Friday, June 06, 2008

How I save my memories digitally

Some readers have commented on my scrapblogging posts -- wondering what tools I use and how I create the layouts -- so I thought I'd share a quick introduction to digital scrapbooking.

I turned to digital scrapbooking (the dark side, if you ask my expert paper scrapbooker friend Roo) only last fall some time. Before then, I (very badly) did regular paper scrapbooking when I had the chance, which was almost never. By the time I found my supplies and set them out, found pictures I wanted to place on the page and came up with an idea for a creative layout, naptime was over. So I put all that stuff away for another time, which hardly seemed to come. When I found out about doing layouts with a program like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, I was amazed. I may be all thumbs with scissors and glue and stamps and lining things up properly in a paper scrapbook, but using a mouse click to crop a photo or undo something I messed up -- that I could do!

It started when Fly was born, as I started sending family and friends pictures of him at the end of each month using Tabblo. I would put all of that month's pictures into one of Tabblo's layouts, then send everyone a private link to the layout online. This was perfect for me at the time because I didn't have a lot of spare time, with a newborn.

Around Fly's first birthday, I found out about Smilebox. This service offers more creative layouts that you can send through e-mail, or -- if you pay a fee or buy a membership -- you can even print out the layout, add music, etc. You can use still photos or video, and use premade templates to send electronic greeting cards, slideshows and other fun stuff. Scrapblog is another great resource for creating digital layouts using videos and music, and offers more flexibility. Both are great for sharing with family and friends online.

Later, I found several online stores that sell digital downloads for scrapbooking. Now my digital life was really going somewhere because I wasn't limited to someone else's template! Some sites sell files that are for designing your layouts purely digitally, while others are what they call hybrid stores where you do the design on your computer and then print out what you've designed to make your layout or other paper craft project.

Some of my favorite digital scrapbooking stores are Scrap Girls, Scrap Artist, Scrapbookgraphics, Scrap Dish, Digital Design Essentials, Sunshine Studio Scraps and Little Dreamer Designs. There are many, many more! Digishoptalk has some really good resources to get you started and has had fun digital scrapbooking contests. In fact, most shops and designers have contests (usually called challenges) every week or every month, and winners get money to spend in their digital scrapbook store.

At these stores, you can buy entire kits, which are color coordinated and usually have a theme. Kits include background images (which is what you would use for the "paper" portion of your scrapbook layout) and embellishments to add to your page like a photo frame, ribbons, flowers, stickers, pockets, glitter splotches and other things you would use if you were doing a paper scrapbook layout. Sometimes kits include an "alpha," or files of letters and numbers that coordinate when you want to put a title on your layout. If you can think of a theme, a digital scrapbook designer has probably already designed it! You can also buy digital files separately if you don't want to buy a kit.

After I choose some digital files to work with, I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0. I open up a background paper file. I choose a digital photo downloaded from my camera. I like to put my picture in a frame, which is another file. Then I might rotate it a little bit in Photoshop and place it on my paper. Then I would add some embellishments, a title or some journaling. I save the file, then also a smaller version of the file in a .jpg format (the common format used for the Web). If you don't have an idea of how to position everything on a page, digital scrapbook stores also sell templates for you to plug in your paper, photos, and other items. It's fun -- and I spend a lot less time scrapbooking than the traditional paper method.

Many designers have blogs and give away freebies through their blogs -- a great way to get started in digital scrapbooking to see if you like it. Ikea Goddess posts an excellent list of freebies every day.

At the end of the year, I plan to put my best digital layouts into a hardcover book from Snapfish. Shutterfly and My Publisher also sell photo books made from your digital photos. In fact, all of these sites have built-in design templates if you want to just plug your photos in and skip the design part yourself. I've done that too.

This is just a basic introduction to digital scrapbooking, but maybe it will be helpful to someone. If anything, I hope it will inspire you to save and share your memories!

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Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks for the introduction. I love scrapbooking with "real"paper, but I just can't find the time anymore. I think I may have to convert...

10:22 PM  
Blogger Scribbit said...

I've seen people do great stuff with Shutterfly that has tempted me--I'd like to do that sometime.

2:16 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

I love digital scrapbooking. Not that I get to it very often, but I, like you, just hated paper scrapbooking. I loved the way it turned out in the end, so there was the rub.

When I got Elements, I found out about the digital scrapbooking and made a few for the baby. It was so fast!

Now, I'm just saving all my pix on disks until I can get to it. It's on the back burner, but I'll get to it eventually.

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm doing both right now. One day I'll probably go fully to digital but I still have so many things I want to do with my traditional supplies and albums. I'm sure once Baby K is a little older and we have another digital will become my main focus as I won't have time for the traditional.

Thanks for the new sources! I love Scrap Girls and can't wait to check out some of the other places you referenced!

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always admire the digital scrap booking but gosh I am so busy I cannot imagine another hobby.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Leighann of Multi-Minding Mom said...

Thanks so much for the primer!

I picked up a magazine on digital scrapbooking recently.

I love paper scrapbooking, but have absolutely no time.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Wow, quite a lot of ingo there! I have never gotten into scrapbooking although I have seen some wonderful stuff with it:)

9:29 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the background! I'm very new to this too and I find the best site for freebies daily is

Have a great day!


3:12 AM  

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