Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tutorial - Creating a template from a layout

Often around digi-land you'll see people sharing templates of layouts that they have made, and for today's tutorial, I thought I'd go through the process that I use to turn one of my existing layouts into a template. This tutorial will use Photoshop Elements on a PC; however, the same concept can likely be applied to other programs (and operating systems) as well. Hopefully a few of the tips and tricks can be helpful in general scrapping as well. :)

For this tutorial, I'll be using my To the Moon layout (which was made from Libby's 3rd Rock From the Sun kit) to turn into a template.

1) Open the layered file in Photoshop and navigate to the bottom layer. I find it easiest to work from the bottom up, so this is where I begin.

2) Fill in the background paper with a solid color. I'll be using shades of grey for the template, so I first use the color picker to change my foreground color to a light shade of grey.

With my foreground color chosen and the background paper selected, use the shortcut keys Alt + Backspace to fill the layer with the foreground color.

3) Moving from the bottom up, navigate to the next paper piece layer to change its color. As in step 2, I first change my foreground color to a different shade of grey to distinguish it from the other layers; however, since this paper layer does not take up the entire canvas I have to slightly change how I fill it with color. There are two ways I usually do this - I'll describe each way below as I fill the next two paper layers. (NOTE - these two methods of filling a layer with a solid color can also be used in your scrapping when you have a solid colored element such as a doodle that you want to quickly change the color of)

Option 1 - With the layer highlighted in the layers palette, hold down the 'Ctrl' key and then click on the layer thumbnail (the picture of the layer itself) to select only the outline of the layer. Once you have the layer outline selected (outlined with 'marching ants'), you can use the shortcut keys Alt + Backspace (as used above) to fill the layer. When we used this shortcut before, it filled the entire canvas area by default; however, because we have made a selection beforehand, the fill layer only applies to the area selected. (NOTE - you'll want to make sure that the layer you want to fill is highlighted in the layers palette. When you Ctrl + click on the thumbnail, it will only highlight the outline of the layer, but won't move your focus to that layer. If you have focus on another layer when you select Alt+ Backspace, you will end up filling that layer with the color and not the original paper layer you were aiming to change)

Option 2 - With the layer highlighted in the layers palette, click on the 'Lock' box to lock the transparent pixels. This will prevent any transparent pixels in the layer from being changed. After locking the transparent pixels, you can use the Alt + Backspace shortcut to fill in the layer. Since the transparent area isn't affected by the color fill, only the paper itself will be filled with color. (Note - there are other layer lock options in Photoshop CS - make sure to use the transparent-looking box to only lock transparent pixels)

4) Repeat the above steps to fill in the rest of the paper layers (and photo layers) with different colors to distinguish each layer.

5) The next step is to replace your elements with generic photoshop shapes as suggested element placeholders. Once again, I work from the bottom up and use photoshop shapes to replace my elements. Select the element closest to the bottom of your layout and then select the 'Custom Shape Tool'

Select a specific shape to use for your elements:

Click on the canvas and drag out with the mouse to create the custom shape. After the shape is the size you want, right click next to the layer thumbnail and select 'Simplify Layer'.

After creating the element placeholder, delete the original element from the layers palette. Then repeat this step for all the other elements on your layout.

In the process of replacing your elements, there may be cases where you will just delete the element entirely instead of trying to create a shape to represent the element. In the screenshot below, I have identified two elements that make more sense to delete than trying to create representations of the element itself.

At this point, I have two elements left to replace: the frame and the stitching. I chose to use the dimensions of the existing frame to create a basic frame shape, and then used the outline of the stitching to create two square lines to represent the stitching. (Maybe a future tutorial will cover those two topics :) The template is now almost complete!

6) The last step is to delete or modify the journaling and title work layers. You can either delete these outright, or replace them with generic text (e.g. journaling goes here, TITLE, etc...). After that, you're done!

There are a few things to note when creating a template from one of your layouts that mostly apply if you plan to give the template away to others. (If you are only going to use your template solely for yourself, most of these things won't apply)

1) Take special care to ensure that if you used any special shapes, clipping masks, or doodles that were created by another designer that you do not simply re-color the shape and leave it as is, since it was the shape itself that was the creation of the designer. For instance, Libby has a large number of paper clips templates to create various shapes. If I had used one of her shape templates, I would have needed to replace her template with something similar that I created myself or just removed the layer altogether. The goal here is to ensure that you don't give away another designer's work without their permission.

2) Along with #1, it is probably best to only create templates from layouts that are your own original designs, and not layouts that were started with templates (it probably doesn't make sense to to this anyway) or scraplifts of another person's work (without their permission, that is... :)

3) It's a good idea to double check all your layers to ensure that you don't have any leftover elements that are just hidden from view tucked away in the file. You wouldn't want to inadvertently give away another designer's work. :)

4) It is sometimes helpful to go through the final template and rename each layer to be more descriptive - e.g. Paper 1, Paper 2, Element, etc... This is definitely not necessary, but often nice to have.

That's it! And as a reward for getting this far in this long post, I've included a link to download the template that I created for this tutorial. Click HERE to download.

Happy scrapping!


Happy Now said...

Very nice, thanks!!

CBH said...

Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 3 post on Apr. 20, 2011. Thanks again.

Tara said...

Thank you for the tutorial and the freebie template! :)

lwlittlebit said...

Thanks so much for sharing this great template and your wonderful tutorial! I've often hunted for a tut on making templates, but never found one that explains the process as well as you do. I learned some new shortcuts, too!

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave in the DigiFree category today [21 Apr 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

Kimberlee said...

Great tutorial. I am excited to try it out. :)

Sharon said...

LOVE this template! Thank you very much!!