Create Scrapbook Backgrounds from your Photos

Have you ever had a photo of a special moment that you really really want to scrap but the photo is blurry and of poor quality, and just not good enough to feature on a scrapbook layout? Well why not turn it into a scrapbook layout background?

Last May my brother and his wife celebrated their Silver Wedding Anniversary. They have just been through two anni horribili (thanks for the phrase, Your Maj) which seriously tested their marriage, their sanity and their entire family’s lives. So this special event was an even more poignant one for them. They threw a party, inviting all the people who had been involved in some way in helping them get through the past two years. You can imagine how special we all felt to be there. And to top it off, they announced at the party that they would be renewing their marriage vows later that evening, and in fact we had really all been invited to their Wedding. Then they disappeared, got changed, and all of us parted to make an aisle for my sister-in-law’s father to lead her to my brother who was waiting at the end with the marriage celebrant.

It was a wonderful and teary moment

…and I fluffed the photos.

My camera wasn’t on the right setting. I was far from calm and unemotional. The place was crowded. Whatever the excuse, the photos were out of focus, blurry, dreadful!

a-magic-moment1.jpgI spent an afternoon fiddling around with them in Photoshop Elements, trying to bring them up to some level of quality that I could scrap but to no avail.

Then I hit on the idea of turning one of my blurry photos into a background. Here’s how I did it:

* First I dragged the photo to make it large enough to fill the background of my layout. You could choose to only fill a part of your layout if you wish.

* The quality of the photo degraded even further but for this technique that doesn’t really matter. If you have concerns about this however, you can follow the steps in my Upsizing Your Photos tutorial to increase the size of your photo with a minimum of degradation.

* I then changed the blending mode in the Layers Pallet (drop down menu box, top left on the Layers Pallet) to Overlay.

* I dragged a few background papers from my stash, positioning them behind the photo by dragging the layer down the layer stack (in the Layers Pallet) to sit below the photo layer. I ended up choosing a lovely soft background paper from the Bella Collection by Thao Cosgrove.

* With the remaining photos, I chose a couple that defined the occasion, reduced them to fit in the filmstrip frame, and turned them to black and white (Enhance>Image Color>Remove Color). This is another good technique when you have dodgy photos. Monochrome is so much more forgiving than colour.

* A title and couple of accents to pull it all together (you might note my favourite Visual Triangle technique with the pink flowers), and I had created a layout from photos that I had considered were beyond hope.

You might like to try this yourself when faced with those out of focus photos that we all end up with from time to time. You don’t even need to wait for poor quality photos to try it out. I think it’s a pretty good look to use with any photos.

And for those who enjoy Hybrid Scrapbooking, it looks great when you add some ‘real life’ embellishments to make the collage at the corner of the film strip.

Other related posts:

Scrapbooking Techniques & Tips – Upsizing Photos
How to Digital Scrapbook
Scrapbooking Techniques & Tips – Blend your own Backgrounds


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10 Responses to Create Scrapbook Backgrounds from your Photos

  1. Hannah October 25, 2007 at 6:45 pm #

    Wow! This looks really awesome, what a great idea! I would never have thought of doing that, but it works so well.

  2. Jennifer October 26, 2007 at 1:43 am #

    This is such a great idea! Thanks for the how-to’s … I love how it gives the pic a painterly quality.

  3. karooch October 26, 2007 at 3:05 pm #

    Glad that you like it Hannah and Jennifer. I am not a good photographer in general but it was heartbreaking when I didn’t have a single good photo of this particular occasion. I felt so good when I created this layout out of the disaster.

    Love the phrase ‘painterly quality’ Jennifer. I think I might have to phraselift it from you.

  4. corina October 26, 2007 at 6:41 pm #

    Just beautiful!

  5. Tink October 27, 2007 at 2:41 am #

    While you mentioned the technique you didn’t mention that by reducing the size of the photo substantially it can sometimes bring it back into focus. That is where the filmstrip frames really come in handy.
    Glad for this post though as I had recently taken something like 800 photos of the Princess’ dance recital and everyone of them were overexposed. (guess I accidentally hit a wrong button and didn’t realize it.) I can definitely use this technique to showcase some of the recital while attempting to resuscitate some of the better ones. Thanks Karen.

  6. karooch October 27, 2007 at 6:40 am #

    Thanks for filling in the gap Tink. Yes the smaller the photo, the tighter it looks. That’s one of my frustrations with my digital camera. They always look really good on the small screen but when i upload them to the PC…
    Good luck with the Recital photos. i so know how you feel.

    Hey Corina, good to see you back.

  7. leslie October 27, 2007 at 9:35 am #

    That is really lovely. The opacity of the photo is what makes it so lovely, it ties all your smaller pictures together nicely. Thanks for the tutorial!

  8. Olga October 29, 2007 at 12:29 am #

    It’s a fantastic layout and a great idea to make use of a not so-good photo” but with a very high emotional value. :)

    Thanks so much for sharing the technique and best wishes. :O)

  9. karooch October 29, 2007 at 7:34 am #

    Thanks Leslie and Olga. I find that it’s the ‘do or die’ emotional events where the photos are most likely to fail on me. This technique helps to get me out of trouble.


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