Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blending into the Background

It's time for another digital tutorial. This week's topic was requested by my friend Diane Lynn - thanks, Diane!

Did you ever see a digital layout where the photo seems to 'blend' right into the background? Well, it's really not all that difficult to do. It just takes a bit of practice (like most things 'digi' the more you play, the better you get at it!).

Here's the first layout I ever did that involved blending a photo into the background:

Layout made with Club Scrap Cyprus Digital Kit (09/20080)

So here's how to do it (At least, this is how I do it. With digital scrapping, there are often a few different ways to accomplish the same or similar things.):

1. Add your background and photo to your layout, resizing your photo and positioning it as desired.

2. Duplicate the photo layer and then 'hide' the duplicate layer by clicking on the 'eye' for that layer in the layers palette. This is insurance - if you're not happy with how things are looking, you can delete the first photo and have a backup ready that is the same same and location as the first!

3. Select the eraser tool from the tools palette and choose one of the 'artistic' brushes - chalk, watercolor, etc. (Yes, you can use brushes to erase!) Each of the brushes will give different effects, and you really need to try things out to see what you like best - some brushes work better with certain backgrounds or photos - experimentation is the key. The more you try, the easier it will get.

4. Enlarge the eraser a bit - i find that larger erasers seem to work a bit better (at least for me!). You can also play with the opacity of the eraser - there's an opacity slider in the 'brush' toolbar above your layout window; it's only visible when you've got the brush or eraser tool selected.

5. With the photo layer selected, start erasing the edge of the photo by clicking a single time, then move your eraser and click again - don't click and drag, just do a single click, then move to another location. The goal is to remove the hard photo edge all the way around your photo - you can remove more or less in some places - you don't need to keep the rectangular shape of the photo.

6. Once you think you've gotten the edge to look 'ragged' enough, duplicate the photo layer.

7. Temporarily hide the top photo layer (the one you just created) and then select the original photo layer.

8. Using the opacity slider in the layers palette, lower the opacity of the photo so that it blends into the background a bit better.

9. Unhide the top photo layer.

10. Use your eraser again to remove some of the ragged edges of this layer; your reduced opacity later will show through a bit, making the blend seem more 'seamless.' You can continue to duplicate layers and play with opacity as much as necessary to get the look you want.

So that's the basics of blending photos into the background. Here's how I finished this layout plus a couple of other layouts showing this technique:

Now go try this for yourself and have fun blending into the background!


  1. Ron, you always make it look so easy! Thanks for the tutorial and will definitely being giving it a try.

    Gorgeous layouts!

  2. Oh, I gotta get into this digital stuff more! Beautiful!

  3. Tried this and was very impressed!

    Thanks for the idea!


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