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Using Overlays in Photoshop Elements

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Using Overlays in Photoshop Elements

Overlays are an easy way to add pizazz to your digital scrapbooking layouts. You can find overlays in every style–grungy, shabby, floral and more. Overlays can cover an entire page, just a photo or an edge. In this tutorial, I will show you how to add an overlay border in Photoshop Elements.

Step 1: Prepare your Page

You can start with a blank page, add your overlay and then add photos and elements, but I like to add the overlay last as a finishing touch. In this layout, I have already placed my photo into a photo cluster frame from First Impressions by Bekah E Designs. This white paper background is too plain for my tastes.

Screen shot of starting layout

Screen shot of starting layout

Step 2: Add an Overlay Border

Next, I will add a border overlay on top of the paper layer. Be sure to leave your frame and elements above the overlay. I added an overlay from  Bekah E Design’s Deco Grunge Page Borders 1. The border is pretty, but black is not going to work for this layout. I am going to change the color to match the purple flower. There are several ways to change the color; in this tutorial, I will show you how to paint the overlay to match. If don’t need to change the color of your overlay, skip to Step 5.

Screenshot of added overlay

Step 3: Lock Transparent Pixels

To start, while on the overlay layer, lock the transparent pixels by clicking on the symbol that looks like this:  Transparent Pixels option in PSE

Step 4: Paint the Overlay

Choose your paintbrush and your color using the color picker to match your element. Use a large soft brush to paint the black overlay.

Screen shot showing color picker

Step 5: Change your Blending Mode

You can stop with the paint color, but why not try a few blending modes for a different look? With this white background, any blending mode in the first section of the menu bar will work well. I like the look of Linear Burn and chose it for this layout.

Painted overlay on a white background

If you have used a dark background, you will want to try a different blending mode. Try any of the modes in the second section of the menu. I like Lighter Color with this deep blue paper. As you can see, just the addition of one overlay turned this layout into a beautiful, finished product.

Screenshot of final layout

In this tutorial, I showed just one way to use an overlay, but overlays are so versatile, there are many ways to use them. If you have questions about this tutorial or would like to request a tutorial, please visit and post to the Tutorial Help & Requests Forum.

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