Building Your Paper Stash with Creative Blending

Happy (almost) New Year, everyone!  Judie here to bring you a quick stash building, paper altering tutorial.  Have you ever been working on a page and realized that you just couldn’t find the right background paper?  All the papers in the kit are beautiful, but you can’t find the one that will make your page look “perfect.”  I see lots of hands raised out there – if yours is one of them, then this is the perfect tutorial for you.  Those of you who have been taking Tiffany’s Guide to Blending Class have learned some amazing techniques for blending photos – but did you know that those same techniques can be used to create new papers with a digital kit?  You may have even used some version of this technique before without thinking about it.


Here is a page that I recently created which illustrates this technique:



Page created with Forever & Always by Studio Flergs


I started with this background paper from the kit:




I generally love white backgrounds (especially slightly grungy ones), but I wanted to add a subtle pattern to this paper to fit in with the theme of my page.  Because the patterned papers in the kit were all too bold for this design, I decided to make my own, and used a combination of extraction and blending techniques with another paper from the kit to make this:




(Here is the paper I extracted the pattern from):




So how did I do it?  With these three easy steps:


1.  I used the Magic Wand tool to extract the pattern I wanted from another paper.  While I wouldn’t suggest this method for extracting photos, it works perfectly when making grungy paper selections.  With the tool activated, click on the color (or colors) you want to select on the page.  If you’re not getting the area you want, play with the Tolerance level.  The lower the number, the more precise the selection will be (including only tones very close to the one you clicked on); while higher numbers, will result in less precise selections (including the tone you clicked on in addition to other similar tones).  Also, if you want to select everything on the page in a particular color (whether areas are connected or not), make sure to uncheck the “Contiguous” box.  If you just want to select a particular connected area then leave the “Contiguous” box checked.




2.  After you have the selection you want, copy it to a new layer by hitting Ctrl/Cmd J.  Now turn off the original layer to see what your selection looks like on the background layer.  If there is too much or too little on the selection layer, you can either delete it and try again, or create multiple selection layers.  Once you are happy with the selection, move to step 3.


3.  At this point you may be finished, but most selections will require some blending adjustments.  You can make the new selection blend more seamlessly into the background paper by adjusting the opacity/fill amounts, and/or by changing the blend modes.  My favorite blend modes are multiply, screen, overlay and soft light – but you should definitely experiment with all of them because each combination of papers will be different.  On my page,  I converted the selection to Multiply and then reduced its opacity to 45%.




In addition to playing with the blending mode and opacity/fill sliders, you can also recolor the selection(s) or use them as clipping masks for other papers.  You can also blend papers together without using the extraction process.  The possibilities really are endless.


Hope this helps the next time you’re looking for the “perfect” paper!

~ Judie

You may also like


  • Cheryl January 3, 2014   Reply →

    Nice tutorial nothing like taking a sheet of paper and Presto making more out of the one!
    Thank You, Judie.

  • grambie/shirl January 20, 2014   Reply →

    You have definitely ended up with a gorgeous paper that I would definitely use and is a style that I love. My layout taste has changed, and the artsy aura of your finished layout is a favorite choice. Thank you for the push to use this concept more when a kit has strong colors and patterns. This will be printed out and placed beside my computer as a reminder. Hugs. 😉

  • Katherine Engelhardt January 20, 2014   Reply →

    Thanks for the tips and a new way to look at papers in my stash.

  • Vicki Andersen February 3, 2014   Reply →

    I LOVE to use blending modes to create new backgrounds but I play toooo much. After about 10 layers and more blending modes than I count plus some brush work I can’t even begin to remember what I did or how to do it again 🙁 I love to go outside and take photos of walls, old stumps, the sides of buildings then add those as textures and blend into my backgrounds. I am just a little OCD about them

Leave a comment

Pin It on Pinterest