of these variables, simply click on the arrows and scroll until you find the option you want. I changed my font to P22 Da Vinci and the size to 125.

This looks ok to me, but I think the titlework will pop more if I change the color to red to match the shoes in the photo. Did you know you can customize the color of your text to match any color on your layout? To do this, highlight the text that you want to colorize, click on the color swatch in the CHARACTERS PALETTE and a separate color palette window will pop up. Using your mouse, move your cursor (which should now look like an eyedrop icon) to grab a color from the shoe. Click on different parts of the shoe until you get the hue you want.

this is what I ended up with

Now repeat the techniques described in STEP 10 to add your journaling, date, and any other textwork you wish to include. This is what my layout likes like now with journaling and the date added:

Hooray, we’re almost done!! Now we can proceed with adding our finishing touches – adding brushwork or other embellishments to dress up your layout. (I chose to add a watermark brush from Fei Fei’s Stuff Different Strokes 2.) And lastly, I deleted the GUIDE – HIDE WHEN DONE layer.

To save the layout, I recommend ALWAYS saving two versions – one as a psd file (with the layers) so that you can go back and modify the layout and a flattened jpg version (low resolution for web viewing and/or high resolution for printing).

Saving the layout as an editable psd file

Saving the layout for web viewing
4. A new window will pop up. Change the values so that your resolution is 72 dpi and your width is 600 (or 500).


6. FILE > SAVE FOR WEB. Here’s what the layout should look like when posted on the web:

this is what the layout looks like if you don’t run the sharpen filter in step 5:

Saving your layout for print

note: make sure to check with your printer/vendor (shutterfly, snapfish, kodak, etc.) for their print specifications (color profile, if any) and adjust your file specs accordingly.

That’s all folks! You’ve successfully created your first layout using a layered template! I hope you enjoyed the process and I can’t wait to see your creations.

Blog Comments

What an amazing template! And the inspiration layouts . . . GAH!! I can’t get over it. Thanks so much!

Thank you SO much! And what eye candy from your design team!

Thank you for the template. Love what all of you did with it.

great tutorial, Liz! its very easy to follow! and i love your layout!!!

Thanks Liz! Fabulous template, and your CT is amazing!!

Thank you Liz!
Love your Press Plates!

Thanks so much! You rock!

Thanks so much for the awesome template:)

I told you I was excited to use it! Already got one done:

Awesome template Liz!!! And the CT layouts… amazing gals you have!! great tutorial and easy to follow instructions.. Thanks!!

Great template thank so much for sharing i have completed two – not loaded to a gallery but on my blog if you would like to see.

Liz your template is absolutely amazing!!! TFS sweetie 🙂

Thank´s for sharing!! hugs Regi Musa

wow awsome template, TFS and those pages by your Ct are beautiful. I so wish I saw that CT call in time… I love your designs.

Here's a page I made for this fab challenge:

What inspiration all the layout’s here are! Thank You so much for the lesson! I have a feeling Im not the only Newbee here! Thank you for remembering us.

thanks for the template and inspiration

Thank you for the template, Liz.
Can’t wait to use it!

Thanks so much for the template and the contest!! Looks like a lot of fun! 🙂 Beautiful inspiration too, btw!!

Thank you for the wonderful template!

I am in love with using templates. THis is another great template, and also an excellent tutorial. THanks so much.

Fantastic template! Thanks so much 🙂

Your tutorial is so well done. Liz, you really put a lot of work into this. Kudos!

Hey Liz !! Thank you so much for all you made ! I'm still fan of your work… here is my layout with your beautiful template, hope you like it !

Bye !

wow, thanks, a wonderful gift, can’t wait to play with!

girl… shut-UP! i totally learned something new in this turoial!!! i had no CLUE that holding down your shift key while dragging your paper over would automatically center it!!! hahaha. that’s awesome!! (um.. blushing… i guess i can now delete that action i made that automatically centers it for me once i get it over there. bahahahaha). you rock!!!

Liz, thank you for the template. I am a great fan of your work! Love everything..

Here's my take on it..

Love the template. Thanks so much for the template and the amazing tutorial:)


Thank You very much! I've enjoyed playing with this template i've posted mine here:


Crazy old Me

Thank you very much, how fun!
Here’s what I came up with:

I am back with the layout… i love this template so much that i will be making some more layouts using this… thanks again.

What a fabulous tutorial! Thank you so much. And, of course, the template goes without saying. 🙂

so this probably won't win for most creative or anything, but this is what came to me when i started working with it. i love it!! thanks so much!

oooh – so going to download. you are amazing, my dear. 🙂

Super cool template. Thanks.

SBL Graphics
SBL image clipping

i love your templates!!!
so versatile.

here's my entry :))))

thanks for looking!

love your template and very thorough and easy to follow tutorial! thanks! 🙂

I don't use templates often but I LOVED this one. Here's my take

I love a great contest and awesome template to boot! Thanks Liz.

Here is mine:

What a wonderful template! Thank you so much for sharing. Here is my contribution!


Thanks for the awesome template and tutorial! Your work is inspiring! Here's the link to my layout on the Oscraps gallery.

Thanks so much, I love all of your templates!!

Love the template, will use again. Thanks so much for the opportunity to play. My LO can be seen @

That’s a sensible answer to a challenging question

Thanks so much for this awesome template ! Here is my LO :
or on my blog

Thank you for the template!!! 🙂 Here is my layout:

here's a link to my post!

thanks for the great template!

Hi Liz, hope all is well.
It has been a very long time since I scrapped. After seeing the wonderfull LO Ann made with your template I just had to scrap again.

Left it very simple, *sorry* I'm trying to get my mojo back.

Thank you for your template
bye from Holland

Absolutely loved this template. Here's mine

Still having way too much fun with this template:

Thanks for the wonderful template!! Here is my attempt

I'm addicted to your templates, Liz! Thanks for this one! And for the tut… learned a lot! Here's my lo:

Thanks for this great template!
Here’s my layout :

Thanks so much for inspiration, and “digital scrap” inspiration.
My Lo:

Thanks so much for the wonderful template. Here's my page

Awesome template! Thank you SO much!!!

thanks so much for the wonderful template!!

I love your designs 🙂 I’m new to digital scrapbooking, but I came upon and therefore your shop and then your blog.

I really liked your latest template, but I don’t have a program that supports .psd files. But, I do have Macromedia Fireworks (creates .png files) and I was inspired, so I whipped up my own design based on your own and I thought you’d like to know.
If you have time, you can check it out at
Thank you for your generous offer and inspiration!


Thanks for a fabulous template! Here is my take on it:

A simple layout with your exquisitely simple template and tutorial!!! Thanks for everything Liz!

Thanx so much for the amazing template! I had fun playing with it. Here’s my entry:


thanks for the awesome tutorial. And your templates are wonderful!

Thanks!!! Love your stuff!
Here is my layout:


Thanks for the template – love the clean lines!! Here's my LO:

Here my page for the challenge, thanks again

Thanks so much for the template, I dont usually use templates but this was fun 🙂

Awesome stuff Liz!! Here’s my take on the template!

Thank you!

Thanks for the template!
Here's what I did with it

thanks for wonderful template, I had fun with playing 🙂
here is my page:

Thank you for this nice gift. I loev the simplicity in your designs and I had to use your template.

The outcome can be found at

Fabulous Template, and wonderful Tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing!

Here is mine, thanks for the template! And I am jealous of Audrey’s closet:)

Thxs for the great Template. I hope you like mine

I like the template so much that I created a other one ;o)

I love your template !
Here is my layout

Thanks so much for the template. Your work is very inspiring. Here is the link to my page:

Thanks again

Fabulous! Thank you!

Thanks so much! Will use it again and again.

Here's my take (in a totally unexpected direction):


Thanks for the template !
Here is my LO :

I don't know how many layouts we can post, but this is my second one and i realy love it !

89 comments, woo hoo! Love to get freebies from you Liz, thank you so much! Love the press plate so of course I had to make a layout with it! I've seen some really goregous layouts already … Good luck to all and thank goodness you're doing a random drawing for one of the prizes! Here's my entry:

ps thanks for the awesome tutorial too!

This was fun! Thanks for the template and the inspiration!


Thank you for the template. Here is mine:–7m47j1juGb4Q?feat=directlink

wonderful template…great fun seeing the many creatives uses of it. ok to submit two? both now @ oscraps. (earlier post today of the first was at another site).

Judy (jarhm)

Thank you very very much for this template! Here's my LO i've made with it…

What a beautiful template…as usual! Here is my lo:

Thank you so much for this beautifull template!!! Here's mine :

Amazing template! Thank you!
Here is my LO

Thanks for the template !
Here’s my LO :

Thanks for the great Template.
Here is my new baby Sammie doing what he does best LOL

Cheers Lotta

Amazing template – Here is my take on it. Love the pregnancy wordart too!

I've really been enjoying seeing your template everywhere and the wonderful pages created ith it.

Here is my third one:

Thank you!

Judy (jarhm)

Here's my entry:

Thanks for the template! I had a lot of fun with it and seeing everyone else's.

Thank you! Your blog post will be advertised on the DigiFree Digital Scrapbooking Freebie search engine today (look for timestamp: 16 Jan [LA 08:46pm, NY 11:46pm] – 17 Jan [UK 04:46am, OZ 03:46pm] ).

Wow! fantastic template. Love it.

clipping path services

Love the template. The ‘white space’ is soooo great! Thanks for the template and a great tutorial. Such generosity – and amazing talent too!

Hello all,
While I surf blog , i found a all new trick in

Vistor can comment and EMBED VIDEO YOUTUBE , IMAGE. Showed Immediately!
EX : View Source.
(add photos and videos to Blogspot comments).
Written it very smart!
I wonder how they do it ? Anyone know about this , please tell me 😀
(sr for my bad english ^_^)


Wow thank you sooooo much for sharing the template, its a gorgeous design, and the tutorial…what can I say…it was awesome! Thank you thank you..x

Thanks for the sharing this website. it is very useful professional knowledge. Great idea you know about company background.
web application development

thank you for this template !

thanks for this template ! and wonderful idea to explain how to use it for ones who discover digiscrap

merci pour le joli template que tu nous offre j'ai fais une page avec mais sera sur mon blog que quand le kit sera sortie donc je repasserais te prevenir si tu veux voir ma page

Encore merci

WOW!!! That’s the first thing that came into my mind as I was reading this post. Amazing yet very simple to understand tutorial. Thanks for sharing with us.

I am so grateful you did all this – I followed through using GIMP instead of PS and got it all to work – YAY!! Thanks! My first digiscrap is at

Thanks for your tutorial on this. It was great help to me.
xx Monica

Thank you so much for this template! web application

Intresing features and ways u have tell us.Well written blog.

"Logo Design
Logo Designs
Web Design Service
Website Design"

Awesome tutorial and template!
Thanks for sharing your wisdom, I'm a newbie here 😀

Thank you for that tutorial, it was super helpful! I have been playing around with your templates and think I may actually try this digital scarpbooking!

One question, how do you resize some of the templates that are 12×12 to fit an 8×10 blurb book?

welcome Ella!

Hi Brandie,

The easiest way to do this is to do the following:
1. create a new file in the dimensions you want (8×10)
2. open the 12×12 template you want to convert
3. select all of the layers in the 12×12 template, hold down the shift key and drag everything over to the 8×10 document file

The design won't transfer exactly becaue you are moving from a square format to a rectangle format so you will have to move the elements around a bit until it looks right to you.

Hope this helps!

Hello there liz,
I just want to ask, what kind of printer do you used? I'm new in here and your artwork is beyond amazing 🙂

Hello Liz, I am very new to all this, but I would love to do a beautiful album. I got some of your stuff on oscraps already!
However, I am following you tutorial and I am not being able to pass step 6 because I am using Photoshop Elements 9 and it is just not showing me any overlapping circles, and the shortcuts don't work either. I know you weren't posting for PSE9, but any advise would be highly appreciated!

Hi Mercedes,

Clipping masks is the one thing that newbies struggle with the most in the beginning. But once you get the hang of it, it will always be a breeze! I've been meaning to do a clipping masks screencast because I think it's easier to get when see the "clipping" in action but I haven't gotten around to doing that. I did a quick search on you tube and found a PSE clipping mask tutorial by Carina Gardner. Hope you find this helpful:

If you're still having problems, please feel free to email me and I'll try to walk you through it another way.

Thank you so much for your help and your fast response!
In that tutorial she is not using PSE9, so my menu was not the same. However, I heard her advise to Photoshop users and I was finally able to do it by selecting "Create Clipping Mask" on my Layer menu!
Maybe someone else will find this helpful.
Off I go to continue with this new adventure…
Take care,

Wow, fantastic weblog layout! How lengthy have you been blogging for? you make running a blog glance easy. The total look of your website is magnificent, let alone the content material!

The whole idea of layered templates was new to me yesterday and now, thanks to your tutorial, I feel like a bit of a pro. I think I just found a new hobby.

Thanks for the template. I am a photoshop newbie and I know I will find this template and tutorial invaluable.
Thank you for sharing them both.

Thanks! This is so helpful

I was suggested this website through my cousin. I am now not certain whether or not this publish is written by him as nobody else understand such distinctive about my trouble. You are incredible! Thank you!

Thanks a bunch for the templates AND the tutorials. Easy to follow. Thank you!!!!!!!

[…] tutorial on using clipping masks in Photoshop and Paislee Press has a tutorial that will take you step-by-step through using a layered template.If you want your page to look realistic, you’ll also want to learn a bit about drop […]

[…] & layered templates tutorial. […]

Thanks so much for the tutorial. I am a newbie to the digi world and in- depth help like this is so very much appreciated.

Glad you found it helpful and welcome to the wonderful world of digital memory keeping! 🙂

Greate article. Keep posting such kind of info on your blog.
Im really impressed by it.
Hi there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and
personally suggest to my friends. I’m confident they’ll be
benefited from this website.

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