Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

January 18, 2010

Scrapbooking With Your Computer : Day One

This week I want to take some time to talk about using your computer as a tool to create scrapbook pages. My goal over the next five days is to give you a closer look at my personal process and the ways in which I use my computer to tell our stories.

This will not be an exhaustive, in-depth look at all the aspects of digital scrapbooking. I do hope to inspire you to try something new whether that’s using a digital embellishment as a hybrid element for a paper layout or creating your first fully-digital layout.

To begin I want to define a couple of terms I will be using this week (these are my own definitions and may be slightly different for others):

TRADITIONAL SCRAPBOOKING : This is a paper layout without any use of a computer.
HYBRID SCRAPBOOKING : This is a layout that incorporates elements printed from your computer: journaling, embellishments, etc. A hybrid layout can start as a traditional page or it can start on your computer, be printed out, and then have traditional embellishments added on top.
DIGITAL SCRAPBOOKING : This is a layout that is made solely on your computer and printed either by a photo developer or with your home printer.

I create all three of the layout styles listed above. I choose one over the other by what fits my story, my time, and my mood. In general, if I have a lot of journaling I will most likely create a hybrid layout. I have found that I tell longer stories when I use the computer vs. handwriting my journaling.

Here’s the schedule for this week:

MONDAY : Intro & Program Basics
TUESDAY : Downloading & Organizing Products
WEDNESDAY : Opening, Recoloring, Adding A .PNG To A Photo, Loading Brushes and Digital Product Definitions And Suggestions
THURSDAY : Video Tutorial : Creating Layouts With Digital Layered Templates

Since I am all about not re-inventing the wheel (and recognizing when others have done good work) I will be linking you to other sites throughout the week that will give you additional quality information about using your computer as a scrapbooking tool. Some of these links will include a more in-depth look at certain topics or address other aspects that I won’t be focusing on this week.

NOTE: Before we get started I do want to direct you to a weekly feature I did back in July 2008 on hybrid/digital scrapbooking using some of my most popular products from Designer Digitals. You may want to check that out for additional information.

First things first, you need a computer. Most likely if you are reading this you are on the right track.

The next thing you need is a program that is able to read the common digital scrapbooking file formats. The most common file formats used in digital scrapbooking are .png, .abr, .jpg, and .psd.

DID YOU KNOW : If you just want to be able to open and print digital elements (such as journal blocks and overlays) and use them on your traditional paper projects you can do this in Microsoft Word. Most digital elements are .png files with the major exception being the layered templates (Word can not open .psd files). These files, .png, can be opened and recolored in Word by going to Insert/Picture/From File and locating the digital file on your computer. I will show an example of this later in the week.

If you want to be able to open .png, .abr, .jpg and .psd files you are going to want to check out Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Photoshop CS4. It is within one of these photo-editing programs that you will build and work with digital elements, import/adjust your photos, type your journaling, and create fully digital layouts.

I use and recommend either Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Photoshop CS4. Adobe Photoshop Elements costs less than $100. The full Photoshop CS program costs $699. You can download free versions of Elements and Photoshop by clicking on the links. A trial version is a great way to test out both programs as you go through the process of deciding.

PHOTOSHOP CS is considered a “professional” program. Adobe’s website states it is ideal for professional photographers, serious amateur photographers, graphic designers, and web designers. I have been working with this full version of Photoshop for quite a few years now and have barely scratched the surface of what it can do. I use it to create the digital products I sell at Designer Digitals.

Some of the most common digital scrapbooking features that you will only find in the full-version of PS are typing text on a path, using layer masks, recording custom actions, and curves adjustment layers. I also miss the character palette when working in Elements – I like to have more control over my text.

PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS is also a powerful photo-editing program capable of performing many of the same functions as the full CS program. In most situations, Elements is going to do everything you need it to do for digital scrapbooking (and the price is so much more reasonable). I use Elements for my video tutorials because it seems to be the most popular program amongst scrapbookers who use their computer.

Here’s a photographer who did a side by side comparison of Elements 7 and Photoshop CS3.

The Daily Digi has a nice list of other program options and links to other programs if you are interested in learning about programs other than Photoshop CS.

Learning the basics of either program is definitely a process. There are online classes available at and to walk you through the basics and get you started towards gaining confidence and skills. Jessica has a great beginner’s guide (including links to a free getting started class) located here. Regardless of which program you choose Designer Digitals has great support forums available specifically for questions related to Elements and Photoshop CS.

That’s a pretty simple beginning right? A computer and a photo-editing program. Most likely you already have the other most important elements on your computer (photos) and in your heart (stories).

TUESDAY : Downloading & Organizing Products

Tomorrow we will take a look at how you go about getting digital elements onto your computer and address the always popular question of organization.


  • 1.
    Asta said…

    Thank you very much for these lessons :)

  • 2.
    janie said…

    Thanks so much for this…I took a computer class this past summer and just learned about Word, Excel & Powerpoint. I will be taking another class to just figure out picture saving.
    My question to you Ali…
    I have all of my photos on my computer…not sure how they got to the spot they are in. I just plugged in my camera cord and they downloaded. I have some in Picasa, Shutterfly, and some in the “Pictures” area of my computer. I was wondering if there is a way to “GATHER” these all together in one spot and then have them sorted my the date they were taken? I seriously don’t know what I am doing and this really holds me up in my attempt to start to digi-scrapbook.

  • 3.
    Mart said…

    Thank you Ali, I’m still a newbie and any review is always helpful ;)

  • 4.
    linda said…

    Ooo, I am a big fan of digital…really looking forward to this week of posts! Thank you for sharing your knowledge…now to go through all the lovely resource links you posted already. ciao ciao!

  • 5.
    Susan said…

    I have PS Elements and I still find it frustrating to use. I’m looking forward to your posts this week!

  • 6.
    Amy L said…

    I think this will be a wonderful series! You are so inspirational, Ali!

  • 7.

    What an exciting Tutorial Series! Can’t wait to stumble along with your instruction!

  • 8.
    Barbi said…

    Thanks so much for doing this. I will be following along intently! : )

  • 9.
    Holly S said…

    So excited for this week here on your blog! Love the overview today! Thank you for highlighting digi scrapbooking and sharing your favorites with us!

  • 10.
    Jessi said…

    Oh, thanks for this! I have wanted to try doing hybrid layouts and maybe all digital in the future, but I just didn’t know where to start and what to learn first! Love, Jess

  • 11.
    stacy said…

    Thanks so much for this highlight on digi scrapbooking. As of now, I’m totally a traditional scrapper and I love that and will remain doing traditional, that said, I’ve wanted to be able to do hybrid, just have NO IDEA how or where to begine! thanks so much for teaching us the basics!

  • 12.
    Sarah Karlsen said…

    Can you tell us how to unzip a file and make it usable?

  • 13.
    Doris said…

    Ali, I love your work at Designer Digitals. Cassie Jones at Designer digitals has the very best and easy to follow tutorials. I’ve taken some of the above classes and they’ve been great but Cassie’s are wonderful. They also include digi supplies!
    Here is a link.
    Thanks for a great series.

  • 14.

    Hi Janie I read your post on my way to posting my own comment:) It depends on the computer software you have for Images. There are some good tutorials through microsoft or mac. If you have windows photo gallery. It should allow you to look at them via date. I photo has that option too. Just play around with the software. That is how I have learned so much:) A Great book is Photo Freedom By Stacy Julian. And I think she is offering a class over at Big Picture Scrapbooking soon. I hope you try digital:) you will love it:)

  • 15.

    Ali- Love it !!!!!!!

  • 16.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Check back tomorrow :)

  • 17.
    elizabeth said…

    Thanks Ali for this – just what I need I so appreciate what you do for your readers

  • 18.
    jennifer evans said…

    This is awesome! Thanks Ali!

  • 19.
    Tanya said…

    Ali, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you doing this all for us.
    I am so excited about this week and learning how to do all this step by step.

  • 20.
    Linda McCoy said…

    I have not wanted to even try anything digital, but I will be very interested in this tutorial. I don’t want the world to pass be by just because I scared. Thanks for inspiration!!

  • 21.
    renee pearson said…

    Thanks, Ali, for helping to spread the gospel of digital!

  • 22.
    Cate said…

    Thanks for the tutorials Ali!
    In case anyone can’t afford to buy Adobe Elements or Photoshop, there is a freeshare program called Gimp. It has a manual online or books you can buy to learn how to use it. I used to use it before I got Photoshop.

  • 23.
    caro said…

    This is SOOOOO what I wanted to look into – especially the details on PS CS vs PSE. Tx Ali.

  • 24.
    Leora said…

    HI Ali! Just wanted to add my thanks for doing this. Really! You are the best!

  • 25.
    Tina Lee said…

    Thanks for doing this. I am a “traditional” scrapbooker only, somewhat computer illiterate, and this might give me courage to try something new.

  • 26.
    Jessica B. said…

    Thank you for doing this!!! I am traditional scrapbooker but looking to go hybrid. I do not yet own Elements. I am hoping that you might be able to offer some instruction on how to resize a digital image for those of us who are using Word right now.

  • 27.
    mary said…

    this will be an interesting week and, boy, do I need some info on organization! I spend so much time searching for a digital element/paper that I know I have but not sure which kit it’s in.
    and, ali, thanks for doing this mini series on your blog.

  • 28.
    sansku :) said…

    thank you for doing these postings! i have been wanting to learn how to do digital things for a long time now. thank you for all the links too. i look forward to learning more.

  • 29.
    Deb J said…

    Being on a tight budget I bought Elements and it is great. I use it for so many things besides scrapbooking. I volunteer a lot at church to do things like flyers and stuff and this really helps.

  • 30.
    Sarah MacKenzie said…

    So glad you are doing this week on digital. I just started trying out digital while taking your Yesterday and Today class. I am loving it, but am definitely still have a lot to learn. Very much looking forward to tomorrow as I know there must be a better way to organize the digital files than I have right now!

  • 31.
    Cathy A said…

    I’m so very happy that you are sharing this with us. I was thrilled to see this post. Last week, I signed up for my first Jessica Sprague lesson. This morning I was telling my husband how much I wanted to learn more about this very subject. Thank you, Thank you. My have an eager, appreciative student in me. ;0)

  • 32.

    Ah, this is great! I love how you will address different topics throughout the week, which leads me to a general compliment: you’re really good at organizing and breaking down information into doable and understandable chunks for us readers – such refreshing reads. Fun and very much appreciated!

  • 33.
    Fletch said…

    Janie, that is a powerful question. I wonder the same thing myself!

  • 34.
    Fletch said…

    excellent – super helpful!

  • 35.
    tchrtiff said…

    Thanks for this week’s feature! I’ve been learning PSE this past year and am eager to learn and review useful tips and tricks. I can’t wait for the day on organization since I struggle with how/where to put my downloaded items. The online classes I’ve taken didn’t delve into that aspect of digiscrapping so I’m anxious to read what you do. Thanks again.

  • 36.
    clmk523 said…

    Thank you so much! I love journalling spots and I’ve been collecting free downloads for about six months, but I haven’t used many on my pages yet. I’ve just spent no more than 5 minutes playing and now I have some great ideas! Thank you!

  • 37.
    Sharon said…

    I have just started getting into Hybrid and Digital scrapping so the timing of these highlights this week couldn’t be better for me. Thanks so much!
    For all those people frustrated with Photoshop and how to use it, I took the plunge and spent some money on two courses at Jessica Sprague dot com – they were Photo Editing: Good to Great Workflow and Up and Running with Photoshop. So, so worth the money. I learned heaps, the lessons where easy to follow and in the Up and Running course I got lots of free supplies to get me started.
    I have also found that the pioneer woman – photography section has some great easy to follow (and free!) tutorials on photoediting.
    Good luck!

  • 38.
    Sara Beth said…

    Ali, I am so glad you are teaching on these things! I just purchased Adobe Photoshop 8 a month ago and it looks very confusing. I tried to stumble my way through it and it wasn’t pretty. Will try the tutorials you suggested. Looking forward to all the fun stuff you are going to teach us!

  • 39.
    kimmie said…

    i have pse (5 i think). is that ok? i am looking to just learn how to digi scrap.

  • 40.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Hi Kimmie – you might want to consider upgrading. I would suggest following along this week and seeing what you think. There are quite a few differences (I think) between 5 and the newest version 8.

  • 41.
    Lisa said…

    Dear Ali your timing is perfect I have stuck to traditional scrapin and still enjoy it but as my kids are getting older and life is getting more busier I am loving the clean and slim line design digital and hybrid give I have enjoyed your work for years and just got a laptop and because we have to watch finances I only have the free picasa 3 I want to upgrade to elements but will have to wait I just read your post to kimme and my questions is 5 and 8 version a free version or not and can I still do a few things in p 3 thanks so much for sharing I look forward to this week

  • 42.
    Kelly said…

    I am looking forward to this week, and learning more about digital scrapping. It is something I’ve wanted to try for awhile now!

  • 43.
    Margot/NZ said…

    Just adding my thanks for doing this series – it will be very helpful.
    Also to say a big thank you for the recommendation for Christine Baldwin’s “Storycatcher” book – I bought it straight away and it didn’t take too long to arrive from the US. I am absolutely loving it and finding it’s perspectives and ideas so very useful and reinforcing. I am now recommending it to lots of others.
    Margot (NZ = New Zealand)

  • 44.
    Peggy said…

    2 quick thoughts:
    1. You need quite a bit of memory on your computer to run these graphics programs. I upgraded the memory on my computer to use PSE and it made a big difference.
    2. If you are a Costco member, watch the coupon books for coupons on PSE. I saved $20 or so just before the holidays.
    I’m looking forward to reading the series Ali. I dabbled in digi scrapping around the holidays and enjoyed what I managed to find time to do but will love to hear what your are sharing! Thanks!

  • 45.
    ginika said…

    “Make an effort to learn new things” is one of my New Year’s resolutions and as luck would have it I purchased Photoshop Elements 8 just last week. So, this week’s series could not have come at a better time. I will look into Jessica Sprague’s “Getting Started” class. Thanks for all the tips and links. See you tomorrow.

  • 46.
    Jenink said…

    Thanks for doing this Ali, I’m keen to learn more :)
    I use GIMP b/c it is free, but it is actually an excellent program that can do pretty much everything PSE can do as far as I can tell.
    One day I might be able to afford CS but until I can write it off on tax, I doubt it!

  • 47.
    Kasandra said…

    Ali….love your digi stuff and was excited when I saw you were addressing digital this week. I love digital scrapbooking and always look forward to learning more especially organizing! Can I mention to the ladies asking that I always close the program that pops up asking to upload my photos and go to My Computer, look for my camera (or card) and then copy and paste (or click and drag) my pictures exactly where I want them to be. Ali, I’m hoping you will be teaching us if there is an easier way to do this in PS8! Thanks a bunch for all your help…especially because we know you have 2 cute little ones that need you to!

  • 48.
    Denise said…

    Thanks for doing this!!!!

  • 49.

    I do the three kinds of scrapbooking. Since a year I discovered Designer Digitals and began to scrap digital.Then I saw you using digital items on a traditional scrapbook. Hey, I thought, that’s pretty cool! So I started to do that also (only didn’t know that it was called hybrid scrapbooking). To scrap gives me so much joy and I’m happy you have this blog. It’s full of fun things and I’ve learned a lot. Thanks Ali!

  • 50.
    Laura said…

    I do mainly digital scrapbooking and started using a program called Memorymixer, it is basic and very easy to use. However as I have learnt more and more you can very easily adapt it to your needs ( I edit stuff in photoshop and then use it in memorymixer and I use all products bought from online stores)
    I would thoroughly reccomend it to people that are trying to get into digital!! Hope this helps someone!
    Laura p.s its also cheaper than other programs!

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