How to use a sketchPLATE: Paint by numbers, create layouts!

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The image shows a sketchPLATE (layered digital scrapbook layout sketch template), a set of digital scrapbooking kit supplies & photos, graphically demonstrating combination to complete a layout.
Introduction ~ How to use a sketchPLATE: Paint by Numbers, Create Layouts!

Let’s face it: sometimes you just need to get a layout done and down fast!  Here at Anita Richards Designs we have a number of sketchPLATES available in the Design Shop. Our easy to use freebie version sketchPLATES are perfect for newbies wanting to try out digital scrapbooking. For experienced digiscrappers alike our extended version sketchPLATES will wow your pixels on! Advanced layout creation is super easy with our sketchPLATES “painting by numbers” system. Relax and enjoy the process as you get a page or even an album done fast with our delightful designs. This straightforward exposé on what they are, how to use them and why they are a great method of scrapping will help you understand everything you need to know about our sketchPLATES. Keep reading to learn how to get the best bang for your buck from our range of fully layered digital scrapbook layout templates.


What is a sketchPLATE?

Inspired by hand-drawn sketches and designed as reusable temPLATES, our sketchPLATES are pre-designed layout compositions, aka layered digital scrapbook templates.

Our sketchPLATES are saved in the Photoshop native file format plus in the layered lossless .TIF format with capacity to fully edit, add & delete layers and layer styles. sketchPLATES often include specially designed Embellishments that may be retained or replaced during scrapping as the layout is completed by adding a photo or a number of photographs, journaling and other design Elements, for example, symbolic memorabilia Accents.

The completed layout is then either printed for insertion into a scrapbook album or uploaded together with other completed layouts for printing in a photobook or saved for printing at a later date.

See Our Latest sketchPLATES in the Design Shop

Start your Digital Scrapbooking journey on the right foot. Download your FREE TRIAL of Adobe Photoshop Elements, TODAY!


Why use a sketchPLATE?

  • Quick to Complete Layouts

Multiple page projects can be completed in very short order, sometimes even within minutes.

  • Simple to Scrap With

Using a sketchPLATE makes the process of layout creation as simple as “painting with numbers”. Clipping masks, pattern layers, styles, replaceable elements, …. scrapping made simple!

  • Use & Reuse

You may like to use the sketchPLATE many times over, in fact you can use a sketchPLATE as many times as you need and want there is no finite number of uses on your digitstash investments.

  • Flip or Rotate

sketchPLATES are highly customisable; make each page unique and your own right from simple adjustments like rotating or flipping the page through to rearranging positions of elements and even changing light and blending modes … Perfect for if you are doing two page, side-by-side, spreads and even albums!

  • Add Even More Details

Every time you use a sketchPLATE you make a layout that is uniquely your own and different from every other page you have created. By adding more embellishments, accents and other page elements as you wish you can make them more complex. By reducing elements to a minimalist few you can simplify compositions, especially if you are using more photos than the number included in the original design. The options at limitless!


How to Use a sketchPLATE

anita-richards-tutorial-saving-an-adobe-photoshop-custom-workspaceThe following tutorial was written whilst using Adobe Photoshop CS4. However, the basic interface commands are pretty much the same across all versions of Photoshop® Creative Cloud® as well as very similar in Photoshop® Elements from version 2 upwards. The workspace that you see on screen looks a little different to the Adobe® out-of-the-box workspace because I tweaked and customised it to help my "visual thinking" ~ you can customise and save yours too to suit your own unique and individual needs. Smilie face, with a big grin!

Using a sketchPLATE is pretty straight forward:

1. Choose Your Project

Screenshot of Photoshop CS4 workspace with scrapSNAP copy and chosen photo.Choose a sketchPLATE, photographs and the kit that you want to work with.
Open your sketchPLATE and duplicate it into a new tab.
(On the Menu Bar click on Image > Duplicate …).
Close the original without saving.
Save the new tab as your chosen file name (eg. sketchPLATE TAB)
Open your photos, duplicate them into the new sketchPLATE TAB.
(On the Menu Bar click on Layer > Duplicate Layer … > Document > sketchPLATE TAB), make any adjustments to the photos and process them for contrast, colour, brightness, tone, convert to black and white or retain full colour, artistically crop details, correct blemishes, etc. Close the originals without saving.
Open your chosen kit supplies and duplicate them into the new sketchPLATE TAB.
Close all the originals without saving; this protects the originals from being accidentally overwritten.

2. Position Photos, Papers, Elements … CLIP!

The image shows us a screenshot of Photoshop CS4 workspace with open sketchPLATE TAB, plus the photographs and the kit elements all piled into the canvas.
Screenshot of Photoshop workspace with open sketchPLATE TAB, plus the photographs and the kit elements all piled into the canvas.

At this point your project probably looks a lot like this…
The key to using sketchPLATES efficiently and effectively is to use the Clipping Masks command; this is the “paint by numbers” part of the the process.
You can use the clipping mask with both photographs and papers.
For example, simply place the photo on a layer immediately above the template photo shape layer and clip it; repeat the same process with papers on their respective layers.
(On the Menu Bar click on Layer > Create Clipping Mask)
Also, once the photograph is “clipped” to the sketchPLATE’s “photograph” layer, notice that the photo’s bounding box is still visible providing us with a guide on where the layer edges are located, enabling accurate repositioning.

Other elements of the page design are simply positioned as desired and resized if needed for the best effect.
At this point you also might like to add special title art and any journaling that you want to include that records the who, what, when, where, how, why of the memories captured in the photographs.

3. Finish by Adding Depth

Finish your design by adding a Drop Shadow to all the layers that need them to give the page the depth and a realistic paper scrapped appearance.
(On the Menu Bar click on Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow…)

With our sketchPLATES the layers already have in-built Drop Shadows so you already have some settings to use as a starting point ~ edit them to your heart’s content. Or…

COMING SOON: We also have Drop Shadow Style Action sets in the Design Shop; grab them now to save yourself a tonne of time from your digiscrapping process.

4. Save Copies

Screenshot of Photoshop File > Save command panel open.
How to use a scrapSNAP: Creating Layouts the Easy Way Screenshot 3

Save the completed layout into two versions: 1). save the layered version in either .PSD or .TIF if you are using Photoshop, then 2). duplicate the layout as a merged copy, flatten the layers and save as a high resolution .JPG for printing (the screenshot for last step has been borrowed from our tutorial How to Use a scrapSNAP: Creating layouts the easy way!).
(On the Menu Bar select File > Save As > NAME and, navigating to the destination Folder on your computer hard-drive, and giving your new layout a meaningful file name).


More Information Useful for Scrapping with sketchPLATES

If you are a digiscrap newbie:


Best in Class Software for sketchPLATES

The best software options to get the best use out of a sketchPLATE is imaging software that supports layers. We recommend Adobe Photoshop & Photoshop Elements. Corel PaintShop Pro & Pro Ultimate are also excellent choices.

If you are a digiscrap newbie, please read our article for better understanding about the best software options for digital scrapbooking and where to download free trials.


Top Tools to Help You with Your Scrapbooking

As your scrapping evolves you may like to consider using additional equipment to aid you in your creation process.

The most common tools that digiscrappers use are drawing tablets and styluses. Please take a look at our top recommendations for tablets and styluses:


New to Digital Scrapbooking?

If you are new to Digital Scrapbooking we have a Learn Digital Scrapbooking email series that you may subscribe to that comes with a bunch of FREEbie downloads to help you build your digiscrap supplies stash.

We also have a project running especially for sketchPLATE lovers, so please join in with us on our sketchPLATE Saturdays project page to stay in the loop for our sketchPLATE Freebies.

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What Now?

As you can see, using sketchPLATES to create layouts is both easy and enjoyable. I hope that you enjoy using them as much as I enjoy creating them!

Please Show Us What You Come Up With ...

Wrapping up for now: please do let me know if you post a layout using this set on your Facebook or Instagram by tagging credits with @anitarichardsdesigns. Please ensure that the layout is publicly viewable ~ I would love to see your beautiful work.



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