My daughter attended an event this weekend with Surfers for Autism, a non-profit group that takes autistic kids surfing. I came home with lots of beach pictures as well as pictures of her surfing. It had been a very long time since we’d been to the beach (which is crazy because we only live 5 miles from it!) and so I decided to make a page showing the beauty of the place itself, as well as one recording the fun my daughter had surfing.
I saw this template in the recent releases from Designer Digitals and I knew it would be perfect for my beach layout:
Selecting a template is more of an art than we often give their fans credit for. You have to be able to look at the template and look past things like the placeholder color scheme to see the nuts and bolts of the template. In this case that is the general layout, and the decorative elements. You have to be able to focus on those mentally and see the vision for how the addition of the correct patterned paper and even additional decorative elements can make the template yours. Some elements can be distracting, like the bright sunburst in this one, and make it hard to do that. It’s truly an art to be able to look at a template and mentally tweak the colors, and the design elements to customize it to your needs, till you can say “that is the right one.”
Here’s the layout I ultimately made with the Layer Works No. 223 template:
You’ll probably notice right away that I made one big change to the template, but there’s a second more subtle change that I made as well. Two very basic Photoshop/Photoshop Elements tools made these changes quick and easy, which is just another reason why I love working with templates!
The big change of course is obvious at first glance. I substituted a large photo in the the layout in place of the sunburst of colored paper with the medallion in the center. The technique to do this was simple – I just went into the layer menu on the bottom right and clicked on the “eye” icon next to each of the layers that I wanted to remove to make them invisible. I could also have completely deleted them, but making them invisible is faster and suits my purpose in modifying the template. Plus, it means I can always bring them back if I change my mind about the design. That’s the great thing about working digitally, remember: non-destructive editing!
I used this same technique to remove the little ticket being held by the clothespin, because it was obstructing an important part of that photo (the pier).
The second change that I made was to move one of the elements. If you look real closely, you’ll notice that the photo tag on the bottom right of the main photo isn’t in exactly the same position as in the preview of the template. It’s been moved down, and angled slightly, from the original design of the template. I didn’t want it blocking the pier and the line of the waves in the main photo, which is why I moved it. Even though the element was made up of about a half-dozen layers, doing this was made easy using Photoshop Elements’ “link layers” tool. I simply highlighted all the layers in the layer menu that made up that element, and clicked the chain icon in the bottom of the menu. Those layers were then locked together so that I could move any one of them and the rest would follow! I moved the tag to its new position, and then reversed the linking process to unlock the layers for further editing if I needed.
There’s something about working in digital that apparently makes me want to use orange. I’m typically very orange-averse working in paper (it’s not my favorite color) but this is the second layout of my recent digital ones that I’ve used a huge amount of orange in. I chose the blue diamond grid paper for the photo mat and title block because it coordinated nicely with the stitching and didn’t compete with the photos.
In addition to taking things off of a template, of course, you can also add things. I only made one addition to the template for this layout. I wanted to soften the hard edge of the large photo to tone it down, so I used an edge overlay in off-white to kind of “smudge” that transition between the photo and its mat. It was so tempting with all of that open white space to add more elements but I resisted. It would have changed the whole feel of the piece.
What are your favorite template tweaking techniques? Feel free to share in the comments!