Last week I was asked by someone new to digital scrapbooking if she, as a personal-use scrapbooker, was allowed to purchase commercial-use products.  The answer is a resounding YES!  Commercial-Use (CU) products are very often created with both the designer and the personal-use scrapper in mind.

While, in general, the Terms of Use (TOU) of most commercial-use designers are similar, as with any product, it is always important to consult the individual TOU prior to use.

Today, however,  I would like to focus on the use of commercial-use products for the personal scrapper, specifically overlays, textures, and papers. And even more specifically, using these products with blend modes to stretch your digi-stash in 4 creative ways.

For those of you unfamiliar with Photoshop Blend Modes, or for a refresher, here is a list of our blog tutorials in which we explored different aspects and/or usages of Blend Modes.

Blend Modes – Just what are they?

Using Blend Modes in Photoshop

How to Quickly Change Blend Modes

Using the Screen Blend Mode in Photoshop

Using Blend Modes to Edit your Photos

Working with a Less than Perfect Photo

Transparencies vs Overlays

Adjustment Layers 101

Here are a few brief reminders:

1. Blend Modes are located at the top of the Layers Panel and are accessed by clicking on the down-pointing arrow, which opens a drop-down box. Click on the mode you would like to apply to your image.


 2. There are 5 groups of Blend Modes.  Each group is separated by a dark dividing line.  Blend mode affects how pixels on two different layers interact with each other.

  • Group 1: Affects the overall darkness of an image
  • Group 2: Affects the overall lightness of an image
  • Group 3: Affects both the lightness and darkness of an image
  • Group 4: Creates inverted affects
  • Group 5: Affects the colors of an image

3. Use the arrow keys to quickly cycle thru Blend Modes.

4. Experiment with opacity levels as well as Blend Modes to get the exact look you are seeking.

Four ways to use Overlays and Textures Creatively

1. Create additional papers for kits you own:

Use any kit paper and increase its versatility by combining it with an overlay of your choice.

Example: Do you love striped paper but the kit you want to use doesn’t have any striped paper in it?  Create one yourself using a striped overlay.


Use any of your favorite overlays (think stripes, dots, circles, patterns of any type!) in combination with kit papers to expand your options.

2. Add more or different textures to images:

Use Blend Modes to add texture to your papers, embellishments, text, or photographs to create additional interest.

Example:  Many designers include lightly textured Cardstock in their kits.  Cardstock, Krafts, and similar papers are a useful complement to patterned papers.  But what if the overall tone of your layout is grungy and the cardstock is not?  It’s easy to add grungy texture (or any texture) with the use of texture overlays and blend modes.


Create different artistic effects on your photographs using textures too.  Here is an example of one of the perhaps lesser-used blend modes, Hue, used on a texture, which was placed on a layer above a photograph.


You could also add a mask to the texture and paint it away from the model in the photograph, leaving the background in neutral tones but putting the color back on the model. This would create that lovely hand-tinted look on the photograph.

3. Use overlays to create entirely different looks to papers you already own.

In the image below, I used the same brown paper from The Long Road Home, placed a Painterly Set 2 paper on a layer above it, and changed the Blend Mode of the Overlay to Color Burn.  Compare how different it looks to the results we got above using the same paper but a different overlay and blend modes.


Don’t restrict your use of overlays with solid papers though! You can get some great results with a little experimentation!


4. Easily add folds or creases to your papers using overlays.

Sometimes adding crumples, folds, or creases to papers is just what is needed on a particular layout.

Experiment with blend modes and opacity levels, as always; but also experiment with the positioning of the overlay and paper in relation to each other. Sometimes having the paper in the top layer works beautifully!


We’ve talked a lot about blend modes over the past months, and I hope that you have had some time to experiment with them.  I  hope today’s examples inspire you to go even further in your experimentation!

If you have been shy about purchasing CU Overlays, Textures, Transparencies, or Papers, now is the time to stock up and and try out some of these techniques.  Visit our CU store, now through February 2nd, to save 50% on these products.

overlay-saleShop by your favorite designer, or go directly to the Overlays and Textures category.  You will find a wide variety of products to choose from!

Credits: Products used in these examples were provided by Jilbert’s Bits of Bytes, JanetB Designs, and SnickerdoodleDesigns.

Links to the mentioned products are:

Tell Me Again PU Kit, Super Stripes Set 1, the Long Road Home PU Kit, Grungy Screens Set 2, Painterly Set 2, Firm Foundation PU Kit, Texture Overlays Mixed Media 1, Whites Crumpled.

 Here’s an overlay sampler for you to experiment with!  Just click on the image to download.


If you would like to keep this tutorial on your computer for easy reference, you may download a PDF here.

See you next week!