31 Things | Chores (13)

Holly asked a few weeks ago how I make digital templates for my 31 Things pages. (31 Things is a class by Ali Edwards that focuses on writing and perspective.) I thought I’d answer with a blog post, and a sort-of tutorial!

The truth is, when I repeat digital pages with the same design, I don’t really make a template. I make the first one in Photoshop, save a .psd version without flattening the layers, and then flatten the layers and save a copy as a .jpg. I then go on to use the .psd as a “template”. This is how I make the pages for 31 Things, my Week in the Life text pages, and headings for blog post series images like the ones we use in One Step at a Time.

I whipped up a new 31 Things page to show you the step-by-step of how I do this:

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

Firstly, I keep all of the info I might use in folders. My 31 Things folder has the free downloads that came with the class, which includes Ali’s handwritten titles for all of the prompts, my finished pages, my “template”, and photos I might use for the pages I’m working on. (I delete the photos when I’m done; they’re stored in my iPhoto. This is just a holding place for them until I stick ‘em on a page.)

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

I start by opening up my saved .psd “template”. Notice that it’s the same as my page for the first prompt.

31 Things | Jewelry
The template was created using really simple tools: the rectangle tool for the golden strip; the circle tool for the tan circle behind the number (I also added texture using texturizer. This texturizer tutorial is pretty cool.) There’s a white circle behind the tan one. The number text uses “Inner Shadow” so it looks like it’s recessed. Other than that, it’s photos, words, and class stuff from Ali.

Note: The big thing to remember here is layers. Skip right over this paragraph if you’re familiar with Photoshop, but if you’re not: layers are the #1 thing you need to learn. Here’s a good YouTube explanation. The order is the photos on the bottom, then the tan strip, then the white circle, then the tan circle, then the number, then the prompt titles on the top.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

Next, I start plugging in the new stuff for the page I’m going to make. It doesn’t really matter what order things go in. What matters is that I keep the layers in the right order. Here, I’m opening up the title file for this prompt (which comes with the class).

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

I drag and drop it right into the file. This creates a new layer in my “template” file. I make sure the layer is in the proper spot in the layer queue. I then use the free transform tool to resize the title.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

I place it over the “template” title to get it to the right size.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

Then I delete the layer for the old title. Poof! I also used the text tool to change the “1″ to a “13″.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

I adjust the prompt title to look good with the “13″.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

I also have to change out the smaller title, which was also included in the class materials. I open up Ali’s titles bars, which are made to be printable. I crop just the words I need (because otherwise I’ll words for all of the prompts over to my page), select the “words and titles” layer, and drag and drop the words into my “template”, just like I did with the main title. And just like the main propt title, I drag it over the old title in the template and then delete the old title.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

Next I start to add photos. You guessed it: drag, drop, and free transform.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

I love that the photos are “under” the golden strip, so I don’t have to worry about the photos being sized exactly the same.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

I drag and drop the next photo. This is what it looks like under the golden strip before I resize.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

Then I threw in the last photo, which I cropped before I inserted it, since I wanted it skinny and it’s going in the middle.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

I adjust the photos so they feel balanced; the two on the outsides overlap over the edge some. I delete the photos from the template.

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

I select the text from the template and paste the new words over. For long blocks of text, I usually write in Word and then copy / paste. That way my spelling mistakes are caught a little better (I’m so terrible with spelling. One of my greatest weaknesses. Really.)

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

Ta-da!

How to Cheat at Digital Templates | 31 Things

Then, and this is important, I save this AS A COPY and a .jpg (which flattens the layers). I don’t save the .psd. When it closes, and says “do you want to save this?” JUST SAY NO. Then the template stays in-tact.

31 Things | Chores (13)

Hope you find this peak into my process helpful! If you have any other questions about this class, this tutorial, or memory keeping in general, fire away in the comments section!


125x125 31 Things, taught by Ali Edwards, is now available as a downloadable PDF! I paid for and took this class when it first ran and, even though I’m taking my sweet time with it, I LOVE it. I needed the push to really start focusing on writing in memory keeping, and the prompts in this class coupled with Ali’s unique perspective pushed me to capture important parts of my life that would have otherwise gone unrecorded. This is also a class very much based around the self, so if you have trouble documenting yourself as opposed to your kids, then you will REALLY appreciate this. As Ali says, “Your Story Matters.” I also loved reading Ali’s writing. I would have bought it just for that, honestly. This isn’t a sponsored post, but we are Big Picture Classes affiliates. If you purchase BPC classes or workshops through these links, you’re supporting the Nerd Nest. Thanks!


Read the rest of my 31 Things posts: