Aly Dosdall's picture
By Aly Dosdall

What Is Digital Scrapbooking?

Creating, sharing, and storing digital layouts
eZine image: 

If you’re a traditional paper scrapbooker, chances are you’ve at least heard the term “digital scrapbooking.” Maybe you’ve even tried to make a digi page. But if you’re like most crafters out there, you probably still have more questions than answers about the digital world, and the idea of scrapbooking on your computer may seem overwhelming. Nevertheless, it’s clear that something about it gets scrapbookers hooked for good—whether they switch permanently from paper to pixels or enjoy a hybrid approach that blends the best of both worlds.

Now, I’m not here to convert you (unless you want to!); I’m simply here to cover the basics of what digital scrapbooking is and offer insights into why this trend has become an ever-growing part of the crafting community.


Aly Dosdall Digital Scrapbooking Layout

 

patterned paper (Sidewalk Chalk Paper Pack #1, Echo Park Digitals) • stickers, label (Sidewalk Chalk Elements, Echo Park Digitals) • button, stitches (Spring/Summer 2011: 139 Colorful Buttons, Creativity By Crystal) • Echo Park Digitals available at jessicasprague.com, Creativity By Crystal available at crystalwilkerson.com • layout by Aly Dosdall

Click image for larger view


The papers and elements I used to create this page cost me a total of $2. And I get to use them over and over again. These papers and stickers are from Echo Park Paper Co.’s digital line. Several popular paper manufacturers now have their lines available in digital form as well.


How to Create Digital Scrapbook Pages


To create digital pages you really only need three things: digital photos (which most of us have in abundance), a computer software program that will do the job, and digital scrapbooking products.

Contrary to what many perceive, you don’t have to be able to design your own custom backgrounds to be able to scrapbook digitally! (Likewise, you don’t have to design your own paper to be a traditional scrapbooker, and you don’t have to weave your own fabric before you can make a quilt.) There’s a mind-boggling array of digital products available to make your projects easier and more fun—some free, and some for purchase.

When it comes to software, basically any program that supports .PNG files should work for creating digital pages. Most experienced digital scrapbookers use photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, which are professional tools originally created for graphic artists and professional photographers. If you’re already using software to edit your photos, using the same software to create scrapbook pages is a logical next step. These professional programs do not come with any scrapbooking products or instructions, and there is a learning curve involved, but there is instruction available online (see Resources below).

There are also software programs out there designed specifically for scrapbooking (see Resources below). These programs may be more user-friendly for those who are not very computer savvy, and they also usually come with free products you can use to create pages, plus a library of additional products for purchase. However, they’ll also be less versatile than Photoshop and similar programs.



How to Share and Store Digital Scrapbook Layouts


There are several options for sharing and storing digital scrapbook pages, but the three most common are:


  • Electronic Format Only
  • Print and store in albums
  • Create Photobooks

Electronic Format Only

Some digital scrapbookers prefer only to keep digital copies of their layouts, storing them on their computer’s hard drive and backing them up on an external hard drive or on discs. Many scrapbookers, like Celeste Smith, also keep online galleries of their work to share with their friends and loved ones.



digital scrapbooking layout by Celeste Smith

Supplies:

Digital supplies: patterned paper (Retro Mango Paper Pack, In The Making Design) • camera accent (Vintage Cameras Kit, Kitschy Digitals) • frame (Vintage Photo Frames, Kitschy Digitals) • buttons (Thrift Store Grab Bag, Kitschy Digitals) • alpha and sticker (For the Record Element Pack #1, Echo Park Paper Co. Hybrids) • mini label (Sweet Summertime Elements, Creativity By Crystal) • all products available at jessicasprague.com • layout by Celeste Smith

Click image for larger view


You can see Celeste’s page above, plus many other gorgeous digital pages, in her online gallery at Digi Shop Talk. Here’s what Celeste has to say about storing her digital scrapbook pages on her computer:

 

“I have been paper scrapping for 6+ years and I currently have 51 paper scrapbooks! By scrapping digitally and storing the layouts on the computer, I am saving a lot of storage space and I'm making it easier for the boys to take a copy of their pages when they leave while retaining a copy for myself.”

 

If you’re an iPhone or Android owner, you can create digital pages on your mobile devices now using digital scrapbooking apps that come with digital backgrounds and elements. These pages are great for on-the-go creating and sharing, though not ideal for printing. You can save them to your phone, email them, or post them directly to Facebook or Twitter. The digital branch of Die Cuts With A View, 300dpi.com, offers an iPhone app called eScrap. Digital scrapbooking guru and founder of Digital Scrapbooking Magazine, April Anderton, shares this layout she created on her Android phone with the PicsIn app.



mobile phone scrapbooking

Mobile Scrapbooking

April Anderton created a scrapbook layout on her Android phone with the PicsIn app.

Click image for larger view


April has this to say about creating digital scrapbook pages on her Android:

 

“Creating a scrapbook page on my Android phone is an easy way to send an 'upgraded' image to a friend or family member from an event. It's not just a text, it's sharing the feeling of the experience in my own way. I don't have to have a laptop or my big camera, and my phone is always with me!”

 



Digital scrapbook page made with a smartphone app

Supplies:

all digital backgrounds and elements available on the PicsIn app • layout by April Anderton

Click image for larger view


Print and store in albums.

There are many options for printing digital pages. If you have a wide-format printer, you can print them on specialty photo paper and store them in 12 x 12 albums. If you have a standard 8½ x 11 printer, you can resize your pages to 8 x 8, print, crop, and store them in 8 x 8 albums. You can also create 8½ x 11 pages and store them in binders.

If you’d rather not spend the money on expensive printers, photo paper, and ink, you can order prints online (see Resources below). Marie Taylor creates digital and traditional pages and has this to say about storing her pages in albums:

 

“I was first a little scared to try digi. I thought it wouldn't ‘fit’ with my paper pages, and I thought I wouldn't be able to translate my style to the digi world. But looking at these pages at a glance, it is hard to tell at first which one is digi and which is paper. Now I don't have a problem mixing my 8 ½ x 11 pages, 12 x 12 pages, and all my digi pages together. It is just one more way I can tell our story.”

 



One paper layout and one digi layout

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Marie stores her adorable digital and paper pages together in the same album. One of these two pages is digital. Can you tell which one?


Create photobooks.


Another option for printing your digital pages is to create a photobook online (see Resources below). You have the option of dragging and dropping your photos into their premade templates, or creating your own pages, uploading them, and printing a photobook of your own design. These sites print high-quality books of varying size, binding, and cover options, and some offer frequent coupons and discounts. Digital, hybrid, and paper scrapbooker, Paula Gilarde, shares a beautiful tribute album she made for her mother’s 71st birthday.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Digital supplies: templates (A Mother’s Love) • paper (Just Linens No 18) • lace and flowers (Cold Springs) • digital brushes (Painted Accents, Painted Maps, Painted Text and Painted Wings) • all products by Katie Pertiet for designerdigitals.com • layout by Paula Gilarde

Here’s what Paula has to say about creating photobooks with her digital scrapbook pages:

 

“I love getting my digital pages printed out in photobooks because there's nothing like being able to touch the pages you have created! Having them all bound together in a photobook adds a special polish that loose pages can't compete with.”

 


Big Benefits


The benefits of scrapping on your computer are pretty hard to beat! This list is not comprehensive, and is in no particular order:


  • No large tools or supplies to store
  • Supplies are reusable, resizable, and can be recolored
  • Supplies are inexpensive and often free
  • No mess to clean up
  • Pages require little or no storage space
  • Digital copies are easy to share across the miles (i.e., email, Flickr, Facebook, etc)
  • If you have a laptop or other portable device, you can scrapbook on-the-go
  • You can apply your software skills to other projects (i.e. homemade photocards, invites, wall art, etc.)

Sound too good to be true? Well, happily it’s not. Although I must admit the software does have a bit of a learning curve, but there are plenty of free tutorials available online to walk you through everything you need to know. Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s smooth sailing (and creating) from there!



Resources to Get Started





Digital Scrapbooking Month
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