Making Paper Ribbons With the Marquee Tool

Audience: Beginners
Category: PSE Tool Techniques
Operating System: Windows 7
Software: Photoshop Elements 9

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It’s no secret that I love all of the patterned papers included in the wonderful digital scrapbooking collections our designers create here at Scrap Girls. I like to use as many as possible on my pages, but if I’m not careful, the patterns can be overwhelming. One of my favorite tricks is to use small bits of the patterns. Like throw pillows on a solid colored couch, the little bits of pattern on a neutral background all work together to create an interesting look without being too busy.

One easy way to cut the digital papers is with the Marquee and Polygonal Lasso Tools. By using both tools together, you can easily create interesting, hand-cut-looking paper “ribbons”.
Step 1- Create a new 12 x 12 inch document in Photoshop Elements. Choose a collection that you want to use for the bulk of your layout. All of the papers in a collection are designed to work together, so by sticking to one collection, you can be sure that all of the patterns will work well together. Open a couple solid papers and a bunch of patterned ones, and place them all on your new document. I would recommend 8 – 10 papers total. Pick one solid paper (or one with a light pattern or texture) to be the background, and move it to the bottom of the Layers Palette.
Step 2- Now it’s time to cut some ribbons. Make the top layer active in the Layers Palette. Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (keyboard shortcut M), draw a rectangle that is about 1 inch wide by 6 inches long. This isn’t an exact thing, just eyeball it. When you have the rectangle drawn (it will be outlined with “marching ants”), everything inside the rectangle is selected. Since you want to get rid of everything outside the rectangle, you need to select the Inverse (opposite). Go Select > Inverse, or use the shortcut Shift+CTRL+I. Now you will see the rectangle is still outlined with marching ants, and the edge of the layout is also outlined. Everything in between is selected.
Press Delete and all of the excess paper is cut away. Select > Deselect (or use the shortcut CTRL+D) to get rid of the marching ants. Repeat these steps for each paper except the bottom one. Vary the widths and heights of each rectangle, to give it a hand-cut look.

Step 3- Arrange the papers in a row, so that they are slightly overlapping each other. Place a picture on top of all of the papers.

Step 4- Now switch to the Polygonal Lasso Tool (keyboard shortcut L – it’s nested with several other lasso tools, so press L repeatedly to toggle between them). Use the lasso tool to draw a triangle at one end of the paper ribbon, press Delete, and repeat on the other end. Do this for each ribbon, again, making the triangles irregular, just to keep things interesting.

Step 5- Slightly rotate some of the ribbons just to keep things from looking too perfect. Add a drop shadow to each ribbon, add some embellishments, a title, and some journaling, and you’re finished!

Tutorial Written by Anna Mansfield


  1. Sarah Batdorf says:

    Wonderful tutorial, Anna! LOVE your layout.

  2. GrannieEv says:

    I can’t wait to try this… have never used either one! Thank you

  3. Eloise Lane says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. It reminds me of how great and how versatile all of the ScrapGirls items are!

  4. Wow, just tried this and it works great. I love those ribbon/banners and can never find the right ones. Thanks for this.


  1. […] by the Scrap Girls Blog for Anna Mansfield’s Tutorial: Making Paper Ribbons with the Marquee Tool! Anna shows us how easy it is to use multiple patterns papers effectively on a layout by […]

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