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.

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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 JessicaSprague.com and ReneePearson.com 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.

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67 thoughts

  1. Asta says…
    01/18/2010

    Thank you very much for these lessons :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. janie says…
    01/18/2010

    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.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Mart says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. linda says…
    01/18/2010

    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!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Susan says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Amy L says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. The Frugal Designer says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Barbi says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Holly S says…
    01/18/2010

    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!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Jessi says…
    01/18/2010

    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

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. stacy says…
    01/18/2010

    Ali!
    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!
    Stacy

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Sarah Karlsen says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Doris says…
    01/18/2010

    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. http://www.designerdigitals.com/digital-scrapbooking/supplies/product_info.php/products_id/3944
    Thanks for a great series.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Cynthia Friese-Hassanein says…
    01/18/2010

    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:)

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Cynthia Friese-Hassanein says…
    01/18/2010

    Ali- Love it !!!!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Ali Edwards says…
    01/18/2010

    Check back tomorrow :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. elizabeth says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. jennifer evans says…
    01/18/2010

    This is awesome! Thanks Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Tanya says…
    01/18/2010

    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.
    Yippee!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Linda McCoy says…
    01/18/2010

    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!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. renee pearson says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Cate says…
    01/18/2010

    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. http://www.gimp.org/ I used to use it before I got Photoshop.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. caro says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Leora says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Tina Lee says…
    01/18/2010

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

    Reply 0 Replies

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