Tutorial: Creating A Digital Project Life Layout

Tutorial: Creating A Digital Project Life Layout

Last week, after posting this photo of my recent Persnickety Prints order on Facebook, I received multiple comments asking how I create my pages. Today I am going to walk you through the process, but before I do that, how fantastic are the layouts from Persnickety Prints?! They even look good photographed on my iPhone. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Persnickety Prints. They have been exclusively printing my layouts for two years now and their quality is unmatched. Did I mention I received my layouts three days after placing my order? Amazing. If you have never used Persnickety Prints, I whole heartedly recommend them.

Moving on. These are the steps I am using to create my 2012 layouts in Photoshop.

Step 1: Start with a piece of cardstock. Drag this on to your 12×12 canvas. This will be your background.

Step 2: Create another layer (above the cardstock) and fill it with white. This will help create the appearance of using a traditional slotted page protector. With this layer selected, hold down the shift key and select Edit > Transform > Scale. Drag the bidirectional arrow in the bottom corner of the white square toward the center of your layout and reduce the size until you are happy with the border. Select the move tool and center the white square on your layout.

Step 3: Open your digital page protector file. With the shift key held down, drag it on top of the white square layer, (this will center the page protector on your layout). With this digital page protector layer selected, hold down the shift key and select Edit > Transform > Scale. Drag the bidirectional arrow in the bottom corner of the digital page protector toward the center of your layout and reduce the size until it covers the white square.

Step 4: Open the Project Life digital template. Select all layers of the template and with the shift key held down, drag them on top of the digital page protector layer. With the Project Life template layers still selected, hold down the shift key and select Edit > Transform > Scale. Drag the bidirectional arrow in the bottom corner of the Project Life digital template toward the center of your layout and reduce the size until the journaling cards fit into the page protector slots. You will need to select each journaling card individually to adjust their size slightly, and move them into proper position above the page protector. (Note: I created rectangular “3×4” cards for the center slots. These do not come with Becky’s template. I like the mix of square and rounded corners.)

Step 5: Lock all of your layers in place. This will keep everything where it belongs when you start adding your photos and journaling.

Step 6: Add drop shadows to your digital page protector and journaling cards, that way your shadowing is done for all the future layouts you create with this new template. I am all about streamlining. I use drop shadow layer styles by Peppermint Granberg. I would link them up for you, but it looks like they are no longer available for purchase. Sad. She does have a fantastic drop shadow tutorial here on her blog, and a self-paced class at Big Picture Classes called Me and My Shadow that takes her basic tutorial to the next level.

Step 7: Using clipping masks, add photos and journaling. Voila! I use the same template each month and simply swap out the background cardstock with a new color. Easy peasy. Like I said, I’m all about streamlining. Just make sure to “Save As” before you start each new layout.

If you are new to digital scrapbooking, Tiffany Tillman has an wonderful video tutorial that walks you through creating a layout using Photoshop Elements.


  1. Shannan - November 26, 2012

    Hi Maegan – I love your pages! I am a digital scrapbooker but have been doing Project Life the traditional way the last three years, so I am planning to go digital next year and print my pages as you have.

    One quick question – how do the photos look printed under the digital page protector? I have been playing around in photoshop but haven’t printed anything out. I am just tossing up whether to use the digital protectors and worried they might take away from the quality of the photos? Thanks!

  2. Shannan - November 26, 2012

    Oops – I just realised you are probably putting your photos and papers on TOP of the page protector layer (not underneath). That makes more sense!

  3. s hansen - December 16, 2012

    I’ve been to Persnickety Prints website, and am able to upload my 12×12 jpegs. However, I am unsure of what to order…I can order a 12×12 photo (but it says not rec for scrapbook pages), or I can order a 12×12 project life page. What options do you choose when printing your layouts?

  4. Carla - February 15, 2013

    Hi Maegan! I bought the Digital Page Protectors yesterday and I’m looking forward to using them in conjuction with the Becky Higgins PL templates. However, I’m having a HARD time getting everything lined up in Photoshop Elements. Do you have to move each card around to get them situated right? Do you happen to know of a video that shows how to set up a digital page using PL and the digital protectors? It was because of your post that I decided to purchase the Page Protectors, so thank you for doing a blog post on them! (even though you have great photos showing what to do – I’m still a little lost.) Thanks for any help you can offer!

  5. Project Life ~ Week 6 ~ Feb 4-10 | Scrumptiously - February 19, 2013

    […] time, I decided it was time to try to simplify the process. I pulled up a post I’d pinned from Maegan at Scrapaholics detailing her workflow. She has a pretty streamlined approach – 12×12 colored cardstock, […]

  6. Bò Béo - February 21, 2013

    Hi Maegan,

    could you please update the link to Project Life digital template in Step 4, because it’s no longer available 🙁

    Thank you.

  7. April - March 6, 2013

    Awesome. Just awesome!
    The JessicaSprague link doesn’t work. They moved the digital PL stuff over to ACDigitals.com
    I love Persnickety too! They are really the best!!

  8. Tracy - March 14, 2013

    You are brilliant! I never thought of putting the page protector layer under everything else. When I saw this it was an ah ha moment for sure. I always have been putting it on the top. Looks fine for the web but not for print.

    Thanks so much

  9. Janet Trapp - March 23, 2013

    After you print these off do you put them in a 12×12 protector sleeve? How do you store these? TIA! ~God bless~

  10. Marisa Kenney - October 23, 2013

    Where do you get the digital page protector and the Project Life Digital Template???

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