How to Get Started with Digital Scrapbooking
You’ve always loved scrapbooking your treasured family memories. Putting together the pages and stories of vacations and major events never fails to bring you joy. Recently, you’ve thought your scrapbooking supplies have started taking up a little too much space. You’ve heard some things about digital scrapbooking, but you aren’t sure if it’s for you. What exactly is digital scrapbooking? How would you even get started with it?
Digital scrapbooking is crafting two-dimensional artwork by combining different elements. You can use digital pictures or scanned copies of older pictures. You do all this on your computer instead of at your kitchen table. You can also work on digital scrapbooking projects on your tablet or smartphone. When your project is completed, you can either have the finished pages printed or share them online.
In this article, we will provide a beginner’s introduction to digital scrapbooking. We’ll explain, in more detail, the concept of digital scrapbooking and its various applications. We’ve prepared a step by step guide to show you the process of getting started with digital scrapbooking. You’ll learn the benefits as well as what it means to create hybrid pages. If you’re thinking of joining in this growing community, then read on!
What Is Digital Scrapbooking?
Have you ever enhanced a picture on your phone with an app? What about decorating an image with frames, stickers, or text? In some ways, you’ve already been doing digital scrapbooking.
As we mentioned in the intro, digital scrapbooking is crafting two-dimensional artwork by combining different elements. It’s scrapbooking done on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. You use editing software to create scrapbook pages celebrating different moments in life.
This form of scrapbooking has some similarities with traditional scrapbooking. Both methods let you determine how your finished page looks. You can select different colors, backgrounds, and decorations themed to your pictures. Digital scrapbooking elements can be purchased in kits online. The files in these kits can be resized, recolored, and combined in different ways.
After finishing your scrapbook pages, you can send them to a professional printer. They can print up full size copies of each page for you. Some professionals even have the option to have bound books printed. If you’re looking to create smaller scrapbook pages, those can be printed right at home. You can also share your pages on social media. Family and friends will love the creativity you can display through digital scrapbooking.
These digital methods can be used for other memory-keeping projects as well. You can also apply your learned techniques to greeting cards, invitations, posters, and much more. Scrapbooking is a fun, relaxing hobby, and going digital opens up new creative avenues to preserve treasured memories.
Five Steps to Getting Started with Digital Scrapbooking
Digital scrapbooking might immediately make you think “I can’t do that. Photoshop is way too hard for me.” That’s understandable. Photoshop’s learning curve can be too steep for some people. The thought of using it might even terrify you. What if we told you that you don’t have to use Photoshop for digital scrapbooking? Or that you don’t even necessarily need a computer?
Digital scrapbooking is amazing because it can be done on a variety of devices. You can scrapbook from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Once you’ve decided what you want to use, you have to choose the software you want as well. You can dive in with Photoshop if you’re comfortable or purchase programs made for scrapbooking projects.
After you buy your software, there’s still a big component missing. You’ll need graphics files. Many websites offer free files for download. There are also paid sites selling themed graphics packages. After you’ve chosen your graphics, it’s finally time to start scrapbooking. You could really take to this hobby once you get comfortable.
Let’s take a look now at five steps to getting started with digital scrapbooking.
Step One: Decide Which Device You Want to Scrapbook With
Digital scrapbooking is something you can do using any laptop or desktop computer. You can even work on scrapbook projects on tablets or smartphones. Some people are more comfortable working on a computer for a few reasons. The screens are typically larger, and the mouse gives them more control than their finger or a stylus. Larger computers can also be more powerful. This makes it easier and faster to work on more intricate designs.
An ever-growing number of scrapbooking enthusiasts enjoy crafting pages on tablets or smartphones. These devices offer a convenience that larger computers can’t. Scrappers can take their devices on the go and work whenever inspiration strikes. The majority of digital pictures today are both taken and stored on mobile devices. This makes for easy access when working on a scrapbooking project on a tablet or smartphone.
Consider your personal preferences when deciding on a device you’ll scrapbook with. If you’re someone who’s always on the go, using a desktop computer probably isn’t for you. Working on a smartphone isn’t a good idea if you prefer to get a closer look at what you’re working on. Scrapbooking is meant to be an enjoyable hobby. Work in a way that will allow you to relax and have fun.
Step Two: Hardware and Software Options
If you decide you’re most comfortable scrapbooking on a computer, there is one big thing to keep in mind. Some software programs can use up a lot of random accessory memory or RAM, and working files can be large. Make sure your computer has enough memory to handle the workload. Most modern computers don’t have an issue with RAM or hard drive space. If you have an older computer running tight on space, though, you may need to think about upgrading.
So, now you’ve settled on a device you’ll be scrapbooking with and made sure it can handle the work. The next step is choosing the software you’ll use to create your projects. You’ll need to get a digital graphics software program. This will allow you to edit your pictures and manipulate different graphic elements. There are a variety of software options available today. Here are some to check out:
- Adobe Photoshop Elements: This is an amazing program for anyone just starting out. Elements lets you edit pictures and scrap away as much as you want. It has an abundance of online support and tutorials available.
- Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud: Think of Photoshop Creative Cloud as being the big brother of Elements. This is professional grade editing software. The price tag can be steep, but it offers quite a lot of value for your money.
- Forever Artisan: This is a scrapbooking program great for beginners and experts alike. Forever Artisan offers editing tools, filters, overlays, stamps, and so much more.
- GIMP: If you’re new to digital scrapbooking, you may not be keen on the idea of spending a lot of money on software. GIMP is a free-to-use opensource editing program.
- My Memories Suite: This scrapbooking program offers tons of page templates to give your creativity a jumpstart. My Memories Suite also features the ability to upload your finished designs online.
- Project Life: Are you more interested in mobile scrapbooking? Project Life is an app specifically designed to work on tablets or smartphones.
Step Three: Organize Your Graphics Files and Design Elements
Some of the most important scrapbooking tools to have are different decorative elements. Scrapbooking is artwork, with care and personal touch going into every page. There are several types of decorative elements available for every occasion. Let’s take a look at the ones you can use in your scrapbooking projects.
- Alphabets: Also known as Alphas, these are individual .png letter files. Alphas aren’t fonts and don’t get installed onto your computer. These files have a transparent background so you can layer them on your project to create titles.
- Doodles: Elements drawn by hand which have transparent backgrounds. Think of them as the digital equivalent of stickers. You can either download doodles or create your own using your editing software.
- Journal Cards: One of the great things about digital scrapbooking is typing out your journal cards. These can be printed off and inserted into a pocket page protector. You can even layer it with your editing software to create one seamless image.
- Paper: We aren’t talking about actual sheets of paper in this case. These are 12-inch square pattern templates you can use as your page’s background. Paper files are usually found in .jpeg or .png format.
- Stamps: A digital stamp is a line drawing file of an object or pattern. You can use stamps to craft coloring pages or patterns on a plain background.
- Templates: Full-page templates let you put together a completed page quickly. Different blank layers are already in place in the template. All you have to do is clip your choice of pictures and effects into the layers to create your page.
- 3D Elements: You can include embellishments like bows, flowers, or ribbons on a paper scrapped page for a 3D effect. In a digital setting, you can add these elements to layers with pre-cut files and a drop shadow effect.
If you’re looking for element packs to get started, FreePik has a library of over 8,000 files available to choose from. If you don’t mind spending some money for your elements, check out The Lilypad. There you can sort by holiday, season, or theme across a variety of designs.
Step Four: Start Scrapbooking!
You’ve chosen the device you want to scrapbook with. You’ve picked out your editing software and stocked up on decorative elements. The only thing left to do now is start scrapping! Let’s say you’re going to scrap a vacation you recently took to the beach. You could start with a base template of a sand or water pattern. Layer a picture or two over top of your background. Try experimenting with putting frames around the pictures.
Once you have your pictures placed and framed, you can add themed elements to the page. Seashell stamps or palm trees might look nice. Make sure to leave space for your journal card somewhere. After all, you still need to explain the memory behind the pictures. Finally, create your title using Alpha files or the text tool in your software. Add a drop shadow or two for a nice 3D effect, and you scrapbook page is done!
Now let’s take a look at a more complex example. You’ve decided to scrap your child’s most recent birthday party. Instead of a template, you select a blank canvas and insert an abstract digital stamp over top of it. Use your editing software to color in the pattern with your child’s favorite colors. Resize a few of the best pictures from the party and arrange them on the page. Make some of the pictures larger and some smaller.
After you’ve arranged the pictures, it’s time to get creative with your design elements. Instead of using a preset frame, try creating one of your own. Use a birthday gift stamp to create a great frame around the pictures. You can then resize some balloon images to have on either side of the page. Maybe your journal card could take the form of a larger birthday gift. Finish off your page with different sized Alphas to spell out “party” or “Happy birthday”.
Step Five: Store and Print Your Finished Scrapbook Pages
We mentioned before how digital scrapbook working files can run large. Make sure you’re protected from losing any of your progress or finished work by backing up your files. You can do this with either an external hard drive or a cloud-hosting service. Both methods have their benefits..
External hard drives act as a back-up drive to your computer. This helps protect you in case of a crash as well as keep your computer from becoming overly cluttered. These drives come in a variety of sizes. Choose the size of your drive based on how many pictures and supplies you’re looking to store. You can transfer what you need, unplug the drive, and store it away somewhere. You could even bring your scrapping supplies to a friend’s house to use.
Cloud-hosting services are another good option for storing your files. External hard drives have their advantages, but they run the risk of crashing, just like a computer. If you’re concerned about losing files this way, cloud hosting may be for you. This service allows you to store your files online and access them from anywhere at any time. You can check out Carbonite or similar services if you’re looking to go this route.
Printing digital scrapbook pages isn’t something you can easily do at home. These pages measure 12 inches square in most cases. That’s too wide for the printer you have at your desk. Save your completed pages as .jpeg files and order prints through an online service. Persnickety Prints is one of many services you can use to have full-sized scrapbook pages printed. You can get your pages printed one at a time or all at once. It’s up to you.
The Benefits of Digital Scrapbooking
Digital scrapbooking comes with many benefits. These range from making it easier to stay organized to supply shopping from home. Going digital can even help you take more risks and be more creative. If you’re still not quite convinced, let’s take a look at some of the benefits in more detail.
Digital Scrapbooking Keeps Things Clean and Organized
When you work on a traditional scrapbook page, there’s a lot of cleanup involved. Paper scraps end up on the floor. There’s a drop of dried glue on the table that won’t break loose. You’ve still got glitter up your forearms three days later. You can eliminate all this cleanup with digital scrapbooking. Everything is contained in one place on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Cleaning up consists of hitting the delete button and closing out your software.
Easy Storage for Your Finished Scrapbook Pages
Traditional scrapbook pages can become thick depending on different factors. There may be multiple layers of paper on the page. You might have elected to use some bulky 3D elements. As great as your pages look, you can’t fit many into a book because of their thickness. Digital scrapbook pages lay flat. You could potentially have hundreds of pages bound into a neat looking coffee table book.
Fixing Mistakes Is Simple and Stress-Free
Making a mistake when working on a traditional scrapbook page could spell disaster. Gluing a picture or element in the wrong place costs you an entire page if it’s not caught soon enough. Before you know it, you’re on your way back to the hobby shop to replace the ruined supplies. With digital scrapbooking, mistakes can be fixed with a simple “undo” action. You can take design risks in digital scrapbooking you wouldn’t dream of otherwise.
Digital Design Elements Make for Instant Shopping
Issues with your supplies aren’t just limited to making mistakes when scrapping. Running out of design elements can slow down your progress. You then have to stop what you’re doing, get in the car, and head to the store to pick up what you need. If the store is out of stock, your progress could be completely stalled. Digital scrapbooking allows for instant shopping online. Place your order and download your new design elements immediately.
Your Design Elements Become Reusable
Another benefit of digital scrapbooking is reusable supplies. Not only can you buy design elements online instantly, but they can be used as many times as you wish. You’ll never find yourself running out of letters, ribbon, or paper ever again. It’s possible you may end up paying a little more for design packs when you buy them, but that’s a fair trade-off considering they come with an unlimited amount of uses.
Free Up Space in Your Home
Scrapbooking supplies can take up a lot of room around the house. Reams of paper, design elements, and your scrapbook bindings themselves can quickly end up hogging an entire bookcase. Digital scrapbooking takes up as much space in your home as your computer or mobile device. It allows you to open up that space to other things you may need the room for more urgently.
Digital Scrapbooking Offers Unlimited Customization
Moving to digital provides endless customization options. You’re not constrained by the size you can have your pictures printed by a local store or online service. They can be reduced or enlarged depending on your needs. Many of the other elements you’ll have will be customizable as well. For instance, you can adjust colors, sizes, shapes, and more. The sky is the limit, so push yourself to create something amazing.
The Beauty of Hybrid Scrapbooking
For all its benefits, digital scrapbooking does come with a few disadvantages. The first is the learning curve of the editing software involved. Learning Photoshop can feel like a daunting task if you’ve never used it before. Another disadvantage is the lack of a physical projects. You aren’t creating something in your hands when you scrapbook on the computer. Sure, it’s in front of you on screen, but any creative person will tell you it’s just not the same.
This is where the concept of hybrid scrapbooking comes into play. Hybrid scrapbooking is the practice of combining digital scrapbooking products with traditional methods. Bringing the digital and paper craft aspects together can create amazing things. This is great if you’re someone who appreciates more of a hands-on approach to crafting.
Imagine starting a scrapbook page digitally. You lay out your background, place your pictures, and maybe even add in your journal card. Then you have it printed and decorate with traditional scrapbooking embellishments. This creates what scrapbooking enthusiasts refer to as a hybrid page. Hybrid scrapbooking is a perfect way to combine two different styles. It can also help you to explore digital scrapbooking if you’re unsure about it.
Digital scrapbooking is a tech-based twist on a traditional paper craft hobby. It can be enjoyed by both first-time scrappers and long-time enthusiasts alike. Once you settle on your preferred device, software, and supplies, the possibilities are endless. Don’t forget the most important thing – have fun!