Want to know how to become a digital scrapbook designer? In this tutorial, we’ll walk through creating a digital scrapbook template, perfect for adapting into your own layouts and designs! Add your own photos, or mix it up and do something completely different! The only limit is your imagination.
What You’ll Need
The following assets are used in this tutorial:
In my opinion, digital scrapbooking is all about gathering and experimenting with fun textures, images, fonts, papers, and patterns—so have fun with it! Gather your materials, and let’s explore how to make a digital scrapbook template.
1. How to Start a Digital Scrapbook Template
Let’s start by creating a New Document. You can do so by going to File > New in Adobe Photoshop.
For my digital scrapbook page, I decided to work at 8.5″ wide by 11″ high, but keep in mind, you can work at any size you prefer. If, for example, your scrapbook is square, work with those dimensions! The choice is yours.
Next, let’s talk about resolution.
If you’re planning to print your digital scrapbook page, you’re going to need to work at a print-appropriate resolution. I recommend setting your Resolution to 300, if you plan to print your work.
If you plan to share and enjoy your work exclusively in a digital environment, you might not need your work to be high res. However, since we’re working with raster artwork—as in, artwork that cannot be scaled larger without losing quality—I usually like to work larger than I need. You can always scale down.
Once you are happy with your document settings, click Create to continue.
Now that we have a blank canvas to work with, we need our content! This is my favorite part of the process—finding imagery, textures, and paper to work with.
So, what is digital scrapbooking? With digital scrapbooking, we have an awesome advantage over traditional, physical scrapbooks: we can scan content, we can digitally manipulate content, we can download content! Not only is there a huge wealth of content out there, but it can prove to be less expensive and, if you make a mistake, you can undo!
I like to start by gathering my images and assets. I’ll be using content from Envato Elements today—it has a lot of fun collections of digital paper and other assets that are perfect for digital scrapbooking. You can gather your content from any source you prefer, and/or work along with me!
2. How to Create a Digital Scrapbook Layout
Let’s get started on our layout. I’m going to create a travel-themed digital scrapbook page, perfect for fun vacation photos. Think about your theme when selecting your assets!
To get my design started, I decided to start with a patterned digital paper in the background. Mine looks like a wood texture (you can download it here)—but there are lots of different textures and patterns you could work with!
I opened up my digital paper, by going to File > Open.
Select your image from your computer, and then click Open.
This will visually look different, depending if you’re on a Mac or PC, as well as where your image is located on your computer—but the general process is the same.
Now, your image should be open in Photoshop. Note, this is a second open document, in addition to our new document that we created earlier.
Select the entire image. You can do so by going to Select > All.
Next, go to Edit > Copy, to copy our selection.
Finally, return to your new, untitled document. How do you know which document you’re currently “in”, if you have more than one open?
Look towards the top of your screen. In current versions of Photoshop, the most forward-facing tab is your active document. In the example below, Untitled-1 is the active document. The other document, wood_background.jpg, is open, but it is not the active document that I am viewing at this time. I can tab between them when needed.
Now, in your new document, go to Edit > Paste to insert our background image.
Please take note of this process! We will be selecting, copying, and pasting a lot of content in this tutorial. If you forget how to do so, make sure to come back to this part of the tutorial to review.
Here’s an example of where we are, right now, below. Notice that my image has been automatically pasted onto a new layer.
Next, I’m going to use the Rectangle Tool to lay out where I’d like my photos to be placed in my layout. Photoshop will automatically put this first rectangle on a new layer.
Start with your first rectangle, where you’d like your first photo to be placed. Don’t worry too much about the size of the rectangle in relation to your photos, for now. We’ll address that later.
Before placing another rectangle, let’s create a New Layer. You can do so from the Layers panel.
If you don’t see the Layers panel, go to Window > Layers.
The Create New Layer button is at the bottom, and looks like a piece of folded paper—click on the Create New Layer button to make a new layer.
Now, let’s create another rectangle, using the Rectangle Tool. This will be my second photo in my layout. Notice that it’s on its own layer (the new one that we just created).
Layers are an important and powerful part of working with Photoshop—and you’re likely going to want to take advantage of that power, when creating digital scrapbook pages. We can organize, move, and adjust components freely by having them each on their own layer.
That said, I would recommend organizing your layers, since you might end up with a lot of them! You can, for example, click and drag to move and organize your layers, here in the Layers panel. Think of it like layering pieces or paper on top of each other.
You can rename your layers by clicking on the name of the layer in the Layers panel. This is optional, but it can be a lifesaver when you end up with 20, 30, or more layers!
Repeat this process, adding as many layers and rectangles as you’d like to your composition. I decided to start with three.
I like where I’ve placed my rectangles—they’re going to serve as my photo placeholders—but I want them to have just a touch of depth, so they feel more like real photos pasted on a page.
I decided to add a slight Drop Shadow to achieve this look. This way, they don’t look “flat” against the background, but rather as if they’re sitting on top of it.
Again, the key word here is slight drop shadow—it should look natural and supplemental!
To add this layer effect, click on the Add a Layer Style button, at the bottom of the Layers panel. Select Drop Shadow.
This opens up the Layer Style options, and it should automatically open to Drop Shadow.
Set the Blend Mode to Multiply. This will affect how the shadow blends with our background.
Set the Opacity to 25%. I kept this low, so the shadow would remain subtle.
I set my Distance to 4, Spread to 32, and my Size to 13—but I recommend toggling Preview On (this is under the OK button, on the right-hand side). This way, you can freely experiment with these values, not only to get a result you enjoy, but also to get a feel for each of these sliders.
Once you’re happy with your selections, click OK.
I want this Layer Style to be on all of my rectangles/photos, however. Thankfully, I don’t have to repeat this process over and over again. I can easily copy any layer style and paste it on another one!
To do so, right-click (on PC) or Control-click (on Mac) on the layer with the effect you’d like to copy. In the resulting menu, select Copy Layer Style.
Then, right-click (on PC) or Control-click (on Mac) on the layer where you’d like to paste this effect. In the resulting menu, select Paste Layer Style.
Repeat this process, until each rectangle has the same Layer Style. We wouldn’t want one to have a shadow and the others not to—that likely wouldn’t look as natural.
If you want to edit a layer effect, simply click on it within the Layers panel, and it’ll open up those Layer Style options for you again.
Note, this could work with any digital scrapbooking shapes! It doesn’t have to exclusively be rectangles!
3. How to Create Borders and Decorative Elements
We’ve got the basics laid out here, but they’re not all that visually interesting yet. Let’s experiment with adding some borders and depth to our photo templates.
Choose one of your rectangles and duplicate this layer. You can do so by selecting the layer.
Then, right-click (on PC) or Control-click (on Mac), and, from the resulting menu, click on Duplicate Layer.
Now, I’m going to take our duplicate layer and resize it, using the Move Tool.
Make sure Show Transform Controls is toggled on, in the Options Bar at the top of the screen. This option reveals resize handles for the content on the currently selected layer.
Click and drag on the resize handles of your choice. I resized this rectangle so it’s a little smaller than the original rectangle. My goal here is to create the appearance of a border.
Next, let’s change the layer style on this smaller rectangle. Click on the layer style on the layer itself to open up the Layer Style options once again, as highlighted below.
We don’t need a Drop Shadow on this rectangle, so let’s turn it off.
Click on the checkbox by “Drop Shadow” in the Layer Style options to turn this effect off. Notice how, when we do so, all of the options fade out.
Instead, let’s apply a different effect. I’m going to try an Inner Shadow, instead!
Since we already have the Layer Style options open, click on the checkbox by “Inner Shadow”. Make sure you also click on Inner Shadow, in this list of effects, so you can see this particular effect’s options.
The options here should look familiar—they’re very similar to the Drop Shadow options!
This time, my Distance is at 6, Choke at 0, and Size at 35. However, again, I recommend toggling Preview on and experimenting with these values. Adjust them to suit your border size and preferences.
I also, again, kept the Opacity low, at 32%. The goal here is for the shadow to be subtle.
Once you’re happy with your settings, click OK.
Now we have the beginnings of a photo template with a border! Let’s insert a digital scrapbook paper into our border space.
Copy and paste a digital paper of your choice into your document. If you’re unsure of how to do so, go back to Step 1 of How to Create a Digital Scrapbook Layout to review this process.
I chose to use this crumpled kraft paper texture. Photoshop should automatically paste it onto a new layer.
Make sure this layer is positioned between our two rectangles, as shown below.
Note: I have colored the upper rectangle blue and the lower rectangle red, just to make this concept easier to see. Coloring your layers like this is entirely optional/cosmetic—but can be great for organizational purposes! You can do this too, by right-clicking (on PC) or holding Control and clicking (on a Mac) and choosing a color.
Next, select the layer with your digital paper on it. Again, it should be between the two rectangles.
Right-click (on PC) or Control-click (on Mac) on this layer, and, from the resulting menu, click on Create Clipping Mask.
By turning this layer into a Clipping Mask, it will confine the paper to the space occupied by the larger rectangle—making it look like a border.
Not only that, but we can freely move and resize our digital paper now, as it will stay within this space!
You can have more than one Clipping Mask applied to a layer, too! Below, I’ve created a second new layer, converted it to a Clipping Mask, filled it with a solid beige (Paint Bucket Tool), and then set the layer’s Blending Mode to Multiply. I wanted to darken the color of the paper.
You can really do a lot of things with Clipping Masks—give it a shot!
Repeat this process for any other photos that you’d like to have a border. I decided to do so with one other photo in my composition. I used this cute digital paper!
4. How to Add Photos to Your Digital Scrapbook
Let’s use Clipping Masks again—but this time, to apply photos to our digital scrapbook template.
Open the photo you’d like to use. Copy and paste it into your document. It should automatically paste onto a new layer.
If you’re unsure of how to do so, go back to Step 1 of How to Create a Digital Scrapbook Layout to review this process.
Take a look at your layers. We want the photo layer to be on top of whichever rectangle you would like it to be “placed” in. Use the Move Tool to position the photo.
Once the photo layer is in the right place, right-click (on PC) or Control-click (on Mac) on this layer, and, from the resulting menu, click on Create Clipping Mask.
Now, the photo is within our placeholder. Repeat this process to “fill” the template spaces that we’ve created for our photos.
You can swap out and change these photos any time!
Here’s an extra tip—having a lot of layers can get really confusing. I like to use Folders—or Groups—to keep my work organized.
You can create a Folder by clicking on the Folder icon, within the Layers panel. Then, simply click and drag to sort and rearrange your layers. Place the ones you’d like within the folder. Folders, especially when combined with colors and names/labels, can make for a much more organized experience.
This is an optional step—but it’s been a lifesaver for me when my layer count gets really high!
5. How to Add Effects and Details to Your Digital Scrapbook
You can also apply external templates, layer effects, and other fun additions to your digital scrapbook. Here are a few ideas, to get you started.
I decided that I wanted one of the photos on my page to look like an aged photo, from an instant camera. So I downloaded this Retro Film Mockup from Envato Elements.
When opening the template’s Photoshop file (PSD), I placed its contents within a Folder or Group. This way, I could easily click and drag it into my digital scrapbook document.
Using the Move Tool, I placed this where I thought it would look best in my composition.
This template uses Smart Objects—something you may want to use in your digital scrapbooking. In this case, simply click on the layer that says YOUR PHOTO HERE.
Notice that this layer has a little paper icon in the corner of the layer preview. This visually indicates that this layer contains a Smart Object.
When we double-click on it, we go “inside” the Smart Object. It’s a lot like its own unique file. We can preserve content here, in a Smart Object—so edits and effects applied within our PSD don’t change or alter our original.
I simply pasted my photo here, on top of the template photo, and saved the Smart Object (File > Save). This will make the changes reflect in our original document. Easy, right?
But scrapbook pages often have more than photos—so let’s have some fun here, with decorative elements.
The sky’s the limit! You can scan things, you can take photos of things, you can download assets—I decided to start by adding some lace, at the top of my composition, just for some added interest. Again, this is a process of copying and pasting content into your scrapbook page.
It has a slight Drop Shadow, just like our photos, to give it a little extra depth. If you aren’t sure how to do so, please see Step 12 of How to Create a Digital Scrapbook Layout.
But we can also create fun additions by hand. I wanted to have a piece of ribbon or paper on the side of my page, but I couldn’t quite find what I wanted. So I made it myself!
To do so, create a New Layer.
Then, take your Rectangular Marquee Tool and make a selection on the right-hand side of the page.
Use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill this area. I used a pinkish, salmon color.
Repeat this process, but with two thinner, rectangular shapes. I made them a light beige color.
Then, I applied a subtle Drop Shadow—similar to the ones I used on my photos and my lace (remember, you can copy and paste layer styles!).
Now, I have the thin strip of paper or ribbon I was looking for!
I also pasted a pair of tickets into my layout. Since this was a lot of individual imagery, I organized them in folders. Otherwise, I’d have a big mess of over 30 layers at this point!
Paste in any imagery you like! Digital scrapbook tags, buttons, glitter—the goal here is to have fun and create something meaningful for you and your memories.
Finally, let’s add some text with the Text Tool. I used the font Peachy and Pure!
You can rotate, scale, and resize your text using the Move Tool. Remember to have Show Transform Controls toggled on in the Options menu.
Alternatively, you can go to Edit > Transform to choose Scale or Rotate.
Position your text however you like!
And There You Have It!
We’ve created a fun digital scrapbook page—ready for your favorite photos or for remixing into a totally different layout! The nice part is, now we have a fully functional template. We can just drop in any photos we like!
Now that you have some additional insight into how to use digital scrapbook templates, I hope you’re inspired to go out there and make some great content!
You can use Clipping Masks for so many fun things in digital scrapbooking. Smart Objects can also be a great way to keep things organized and preserve your original photos, when adding effects.
Want to know more about both? Check out these tutorials:
Take just a minute to learn why using Smart Objects in Photoshop is such a smart thing to do.
In this quick tip tutorial, you will learn how to create a clipping mask in Photoshop while making a quick scrapbook-inspired image!
Thanks so much for following along with me! I hope you’re inspired to make lots of your own digital scrapbooking templates. If you enjoy digital scrapbooking, here are some awesome items that you might want to check out. I know I love collecting textures and digital paper!
Check out this gorgeous image set! Complete with six different, seamless digital papers and ten ornate drawings, this is such a fun, romantic set. I was more than happy to add this one to my collection! This is printable scrapbook paper too!
These lovely textures could be great for your wedding memories—but these patterns are so soft, gentle, and welcoming, they would work for a wide variety of projects! This would be welcome in any digital scrapbooking kits.
I love paper textures; have you considered adding some watercolor elements to your next digital scrapbooking project? Abstract and minimalistic backgrounds, like this set, can be the perfect, supplemental addition to your work! And hey, this set comes with 55 to choose from!
I absolutely love designloverstudio’s digital papers, and this set is no exception. They create some of the best digital scrapbook content! This one is decorative, detailed, and beautifully crafted, and I love the mix of pine and white flowers! This could work for so many different projects!
One of the challenges with digital scrapbooking, in my opinion, is bringing some of the texture of traditional scrapbooking into the composition. Natural paper textures, like this set, can be just what the doctor ordered. Use them as they are, or use them to create layer effects!
There’s something special about a vintage look, especially when creating a composition that is all about memories. Add a touch of aged paper to your work to help capture that aesthetic!
These watercolor backgrounds could be a perfect background for your next digital scrapbooking page! Or place them on top of elements in your design and change up the blending mode to create interesting textures and effects!
A sweet, country set, this digital paper pack could be great for your next reunion page, baby shower, or other special project! Check out those beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations! They are absolutely charming!
If you enjoyed this tutorial, here are some others to check out!