Digital scrapbooking: Getting started

Ever thought about giving digital scrapbooking a try but didn't know where to start? I hope that my new series of posts here will help! I absolutely love digital scrapbooking, and I'm so excited about the idea of getting other people (in addition to my friend Michele, who is already) hooked, as well! So let's dig in.

And, for the record, consider this fair warning: This is not a craft that you'll pick up in an hour or a day or even a week. It's amazing how much there is to learn about Photoshop and Photoshop Elements (and any image editor, I imagine). I have been using the full version of Photoshop for years (only heavily and beyond basic photo editing, though, for the past three or so, since I started digital scrapbooking) and learn something new all the time! I love it!

All that said, you CAN pick up enough simple skills and tips to complete beautiful pages in a relatively short amount of time. :o) So don't give up before you get started!


If you have an interest in capturing the stories that make up your life, then you probably already understand the value of scrapbooking. And if you've given paper scrapbooking a try, you probably already understand the amount of time—and money—that can be funneled into this hobby in a hurry. You also probably have a good sense of what a scrapbooking mess looks like—and maybe even dread cleaning it up when you're done creating. And maybe you have had the daunting task of creating multiple copies of the same layout, maybe for multiple kids' books or for family members who have lost a grandparent/parent/friend, for example.

Sound familiar?

Digital scrapbooking is a fantastic option if you…

  • want to be able to curl up on the couch and scrapbook instead of gathering all of your supplies, clearing off a table and cleaning up when you're done.
  • don't like messes.
  • want to be able to go to crops with one simple bag, and that's it. (Although, I will admit, I still prefer paper scrapping for crops. There's something about creating with your hands that provides a different kind of satisfaction in a group setting.)
  • want to be able to reuse products over and over and over again—even a single sheet of paper.
  • want a seemingly endless supply of free scrapbooking goodies.
  • want to print multiple copies of a layout or multiple copies of a complete book without any extra hassle, supplies or time.
  • want to scrapbook a little faster than you can with paper scrapping. (This, though, is dependent on your comfort level with your editing program and gets better the more you practice!)
  • want to easily share your finished pages with friends and family through e-mail and social media like Facebook and MySpace.

Can you identify with one or more of those? Good!

Now that you know you might be interested in digital scrapbooking, what will you need to get started?


As with starting any new craft or project, you will need to have a few items before you get started. Here's a basic list:

  • Software. This is the most essential element, of course! You can't create computer-generated scrapbook pages without some form of software. You'll want a high-quality photo editing program that offers lots of flexibility. While I'm sure there are additional programs out there that might have some functionality that would work for digital scrapbooking, by far the most widely used are Photoshop Elements ($139 from, may be less expensive elsewhere; test drive with a free download) and the full version of Photoshop ($699; test drive with a free download). I know this is expensive, and I can't twist your arm to make you pay for it. But I can tell you that if you think you'll enjoy digital scrapbooking, it's worth every single cent. Just think, you can spend that much (not the $700, I'd hope!) in just a few trips to the scrapbook store for paper and supplies! Anyway, give it some thought. PSE will do the majority of things for digital scrapbooking that Photoshop will do. So don't spring for the full version if you don't need it for another reason. Whew. That's enough about that subject!
  • A large-format printer or an online photo-printing service you trust. While I would love to have a printer that prints 12×12 layouts, I don't want to spend the money. Instead, I opt for for printing my loose pages and for printing my books. I have tried other sites, and for me, these are my preferred services. Check out all of the fantastic sizes offers. And 12x12s are only $3.50 each. Shipping is only $2, no matter how many layouts you order! Can't beat that! And the quality is fantastic! Now, if you will be doing ONLY digital pages, and you scrapbook chronologically or by themes, you might consider printing a book of pages all at once, rather than individual pages. You'll come out better financially in the end, and you can design your own hardbound cover! :o) Fun stuff!
  • Kits and/or loose elements. You can absolutely do the digital scrapbooking thing without any embellishments. (Cathy Zielske has some good examples on her blog. She's a minimalist when it comes to embellishments. I LOVE her style.) But if you want to add some zest to your layouts, there are tons of digital scrapbooking kits out there for the taking for free or purchasing. Do a Google search for "digital scrapbooking" or check out some of my favorite sites: If you do nothing else, go to Shabby Princess and download her kits. There are a BUNCH of really GOOD, full kits that she offers for free! :o)
  • Photos. Digital photos are obviously the easiest way to go, but if you have old photos, just scan them in, and they're ready for you to use! Make sure, though, that you're shooting your photos on the highest resolution setting possible on your camera (Fine or Extra Large setting), and that you're scanning at at least 600 dpi (1200 preferred if possible). The quality of your photos will drive the quality of your layouts. Don't skimp on quality to squeeze more photos on that memory card! Go for the bigger memory card! :o)
  • Fonts. You'll probably want some fun fonts to choose from on some or all of your layouts. If you're feeling a little skimpy in that department, check out (lots of free fonts) or my favorite, Just remember that fonts can quickly bog down your computer system, so you don't want tons of fonts active at all times. If at all possible, use a font management program to turn fonts on or off when you need or don't need them, or consider storing some infrequently used fonts somewhere other than your active fonts folder. If you're on a Mac, FontBook is a beautiful thing! Use it!
  • Other stuff. These are just icing on the cake. (Sorry, TypePad won't let me indent the next set of bullets.)
  • Scanner for memorabilia. I personally don't have one at the moment. I often just take pictures of my memorabilia or photos I need to scan! :o)
  • Tutorials. Just Google "Photoshop tutorials."
  • Ideas. Check out digital scrapbookers' blogs, Web sites dedicated to scrapbook sketches or scrapbook magazines. Sometime I'll list my favorites here, but because there are MANY, I'd suggest doing an Internet search for "digital scrapbooking," "scrapbook sketches" or "scrapbook magazines" to get you started. There should be enough results to keep you busy for quite some time!

OK, it looks like a lot, but it's really not! You truly can create stunning pages with nothing more than the colors built into your software, your photos and a simple font like Times New Roman. Anything else is just eye candy! (I'm pretty sure, though, that you'll find something you like out there on those free kit sites!)

Are you excited to get started?! :o)

Thoughts? Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

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