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Photoshop Vocabulary 101 for Digital Scrapbooking

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Before I can explain Photoshop Creative Cloud for digital scrapbooking, it helps to be familiar with all the terms and vocabulary we will be using in the tutorials we share here at

So this post will be about the words and terms we use when using Photoshop so it will help avoid confusion later down the road. You can always print this out for reference also!

The Three Things to Know That Will Help You Get Started Quickly:


Photoshop works in layers. The layer panel is located at the right bottom corner and looks something like this:

When you add objects in Photoshop (such as adding a photograph or paper or digital scrapbooking element) – each one will appear on a separate line (layer) and you can then do different things with the layers.

Understanding layers can be a little confusing at first, but once you get layers down you will be on your way to creating many, many wonderful digital scrapbooking layouts with many different layers of elements, papers, and photos!

Clipping Masks:

Clipping masks is another term you’ll here a lot when working with our digital scrapbooking tutorials here at Scrapvine. Basically a clipping mask is a group of layers where the top layers use the very bottom layer as a “mask” and it will take on the shape or properties of the bottom layer.

So for example, you might start with a flower shape as your bottom layer – you can then clip a photograph or paper to that flower shape and that photo/paper will take on the shape of the bottom layer of the flower.

Layer Styles:

Layer styles are a LOT of fun and can be used in both Photoshop Creative Cloud as well as Photoshop elements. In Photoshop Creative Cloud you can create your own layer styles and save and export them – in PSE you cannot do this but you can load layer styles and use them that way.

Layer styles are how you can add effects such as strokes (great for making a white border around photographs or text) – add beveling, drop shadows (which give a page depth), glow, and so much more!

Photoshop Tools Explained

Photoshop has a toolbar that looks like this in the upper left side of the software screen.

Each of these tools do different things and are a lot of fun to play with and can really help you take your photo editing and digital scrapbooking skills to a new level!

Selection Tools

The top two tools are selection tools. The square (shape selection tool) will let you draw a shape (such as a box or circle) around a part of your page or photograph and then when selecting the layer you can copy, cut, edit, paste, or even add effects or new layers from the selection.

The pointer selection tool is used to select a layer- and you will use that to click on and drag objects, photographs, and papers around on the screen. It is also used for rotating and resizing different layers. Some users may need to check the “auto select layers” box in the top left corner to make sure the pointer selection tool behaves the way they expect it to or adjust their settings.

Underneath the selection pointer tool is the “Magic Wand Tool” – you can use this to select parts of an image and what it does is select based on tone and color.

Other Tools to Experiment With:

Crop Tool: The box with a line through it is the crop tool. This does not crop layers, but the actual entire image canvas, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when using it.

Eyedropper Tool: The eyedropper tool is used for choosing a color from the photograph, papers, or elements in your layout – this selects the color and you can then use it to make your text or embellishments match that color or create your own color palettes using it.

Spot Healing/Red Eye Tool: Next we have the spot healing and red eye tool. You can use this to quickly and easily adjust blemishes, strange lens flares or fix red eye in your photographs.

Brush Tool: The brush tool is a lot of fun and can be used in so many different ways! Paint your own canvas, create “stamps”, or even do some fun photo editing with it! We have a few Photoshop brush sets here at Scrapvine – there are also many available online to download – you can even make your own!

Clone Stamp Tool: The Clone Stamp tool allows you to take a sample from the photograph and then “clone” from that sample. The clone tool is great for fixing spots or adjusting red eye or other things in your photograph.

Eraser Tool: The eraser tool allows you to quickly and easily erase portions or selections (using the Magic Eraser tool) of your photographs or embellishments on your page.

Gradient Tool: Quickly and easily allows you add a gradient to layers – very useful for some things!

Smudge/Blur/Sharpen Tools: This tool allows you to smudge sections, blur sections or sharpen sections of your photograph.

Dodge and Burn Tools: The dodge tool will allow you to lighten a portion of a photograph or page with a brush, while the burn tool does the opposite – it darkens a portion of the photograph or page.

Pen Tool: If you’ve ever wanted to extract a person or object from a photograph, the pen tool is a great way to get the precision you need!

Text Tool: The text tool allows you to add text to your page. Very useful for adding journaling, making your own word art, and more!

There are some other tools on the Photoshop toolbar panel, but these are the ones to at least know about in the very beginning!

As we write more digital scrapbooking tutorials here at Scrapvine we will definitely add more to this vocabulary list! However this for now should get you on the “fast track” to creating!


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Need Commercial Use Graphics? We have templates, graphics, digital papers and more over at that you can use to design your own scrapbook kits, journal kits, print-on-demand items and more!

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