Custom Backgrounds: Blend Papers with Brushes

Promdress600 300x300 Custom Backgrounds: Blend Papers with Brushes I'm a paper nut. Sure, I like a kit with fun elements, but I love papers more. But even in my huge paper stash, sometimes I can't find exactly what I want. So I've come up with a simple system for taking two papers and combining them using my digital brushes. This tutorial was made for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, but if you're familiar with another program you should still be able to follow along. Step 1: Set up your paper "stack."
  • Open both papers you want to use.
  • Using your Move tool, hold your Shift key down while you drag one paper on top of the other. The Shift key will ensure they are perfectly aligned on top of each other.
  • Now hold down your Ctrl key and click on the new layer icon in the Layers Panel (looks like a sticky note with the corner turned over). Holding the Ctrl key creates the new layer below the active layer rather than above.
Step 2: Create a clipping mask.
  • Hold down your Alt key, and hover your cursor on the Layers panel right on the line between the top paper and the new layer. You'll know you're right on the line when your cursor changes to two intersecting circles with an arrow. Click to create the mask.
  • You'll notice the top paper disappeared, but in the Layers panel you can still see it. The thumbnail image will be offset to the right just a little, with a small arrow by it. This tells you the clipping mask is working.
Step 3: Stamp with a brush.blendpapers1 300x265 Custom Backgrounds: Blend Papers with Brushes
  • Choose a the Brush tool from the Toolbar, then select a brush. I used a grunge brush from Colleen Shibley at Colleen's Creations. You could use a shaped brush, or just a large soft brush.
  • Click on the blank layer in the Layers panel to make it active.
  • Click on the layout and you will see the top paper re-appear where you brush. Keep going until you get a look you like.
Step 4: Save your new paper.
  • I usually save the result as a .jpg just in case I want to use it again. Keep it in the folder with the original papers so you remember where you got them.
  • If you like your brush marks, you can click on the eyeballs in the Layers panel to turn off the papers. Now you just see the brushed layer. Go to File> Save As> and change the file format to PNG (.png) which will preserve the transparent areas. Now you can use that file as an overlay or to put between two different papers with a clipping mask.
There are other ways to accomplish this, and normally I'd use a layer mask on the top paper, but this method makes it easy to save or change the brushed layer. I like that because I get not only a new paper, but a new overlay in the process! So give it a try and make something new for your next layout. Don't forget to post in the gallery and leave a link in the comments so we can all see. Credits: Kit is Spring Blossoms from Scrapkitty Design. Brush from Colleen's Grunge Brushes Set #1 by Colleen's Creations (Colleen Shibley).
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  • blurooferika

    Thanks for the neat idea for stretching our paper collections and playing with brushes. Will file this away in my ‘cool techniques’ folder.

  • grambie

    Extremely clear in its discriptive. Thanks for the tutorial. This is just fantastic and so perfect for me because of physical limitations. I really appreciate this courtesy because you have eliminated so many painful moments as I try to copy, etc. Kudos. ;)