Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to create your own theme templates using PSE and have them in your content panels?

You can create your own custom themes for the different creations like Greeting card, Photo book, CD/DVD jacket etc and have them placed in your content panel of Photoshop Elements Editor.

Here are the steps with which I created my own theme "Mothers Day" for Mother's day and had it placed in my content panel.

1. Create a blank file from File>New>Blank File. Select default size of the file.

2. Now paint it with the color you like. I painted pink and used gradient tool to give non monotonous effect of the background.

3. Save this as a jpeg on your hard drive. This step is workaround for PSE8 where there is no way of creating a smart object from a leyer as we had in PSE7. Once you have saved the jpeg, click on close widget of the file you were previously working with. It will ask you to save the untitled file. Say No. This will bring back the file you were working till step 2.

4. Now select the background layer from layers pallette and File>Place and select the jpeg saved at step 3. Click on the green checkmark shown shown over the image.

As soon as you do this, you would notice that there is a layer created as a smart object with a tiny icon on the layer thumbnail as shown below. And this layer is exactly as your background layer.

So by now, you would have understood why we saved the background as a separate jpeg in step3. The reason is, in PSE8, we can create smart objects using File>Place. In PSE 7, we do not need the step 3 as we can directly create the background layer as a smart object. This is a workaround in PSE8.

5. Now you can  create a duplicate of this smart object layer by pressing Control+J and delete the original background layer.

6. From Window meniu, select Content. This will result in Content pane appear in right hand panel.

7. Select "By Type" from Category and "Frames" in sub category.

8. Drag a frame from the frames shown in the content bin to the image. Once you do this, you will notice that the blending mode for the frame dropped is "Pass through".

9. Add text layer and put some text to your theme. I am creating a Mother's day greeting card template in this example. So I added the text as shown below.

10. Now select all the layers in the palette and right click>Duplicate. This will create duplicate of all layers. Right click again and Merge. name this layer as thumb.

11. Save this file as a psd. I saved it as "Mothers day.psd"

12. Create a template file with name "<filename>.metadata.xml". I created "Mothers day.metadata.xml"

13. Copy the following into your xml file :

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<PSEContent xmlns="">
<name value="$$$/content/themes/Mothers Day=Mothers Day" />
<type value="theme" />
<creation value="1x1" />
<creation value="2x3" />
<creation value="3x4" />
<creation value="cddvdlabel" />
<creation value="cdjacket" />
<creation value="dvdjacket" />
<creation value="photobook" />
<creation value="1x1photobook" />
<creation value="3x4photobook" />
<category value="$$$/content/category/Event=Event">
<subcategory value="$$$/content/category/Event/Celebration=Celebration" />
<category value="$$$/content/category/Color=Color">
<subcategory value="$$$/content/category/Color/Pink=Pink" />
<category value="$$$/content/category/Style=Style">
<subcategory value="$$$/content/category/Style/Cute=Cute" />
<category value="$$$/content/category/Object=Object" />
<category value="$$$/content/category/Mood=Mood">
<subcategory value="$$$/content/category/Mood/Fun=Fun" />
<keyword value="$$$/content/keyword/Toys=Toys" />

Replace the text in the tag with your filename : <name value="$$$/content/themes/<filename>=<filename>" />

Also note that you can edit the categories and sub categories as per your needs. For example my above theme will appear under category 'Event' and sub category 'Celebration'. Similarly in category 'Color' and sub category 'Pink'.

You can customize these as per your needs.

14. Now place your jpeg and your metadata xml file at location :

On XP : C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\8.0\Photo Creations\themes
On Win 7 : C:\ProgramData\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\8.0\Photo Creations\themes
Please make sure that your Editor is closed and you relaunch it to see the background created in your content pane.

If you still do not find it in the content pane in Background category, close Editor and rename the file : "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Photoshop Elements\8.0\Locale\en_US\MediaDatabase.db3" followed by application relaunch. The launch may take sometime as application creates thumbnails for your background at the location where you have created your jpeg.

After relaunch, here is where I see my Mothers day theme in Content Panel from Create Pane>Photo Book or Greeting Card :

I hope you find this tutorial useful!


  1. Impressive...

    Thanks for sharing great stuff...

  2. Thanks so much!!! I'll be trying this soon. I already make my own patterns, textures and brushes, so this is a bonus :).
    Stay inspired!
    Brain Angles - Invisible Ink

  3. Thank you for your tutorial.
    I tried all the above steps in PE 13 and I have 2 questions:
    1. Which jpg should I put in the creations folder? From looking at the contens of the folder I created a thumbnail from the psd file. That is what youm ment? We only created the background file.
    2. Where should I put the psd file?
    Thank you,

  4. Thanks for helping us. I will use your suggestions to make my own theme template
    clipping path service
    Raster To vector