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How to Make a Digital Scrapbook Background in Photoshop

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As an artist, I have sold designs on Zazzle. I share my experiences and successes to try and help others.

Be creative and design your own scrapbook backgrounds in photoshop.

Be creative and design your own scrapbook backgrounds in photoshop.

Create Digital Scrapbook Backgrounds for Any Occasion With Adobe Photoshop

Digital scrapbooking is becoming increasingly popular. Since we've given up on film cameras, and all our photos are now digital, it makes sense that we've moved our scrapbooks onto computers as well.

The first thing you need when starting a project is a background for your page, the equivalent of scrapbooking paper. You might want to match the theme of the background to the occasion of the photos, whether they are baby pictures, pet photos, or Christmas. Once you have chosen a background, you can begin to add photos or text to the page.

There are many sites where you can download backgrounds, however, it is easy and fun to design your own. Below are some simple ways to make digital scrapbook backgrounds in Photoshop. I have used CS5 to create these, but the methods are easily transferable to other versions of the program, including Photoshop elements.


How to Make Simple Textured Backgrounds by Rendering and Blending Layers

The easiest backgrounds to create are simple colorful textures. These are made using the filter functions to render clouds or fibres in a layer above the colored layer and then trying different blending and opacity options. Create the pink texture above with these steps. Images showing where the different buttons are located are below the text.

  1. Open a new document in Photoshop from the File tab of the main menu. I set the image at 12"x12" with a resolution of 300 dpi. If you are going to print your scrapbook project you should change the color profile to CMYK, otherwise leave it at RGB.
  2. Create a new layer the tiny bottom at the bottom of the right hand menu (see image 2 below)
  3. Pick a foreground color, in my case I went for purple, then choose the bucket tool and fill the new layer with the color.
  4. Create another layer. From the filter tab in the main menu choose render, and render clouds.
  5. Now comes the fun of trying out different blending options, and playing with the opacity of the cloud layer. Access the blending options from "layer styles" under the layer tab in the main menu. This will open a new dialogue box.
  6. Test out each blending mode until you find something you like. You might like to play with the opacity slider option, decreasing the opacity of the clouds layer brings out more of the color underneath. For this image I used the overlay blending mode at 97% opacity.
  7. Once you are happy with your image, save it as a png or a jpg file.

You can also try the render fibres option for a different effect. Have a look at the stripy backgrounds on the right.

Using the Brush Tool

The easiest way to make a variety of interesting patterns is to use the brush tool that comes with photoshop. The software comes preloaded with some brushes, but there is an enormous variety designed by other users that are free for download.

My favourite site for free photoshop brushes and patterns is the website. In some of the examples below I use presets downloaded from the site, but I have also created a large number of my own brushes, It is very easy to do.

The colorful animal paw print background below would make a nice digital scrapbook paper for photos of your pets. Here's a step by step to how to do it.

Dog print patterns make an amusing background for pet photos.

Dog print patterns make an amusing background for pet photos.

How to Use Photoshop Brushes to Make Pattern Backgrounds

Pattern backgrounds are simple to make in Photoshop. Below is a method that can be adapted to whatever pattern you want to make, just change the brush and the pattern. Images to illustrate the different steps are below the text, click on the thumbnails to see the different images.

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  1. Open a new document in photoshop from the main menu (File-->New), I usually make my backgrounds 12"x12" and set the resolution at 300dpi. If you are planning to print the backgrounds, change the colour mode to CMYK, otherwise leave it as RGB.
  2. Create a new layer, change the foreground colour to whatever you like (in this case a light purple) and fill the layer with the colour using the bucket tool.
  3. To add a little bit of texture to the background (optional), choose filter from the main menu and choose noise. Go to the "add noise" submenu, but make sure you don't add very much.
  4. To make an ordered pattern you will need some guides. The easiest way is to click on the rulers at the top and the left of the image and drag with the mouse onto the picture. This will create horizontal and vertical guides which you can move around with the mouse. Use the guides to build a grid on the background.
  5. Create a new layer, change the foreground color and click on the brush tool. Choose the brush you want to use. A handy shortcut: you can increase and decrease the size of the brush using the "]" and "[" buttons. Use the brush repeatedly to make the pattern.
  6. Your background is ready. You might want the pattern to be more subdued, in that case decrease the opacity of the top layer, which contains the pattern, with the "layer style" functions on the right hand side of your window.

Another Take on Using Brushes for Scrapbook Backgrounds

A bubble background.

A bubble background.

Creating a Bubble Background in Photoshop

One of my favourite types of backgrounds are ones filled with digital bubbles. You can either download pre made bubble brushes, as in the video at the bottom of this page, or you can make your own, they are surprisingly easy to make.

Although bubbles look good on on a plain blue background, an interesting variation is to use a colorful canvas, which is then covered by transparent spheres. One technique involves finding a colorful photo, either your own or downloaded from a public domain images repository, such as pixabay, and getting rid of all the detail through aggressive application of blur, until none of the objects are recognisable and all that remains is colour.

I was tempted to use the background image I here as it was, since it already lacked distracting detail, but Gaussian blur does give the colours an almost translucent look. The final background would probably look as good if I just covered the original photo with bubbles.

  1. Open the downloaded picture and resize it to 12"x12". Since the picture is rectangular, you need to open a new document as above and paste (or drag) the picture into it. You will lose the sides of the image.
  2. Find blur under the filter tab in the main menu and click on Gaussian blur. This will open a new dialogue box. Use the slider to increase the amount of blur, be generous, you don't want to be able to recognise any details in the image.
  3. Now create a new layer and cover the picture with a riot of bubbles. There are several ways of making a bubble brush, or you can download ready made ones. One way to make your own is to select a circle using the elliptical marquee tool. Hold down the shift key to make a perfect circle and make your selection by dragging your mouse on the image.
  4. Select the brush tool and choose the basic soft basic brush. Paint a circle outside your selection, with white as foreground colour, so only the fuzzy edge of the white colour will be inside the selection. Try to get more of the colour inside the selection on one side to simulate light shining on the bubble from that direction.
  5. Press control+D to deselect the circle and you should see a lovely digital bubble.
  6. You can either repeat this action all over the image, drawing bubbles of different sizes, or if you want to be fast, select the bubble with a square marquee, copy and paste it. Click control+T to transform the new bubble and drag one of the corners while pressing shift to make it bigger or smaller.

You could of course just make the bubbles using download brushes as in the video below.

Grab These Free Scrapbook Backgrounds

If you like the backgrounds here, you are free to download them and use them. To get the large high resolution version of the image, click on the link in the caption of each image, which will take you to the image on Flickr. You can use them in any way you see fit, if you put them on your blog or website, attribute them to aa lite and link to this page.


aa lite (author) from London on March 03, 2013:

Thanks rebekah! Finding the time for fun things is always hard, but I do enjoy messing around with photoshop. There are also a lot of places you can download backgrounds, frames etc. for free, and since the photos are already on the computer, it is easy to put it together. I justify spending the time by the fact that it amuses my nieces and nephews to have their photos featured.

rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on March 03, 2013:

This is a great tutorial with easy to follow instructions. I especially like the idea of giving the scrapbook feel to our photos. Now it's just finding the time to put it all together. Great work!