Misted and Masked Backgrounds

Hi there! I’m Kacy, and I’m excited to share a post with you today.

I am an engineer by trade, and therefore my scrapbook pages are normally simple, contain lots of white space, and squares, squares, squares!  I love using paint on my digital layouts… if the designer makes it and color-coordinates it for me.  Lately, I have been seeing misted backgrounds on scrapbook pages all over, and I really like the look (I have pinned some examples here), but I have never tried to do this digitally, or make my own custom painted/misted backgrounds.  It was fun to step out of my scrapbooking comfort zone a bit for this layout.  🙂

Here is a what a fairly typical layout for me looks like:

Woodgrain background?  Check.  Journaling in handwriting font?  Check.  Multiple background papers under the photo (either square or rectangle). Check! Black and white photo off-center?  Check. Smattering of elements and picture of my crazy ginger cat? Check and CHECK!

I am going to add a misted and masked layer over the background paper to add some visual interest to this layout with Gennifer’s Toolbox Mists, Version 1 and a set of Photoshop shapes I downloaded from the internet (please be careful where you download from!).

First, I am going to convert the digital mist into a brush so that I can brush with any color I want.  In Photoshop, go to File > Open, navigate to the brush you want to use, and click open.  I am using brush number 2 on my layout.


While on the mist document, select all (using Ctrl-A or Select > All from the menu bar).  Then go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and click ok on the dialogue box that pops up to add the mist to your brush palette.


Then, choose your brush tool and find the brush you just defined.  I am going to keep the original size of 3432 pixels.


To make the misting a little more realistic-looking, we are going to have Photoshop vary the how the brush is applied when we “spray”.  Open the brush palette (on the right hand side).  Click on “Shape Dynamics”.  I want the brush to slightly change size between sprays, so I set my size jitter to 20%.  I also want the brush to rotate to any different angle to make it look more realistic, so I set the angle jitter to 100%.  I turned off the smoothing feature, and turned on the “Build Up” feature to mimic layers of paint from an air brush.


Make a new layer for your mist (don’t forget and spray on your background paper!), and select the brush color you want to use – I am using a light green from one of the background papers behind my photo.  “Spray” on this layer until you have the coverage that you want.  I thought mine was a little dark, so I also adjusted the fill of the mist layer down to 85%.  Here is what my misted layer over the background looks like:


Now we are going to use the custom shape tool to cut out a stencil/mask shape from the mist – this will mimic the look of misting over a stencil.  On the left toolbar, right-click on the shape tool and select custom shape.

On the brush toolbar at the top of the window, on the right side is a drop-down box – click on the dropdown box arrow and select the shape for the stencil you want to use.  I love these sunburst shapes I downloaded from a free Photoshop site.


Using your mouse, click and drag across your layout until your shape is sized and laid out how you’d like (Photoshop automatically creates a new layer).  I wanted the center of the sunburst to end up underneath my photos, so I set the shape off to the right side.  This is what mine looks like:


Now we want to select only the new shape.  While your shape layer is selected in the layer toolbar, hold your mouse in the layer thumbnail box, hold down the control key, and click inside the thumbnail box.  This will select everything contained on the selected layer only.  I wanted the shape I drew to be the shape of the mist that remains over the background paper, so I inverted the selection (Ctrl-Shift-I, or Select > Inverse from the top toolbar).

I’m going to feather the selection by 5 pixels to take some of the sharpness off of the edges of the sunburst shape – to this by going to Select > Modify > Feather, type in 5, and click “OK”.


With the shape outline still selected (moving dashed line), select your misting layer in the layers toolbar.  Now hit your delete key – this deletes mist where your digital “stencil” would have been (you may need to turn the visibility of your stencil shape layer off to see the results).  This is what my background with a mist now looks like:


Turning on all my elements, journaling and decorative background papers, and my layout now looks like this:

I like this much better – a simple addition to the background jazzes up my layout and helps to focus the eye on my photo.  I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!

Supplies Used:

3 thoughts on “Misted and Masked Backgrounds

  1. ashleycalderandthethingsthatshine says:

    I know nothing about digital scrapping, so this was very cool to see! Thank you! And, that is one handsome kitty 🙂

  2. Angie says:

    Kacy, I love simple layout with lots of white space too. AND squares! What I find is that I offset my pages always to the right. So when I go to print them in a book, my book looks all lopsided! 🙂 So funny that you shared that.

  3. […] I have a post up over at Gennifer Bursett’s site today about adding a misted layer over a background.  Go check it out! […]

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