Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Basics of Creating a New Layout in Photoshop

So you just got your Photoshop Software and it's downloaded and ready to go... um... NOW WHAT??? hahahaha. I remember VERY well the learning curve that converting to digital left me wallowing in for what seemed like forEVER. So, I thought I would make one big tutorial on making a layout... from START to FINISH. I actually created a layout and documented step by step what I did, how I did it, and why I did it. Things that most people who use Photoshop may not think of making a tutorial about, because once you use the program, these things become second nature. But what about BEFORE that??? So, let's get started! (*NOTE: This tutorial was created using Photoshop CS3, but you should be able to take most of this and apply it to Photoshop CS2 and Photoshop Elements as well.)

The Basics of Creating a New Layout from START to FINISH!:

Here is the layout we will be creating today:

1.) Go to File in your top menu bar and choose New.

2.) Now a window will pop up... use the following settings for all layouts that you plan on printing:

**Several things to notice here:
  • I scrap 90% of my layouts in a size of 11x8.5 , so this is the Width and Height I chose. But this is simply a personal preference. If you will be doing 12x12 (or any other size) you would type that in for the width and height instead.

  • If you plan on printing your layout, you MUST set the Resolution to 300. This is the minimum DPI (dots per inch) for print quality...otherwise, when printed, your layout will appear pixely and/or blurry. However, if you're creating something that will be used only on the web, you can set the Resolution to 72. This makes your file much smaller therefore doesn't use unecessary space on your hardrive.

  • Set your color mode to RGB and 8 bit.

  • I usually set my Background Contents to white, but you can also set it to Transparent or another background color. I use white simply because until I get my paper on my layout, the checkerboard background of a Transparent is very distracting to me. Plus... sometimes I like my photo and text so much on a white background, I simply leave it that way. :)

  • Also... if you plan on doing a lot of layouts in this particular size, once you get everything filled in, you can click on Save Preset and Photoshop will remember your settings. This way, when you go to start another layout, you can simply pull down your drop menu beside Preset and choose your size.

3.) Now... we have our new document open and we are ready to choose a photo to scrap. The first thing you want to do is to go to the top right of your new document and click the Restore Down button.

This will allow you to see your new document, but it will also allow you to see both your new document screen *and* the photo you will be pulling up. This will be important when it comes time to get your picture over to your new layout.

4.) Now, go to File and choose Open.

5.) Find the photo that you wish to use and click open. It should now appear like this in Photoshop:

6.) Your photo screen will appear on top and your new document screen will be underneath. Now you will need to activate your Move Tool as shown below (or you can hit the letter "V" on your keyboard, this will also activate your Move Tool.) When this tool is active, you can click and drag items around on your layout.

7.) Now with your move tool, grab the blue strip on the top of your photo screen and move it over so you can see both screens.

8.) Now, click and drag your photo over to your new document. It will simply pull a copy of the picture over and preserve your original in case you mess up... this way, you will always have the original photo in tact. Your screen should now look something like this...

9.) Now, you can repeat steps 3 through 8 for pulling your paper over onto your new layout. You will notice 2 things once you get your paper on there. (1) The paper will be in front of your photo, and (2) if you are scrapping in an 11x8.5 size, the paper will be larger than your document size. (Most digital papers are created at a size of 12x12, you will need to resize it if you are scrapping in an 11x8.5 size.)

10.) For those of you using a size of 11x8.5, choose your Move Tool. Then run your mouse over one of the corners of your paper. (Your cursor should change to a double-sided arrow.) Now hold down your SHIFT key (very important!), then click and hold and pull the corner in toward the center until the vertical sides of the paper line up with your document. (*NOTE: holding down your SHIFT key will ensure that anything you resize will keep its proper proportions.) Once you get the paper sized right, click on the Check Mark at the top of your screen:

You can then click on the paper and drag it up and down until you get it placed the way you like it.

11.) Now, to get your photo back on top of your paper, go to your layers palette at the bottom right of your screen. Click and hold your paper layer and drag it underneath your photo layer.

12.) Now you can click on your photo layer to make it active and then refer to step 9 above to resize your photo if you like. Here's what your layout should look like now:

13.) Now, I'm going to change my photo to black and white. In CS3, there is actually a place to do this, but when I used Photoshop Elements 4, I had to actually just desaturate the photo. (The newer versions of Elements may have a way to do this... I'll update this when I find out.) Go to your top menu and choose Image, then choose Adjustment and then Black and White (or Desaturate if there is no Black and White option.)

14.) Now, follow steps 3 through 8 again to add a frame and any other embellishments you wish.

15.) Since I chose to add a frame, and I only want to show part of the photo inside the frame, I placed the frame layer on top of my photo layer and resized the photo to get it just right inside the frame. There are several ways to crop the excess off of your photo, but this is a pretty simple way. Choose your Marquee Tool from your Tools Palette as shown below (you can also hit the letter "M" on your keyboard, this will also activate your Marquee Tool.)

16.) Once your Marquee tool is activated, your cursor should change to a thin cross. Draw a square or circle around your photo (depending on the shape of your frame. (You should now see marching ants around your photo.) (For visability purposes here, I drew a red box around where I made my selection.)

17.) Now, in order to get rid of everything outside the frame, we will need to "inverse" our selection. Go to your top menu and choose Select and then choose Inverse.

18.) Now, making sure your photo layer is active, simply hit delete on your keyboard. This should delete anything *outside* of the selection you made with your Marquee tool and leave you with this:

(**NOTE: You can also use your shape tool (shown below) to draw a square inside the frame and then use it as a Clipping Mask for your photo. For complete instructions on using Clipping Masks, click HERE.)

19.) Now we just have to add our text. Choose your Text Tool from your Tools palette as shown below (you can also hit the letter "T" on your keyboard, this will also activate your Text Tool.)

20.) Now, I am going to draw a text box by clicking on my layout and dragging my mouse down diagnally. This will create a dotted-lined box... just click inside to begin typing (make sure that your text tool is active.) Ok... now... as you can see, there are several things I want you to notice when it comes to text.

- At the top of your screen, once you activate your Text Tool, you will find where to change your font, font size, and orientation.

- Closer to the bottom, you will find your foreground color which is the color square on top and is what determines the color of your font. Choose your desired color by clicking on that square and picking a color.
- The text box is what we just drew and is where you will type your text.

- The text layer... I only wanted you to notice this so you'll know that once you draw your text box, it will automatically create its own layer.

21.) Once your are finished typing your text, click the check mark at the top of your screen:

If you wish to edit your text after you have clicked the check mark, just choose your Text Tool again and click anywhere on your text to make your changes.

So now, once you type your text, you're done with your layout!!!! All you have left to do is save your project!!! Once again... here is our finished layout:

Now, SAVING your project. Before we get to the actual instructions, there are a few things that I want to share... I learned all of these things the hard way. haha.

1.) I ALWAYS save my .psd file (which preserves all of my layers.) This is vital in case you either want to change something or (my most common) you find a typo!!! You have to have the layers in tact in order to edit these things. So, I save all of my .psd files in their own folder called PSD Pages.

2.) Next, I always save a high resolution .jpg copy of the layout. This is what I will use to print my layout and it has to be 300 dpi in order to print clearly. These also get their own folder called JPGS.

3.) Last but not least, I always save a low resolution .jpg copy. This is for posting your layout to scrapbook galleries. I always try to keep the low res file under 150kb... as this is the size limitation for most galleries. These go into a folder called LOW RES JPGS.

22.) Now for the instructions. Go to File and choose Save As. (I recommend ALWAYS choosing Save As INSTEAD of Save, if for no other reason than to create the habit so you don't accidentally lose your layers or end up with a layout that you hate and have to rework.)

24.) Choose your PSD Pages folder, name your file, and then make sure the Format indicates .psd and then click Save.

25.) You will probably get a Maximum Compatibility window that pops up, just make sure it's checked and click OK.

26.) Now, we're going to save our high resolution .jpg file. Again, go to File and choose Save As. Then, choose your JPGS folder, name your file and pull down the drop down menu beside Format and choose JPG, then click Save.

27.) Once you click Save, a window will pop up called JPEG Options. For my high res .jpgs, I always save it at atleast 10... just to make sure the print quality is really good. Then click OK.

28.) The last version you will save is your low res .jpg for posting to the web. The first thing you need to do is resize your image from 300 dpi to 72 dpi. Go to Image and choose Image Size...

29.) Then when your Image Size window pops up, change it to these settings (in this order) and then click OK. (*NOTE: If you are saving a 12x12 layout, the Width and the Height will both be 600.)

30). Now, last time... go to File and choose Save As. Then, choose your LOW RES jpgs folder, name your file and pull down the drop down menu beside Format and choose JPG, then click Save.

31.) Now when your JPEG Options window comes up, change the Quality to somewhere between 6 and 8. This should take your file down to a size of 150KB or lower. Then just click OK.

GUESS WHAT??!! YOU'RE DONE!!!!! You have just completed a layout from start to finish. Now, go post it in your favorite gallery (my favorite is at Oscraps!!) and show it off!!!

I'd LOVE to know what you think of this tutorial!! Please feel free to leave comments! If you have any questions regarding this tutorial, you can certainly email me at

For the layout, I used these products:
TAYLORMADE DESIGNS: Touch of Grey paper
PAISLEE PRESS+QUEEN OF QUIRK: Zippy Hippy Collab flourish
FEI FEI'S STUFF: Dotted Frame
**all products available at Oscraps.

You can also find this tutorial and many others in the Tutorial section at Oscraps!


stevie kay said...

Where was this tutorial two months ago when I was first learning photoshop?!? You could have saved me hours! Ha, ha. This is awesome. It would be very easy for a newbie to understand and use. Thanks!

lynette said...

YES, another tutorial! Thank you. This is very informative for a newbie like me!

Celeste said...

Dang girl! This is good -- you are awesome!!!!

HSDesigns said...

WOW - You really put it out there in an easy to understand manner. AWESOME!

MariaT said...

well...i checked the tutorial thinking 'i'm probably not going to learn a darn thing but i'll take a look anyway.' i actually found it very helpful! i never knew to hold shift while resizing and wasted so much time trying figure out what looked realistically proportioned and i have been trying to figure out a simple way to save my pages in a small size for places that have limits. i'm kinda surprised that i learned some helpful stuff from a basics tutorial, but i guess you are a good teacher then :) thanks so much!

Retire with me!!! said...

you rock!!!

Grams said...

WOW, FINALLY A TUTORIAL THAT MAKES SENSE! I am so gled that you are sharing your scrap page knowledge, with all of us. Looking forward to learning more. Thanks

Laurita said...

GREAT tutorial - I'm JUST starting this and using a different program, but the basics are the same, thank you so much!!

Tessa said...

Thank you soooooo much! This is exactly what I need! I just got PSE6 and am all set to go but have NO idea what to do ~ very frustrating cause I am not used to not knowing what to do!

Anonymous said...

Just a question - How do you get the background paper? Is it already in Photoshop someplace, or do I have to upload it from somewhere? (just learning)

Karen said...

OMG - I would never have figured out how to resize a photo using the maquee tool and inverse! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

This digi scrapping is harder than it looks!

Thanks for helping to make it all make sense.


Cameron said...

I can't thank you enough for posting this on the web. Your instructions were easy to follow and soooooo helpful.

stampin123 said...

I am sending all of my friends here to go through your awesome tutorial! Love it!

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