Counting your blessings doesn’t have to simply be a writing exercise. As creatives we can colour our thankfulness and …

Craft your gratitude : click + splash some digital colour in your journal!

It’s easy to add some digital colour to your thankfulness and create a visual gratitude journal. Using photos, papers + brushes, three of the most versatile digital crafting supplies, you will never be short of inspiration to get creative.

#Tip: You can make masks with brushes and today we’ll be using a pre-made mask from brushes.

Incorporating photos into your gratitude journal helps you tell your stories and collect moments that matter, all at the same time. Which is great news for those of us who aren’t great writers.

I love this form of memory keeping as it doesn’t leave me feeling like I’ll never be “caught up”. It’s simply recording what captures my attention.

#Tip: A bonus to collecting these moments as you go is that you will have plenty inspiration + information ready to create photo albums, vision boards and other fun and memorable projects.

Creating a visual gratitude journal makes it easy to see how the different parts of your life connect. We all have a desire to feel connected with our lives, that each day means something more than our todo list.

By having your favourite planner binder be the hub of your day, where you can make plans, count your blessings + collect moments that matter is the perfect way to connect the dots + live a life you love.

So let’s get stated …

To follow along and create a visual gratitude journal you will need a few supplies :

If you haven’t received your free digital graphics, I will pause a moment while you sign up and download your free printable planner products …

Awesome, I’m so glad you’ve joined us.

The good news is when creating digitally there is no clean up + you can’t ruin anything. You can use your favourite suplies over and over. It’s just like the magic pudding that never runs out!

Let’s get creative with photos, papers + masks to …

Create a visual gratitude journal … digi style!

Step 1: Create your page

Measure the size of your planner page. I have listed the three sizes of my planner printables below.

#Tip : If you would like to know more about different planner sizes, see my article on The Beginners Guide to Planner Binders and Page Sizes.

1. Set up your page in Photoshop or Elements

  • Select File > New, to create a new document (Cmd N)
    • Popular planners binder sizes:
      • Personal – 172 x 95mm
      • Medium – A5 148 x 210mm
      • Large – A4 210 x 297mm + US Letter 8.5x11mm
  • Type in your document name and page size, click OK
  • Select File > Save, to save your document (Cmd S)

# TIP: Save your document often as you work.

I’m using a Websters Pages Color Crush personal binder for my visual gratitude journal and the page size is 95x172mm.

Step 2: Create your background

We will start with creating our background first with either photos or papers, or both. I’m using a photo that I took the week leading up to Easter. It was an amazing moment to see a cloud in the shape of a cross. Even though the photo quality isn’t the best (I zoomed in on my iPhone), I’m thankful that I was able to capture it. As you know clouds don’t hold still for us to get ready for the perfect photo shoot.

Using masks is a simple + easy way to blend photos and papers. For this page I have used the JES_paper_youandme_clouds.jpg and the JES_mask_youandme_Heart.png with my clouds photo.

Build the layers

  • First add your paper, then the mask and finally your photo to build up the layers in your document in that specific order. (There are simple instructions below on adding items to your page. If you don’t need these just scroll on past to where the magic happens.)

Simple Instructions | How to add items to your page :

  • Open your paper, photo or mask file, move it so you can see both the page you are working on and the paper (photo or mask) at the same time
  • Click on the paper layer and drag + drop it onto your page
  • Position it as necessary by clicking and dragging it into place with  your Pointer Tool (V) and if needed, resize by selecting Edit > Free Transform (Photoshop) or Image > Transform > Free Transform (Photoshop Elements), while holding the Shift key to keep proportions, click + drag the corner square to adjust the size
  • Select File > Save to save your document (Cmd S)
  • To close your paper (photo or mask) file, click on the paper file, choose File > Close (Cmd W)

Choose Windows > Layers to show the Layers panel and select the paper (photo or mask) layer. Rename the layer “paper”.


# TipYou may like to rename your layers so it is easier to know what layer you are working on. Simply double click the name of the layer, type a new name and press the Return key.

This is where the magic happens …

With one simple click we reveal the mask shape and blend the photo into the paper!

  • Hold down the “Option” key and click between the mask and photo layers. You will see your cursor change to the icon below.

Now you are ready to add the text and some elements of design to finish your page.

Step 3: Add some elements of design

You may prefer to do step 3 and 4 in reverse order or even work between the two until your page is complete. I knew I want to place a stamp in the space at the bottom of my page so I started with this first.

#Tip: My brush products come with the Photoshop and Elements .abr brush file and individual .png files of each design. The .png files save you from loading the brush files. This is especially useful if you are using a single design as I’ve done below.

  • Add the brush .png file to your page and colour it as desired. (There are simple instructions below to change the colour of an item on it’s own layer.)

I duplicated the brush layer to have the cross and the text on two different layers.

Simple Instructions | Change the colour of an item

  • Select the appropriate layer in the Layers panel you want to change, this would be your brush file in the example above
  • Choose Select > All (Cmd A)
  • Press your Up Arrow Key on your keyboard once + then press the Down Arrow Key once to select the tab rectangle on this layer
  • Choose your foreground colour and fill the selected area with your new colour

To finish of the stamp design I added some wood texture from the JES_paper_youandme_wooden.jpg paper file to the cross and used the FREE high shadow style below.

Add some depth to your designs using the these FREE shadow styles. Simply click on the image below:

#TIP: To install the shadow styles, simply click the arrows on the top right of your Styles Panel, choose Load Styles and select the .asl file as shown below.

Step 4: Tell your story

With your page design complete you are now ready to add your text. It doesn’t have to be more than a caption and a date as I’ve done here. The remainder of your story can be written in your journalling pages.

Simple Instructions | Add text to your page

  • Select the Text Tool (T).
  • Click on your page and drag down to the right with you Text Tool to draw a box on your page, a new layer will be added to your Layers panel
  • Select the font, size and any other text options desired in your Character panel
  • Type your text
  • If more text is added than fits into your box, resize the box by moving the arrow over the bottom right corner square until it becomes a double arrow, then click on and drag the square to enlarge the area
  • When you are finished typing, click the tick in the Options bar or press Command + Return (Mac), Control + Enter (PC) keys

# TipYou can change any other the text attributes after you have typed your text in the Character panel.

Finishing touches

Now you have finished your page, all that’s left is to print, trim + punch the holes and insert into your favourite planner binder.

#Tip : See my article for tips on printing your planner pages, double sided.

Creating a gratitude journal is an incredibly powerful way to connect to your life. You don’t have to just go through the motions, with your todo list as your focus.

Sure a todo list helps us do what matters. Who doesn’t love a good checklist to get things done, leaving time for the people and to do the things we love.

What better way to be energised than by taking a little time and use your creativity to create a visual gratitude journal. For those of us who aren’t great story tellers, we can breath a sigh of relief knowing that a picture tells a thousand words!

Remember, there is more to you than simply getting stuff done. 

Make a date with yourself in your calendar for some creative gratitude time. As we are told over and over in the Psalms, Selah : pause and think on that! What better way to take some time out and think about the goodness in our lives, than to get creative with our thankfulness.


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