How to Use Clipping Masks for Digital Scrapbookers

Using Clipping Masks in Templates

If you’re anything like me, you tend to be a bit indecisive when creating pages, especially when working with templates.  I love the fact that with the template, the design aspect is completed for you, but knowing what papers I want to use where tends to make me want to play a bit to see what I like best.  Enter the Clipping Mask…


What are Clipping Masks you may ask?  Quite simply they are a non-destructive way to “clip” papers to the shapes on a template, without affecting the paper itself, so that you can easily move it around to get the look you are after.  Let’s see it in action.

In this example, I am using a template from Karla Dudley’s Life Story – March 2014 Template Pack (isn’t it great?).  If you are new to what a template is, it is a file with individual layers provided.  With it, you are guided to quickly create a page through the use of papers, elements, and photos.




With the template open, you will notice that there are layers listed in the layers pallet.  In this layered template, Karla has labeled each of the layers with a number that corresponds with a numbered shape on the page.  This lets you know which layer controls what on the page.  Other designers may label theirs a bit differently, but most will have them labeled in a way that makes sense to you.  Also, you may notice that many template designers include effects with their templates (e.g. shadowing, strokes).  These are a great addition and time saver as well when creating your page, but are easily removed if you like to create your own effects.  To remove these, simply  right click over the “fx” symbol on the layer in the layers pallet and select Clear Layer Style.




Ok, back to Clipping Masks.  At first glance, it would appear that Karla had intended for all the shapes except for number 3 to be placeholders for pictures, but the beautiful part about working with a template is that it is only a guide – you do not need to use the template as it is.  You can remove/add shapes, rotate, resize… basically make the template work for you.  For the purpose of this tutorial, we will use it pretty much as it is.


The first thing I need to add is a background paper.  Once I have this in place, I can start playing with the other included papers and see which one I like best to compliment the pictures I have chosen along with the background I now have in place..  Once I have one selected that I would like to work with, I simply select the layer labeled “3” in the layers pallet and add in my paper.  By selecting this layer first, anything I add will immediately be above it in the layers pallet.  For clipping masks, this is important as the item you are clipping needs to be directly above the shape you are clipping it to.


To add your clipping mask, right click on top of your added paper and select create clipping mask from the menu.  Another way to accomplish this is to hold down your ALT key and click between the two layers (when your cursor switches to a light gray box with black arrow pointing down).




Now your paper is clipped to the shape below it.  From here you can easily move the paper around to get just the right section of the paper you like best.  You may also resize and/or rotate the paper without affecting the overall shape.  As long as it is the paper you are adjusting, you shape will remain constant.  Cool, isn’t it?


Should you decide you’d like to try another paper, simply delete the paper and follow the steps to clip another paper to the shape.  Once you have decided on the paper, you can use the same steps for clipping your photos to the remaining layers.  Finally, embellish your page as much or as little as you like.


Here is my completed page.



Materials used:  Life Story – March 2014 by Karla Dudley, The Good Stuff Kit by Karla Dudley and Valorie Wibbens, Life Stamps 2014 – Daily by Karla Dudley


Now that you are a clipping mask/template using guru, we’d love to hear if you use one of these great tools.  Leave us a note in the comments below.  Until next time, happy scrapping!


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  • Sarah Bent August 10, 2014   Reply →

    THANK YOU SO SO SO SO MUCH – as I have been trying to figure this out. So excited that I can now get going on templates that I have already brought and did not know how to use (just thought I would be able to ‘drop’ papers in).

  • Tracey Tilson January 6, 2017   Reply →

    So happy to see this tutorial! I finally figured out out to use CTRL + ALT + G to fit my papers in a template. I’ve been doing it the hard way! Thank you so much!

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