Scrapbooking Ideas: Polish Your Scrapbook Paper with Levels

Note: Tutorial created using Adobe Photoshop CS3 on Mac OS X

If you want to try something new with the ScrapSimple Paper Templates you’ve purchased, I have a simple trick to show you how to do just that. Just by using the Levels Adjustment, you can add different depth and appearance to your digital scrapbook templates. This technique works best on the templates that have grayscale texture to them, as opposed to just crisp black-and-white patterns.

First, open one of the files from ScrapSimple Paper Template: Coffee Stains and add a layer of red above it with the Blend Mode set to Overlay.

This is what the paper looks like using the template as is.

Then, making sure the paper template layer is highlighted in the Layers Palette, select Image> Adjustments> Levels. This is what the Levels dialogue box looks like when it’s first opened:

To change the intensity of the darks, mids, and light tones, drag the corresponding Input Level Arrows. Dragging the black arrow to the right, closer to the edge of the peak, makes the colors drastically richer and darker, which is the look I’m after.

Below, this is the Levels dialogue box after I make my adjustments. If you make sure that the preview box is checked, you can watch the changes to your paper template while you work, and then stop adjusting when you’re happy with the look.

Here is my paper template after the Levels adjustment:

I add a second paper template, ScrapSimple Paper Templates: Scratch the Surface, and set the Blend Mode to Overlay:


The scratches are dark, and I want to lighten them up. Making sure my Scratch the Surface Paper Template is highlighted in the Layers Palette, I return to Image> Adjustments> Levels.

This is what the dialogue box looks like when I first open it. This time, I drag the white arrow to the left to lighten the scratches:

When I’m done, my dialogue box looks like this:

And my paper looks like this:


I’m happy with the dramatic differences I’ve made to the paper templates and happy with the new red paper I’ve created! Now, I’m ready to build my layout.

Layout by Mandy Steward

larger view

Tutorial written by Mandy Steward


Note: Commercial license versions of ScrapSimple Paper Templates: Coffee StainsScrapSimple Paper Templates: Scratch The Surface
and BrushSet: Stamped Dates are also available.



  1. thanks for the tutorial!

  2. Brilliant, Mandy!! Will definitely be trying this out soon!

  3. Sara Arell says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial, Mandy! I love your designs and look forward to new things from you one of these days!

  4. Amy Flanagan says:

    Definitely bookmarked and I will be practicing this technique! Thanks so much for showing us how to do this!

  5. This is a completely new way to use levels for me–thanks for writing it up!

  6. I haven’t played much with the adjustment levels before. Thanks for the tutorial, Mandy, it has encouraged me to give this a try!

  7. Cheryll Ann says:

    Really enjoyed this tutorial. I have never played with levels on the SS Templates but will be sure to try it soon. Thanks for the lesson.

    Cheryll Ann

  8. Great tutorial – thanks Mandy!

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