AE Weekly Feature : Hybrid/Digital Scrapbooking

Welcome to a new AE Weekly Feature: Hybrid/Digital Scrapbooking.

My goal for this week is part education, part inspiration. One of the things I don't want to do is spend time re-inventing the wheel so I will be directing you to some of my favorite hybrid/digital educators who have already laid out the how-to basics.

As Jessica Sprague says on her Sprague Lab Blog, hybrid scrapbooking is:

Paper and pixels. Type and titles, edited photos and embellishment, printed and placed on a page. Any use of your computer as a scrapbook tool on a paper layout is considered “Hybrid” these days. And many scrapbookers don’t realize that using your computer as a scrapbook tool isn’t an “all-or-nothing” proposition. You don’t have to create all-digital layouts just because you pick up your mouse.

To me, digital elements are simply another tool in my toolbox for telling my stories.

I will be focusing more this week on ways to incorporate digital elements into your current scrapbooking process and less on creating full digital layouts.

Most likely you already have on hand what you need for hybrid scrapbooking: a computer, Photoshop Elements (or Photoshop), and a printer. I use a HP Photosmart D3760 for printing digital elements and my photos here at home.

Here's my disclaimer when working with Photoshop: Photoshop is a huge, powerful program. I have always been one of those people that learned as I went along. I took one class back in 2001 when I was in school for graphic design. I learned the very basics in that class. These days I tend to rely on google a ton. The search box is one of my best friends and most relied upon tools in figuring out how something is done. I am by no means an expert in Photoshop. I know what I know through research, trial + error, and lots and lots of messing around.

One of my biggest tips is to save and save often. Make it become a part of what you do when you open the program. It has become second nature to me now but every once in awhile if I am distracted I will forget and I pay the price for not saving.

One of the things I hope you take away this week is the knowledge that you can do this if you want to. It will take a bit of playing around which is always a part of the creative process for me.

Let's take a look at one of my favorite digital elements: title + journal overlays.


AE Title + Journal Overlay


One of the digital elements I wanted to create for myself were these Title + Journaling Overlays. They provide a great foundation for either a 12x12 or an 8.5x11 layout. Print out an overlay onto the cardstock (or patterned paper of your choice) and then add your "real-life" elements right on top.


The page on the left is what that sheet of cardstock looked like after I printed the title + journal overlay. The second image is the completed page (photo, accents, words added with pen, adhesive & staples) which you can see in more detail below:


[ Hybrid Supplies: Title And Journaling Overlay No. 1; Ali Edwards for Designer Digitals; Cardstock: Bazzill Cardstock; Patterned Paper: Get Happy Collection from Cosmo Cricket; Circle Accent: Maya Road Calendar Set Sheers; Pen: American Crafts Precision Pen; Ink: ColorBox; Date Stamp: Office Max; Corner Rounder:  ]

These overlays come in a file format called .PNG. The process for working with a .PNG file is super easy. After downloading from Designer Digitals, open the file in Photoshop. You will see that it appears on a transparent background that looks like a bunch of little checkerboards.

The canvas size is already set to 8.5x11 or 12x12 depending on which overlay you are working with. Grab your paper, load it into your printer, hit print and select "scale to fit media" (this will make it a bit smaller so that nothing gets cut off while printing) and you should be good to go.


.PNG files can be re-colored following Jessica's helpful tutorial here. It's as easy as selecting Edit/Fill, then choose your color and hit "preserve transparency."

You don't have to use an over-sized printer to work with the 12x12 overlays. Re-size to 8x8 (under Image/Image Size) and print out in multiple quantities to create an entire mini book.



Another way to work with these overlays is to use them on top of an enlarged photo.

I love creating layouts where one whole page of the two-page spread is an enlarged photograph. Here's an example of that concept from Life Artist (traditional, non-hybrid layout):


And here's that same layout with an overlay and text added to the enlarged photo:


Overlays can be added to a photo and then printed at home or at your favorite developer. I can envision some of the framed enlarged photos I have hanging around here printed with a simple overlay that tells a bit more of the story.

To add an overlay to a photo in Photoshop open both the photo you are wanting to use and the .PNG overlay file. Using the move tool (that's the black arrow), simply select, drag and drop the overlay on top of the photo. I usually resize my photo first (for example, to 12x12 at 300dpi) and then click, drag, and drop the overlay onto the photo.


One more fun thing to do is to print the overlays onto a transparency. The one below was printed onto 3M Inkjet Transparency Film. This could be laid over top of cardstock, patterned paper, or be used to create a transparent layout (photos + elements added to the top). I would recommend adding your jounraling in Photoshop first and taking advantage of the lined journaling area before printing.



I highly recommend checking out Jessica Sprague's Photoshop Friday tutorial index (free tutorials listed by topic - a great reference) as well as her online classes at She has a great $3.00 video class called Just For Beginners: Create Your First Digital Layout.


For more information on hybrid and digital check out Getting Started With Digital Scrapbooking.

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