Tutorial: Clipping Masks

This week, I worked with a new kit from Scotty Girl Design called Shipshape. It released in the shop today and it’s on sale!


The bold, bright colors and fun patterns were so much fun to work with. And I love yellow! I think this may have been the quickest turn around for me. I can’t remember a layout coming together this quickly!


When I first started digi scrapping, I didn’t know anything. And I didn’t know anyone who did it. I didn’t know where to go online to get help and the YouTube videos I tried to watch were way over my head – I mean, I didn’t even understand basic how-to videos for beginners. Mostly because I didn’t understand the terminology. So I got thinking about what would have really helped me back then and I knew instantly what this tutorial would be about: Clipping Masks.


I’ll be working in PSE 10.

A clipping mask is the digital equivalent to cutting a piece of paper. Only it’s non destructive. Meaning that if you don’t like the shape or size, you can change it without destroying the paper or starting over. A definite perk of digital scrapbooking!

So here’s the foundation of my layout:


You can see I’ve got my background paper picked out, tape at the bottom, and some splatter. Though I typically don’t add things like splatter to my layout until the very end – just because I don’t really know what it’s going to look like underneath everything until all the paper and “stuff” is actually there.

Now I’ll select the Rectangle Tool, click down on my layout, and draw the shape/size box that I want.



Now let’s clip some paper to the new clipping mask!

I’ve chosen the dark blue sailboat paper. Bring the paper onto your layout, making sure the paper is directly above the layer with the box you just drew (your mask). The paper will cover your whole layout right at first because we haven’t “cut” it yet.


Now all you do at this point is hold down the command key (or control on a PC) and press G. That will clip the paper to the mask. You can see there’s now a little arrow pointing down to the layer it’s clipped to. In PSE 10, you can also unclip a layer by pressing command G. I had PSE 6 before getting 10 and I couldn’t unclip a layer like that. I had to actually grab the clipped layer and either move it to someplace else in the layers palette or delete it altogether. Total pain.


The entire piece of paper is still there, it’s just only showing the part where you’ve put the mask. If you decide later on that you don’t like the shape – maybe you want your paper to be longer or wider or smaller or you want to move it somewhere else entirely – then you can select the mask layer and adjust it – without warping your paper at all. These types of masks are essential for me when creating a layout. In fact, clipping masks make up the bulk of this particular layout.

The next three layers of paper were done using the same process




Now add drop shadows to the mask layers and you’re done!

This is also how I cropped the photos and the triangle pieces on the left side.

Before I learned about clipping masks, I was bringing my paper onto the layout and then trying to resize the whole thing – warping it if necessary so that I could have a shape other than square. HA! I told you I didn’t know a thing! So then I figured out how to use the crop tool, but I found it frustrating when I wanted to make the paper just a teeny bit wider or something. I would have to delete the paper on my layout, go back to the original 12X12 paper, and start again. But with a clipping mask, you can adjust it so easily! You can even grab the paper once it’s been clipped and move it around in the mask until the pattern is showing exactly how you want.

Anyway, I hope this tutorial helps some of you who are just starting out! Happy scrapping!


2012-2013 School Year: Completed

It’s been such a busy year for us! The huge task of getting us all out here meant we weren’t super consistent with the school stuff while we were still in Upton. In fact, I had packed away all the school supplies early on because we thought we’d be moving a whole lot sooner. And then we decided to put them in public school so it made for a new and exciting transition. Lots of changes. But the kids thrived.

The report cards at the end of the year showed Bethany and Max above grade level on all counts. Liv was above grade level in math, but a little bit below in reading and comprehension – not a surprise. We’re going to continue to work with her over the summer, but she does learn a bit differently than the others. Plus I think she’s one of the youngest in her grade. We started her education at home without any concern about the public school cut off date for Kindergarten. So I think she was actually supposed to be finishing up Kindergarten this year, not first grade. Oh well. It’s done. And she’s doing really well so I’m not going to worry about it too much.

All three of them were sad the school year was coming to an end. I think they’ve made lots of friends and I know Bethany especially will miss the routine and the course work. She loved learning Russian and she embraced the challenge of filling in the gaps in her learning. She would bring home the math and science textbooks and study on her own. Funny girl! But I’m so proud of her.

As a surprise for the first day of summer vacation, Lucy and I conspired to start a water balloon war with them. As soon as they got on the bus for the last day of school, we started filling up water balloons and setting things up.

We set this up on the front porch:


150 water balloons, 3 squirt guns, 3 buckets

And I put this on the front door:


I stole this idea from someone on Pinterest.

And then we prepared for battle:


We failed at putting our serious game faces on. But how cute do we look?! We’re totally cute. AND! I made a layout about our cuteness.


Now all we had to do was wait for the unsuspecting kids to get home. Mwhahaha! Some of us were more patient than others. Lucy totally managed to empty our squirt gun three times before the war even started. We watched from behind the fence as they got home, walked up to the door, and read the sign. Bethany understood first and started to get her stuff together. There was much squealing and shouting. So fun!

So here’s the aftermath:


Lots of fun and hopefully something they’ll remember! And we were able to cross our very first item off our summer bucket list: Have a Water Balloon Fight.

2013 iNSD CT Blog Hop!

Welcome! And happy iNSD!

So here are some of my faves from the shop –


Claire by Karen Funk | This was one of the very first kits I ever bought and I still love it so much. The papers are all slightly textured and the kit comes with some lace pieces that I absolutely love.


This Year by Scotty Girl Design |  The colors in this kit are so much fun and so very versatile.


Summer Girl by Gennifer Bursett and Celeste Knight | I love the pretty floral and butterfly papers! And the colors are so soft and gorgeous.


Cut.It.Out. by Robyn Meierotto | This kit blew my mind when I first saw it. The masks give your papers a hand-cut look that you can’t always get in digi scrapping. It’s definitely a must-have in my stash.


The whole Pixels and Company shop is 35% off PLUS some of the designers are offering additional savings on their individual shops. The sale runs through May 5.

Want this pack of journaling cards for free?


Collect all the letters along this blog hop and enter it into the coupon code box when you check out.

My letter is:


Now head on over to Rachel’s blog!

And just in case you’re lost:

Pixels and Company Blog

 Sarah Hemmert 
Katherine Hansen
Mandi Buchanan
Kate Christensen <<< that’s me!
Rachel Alles
Anna Drozd
Jan Fortier
Carey Bridges
Emilie Stevenson
Ronnie Crowley
Amy Kingsford
Jennifer Hignite
Celeste Smith
Melanie Ritchie
Aria Andrus
Jennifer Evangelista
Linda Roos
Christy Carlson
Barbara Unzen
Mary Rogers
Arielle Gordon
Jeryn Carlisi
Indah Permata Sari
Melanie Call
Jen Papadimitriou
Erin Taylor
Kelly Mobley
Kim Hammond
Wendy Bretz

Homeward Bound

Last week, I was going through Deena Rutter’s shop and I found a kit that I just adore! It’s called Homeward Bound and it’s so fun. The papers are all slightly distressed and textured.

I made a hybrid card using Deena’s kit and this week’s RetroSketch.


Supplies: Homeward Bound by Deena Rutter; Sydney by Robyn Meierotto

And I finally got around to documenting Liv’s first tooth coming out. The journaling is pretty much taken from the blog post I did about it.


full credits in the gallery

The B

I just love this photo of Lucy. I snapped it during a trip to Hogle Zoo in 2010. The angle is pretty awesome, the lighting was perfect, and I love the white hat and shirt. And look at those EYES! Wowza! I’ve pulled it into PSE a lot since it was taken. I was always hoping to use it on a layout, but something was never quite right. Well, last week, I downloaded a kit called “Zoey” by Scotty Girl Design (aka Shannon McNab) and I knew right away which photo to use!



Shannon is retiring from Design House Digital so her entire shop is 50% off through Wednesday! You can also enter to win “Zoey” by commenting on the DHD Blog.

Tutorial: Making a Banner

Last week, I got to work with the cutest papers I have ever seen. The kit is called Skip to my Lou – made by Celeste Knight. The papers and elements are sold separately, but they’re both on sale right now because she’s retiring from Design House Digital. Celeste’s ENTIRE shop is 50% off through Wednesday.

“Wonderful Day”


And just for fun, I have another layout using a kit by Celeste – called Peppermint Twist (additional paper pack here).

“Christmas Tree”


So looking through my gallery, I noticed that I tend to use a lot of banners – it’s the cool, trendy thing to do right now, right?  I thought it would be fun to offer a little tutorial on how to make your own banner.


I’ll be working in PSE 10.

Select the Rectangle Tool icon.


Click down on your page and draw a shape that you like. For my layout “Wonderful Day”, I wanted a fat, almost square shape that would fit into my grid design.


Alright. Let’s simplify the shape layer. Most of the time, simplifying a layer will render it uneditable. For example, if you simplify a text layer, you can no longer edit the text because it’s been changed to an image. BUT! In the case of our shape up there, we actually CAN’T edit it until we simplify.

To simplify: With the shape layer selected, hover over the layer, right click and then choose “Simplify Layer”.


The next step is to make it look like a banner by making a fancy cut. Right click on the Lasso Tool and choose “Polygonal Lasso Tool” (or simply press “L” three times).


This is a really cool tool. It allows you to cut a custom shape. In our case, we’ll need to cut a triangle shape out of the bottom of our rectangle.

With the Polygonal Tool selected, click down on your page just lower than your shape – and kind of at a diagonal to the corner. You’re making a triangle shape. So next, you’re going to move your curser up at a diagonal and click down. Then move it down and diagonal – right across from where your first click was – and click down again. Complete the triangle by moving the curser across to where you started.


Now you should have a triangle made up of little marching ants. This sometimes takes me a few tries to get it just the way I want. If you need a do-over, press command (or control) D. This deselects, or gets rid of the marching ants, so you can start over. But if you like it, let’s move on!

The next step is to delete everything within the triangle. With the rectangle shape layer selected, click on “Edit” and choose “Delete”.


You should be left with an empty triangle of marching ants. Now press command (or control) D to get rid of the triangle.

That’s it! You’ve just created a banner with straight sides – the type of banner that I made for my layout “Christmas Tree”. You can now clip paper to it, add a drop shadow, and position it on your layout or project.

For a more hand-cut type banner (like the one in “Wonderful Day”), we’ll just cut two more triangles – one on each side of the banner.

Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool again and repeat the four clicks to make a triangle on one side of the banner shape and then the other, taking more off the top and almost nothing off the bottom. I zoomed in close so you can see what I mean:


Now just delete the selection (Edit > Delete) and deselect (command or control D) to get rid of the marching ants. Do all of that on the other side. So what I’m left with is a mask that I can now clip paper to. I’ve used the pink zig-zag paper from Skip to my Lou and applied a drop shadow from Gennifer Bursett’s styles.


That’s it! I hope you’ll link me up with your projects using banners! And please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Pixels & Company

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve been asked to be on the Creative Team at a new digital scrapbooking store called Pixels & Company! I’m just thrilled to be able to work with products from such amazing designers. And to be able to work alongside some of the most creative ladies in the business? Heck yeah!

Sign up for the P&Co. newsletter so you don’t miss out on anything! And when you sign up, you’ll get access to this beautiful collaboration, In Good Company.

In Good Company Preview


There will be dollar kits released all month long – all leading up to the Grand Opening in February!