Using Fully-Layered PSD Templates and
Changing Colors using Color Variations and Color Picker Tool

Using Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0
(Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements 3.0 very similar) 

This tutorial will use the layout “Iris.psd” from our Simply Shabby CD and will focus on adding photos, text, changing the colors of the papers, leaves, photo corner, dragonfly, and text, and show how quickly you can customize a layout to accent your special photographs and journaling.  The steps use Photoshop Elements 2.0.  Photoshop and PSE 3.0 are very similar. 

  • Open Adobe Photoshop Elements

  • Clicking on the top menu, select File/Open and open “Iris.psd” from your CD drive in the 12x12 Layouts folder in Simply Shabby CD.


  • SAVE LAYOUT: Save layout as a .psd file on your local hard drive to a different name, such as TeachChild.psd, in this example.  Save periodically throughout your design process.  Saving files to your hard drive will increase processing speed, as reading from your hard drive is much faster than reading from a CD drive.  It is also a good idea to save design work often, as to not lose your creations!

  • ADD PHOTO: Let’s add a photo from your file system and drag it to the layout so it can start to look like YOUR creation!

  • Click on the top menu File/Open and browse your system for a particular photo you would like to add.

  • Enhance the photo by using the Enhance options on the menu bar, such as Adjust Lighting, Color, Contrast to optimize the quality of your photography.  In my example, I added a layered mat to focus attention on my son (tutorial coming soon).

  • Using the Select Tool, click on the photo and drag it into your open layout

  • Now, simply move and resize photo to desired location and size on top of script photo mat.  Once the photo is resized to fit the mat, it’s a good idea to link/group the photo mat, photo, and photo corner, so you can move and resize them as one unit.

  • ADD TEXT: Unless you want to use the default title as is, now is a good time to delete the journaling/title layers from the layers palette (see our tutorial on deleting and duplicating layers for more detailed instructions).  They are in the templates as inspiration for you, however, it is likely you will want your own font, color, and special thoughts recorded.

  • Add text layer in selected font, text color, and point size.  Also, at this time, you can add some special layer styles, such as a drop shadow (my preferences for drop shadows are Layer Style/Drop Shadow/Low with Style Settings of 120 degrees and shadow distance of 12 pixels).  I added a drop shadow in my example, as the text was a light color and this helped it to “pop” off the page.

  • This is how the layout looks at this point in the design process:

  •  CHANGE COLORS: This looks pretty nice, but you’d like to customize it a little more to your own liking. 

  • Let’s move things around a little, change some colors and see what we end up with.

  • For a different design, move the photo over to the left and the dragonfly over to the right.

  • Move the tag and fibers up a little and to the left (group all the layers to help with the move: tag text, upper and lower fibers, metal tag, and inner tag).

  • Now, let's change the color of the rose script photo mat a tad to match the photo better.  A neat technique to do this is in the Enhance menu.

  • Select the layer in the layer palette and then on the menu select Enhance/Adjust Color/Color Variations. The dialog box below will pop up.  For this example, click on Decrease Blue and Darken and the subtle change will occur.  Click OK to make the changes to your layer. You can make major color changes, if desired, using this tool.

  • Here is the result of the changes made so far:

  • Use this technique on the leaves, dragonfly, tag, and cream lower and upper script papers.  For the leaves and dragonfly the following buttons were clicked:  Decrease Blue, Decrease Green, and Lighten to change to a rose color.  To modify the cream paper and tag to a soft rose, click Decrease Green and Increase Blue.

  • Finally, adjust the color of the text to match the soft rose paper by making the text the active layer.  Select the text tool and click on the Text Color Box at the top of the menu.  The Color Picker Tool will appear.  Using the mouse, click anywhere on the soft rose paper and the color will pull up, as shown below.  Click OK and the color of the text will automatically change. 

  • Now, just save the final image as a .psd file (to keep layers intact) and .jpg file (for e-mailing to friends) and ENJOY!

Michelle Shefveland,, Copyright 2003, All Rights Reserved