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Digital Designer Techniques – Why I prefer Transparencies


You may have notice that I sell mainly transparent overlays. I use products that I sell and I use 95% of the time transparent overlays.

What is the difference between a transparent overlay and a regular overlay?

It’s pretty simple really – a transparent overlay is.. well.. transparent.Β  They are in PNG format and are very easy to re-color.Β An overlay is usually in JPG format and has NO transparency in the file. They often have light and dark areas that many designers use to give ‘texture’ to their papers. I personally don’t like to use that term. I like to think that texture is more of a dimensional concept like brick, canvas, wood, kraft paper. Overlays and transparencies give us sort of a depth alteration of the colors on the paper. BUT – that is an arguable topic and you certainly can create textured looks using overlays and transparencies. So, let’s keep in mind that this is my experience and my design flow technique that works best for me that you are free to learn from or use!

Why don’t I like JPG overlays?

Because I can’t control them as well as I can a transparency. You may have noticed sometimes when designing, using an overlay can spoil your colors or give you the effect you weren’t looking for. You also cannot color them and giving your papers a distressed look. Sometimes they work great and for many of us – we depend on them – but I personally use transparencies instead.

Show me what you mean!

Here is an jpg overlay (left) and a png transparency (pulled from the overlay) – looks almost the same!



Watch this!

Look how different the result is using the same blending mode! It could work for you either way depending on the result you are looking for. I only use blending modes to darken or give depth to my papers with transparencies – if I want a ‘shabby’ effect like the left side overlay – I use the recolor technique seen in the recolor example below this one.


Recolored you can obviously see that the overlay isn’t very helpful – I recolor the transparency and I get a shabby look – you can drop the opacity depending on how strong you want it.


I would say so far – we have far more options with transparencies! You can recolor them, you can control the lightness and darkness on your paper without messing around with the levels – Yeah!

Here are some more example of different kinds of transparencies

Original paper – no treatment


Example 1

using Transparent Overlay Sets here


Example 2

using Transparent Overlay Sets here


I think you are getting the picture:)

To summarize, transparencies give you much more control over the look you want to give your paper. I swear by them, and I use them religiously (and my own at that).

Try it out – download the free transparency below!




You can also purchase a brand new Mega Bundle collaboration between Mommyish and I below!


Purchase at The Lily Pad


  1. Thank you for this lovely grungy transparency. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am not a designer, but I love to add personal touches to my pages. The png or stacked png format is the way to go. I am so grateful for the multiple brushes that I have purchased and also received free from you. Hugs. πŸ™‚

  2. I really liked this tutorial & your explanations… It’s got me sold on transparent overlays, and now I wish all of them were transparent – as you’ve shown, you can do so much more with them!

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