Layout | Modifying A Digital Template

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:

StudioDD Layer Works No 223

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:

Flagler Beach layout

Supplies: Studio DD Layer Works No. 223, Lynn Grieveson Santa Cruz kit, Katie Pertiet Spot Dot Flourish Overlays No. 1, Traveling Typewriter font.

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!

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8 Responses to Layout | Modifying A Digital Template

  1. Barb in AK August 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Oh, Nancy—That is such a fabulous layout! I rarely do digital layouts, and I had no idea you could move the elements around! I’m afraid the most tweaking I’ve ever done is to change the color— big whoop, eh? 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Kathy H August 21, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    That is a beautiful layout and gorgeous focal photo!! I’m sorry I have no tips to share. I have Adobe Photoshop 9 and have never used it because I am so intimidated!! I bought it to start doing digi scrapping but chickened out. I can’t get past the fact that the photo organizer doesn’t automatically import all my photos like Picasa does so I don’t know where to begin. The town I live in does not offer any Photoshop classes…I’d love to produce a layout like that though!!

  3. Dottie James August 21, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    one of my favorite things to do with templates is to flip the entire image horizontally, save it under a new name, and then, with slight modifications do a two page spread with the original on the left and the flipped image on the right. You have to redo any text involved and I usually simplify one side with fewer or smaller embellishments, but it is a really easy way to get a complementary two page spread.

  4. Jan August 21, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Lovely page, Nancy! I think the orange was the perfect choice. Beautiful pictures.

  5. Laura August 21, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Orange makes the blues really pop! Loving this LO! I’m still a cut& paste girl but can see myself duplicating in paper form. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Gene Ann August 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    I regularly start with a pre-designed book of 20 pages in Storybook Creator Plus, but never leave them as they are or in the same order. I hide, add, move, or re-size the photo boxes, decorative elements and/or text boxes. Sometimes I choose a page because it has the right number of photo boxes, sometimes I choose a page because I like the background paper. Sometimes I adjust the hue of the background paper to match the hues in the photos. If I really like several elements I’ll group them and save them as personal art elements so I can use them again.

    I finished two 12×12 StoryBooks that were wedding album gifts in a little over 3 weeks. That time included several hours of editing professional photographs. Both boos had a collage of photos on the back of the personalized covers, which can be move involved that a page with 1 or 2 photos and a bunch of decorative elements. Since saving the photos are my motivation for scrapbooking traditionally or digitally, they are the most important elements.

  7. Gab August 22, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    Fantastic LO Nancy

  8. JillT August 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Love the switchout with the big pic

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