How to Create Your Own Custom Background in Photoshop Elements
Each scrapbook page begins with a background. Your background might be one you download from the internet, or a generic background included in Photoshop Elements, or just a solid color. But you can create your own custom background in Photoshop Elements using a photograph or shapes. Here's how!
Open a new document in Photoshop Elements by clicking on File - New - Blank File.
In the dialog box that opens up, input the size of your scrapbook pages, (most commonly 12 x 12 inches). Make it RGB and 300 pixels per inch. (If you want things to be really easy, use the preset pull down menu and choose Scrapbook).
Fill the background with your desired color. Double click on the foreground color swatch in the tools pallet. The color picker will open. You can choose a color by clicking on the color in the sample window, or input values in the text boxes. I picked a green color, RGB values of 0, 255, 0 (Hexadecimal value of #00ff00.
Fill the background with your color by clicking Select - All from the menu bar. When you see the "marching ants" around the edge of your image go to Edit - Fill Selection. Select Foreground Color from the pulldown menu (shown above right). Choose normal for the Blending Mode and set the Opacity to 100%. Then click OK. Your background will fill with your foreground color.
Now, lets bring in a shape. Go under the Content tab, and from the pulldown menu pick Shapes. Choose something that looks interesting. Pull the shape to the artboard, it will come in on a new layer. Size it to the size you want by dragging the corner, or the side to distort it. Then color it with white.
If desired, change the opacity to make the shape more subtle.
If you click on the shape layer while holding down the control key (command on the Mac) the shape is loaded as a selection. Here I went to Edit - Stroke and using white gave it a 20 px white stroke. This helps separate the shape from the background without making it stand out too much.
Here is the final background so far.
Lets change it a little by adding a gradient to the background. Click the background color swatch to open the color picker, and select a darker green. Make sure the darker green is in the background and the lighter green is the foreground. Select the gradient tool, linear gradient, and from the gradient pulldown menu select the foreground to background swatch. Holding down the shift key, click at the top of your image and drag to the bottom. The background fills with the gradient. Holding down the shift key while drawing the gradient constrains the gradient to keep it straight. Here is the background with the gradient.
If you don't hold down the shift key, you can draw the gradient in a diagonal, which gives it a different effect.
Here I went to Content - Shapes and found a diamond pattern. I brought it into the artboard, enlarged it, filled it with white, and changed the opacity of the diamond layer to 30%
Here is the same background except I filled the diamonds with black, and changed the opacity to 10%.
Using layers and opacity you can create a variety of backgrounds that are truly unique. Here is one of a bride and groom. This background is ready to bring in some type and smaller "feature" photos to complete the page. For this one I opened the photo, double clicked on the background layer to turn it into a regular layer, then made a duplicate of that layer. I then made a new layer and filled it with white and dragged the white layer to the bottom of the layer pallet. So now my layer pallet has a white layer on the bottom, and two identical layers of the bride and groom. With the top layer selected I then drew a marquee using the rectangle selection tool about 50 pixels inside the artwork on all sides. I then hit the delete button. While the selection was still made I went to Edit - Stroke to add a black stroke around the marquee. I then selected the lower bride and groom layer and changed the opacity to 25%.
Remember to Save the layered photoshop file as a working file. You can go back to it and make modifications if desired. Then flatten the file, select File - Save As... and save it with a new name. I just replace the "_working" with "_Flat" or "_Final". Use the flattened file for your output.
Try experimenting with multiple layers and opacity, using different combinations until you find something that you like.
"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed but that our power to do is increased".