This tutorial is suitable for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Hi, Sonja here!

Last week I got a question regarding a layout I made for the Layout-A-Day Event: Is there a tutorial available, describing the process to create this kind of effect?

Answer: well, no, not until now…

I think this is something I picked up when I was still a Creative Team Member for other designers. I’d love to observe other layouts and experiment to create the same effect. But, actually, the process here is pretty simple: use your layers panel, use blending modes AND experiment!

So here we go!

Start with a background paper and a photo. I’m using a paper, and later embellishments, from my Double Dip: Summer’s End with Manu Scraps.

I love it when a photo has some kind of focal point to accent with the frame (like my kids’ faces in the first layout and the sheep in this one).

  • Make sure the photo is covering the entire background
  • Make a few copies (I made 4); and
  • Link the layers together, so you don’t move them accidentally.
  • Click the eye before the layer of every photo, this sets them to invisible
  • Click the eye before the layer of one photo, this makes it visible
  • Then play around with blending modes on this copy of your photo.
  • I used Screen; and
  • I set the next copy to Overlay to intensify the effect.

Don’t be afraid to experiment here, until you like the effect!
Note: It all depends on the color/lightness/darkness of the background paper you have chosen.

Make another layer of the photo visible. Make sure it is above the blended layer(s) we just made.

  • Insert a mask under this layer
  • Clip the photo to it.
    • Be sure you are on the Mask layer
  • Move the mask around, until you are happy
  • You can leave these as is, OR merge the 2 layers

I merged my mask layer with my masked photo. I set this new, merged, layer to Color Burn because I wanted more intense Fall colors.

Make the 3rd copy of your photo visible by clicking the eye, again above the other copies.

  • Insert the frame of your choice on top
  • Place it on your focal point (in my case, the 2 beautiful sheep)
  • Use your magic wand to create a selection inside the frame
    Note: I always make my selection slightly bigger (5 pixels), so I’m sure it covers the frame.
  • Invert the selection (Selection > Invert Selection)
  • Rasterize your photolayer
  • Click on delete.

Everything outside your frame is now gone and we can see all the layers we’ve done before.


And that’s it! That’s all! Easy peasy! You can now finish your layout with ellies, wordart or transfers. OR play around with the blending modes/opacity of the other layers, until you are happy with the result! As always…don’t be afraid to experiment! There’s always undo!

Have fun, and if you have questions, please let me know!

Hugs, Sonja