“Dividing” a Photo into 4 Pockets Digitally … a Photoshop Tutorial

Hello. A reader left a comment asking how I digitally “divided” my focal photo into 4 different pockets on my Project Life page. Maybe some of you new to working with project life templates and/or digital scrapbooking are wondering how to do this as well.

Note: this was previously posted on my Pretty in Posies blog.

how to digitally divide a focal photo

product credits:
Becky Higgins Digital Project Life | Floral Theme Pack
Becky Higgins Digital Project Life | Midnight Edition Paper Pack 2
Becky Higgins Digital Project Life | Template U
other little details:
Creashens | Hello Flairs, Fling (floral bouquet), Krafternoon Delight (bow)
The Ardent Sparrow | Brand New Boy & Girl Kits (buttons)

It’s super easy!

I am using Photoshop CC, but it’s basically the same method in Photoshop Elements.

So you start with a template. The template I am using is Digital Project Life Template U. (link above)

Project Life Template U

Here I have the template opened in Photoshop and I’ve added the photo I want “divided” into 4 pockets. I’ve sized it and placed it exactly where I want it. In the Layers Palette, the photo is placed above the pockets that it will be “divided” into.dividephotoTut1

Now, since I know I want this photo to appear in four pockets, I simply duplicate the file 3x (so I have four copies total). Command J (on a Mac) or Control J (on a PC) is the easiest way to duplicate the layers. You can also go up to EDIT and choose Duplicate (3x).

NOTE: It is important that the photo copies all stay exactly where they are on the page. Do not move or shift them. You’ll see why in a minute. dividephotoTut2So, above, you can see my Layers … and there are four copies of my photo. It doesn’t look like anything has happened because the photos are all sitting on top of each other.

Now (see below) … without moving the photos at all on the page … you are going to drag (IN THE LAYERS PALETTE) each photo copy above each pocket that the photo needs to appear in. So each photo layer sits on top of each pocket layer.


Here (below), you can see my 4 photo copies all nicely placed above the four pockets they will ultimately show in.


Now, move your cursor onto the space (IN THE LAYERS PALETTE) between the photo and the pocket. Click while holding down the ALT(on a MAC)/OPTION(on a PC) key. Your cursor will change into a bent arrow with a rectangle. The photo is now “clipped” to the pocket layer.dividephotoTut5

Once the photo is “clipped” to the pocket you will see your photo layer indented in your Layers Palette with a bent arrow.dividephotoTut6

Do this “ALT/OPTION click” to each of the other Photo copies. See my little black arrows below. I have 4 photos “clipped” to the pockets below them.

NOTE: Make sure the photo lies on top of the pocket it should appear in!

And that’s it! The photo is digitally “divided” into 4 pockets. Now go finish your awesome PL page!

Jenn McCabe | Floral Theme Pack



If you need to move the image around … say a face ended up in the space between the pockets (like the example above) …

in your Layers Palette, click all four photos at once. To do this, you click one photo and then Command click (on a MAC) or Control click (on a PC) to select the other three photos.dividephotoTut9Make sure your move tool is selected, and then you can just drag the image around on the page until it looks good. Having all 4 photo layers selected, means that all four of them move together as if they were ONE photo. This gives you that “divided” look.

You can also re-size the photos by click/dragging any of the corners. If in Photoshop, make sure to hold down SHIFT to constrain the photo dimensions. I believe Photoshop Elements does this automatically.dividephotoTut11

It’s a good idea to Lock your four photo layers together. This makes sure they all move together and that one does not accidently get shifted around. See below … just click the Link Layers Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette (while you have all your photo layers selected).dividephotoTut12

Once locked, each layer will have a little Chain Link Icon next to it. If you do not want them locked, simply click the Link Layers Button again to remove this feature.dividephotoTut13

That’s it. I hope you give this a try. It’s such a fun way to make one really great photo pop on your PL pages! Feel free to leave a comment linking me up to any page you create using this technique! I’d love to see your work! 🙂

xoxo- jenn