What are the differences in overlays and paper?

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What are the differences in overlays and paper?

I just saw some kits offered in the freebie section and some of them have included papers and then some have included overlays. They both look the same being shown in their kits. What are the differences? Why couldn't either one be used for the same purpose?

Good question. I'd like to know this as well.

Overlays are quite often in png format so they can be layered over something else, the underneath layer will show through the empty spaces. For example an overlay of stars could just be a pattern of stars on a transparent background. A Paper would not have a transparent background and is more often in jpg. So the overlay could be used over any paper and you would still see the paper underneath in the transparent areas. If you put a paper over another paper, you could not see what was underneath unless you made changes to the top paper by making it more opaque (see through) or using the layer settings. In PSE and Photoshop the layer settings change the pixels in different ways so they blend with the paper underneath. Simply put - overlays are designed to go over another paper, a paper is designed to be "as is". If you wanted to use an overlay as a paper you would need to layer it over a solid paper (or you could print it onto any paper).

Angela, Thanks Your answer is very informative and explained very well.

Thanks I saw that a lot & wondered what it meant

I am glad the explanation was okay smiley

I am so glad I popped in here...I had no clue about the differences, and I am still new to all of this but Thank you so much Angela for your explanation.

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I just saw some kits offered in the freebie section and some of them have included papers and then some have included overlays. They both look the same being shown in their kits. What are the differences? Why couldn't either one be used for the same purpose?

Angela gave an excellent explanation of what the differences are, but I suspect your confusion comes from the way the products are displayed in the preview. Since the overlay is transparent, the designer most likely put it against a solid background so you could see the design. So now when you look at other kits that say they have overlays, you know why the look like papers... smiley

This confused me for a long time, too! In addition to PNG overlays like Angela articulately described, there are also a lot of JPG files out there that are referred to as overlays or "texture overlays." They are often in grayscale rather than color. Here is an example from this site, by Janet Scott: https://www.pixelscrapper.com/janet-scott/designs/newspaper-texture-001-template-overlay-school-education-vintage-antique-grunge

The JPG overlays are intended to be blended with another paper or a solid color using blending modes. The idea is to use them to add texture to whatever is underneath them (or you could be blending something into the overlay from above, same idea).

I found this post from designer Just Jaimee to be helpful and interesting. It's about why she prefers transparencies (the PNG files) to non-transparent overlays (the JPG files): http://justjaimee.com/tutorials/digital-designer-techniques-why-i-prefer-transparencies/ She shows examples of how the two work in different situations.

That's a useful tutorial Violet. There are so many ways to add texture and character to papers, that it's hard to keep track of all the ideas. I know I usually just stick with my usual way, but it's great to have other techniques in mind.

@Violet: AWESOME tutorial!!! TFS!!! smiley