Video Tutorial: working with layered templates

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking, Tutorials61 Comments

I’ve been fielding a number of requests from blog readers that go something like this: “I like the idea of your templates, but I have absolutely no idea what to do with them, or how they work.”

Let me say this: you and me? We’re not so different. Until January of this year, I had basically never worked with layered Photoshop templates. In fact, I didn’t really get why Photoshop was the digital scrapbookers tool of choice. Even though I’d used it for years in my magazine work, I never used it the way one might in the scrapbooking realm. Once I started incorporated more digital elements into my classes at BigPictureScrapbooking, lightbulbs began going off as I made the connection. OH, this is why they use it!

I put together a 9-minute video using Photoshop Elements 8 showing you the basics of working with one of my templates. (Note: if you click on the link below the video, it’ll take you to the Vimeo site to see it larger, or simply click on the expander icon to go into Full Screen mode… but keep in mind, if you have a big monitor, the resolution will be a bit fuzzy.)

A Simple Digital Template Tutorial from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

SUPPLIES: Layered Template No. 18 (Cathy Zielske) β€’ Amelie Paper Pack (Lynn Grieveson) β€’ Ethan Solids Paper Pack (Michelle Martin) β€’ Avenir font

My personal scrapbooks are all 8.5 x 11, and so that’s why I sized down the 12 x 12 to create this hybrid version of the layout seen below.


Admittedly, the type is a bit small, but it’s totally crisp and readable, and now it can go into my All About Us family album. I simply added a bit of cardstock, and a stamp from Cat’s Life Press.

I am not the expert in digital scrapbooking by any stretch, so if you’re interested in learning more, check out the following classes, which I wholeheartedly recommend:

Jessica Sprague’s Up and Running with Photoshop

If you have any questions today, post in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

Now, speaking of things that I actually do know a thing or two about, there’s a new installment of Design Do-Overs, freshly baked and presently cooling, and it makes its triumphant return on Monday.

Until then, have a great weekend.

Cathy ZielskeVideo Tutorial: working with layered templates

61 Comments on “Video Tutorial: working with layered templates”

  1. #1
    Becky M

    Awesome! thanks for the great links and video. I’ve been doing the PSE class on Two Peas and looking for some new information to soak up!

  2. #5
    Jennifer K

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! It was just a few days ago I was saying to myself, “I really like Cathy’s templates but I don’t know how to use them.” I searched for video tutorials on your site and DD but nothing really jumped out at me. I really needed this.

  3. #8

    Thanks, Cathy! I’m scared of my Photoshop because I don’t know how to use it well, but you have taught me so much with your videos I might try using it again:)

  4. #9

    Thank you so much for the tutorial. And a HUGE thank you for showing me how you convert a 12×12 template to a 8.5×11 layout! I have been staying away from your cute 12×12 templates because I didn’t know how to convert them to 8.5×11. I guess it seems kind of obvious what you did but not to me. In fact I still have to ask, did you reduce it to 8×8?

  5. #10

    You are my teaching hero! Each day I come to your blog – I am inspired and learn something new. I am so grateful that you continue to take the time to teach about the design concepts and philosophies as well as make fun videos and share them with all of us.

  6. #15

    hey cathy! i had that same “ah ha!” thing when i realized all the stuff that i could do with photoshop besides editing photos. i had an amazing scrapping tool right at my fingertips for the past three years but didn’t know it. i started the first of jessica sprague’s digi classes a couple of weeks ago and am really loving it. thanx for your video,too. nicely executed! : )

  7. #16

    Whoops! Just saw the end of the tutorial where you answered my question. You are a goddess showering your scrapbook blessings on all crafty children whether they be 12×12-ers or 8.5×11-ers. Low Bow.

  8. #19
    Elizabeth Lombardi

    Oh bless you Cathy!! I can’t wait to get home and watch the video and play more – work gets in the way of my scrapbooking I tell ya. I got your “thankful” package last week and I want to do more – thanks for showing us a thing or two! I’m going to check out those other classes too – I deserve them!

  9. #20
    Lois Houston

    Cathy, thank you. I am brand new to Photoshop Elements (just bought it this week) and am trying to learn how to do all the beautiful things I’ve seen on your blog and others. I LOVE your templates and designs and am thrilled to know how to use them properly!

    Now, for some shopping over at DD! πŸ™‚

  10. #21

    Wow Cathy!
    Thanks sooo much for the Photoshop class links!
    I’ve been looking for some that are for scrapbookers πŸ™‚
    ps–loove your blog πŸ™‚

  11. #24
    Christine B

    Thanks so much Cathy, this has appeared just as I was needing it! You are absolutely fabulous for doing this!

  12. #25
    Sarah MacKenzie

    Hi Cathy – when you posted your holiday template a few days ago, I decided to give digital pages a whirl and try to deal with nearly 3 years of trips back and forth to see my parents. So, I went to DD and bought the template and a paper kit. I have never done a digital page but between your template and a brief tutorial by Ali E from the Yesterday/Today class I am taking, I managed to throw one together in about 40 minutes. And once that first one was done the second and third came together much easier and they all look FANTASTIC. I will definitely be doing more digital and hybrid scrapbooking from now on. Thanks so much for being so awesome!

  13. #29
    Diane M.

    Thank you for the awesome video. I’m in the midst of putting together a 8×8 album for a christmas gift. Your lesson will help me get this done in no time. Off to check out your templates for sale. Thank you, thank you!

  14. #30

    So great to see how templates are used and the whole process in making a digital/hybrid page. Thank you so much for this video tutorial – you do such a great job of explaining all the steps! I’m almost ready to climb out of scrapping hibernation!

  15. #31

    Love the video..thank you! I’m new to this digi scrapping and know very little about it. But for some reason I keep buying your templates. Recently I purchase your thankful template from DD. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make part of the title (for this i am) black and have the thankful a different color. Any tips would be appreciated.

  16. #32

    question for you…is there a specific reason why you copy and paste just a portion of the 12×12 papers instead of just clipping the whole thing? Thanks for teaching us so much, Cathy!

  17. #34

    Dana, yes. By copying a smaller section, my template file size will be a bit smaller. If i paste the entire image in, it does add to the overall file size. And, my hard drive is starting to dwindle away! : )

  18. #35

    Hi Carolyn,

    When you bought the Thankful Set, there is a set of instructions (PDF format) that explains how to customize colors and apply them to the various layers (including the layer with the word “Thankful”. Take a peek & good luck!

  19. #36
    Marg NZ

    Thanks so much Cathy. You said to wait a little bit and you’d provide instructions, but I didn’t think the wait would be quite that short!
    I have tonight downloaded ‘sweet little story’ and some papers and created my own layout complete with recoloured text etc. just like you said. I’m not really sure what Ctrl-G does, but it worked. Yay, thanks loads. I’m keen to download another template now but it’s after midnight so I think I best wait until tomorrow. Keep it coming!!!

  20. #37
    Shaun at Oak Den

    Thanks for your inspiration and for the tutorial. I’m taking Ali’s class right now and have now done more in photoshop than I ever have, but things are still fuzzy. Your tutorial helps. I’m taking your class in a few weeks, too, and I’m pretty excited for that!

    I really want to thank you for the Thankful book idea. On Thanksgiving Eve I saw your post and I purchased the templates and did my best to pull the book off on Thanksgiving. I bought a 2-up book at Target (the smaller ones were gone) but I like how it turned out. It is so simple and yet very meaningful and will be valued through the years.

    Thank you!

  21. #38
    Marion W

    Thanks for the video. I’ve been taking PSE tutorials and classes, and am reasonably comfortable with photo editing,embellishing, and creating pages from scratch, but I had no idea how to use templates. I had one I had clumsily put together awhile ago, and I fixed it by using your copy/paste/move/clip steps to add digital ribbon to the ribbon “space” and digital paper to the background. It took about 10 minutes, and it looks great. Thanks for the tips!

  22. #39

    This is the first time I’ve seen the tip to cut a piece of the paper and it makes a lot of sense to save space! Thanks!

  23. #40

    Thank you for doing this Cathy. I love your clean and simple style. I just ordered PS8 for myself for Christmas and cant wait to try.

  24. #41
    Jane Simmons

    I always learn something new. Thank you. I remember when I got Renee Pearson’s first book and had that same “aha” moment — I knew there must be a way to use PSE to layout pages.
    Another thing I like about layered templates, if you’re still a hybrid scrapper, if being able to turn layers off and on. So I’ll turn off everything but the journaling and print that. Or turn off everything but the title. Or just keep the photo layer turned on & print a group of photos.
    And another good reason to just clip a piece of patterned pattern is that if it’s patterned, clipping off a piece will keep the pattern more in the right scale.

  25. #45

    Shirley, i think it’s doing just that. I mean, these layered PSD files get huger and huger the more data you place into them… so, i’m going on a hunch that every little bit helps!

  26. #46

    Jane, that’s a good point. I never thought about it that way. I have never sized a pattern paper down, only because i want to use them as the artist intended. : )

  27. #47

    OMGosh! I have been buying templates and doing every step over and over because I didn’t know what I was doing. I kept wondering why you thought templates were so fast. TKS for the video Cathy! I think I get it now.

  28. #49

    Cathy Great video. I bought 12×12 templates and thought I wasted my money until I saw your video. Now I’m ready to give them another try. Looking forward to Monday’s bog too!

  29. #50
    Marg NZ

    Question for you ….. What is the purpose of Flatten Image at the end? I know it means you have one layer, but why do we want to do this? Is it an issue if we forget that step? Just curious. Loads of thanks again for the instructions – loving it and your templates.

  30. #51

    Hey girlfriend! I found you again! I was a reg stalker of your bloggisphere until the news came last spring about the whole SS debacle. Olus in the meantime Ive had twop computers crash yada yada yada here I am and there you are! I found you again through BPS! Love the porn star moustache! Sere u soon!

  31. #53

    Cathy, thank you so much for this. I am a total PSE neophyte, so I am following your instructions completely by rote. But when I do the ^g to mask in the photo, my template appears on TOP of my photo instead of the photo nesting into the template as it does in your video. What am I doing wrong? Any ideas…?? Now I’m stuck. Can see my photo *behind* the template opening, but all the fuzzy placeholder color is on top of it. πŸ™

  32. #54

    Hi, me again. Ok, I right-clicked on the placeholder color and one of the options was “bring to foreground” (I think?). I thought that might swap the layers and…it seems to have! My photo is now nested where it belongs, I think.

    But I still wonder what I did wrong…?

    I know it’ll take awhile to get comfortable working with all the different layers and making sure I have the right thing selected when I do a ^g or fill or whatever. It’s great to be getting started, though! Thanks for your truly step-by-step – realllly helpful!!

  33. #55

    You have to make sure your photo layer is directly above, and then, make sure it is selected, then do Control + G. Hope that helps!

  34. #56

    I flatten before printing, and normally, i would save as a jpeg. you have to flatten files before sending them to a printer service. : )

  35. #58

    Excellent video. I can’t wait to try this out with some templates. Do you think it would be possible to share one free template with your adoring blog readers? I’m still not sure I’m ready to start purchasing (aka collecting) templates and digital papers yet.

    Thanks so much for sharing your wealth of design and digital knowledge with us!

  36. #59
    Marg NZ

    Hi Megan, I’m hearing you as I too was concerned about giving it a go. Now I’m totally not on the payroll of Cathy (not even in the same country) BUT having tried out the SWEET LITTLE STORY template, along with the instructions from Cathy, I have most successfully created my first design. I purchased only two papers (bonus as no shipping charge vs. normal papers) and you’d have to do this even if Cathy’s template was free. So… what I’m trying to say is that Cathy’s templates are quite cheap (about $2.99) so try just one and you’ll be hooked like me. Alternatively, I also found a free template on Paislee Press. It comes with paper too.

    Anyway, just a suggestion. Give it a go, you’ll love it. Kind regards and good luck πŸ™‚

  37. #60
    rachel in Cali.

    So sad… still can’t get your Vimeo videos to play. :0( When I click “play” the screen image goes black and doesn’t play for me. ;0(

  38. #61

    Hi Cathy! It’s me again. πŸ™‚ I don’t know if you’re still reading comments from waaaay back here (I may try barging on another post – hope that’s ok), but I wondered if you have any suggestions for working with .png templates? There seem to be a number of simple .png templates available, but when I try to use them, they don’t have the layers (of course) so I can’t get the photos to “appear” in the windows there they would belong.

    I have spent hours searching the Web trying to get help with this. I did find this one step-by-step on Digital Designs (< but it doesn’t work as the steps say it will. πŸ™ The “opening” where the photo is supposed to go that is supposed to be see-through just covers up the photo completely and since there aren’t layers to work with, there’s no way to “clip” it like you do with .psd files.

    Seems like it must be obvious if there are so many templates and everyone else is happily using them! But apparently I’m missing the secret key. πŸ™‚

    Now I’m wondering if I’ll have better luck just giving up on the template idea and adding photos/backgrounds by hand. I just want to create a simple 12×12 page with two 4×6’s across the top and bottom and a row of 3x4s around the middle (or do the 3×4’s across the bottom – doesn’t really matter), so I can do a very, very simple weekly layout (by using two of them together). I can’t find a .png or a .psd that has anything that simple!

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