Save your life! (A free digital template download for you)

Cathy ZielskeFree Downloads, Scrapbooking167 Comments


On Saturday, I  hosted a coffee hour chat as part of Designer Digitals 1st Quarter Sale-a-bration. It’s always fun to chat (albeit very, very quickly!) a bit about scrapbooking and about what makes me love this hobby the way I do.

I always come back to the same thing: scrapbooking saves my life. I don’t mean to make it sound all dramatic and schmaltzy, but it really does offer up this singular opportunity to document and save the stuff that makes me who I am.

Do I scrapbook with great frequency? No. Do I take a gazillion pictures? Well, yes, I suppose that I do, but when I train my scrapbooking eye on any given topic, I emerge with the main thing I went in for: a story to remember.

Simple and focused, I save a little bit of my life one scrapbook page at a time.

Today, I’m giving you a template (both in 8.5 x 11 and 12 x 12 sizes) and challenging you to save a bit of your life.

One photo. One story. Just find someone in your life who is amazing to serve as your subject.

It’s probably not too hard to come up with just one. Me? I live with three of them and every day, I could probably come up with a story to tell, just like the story of Cole’s renewed passion for all things Titanic.

My goals as a scrapbooker don’t revolve around frequency or quantity. I just want to put a bit of this life down on record.  And it’s not just for the kids, or because it’s what Moms are supposed to do. I do this for me. I do this for the creative freedom that comes from telling my stories. Our stories. From this, goodness and gratitude inevitably flow.

This template is designed for use in Photoshop Elements and Photoshop. (It won’t work with any other photo imaging program.) The base template looks like this:


Included with this package is a beefed-up step-by-step PDF instruction sheet to help some of you less seasoned designers use the template. Here is the download: (The files are zipped and you will need to unzip them in order to use them. Simply click on the link and the download should automatically begin.)

Download CZ_AmazingTemplate

As you know, I combine the best of digital and real world scrapbooking in my approach. For example, the layout at the start of this post is purely digital and 12 x 12. Most of my albums are 8.5 x 11, so, I turned off the background layer, printed it out on a piece of 8.5 x 11 photo paper, trimmed it out and mounted it onto a piece of kraft cardstock. It looks like this:


Digital to hybrid, just like that. And why not just keep it purely digital? Well, let’s just say I like to pull out my adhesive and feel the love.

Any way you choose to work with this template is up to you. For those of you who are relatively new to digital, this will give you an idea of how my Designer Digital templates work.

Here is a quick video tutorial to show you how I created the 12 x 12 digital page, and then how I turned it into an 8.5 x 11 page. (Note: for you 8.5 x 11 scrapbookers, the process still applies, but you can just start with your preferred size of template. The core image area on both templates is the same size. Also, to watch the video in a larger size, simply click on the link below the video.)

Digital Scrapbooking Tutorial from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll be checking them throughout the day.

Just wanted to share a bit of life-saving love with you today. Enjoy the template.

It’s just my way of saying thank you for hanging out at my blog from time to time. I do so appreciate you.



DIGITAL PAGE SUPPLIES: Krafty No. 7 Paper PackSpot Dots No. 13 Paper Pack (altered) • Ethan Solids Paper PackJust Linens, No. 1 Paper PackStitched by Anna No. 1 • Avenir font

Cathy ZielskeSave your life! (A free digital template download for you)

167 Comments on “Save your life! (A free digital template download for you)”

  1. #1

    Thanks for the freebie! That is a great page of Cole! I hunted down some old pages and was horrified at the lack of journalling. I’m all about the story these days 🙂

  2. #3

    How sweet, Cathy! Sadly I don’t have PS or PSE, but I do love your blog and have been reading for years…even back before you quit blogging and re-emerged!

  3. #4
    Karen Walker

    Thanks, and thanks to your last video I’m now using your templates regularly to create hybrid pages. It sounded so hard once, but once I got the hang of it, it makes design so much easier and faster.

  4. #5

    Thank you for making digital doable for the newbies. I am hesitant to purchase digitals when I have so many questions. Between you, DYL, and Ali I am gaining confidence everyday. Thanks, JillB

  5. #8

    Thank you so much for the lovely templates. I’m going to do a page for each of my 3 children today. I was lucky enough to visit NY last week from the UK and my most exciting purchase was some 8.5 x 11 photo paper so I can’t wait to print some layouts without fiddling around to adapt to A4 size!
    I have to say I did not find a decent cup of tea in NY though!

  6. #10

    You should have come to my house! Okay, so it’s far from NY, but i’m learning every day how to make better and better cups of tea!

  7. #12

    thank you Cathy, for the template and your video help! It’s great to know we can use a 12×12 template and print to fit on 8.5×11 card stock.

    Hmmm… now, who do I scrapbook first with this template? It may become a mini album.!

  8. #16
    Rachel Smith

    do you know who I think is AMAZING? You! That’s right, YOU, Cathy! You are amazing!

    <3, Rachel

  9. #17

    Thank you so very much for the template. I love it. And thanks for the gentle reminder about your other templates at DD, as I have had your products on my wish list for nearly 3 months just waiting for the big sale. :o) One question…I like 8.5×11 pages and I am wondering if some of your recent templates like 44 and 47 can easily be converted? I know that 12×12 is a popular size, but my wish is that all of your future templates would be both sizes to make it easier on me. I keep hoping and dreaming. :o)

  10. #19
    Rachel Smith

    Did you know that you can also open an element in the document you are working on by choosing the “Place” option under “File” in the toolbar. You don’t have to move the element into your document; it opens right inside your open working document!

  11. #21
    Nancy M.

    Thanks, Cathy! I have a lot of amazing people around me, too! I always tell them that someday, they are going to be very happy that I was a scrapbooker! They will have so many memories recorded for them. I just wish they would stop running from the camera!

    You are amazing! I love your blog and read it every day. I got to sit in on your chat on saturday am. you were…well, you know, AMAZING! Thanks so much Cathy…for all you do to inspire and for a lot of laughs along the way. (Thanks for the template, too! Awesome!)

  12. #23
    Rebecca W

    Thanks Cathy so much for the template. I’m trying to get back to my scrapbook therapy with life continuing to be a little stressful. But we have some awesome pictures of the girls playing in the snow on their slide that are just begging to be scrapped. Thanks for the push today, I NEED to fit this in to the day. … Now where is that camera cable?…. 🙂

  13. #26

    Stacy, yes… you can size things down pretty easily!

    But now i’m worried: did you know the 1st quarter sale was this past weekend?

  14. #28
    Mary Aboy

    Thanks so much Cathy! I was pretty bummed on Saturday morning when I missed your chat hour, especially since I am on CST. I love your simple yet attention capturing style. Thanks for continually teaching and being such an inspiration!

    Be well!

    (I’m off to brew my favorite cup of green tea: The People’s Green Tea. But I’m going to give yours a try one of these days!)

  15. #29

    Thanks for the great template and the tutorial! I always learn a ton from your blog and enjoy reading everyday. Great chat yesterday at DD too!

  16. #30

    Oh, Thank you Cathy!

    I just purchased a couple of your templates at the quarterly sale, just because I want to try some digi-hybrid stuff. Now I have one more to add and try. Thank you!

  17. #33

    Yes, I know the sale is this weekend. According to the last DD email I received, the 30% off is good until 6 a.m. Tuesday. So, it’s all good. Oh, and as far as sizing things down pretty easily…hahahaha. Nothing digi is easy for me except using your templates as is. Wish I could hear you with Martha this morning. But, I don’t get XM or Sirius. Have fun.

  18. #37

    And thank you! I started a digi layout on Thursday about my husband, with a photo from our early days, but I’m just not feeling it. I think this will get me going again.

  19. #40
    Sue Taylor

    Thank you so much for this rockin’ template Cathy. And thanks for the reminder about the DD sale, I need to get my skates on and see what I have in my wish list, LOL!

    PS: Any plans on making a “School of Life” type of template, pretty please? Travel would be great too (maybe like your vacation album that I can’t remember where I saw it but loved it so much, it had pictures of the corn palace in it and you left your camera on the train I think?!!).

  20. #42
    debbi g.

    cathy!! this was so nice of you…i was in and out all day saturday and missed a few of the freebies and yours was one of them…i was bummed because i knew yours would be awesome. thank you so much!

  21. #43

    Someone else already said it, but it’s worth repeating… it is YOU who is truly amazing, CZ! Thanks for this and for the tutorial. I will pass the link along to some folks in Lain’s LO a Day challenge… some of them are trying out digi for the first time, and I think this will help them see how simple and fun digital scrapbooking can be!

    Oh, one question… would it be totally vain if I used the template to make a page about me? I feel the need to give myself one a pep talk. Again.

  22. #44

    You have inspired me to go digital and start saving my life! I have been scrapbooking forever, but I wasn’t getting the story down. I was spending too much time getting the paper and other embellishments just right, that I didn’t journal as much. Thanks for the new vision!

  23. #45
    Debbie Koehler

    Thanks Cathy! I just picked up some of your other templates over at DD last night! I love them!

  24. #46

    Thanks! What printer do you print from at home? Is there one you would recomend?

  25. #47

    Thanks Cathy for sharing your atristry (did I spell that right?)! YOU are amazing! I’m off to create one for each of my kids!! Also, leaving a link on my facebook page to see if I can drum you up some business-however, most of my friends are scrappy friends I met in your ECWL class on BPS.

  26. #53

    Brooke, I have a Photosmart 8750. It’s about 4 years old now, but it’s my second Photosmart printer. I’ve had great luck with HP!

  27. #59

    Thanks Cathy 🙂 Brand new to digi so please excuse what I am sure is a question that has an obvious answer…

    I have an image where I want it for the first time (tried to use a template for a LOAD prompt earlier this month with no success) but I can’t figure out how to change the journaling…

    We have photoshop CS and hubby usually does it as I find it overwhelming to say the least.

  28. #61

    Betty, you’ll need to use the Text Tool, then click on the layer with the “T” on the small thumbnail icon in the layers palette. Then, you can highlight your text, just like in a word document by clicking on the words and dragging to highlight.

    : )

  29. #62

    Thank you so much for the freebie. I am brand new to digital and am trying to learn. This will be great. Thanks again.

  30. #63

    OMG OMG!! I did it… I did my first digi LO and it is all due to the awesome CZ :):) Thank you Cathy!!!!

    I didn’t get the BG color to change but that will come 🙂

    I’ll have it up on my blog later today if anyone wants to see it.

  31. #65

    WOW! Only today I was starting to sort through 7 years of my kids school work and pondering how on earth I was going to (easily and simply) document the whole thing before they leave home (they are 11 already, sigh). Thank you, thank you. I am totally thrilled to hear this (are you telepathic btw?!!), my credit card awaits ….

  32. #66
    lynda p

    hello there radio star…i live on the west coast, so i set my alarm to wake my sleepy self up @ 4:45 a.m. to hear you on sirius. i loved it. loved how u said, grab a manageble photo album, pen & pics and go. yeah, i loved that idea, but the catholic “guilt” kicks in and says no, you need embellies, glitter, stickers…ribbon. i can go on forever.
    thanx for the heads up about u being on.
    too cool.

  33. #67

    I have been wanting to try one of your templates for a long time. This is the push that I needed to try it out. Could you tell me which is the yellow paper you are using from Designer Digitals? I know you listed the supplies but I can’t quite figure out which one is the yellow. Great video explaining things!!!

  34. #68

    Thanks so much for the “Amazing” template. You are always so generous in sharing your talents with us.

  35. #70
    Kary in Colorado

    Thanks Cathy! I spent all this snowy weekend working on finishing up Jessica Sprague classes and learning so much–this is perfect. Now if I could just get around to posting my DYL layouts…(hey, maybe if I did the rest of them digital I’d actually post them!). Love the layout and I know just the story to tell. Thanks again.

  36. #71

    Thank you for the tutorial and freebie Cathy. I enjoyed the chat on Saturday,definitely worth getting up at 5am. I got so addicted that I stayed all day and night. Crazy. Thanks again.

  37. #73

    Thank you for the template! I have the feeling that hybrid is where I want to be — the flexibility and time saving nature of doing part of it digitally, but the tactile nature of using “real” supplies is a huge draw and inspiration to me.

    I’ve always been a little fascinated with the Titanic. Unless your son already has this, or something similar, this ( is a really cool book with lots of facts and figures.

  38. #76
    Musiczoo Mamma

    Thank you for the freebie! We have the same titanic book in our house and have had a few bouts of titanic obession through the years with our boyz.. Love the creativity!! Peace~

  39. #77

    1) thanks for the template–just ‘on the verge’ of jumping into digital 2) I always love your design but more than all that 3) amazing is really the word–for both of your children. You and D must be spectacular parents and should be so proud of them and of yourselves. I went hunting down a you tube video, but there are so many. . . Thanks again

  40. #79

    Thanks Cathy! You are AMAZING!…and generous. You mentioned working on the school templates. Have you ever thought of doing that as a BPS class? Just a thought. I would definitely sign up?

    thanks again,

  41. #80


    First, thank you for the freebie from the Designer Digitals chat on Saturday. It was fun to read what you said and quite a challenger too due to the volume of typers!!

    Second, thanks for your generosity again with today’s freebie here. You’re the best!

  42. #81

    This is so cool! I too attended the chats at DD this last Saturday. Of course I thought yours was the best chat of the day! You are the fastest typist ever! I always love your video tutorials so keep doing more. You are the best!!!

  43. #82

    What a great way to start my week! Thank you for the little surprise free template I found today after reading your entry. Always looking forward the messages you post and I have my little collection of CZ Templates from Designer Digitals that just keeps growing!!

  44. #83
    Mary Kate

    Thanks for the inspiration to write. I didn’t even get through all your post before I clicked on Word and jotted down a story about a funny vintage party I hosted this weekend and had just been going through the photos of. I will probably finish reading your post. I may use the template. But mostly, I got the story and that’s what matters. You’re just swell!

  45. #85

    Thank-you for the template Cathy, what a lovely surprise this morning. I must confess to having purchased every single one of your 8.5 x 11 templates from Designer Digitals, all now happily converted to A4 size. Now I just concentrate on the story, work out how many photos I want to include, choose the appropriate template and sometimes I get two or more layouts done in an evening after a long day at a very intense full time job. All thanks to you 🙂

  46. #86
    lynne moore

    “Scrapbooking saves my life.” CZ
    OK. Now I NEED to have that on a cafe press t-shirt. So, when will that be available? My birthday is next month….

  47. #88

    Thank you so much for the template and your clear instructions! I have learned so much from you, and I can’t wait to play with this today!

  48. #90

    Thank you, Cathy. I’m just getting into the hybrid thing, so I’m excited to work with your template. You enabler, you!

    Thanks again.

  49. #92

    Hey Cathy,
    Thanks so much for the AMAZING template! I was so sad I missed the chat. I logged in at 6 am Pacific time and realized I had missed the whole thing! Any chance you can offer the freebie from the chat for those of us who tried but missed it? I just love your work–and I’m excited to use the new template!

  50. #93

    Thank you for the template! I have a quick tip (this works in PS and, if I remember correctly, it works in PSE too). When you use the move tool to drag your graphic onto your page, if you hold down the shift key while you drag, it’ll center it right onto the page you’re moving it to.

  51. #95

    Thanks so much for taking pity on us west-coast girls! I love your templates and can’t wait to play with it!

  52. #103

    Heather, i actually tweaked one of the papers from the Ethan Solids Paper pack. The creamy beige colored one!

    I forgot to note “altered” in the supply list.

    It’s really easy to alter color a bit by using the Hue/Saturation sliders.

  53. #105

    Betty, you will need to click onto the layer that has the letter “T” in the small icon window. Then, choose the Type Tool.

    Next, you can simply click and drag to select the current placeholder words, and type over them!

  54. #109
    marion w

    When I saw the word “Amazing”, I just had to put together another memorial page for my recently deceased dachshund, dubbed by my trainer as “The Amazing Dieter” (Dieter as in old SNL, not one who diets). Dieter had been paraplegic since the age of 6 and lived to the ripe old age of 17 1/2. I scanned his metal tag instead of using the one in the template, and moved some things around, and it was quick and easy. I love digital scrapbooking, and thanks for the freebie template!

  55. #110
    Bernice J

    Cathy, thank you so much for your free template. I love your simple but effective designs. I still really like working with actual papers (I think it’s the colors and textures) so I type in the journaling in the space provided, and then print the template (including just the outline of the photo areas) with colored cardstock, measure and crop the photos and attach them to fit the space.

  56. #111

    Thanks, Cathy! As usual, it looks awesome! on the other hand, my hubby won’t be so happy with you when he sees the credit card statement and I blame it on you. I ordered Kokuyo from one of your blog sponsors, bought a bunch of your templates from DD during the sale, and my order from Adagio Teas arrived today! You don’t normally have quite that much influence on me. That Ingenuitea thing rocks though, and so did the vanilla rooibos (my first rooibos ever!) So, thanks, I think! ;o)

  57. #112
    Debbie Dow

    just wanted to say “Thanks” for all the digital support you have been supplying, i appreciate it!

  58. #117

    Thank you for the template and instruction!! I’m taking your class at Big Picture web site(a bit behind though…) I’m going to make this into a birthday layout of a cute boy’s(he is in the same playgroup with my daughter.) See you at the class gallery if I can catch up!
    Hugs & kisses!!

  59. #118
    Kim in Cambridge, UK

    Thank you Cathy! Don’t know about life saving so much as sanity saving! Life is so busy, it’s nice to have something like scrapbooking that I have to sit down and slow down, with. Reflecting on the things that I actually want to say about my kids, life etc, that’s sanity! Yey for your fab templates. they just make simple scrapping so much fun.

    Love, Kim

  60. #119

    Thanks for the template and the tutorial. I really only use my computer to do my journaling and have always wanted to learn to use templates, brushes, etc., so this just might be the push I need to go hybrid! Thanks again Cathy!

  61. #121
    Jen K.

    Cathy, I love your work–the simplicity is true and beautiful. Your work helps me capture the precious moments in my family’s life by putting the photos and stories front and center. Thank you for all that you do for us uncreative digital junkies out there! I love your templates at DD–I have too many to count!

  62. #123

    Please blog more about your weight loss and the process. I am starting, too, to exercise and make better choices about foods and want to know how things are going for you, what you are doing, and the progress as it happens. Thanks.

  63. #125
    Jodi Polk

    Thank you for the freebie! I have been hoarding free digital goodies lately to take that quantum leap into digiscrapping. I am a computer geek defined, but there is something about patterned paper and tangible photos that I can’t let go of. Your templates (and ultra-clean style) are the most appealing to me, so to get to try one out for FREE is just perfect! Thank you- THANK YOU! I can’t wait to play 🙂

  64. #126

    Hello Heather, no. I will be retiring that class after the current run.

    But, i’m working on new design workshops! so, stay tuned!

  65. #129

    Jen, will it make you feel better to hear i just placed another order at Adagio? And it topped $100? Don’t tell my hubby…

    (I bought their tea kettle and water purifier!)

  66. #134

    thanks cathy!!!! i was in the mood for a freebie today 🙂
    i could soooo make 3, no 4 of these. one for each member of my fam, including me! 🙂
    have a great day! 🙂
    i love your clean style!

  67. #135

    My six year old and I have been enjoying the Titanic tributes so much. We love the video. He is a BIG TIME fan of titanic too (since he learned about it when he was 4). He now wants to copy your son. Thanks for sharing the inspiration!

  68. #136
    Susannah Banana

    Wow, I am TOTALLY sold. When I first saw a lot of these templates, I thought – gee, I can just do that myself in PSE for free. Then I tried, and sucked. Bad. Yuck.

    So THANK YOU for giving away one for free, so that I could see how stinking quick and easy it is to use one of these. Twenty minutes and 4 layouts… that all look GOOD!

  69. #137

    Thank you so much, Cathy! For the awesome chat, for the reminder to tell a story about our dearest ones, for the awesome template. I will use it soon 🙂

  70. #138

    Thanks for the template! If I had a son I would want him to be like Cole 🙂 love the videos!! What a creative kid.

  71. #139

    Thanks Cathy for the free template! I especially like the tutorial towards the end where you mention the remedy for frustration: command + z will remove anything you’ve done. You were speaking directly to me when you said that, right?! Frustration is my middle name when it comes to PSE! Thanks again!

  72. #141
    Karen L

    Thanks so much for the freebie. I just purchased a wide format printer and have gone wild with yours and Katie’s templates on DD. I have scrapped more this year than ever before. I have decided that for digital scrapping, templates are the ONLY way to go. Do you still use American Crafts binders as albums? How have you been decorating the plain covers? I need a “Clean & Simple” idea and who better to ask?
    Thanks for all you do and thanks for joining DD!

  73. #142
    Christy Roseveare

    I am increasingly becoming a fan of the digital hybrid approach, but I do not love the quality of prints I get out of my photo printer. (Sadly, it was supposed to be a good one, but it has not lived up to my expectations no matter how new the ink and expensive the paper I buy.) I would like to upload my pages or parts of pages and have them printed by an online printing service. The problem is, I am not sure how to do that when the size of my image is non standard. Thoughts?

  74. #144
    Jo E

    I ordered 2 of your templates from Designer Digitals this morning and now I just found this freebie. How cool! Thanks Cathy.

  75. #145
    Jane Simmons

    Thanks for the freebie. I bought about 8 templates at the sale this weekend and have been busy ever since. Inspired by your last video on hybrid, which is still my cup of tea. (Man, I have tooo much paper that needs to be used!) Decided I’m just going to print photos as part of my template from now on, instead of sending them off to Costco. So then I don’t have to worry about resizing, making the imperfect crop, etc. Anyway, thanks again!

  76. #148
    Donna C

    Cathy – thanks for the template and tutorial!

    You really have the marvelous gift of being able to clearly explain how to do things. So glad you have joined the Photoshop bandwagon.

  77. #150
    Linda Ford

    Thank you!!!! I’m a true beginner and relish the “freebie” and the tutorial. You make it a lot easier than it looks!!!

  78. #152

    Cathy, thank you a million times over for your digital tutorial. I’ve been fumbling around with my new Photoshop Elements 8 software for days. Your clear explanations are the first I’ve seen that actually help me do what I want to do. Much, much better than anything on the Adobe website. Adobe should be paying you BIG bucks, because I was close to wanting to give up on their software until your tutorial helped me figure it out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no novice when it comes to page layout software — I’ve been using MS Digital Image Pro and pressing the boundaries of what it could do. Thought it would be an easy jump to PSE, but it was tricker to make the switch than I’d thought. Then…Cathy to the rescue! You’re my design hero!

  79. #155

    I’m a new PSE user and have found your video so easy to understand!! Thank you so much!

  80. #156

    Hi Cathy! I have recently purchased my first mac (love it, love it, love it) and am ready to start scrapbooking digitally. I feel a bit lost even when I watch the tutorial on using photoshop elements and I was wondering if there is a resource either online or in print that teaches one how to scrapbook digitally. Now that I have bonded with a computer and am free of the PC hassle, I am ready to fly! Thank you!

  81. #158

    Wow! This could be just what I need! My high school students make scrapbooks for our preschool children. Many of them are SCARED to try traditional scrapbooking but not so much of digital…and 8.5 x 11 is our format, too. Now if I can just get PSE on my classroom computers and be able to show them how to do it, I will have it made! Thanks, Cathy!

  82. #161

    Okay, so it’s now June and I just found this template. Decided to give it a try (never done digital before). Wow, you’re instructions were great, the template was perfect and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my layout – even the family is impressed. I’ve admired your work for a long time (have both books and a binder full of articles you’ve written for the magazines). Slowly but surely I’d love to have all of your digital templates. THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

  83. #162

    Just found your blog and this free digital page today from another link on Facebook. I am duhhh with my few failed attempts with digital scraping. But…I will try this and let you know. Thanks for the freebie!

  84. #166

    Thanks for the great template and video, Cathy!
    I am in the UK and we use A4 sized paper instead of letter sized paper. Is it possible to resize the background paper to those measurements rather than the letter size measurements without spoiling the proportions of the rest of the template in relation to the background paper?

  85. #167

    I think you could! Just change the canvas size, and then readjust the elements by selecting all of them and sizing them together!

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