One of the handiest functions I’ve used in Adobe Photoshop Elements is the clipping mask. It makes using photo templates a snap! I use them to create photo collages in lengthy reviews that have lots of photos, but they are also great for digital scrapbookers. Sometimes, several months may pass between uses, though, so I often forget the shortcuts for using the clipping mask with templates, so I’m going to highlight the easy instructions here so they are easy to find when you need them.
First, begin by opening your APE program to the editing screen.
Then, open the files for your desired template and all of the photos and/or background papers you plan to use.
Double click on the template on your tray to make sure it is shown in the editing window.
Click and drag a photo over the spot in the template where you’d like it to go.
Resize the photo using the handles in the corners (make sure you’re using the Move tool for the handles to appear). Confirm your chosen size by clicking the green checkmark that appears beneath the photo.
Then simply press Ctrl-G together to activate the shortcut for the clipping mask.
Using the Move tool, you can drag the photo around until it’s properly centered or even adjust the size again. When it’s positioned the way you’d like it to appear, you can use the Rectangular Marquee tool to drag a selection box around any overlapping areas you don’t want, and then click on Edit and select Delete from the drop-down menu. Repeat for any other overlapping areas you’d like to disappear.
Continue this process for each window in the template. If you’d like to add a background paper in one of the windows, do that in the same way, and add any text you’d like to add using the Horizontal Text tool.
Once your template is complete, you can click on Layer and Flatten Image from the drop-down menu to finish off the border.
Then click on “Save As” and give the project a new name so it doesn’t replace your original template file. If you don’t plan to edit the project later, then you can save it as another type of image file such as JPEG. That’s how I use the photo collages on my blog posts.
Enjoy your finished photo collage!