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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting Started with Digital Scrapbooking: Where do I begin?

The idea of converting from paper to digital can be daunting.  It took me a few years to fully embrace digital and all that it offers.  There were a few hang ups I had, but I sorted out each of them:
- I like to include memorabilia, i.e., ticket stubs, programs, cards, announcements, etc.  Now, I just scan them in and they still make it on my layouts.
- I enjoyed paper crafting and having an end product that I kept.  Well, now I make handmade cards, and sending them out gives me just as much satisfaction as keeping a scrapbook.
- The learning curve of figuring out digital.  Well, I just overcame it, with practice and looking up online tutorials for what I wanted to do!  I also more recently joined a few online digiscrapping communities, which has really broaden my horizons and taught me a lot.

The positives of digital scrapbooking (I think) far outweigh any negatives.
- You don't need to buy expensive tools.
- It isn't messy!
- If you want it to be quick, it can be quick!
- It can be cheaper (it can also be pricey, but that's up to you!).
- Instead of bulky binders, you can just get your layouts printed in slim, attractive photobooks.
- You can do so so so so much more digitally than you could even dream of with paper.
And there are many more pros, I'm sure!

So what do you need to start with?  Well, the obvious:
- Computer
- Digital images
- Software of some kind
- Digital supplies
And a scanner would be awfully nice...

Now, assuming you do of course have a computer and digital photos you want to scrap...let's talk about software.  You could find a couple of free options out there.  The one I started with was Scrapbook Flair.  But if you really want to do this...I strongly recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements.  If you're going to buy something, buy Photoshop.  Don't buy any of those digital scrapbooking softwares, like My Memories Suite.  They are not worth it.  (Oh, and I don't recommend Photoshop CS for two reasons: as a beginner, there is plenty to learn and play with on Elements; and CS is very expensive, to the tune of $670 on Amazon.)  Because that is what I use, all the technique tutorials I do in the future will be in Photoshop, with some beginning tutorials with Scrapbook Flair.

Next, digital supplies.  You know, papers, embellishments, word art, cute fonts, templates, alphabets...etc......
Sigh.  I love digital scrapping.

Anyway, you can find all kinds of freebies all over the internet.  One way is to follow the blogs of digital designers.  When they release new kits, they often put freebies up for grabs on their blogs.  Another way is to check digi freebie websites, such as Digi Scrap Depot, Free Digital Scrapbooking or Craft Cave.  Another favorite of mine is the Digiscrap Parade.  They do a huge blog train (meaning you go from blog to blog to collect coordinating mini kits) every quarter, which then results in a mega kit.  Also, a lot of digital design shops do daily downloads, meaning over the course of a month or a couple weeks, you download a few pieces of the kit a day.  And, honestly, if you're looking for something in particular, you can also just Google it and see what you find!

These freebies are how I recommend you start, just to test the waters, find your style and see what kind of designers you prefer.  BUT DON'T GET CARRIED AWAY.  Just because it's free DOES NOT MEAN YOU WANT IT.  Make sure you LOVE it before you download it.
And I would definitely encourage you not to be a freebie hunter.  These products that the designers put out are worth the investment.
I also highly recommend subscribing to the Digi Files.  They do a monthly spotlight on several designers, and you get a handful of kits for only $7.50 a month (or less, if you sign up for a yearly subscription).  It's a great way to get full kits, high quality products, from all kinds of different designers with different styles.

Anyway, once you have those supplies, unzip the files, and toss the original zipped file into the Recycle Bin.  Keep your scrapping supplies organized in a different folder from the rest of your photos, and also keep pieces of a kit together, so it's easy to find the things that coordinate.  I like to organize my kits into files by shop and then by designer, but that is because I am active in digital scrapbooking communities and it is easier for me to keep them separated that way.  Do what you think is best for you.  Just keep kits together.
Down the road, I'll do a post on my favorite designers, just to share what I've found along the way.

Okay, with those things on hand, you're ready to go.  Next post: How to make a basic layout.  Stay tuned.
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