How to get started digital scrapbooking

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A couple of my friends have expressed interest in getting started with digital scrapbooking.  I have three solutions for getting started in digital scrapbooking depending on your computer literacy and how much you want to spend.

Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus 2 ($59.95)
- This is a great solution for someone who isn't very computer literate or who already scrapbooks using Creative Memories products.  This software enables you to build a page simply by dragging and dropping elements onto a blank page.  You can rearrange them, add drop shadows, add fonts, change colors of elements etc.  You can even import papers and some other elements you find into Storybook Creator.  You can also purchase kits through Creative Memories.  You can then print the pages to a printer, order prints or complete books through CM, or export pages to a .jpg file for uploading to Costco (or another printer) to get your pages printed.

You can download a free trial of Storybook Creator (not Plus 2) from the CM website, but you will need to upgrade to get the full features of the Plus 2 version.

Scrapbook Max! ($39.95 or $27.96 School version limited time offer Aug 31/08 coupon code SCHOOL)
- This is a  great solution for the not so computer literate and is a similar solution to CM Storybook Creator Plus 2 above with the same features except that you can't order prints and books directly from the software vendor.  There are two main advantages over the CM software, first that you can create a two page layout i.e. 12x24 inches (CM only allows a 12x12, so you'd have to create two pages but they wouldn't be on screen at the same time).  Second that whatever version of Scrapbook Max! you purchase (Classic, Wedding, Baby, School) comes with 1000s of digital elements to get you started.  You can download a free trial here.  You can read my more detailed review of Scrapbook Max! here.

Photoshop Elements ($99 full or $79 upgrade for previous version & Wacom tablet owners)
- This solution is going to require a much steeper learning curve that the previous two digital scrapbook solutions.  Elements is not specifically designed to be a scrapbooking tool (although it does a fantastic job) but has many more features aimed at graphic designers as well as photographers.  I strongly suggest that you invest in at least the first Jessica Sprague digital scrapbooking course "Up & Running" or purchase a membership to Photoshop Elements User.  Elements has a few advantages over the other two solutions.  Specifically I like the fact it also organizes all my photos, and that I can use digital brushes (which work like rubber stamps) on my layouts.  It also gives you much more control over special effects and photograph editing.  You can also use Photoshop .psd template files that you find online.

Whichever of the above solutions you choose will allow you to use free or purchased digital elements that you might find on the Internet.  They will also allow you to save your finished pages into .jpg format for uploading to Costco or another printer, or print to a local printer (you can print 12x12 pages to a wide format printer or resize them to 8.5x8.5, 8x8 or 6x6 and print them on a standard letter size printer).

So what you choose really has more to do with how much time you want to invest learning the tool, how much money you want to spend, and how computer savvy you are.

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