Why I Love Digital Scrapbooking

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How I fell in love with scrapbooking

I bought my first digital camera just before my son was born in 2004. I soon accumulated hundreds of baby photos and had them printed professionally. But what do you do with so many photos? First, I just used traditional photo albums to arrange my prints. Without knowing it, I was already instinctively trying to arrange the images in a visually pleasing way. Then, quite by accident, I bumped into a website that was going to change my life forever.

It was like Aladdin's Cave had just opened up for me. I marvelled at stunning creations of beautiful photos on colourful background papers with lovely page accents and heartfelt sentiments. I had just discovered my lifelong passion: scrapbooking. My husband didn't understand my enthusiasm at first. Well, truth be told, he still doesn't understand all the fuss. He calls it an obsession. In fact, his definition of scrapbooking is "some kind of obsession involving women, photos and paper". Well, that pretty much sums it up! It's true, I admit it: I am obsessed, infatuated, besotted, head over heels, smitten - as are most other scrappers I know. You won't understand this, unless you are one of us!

Scrapbooking is a wonderful hobby that lets you play around with your photos using as much creative expression as you allow yourself. There's no rules: other than you should love your own creations and be proud of them! Everyone can find their own style and be inspired by other scrappers' creations along the way. You'll soon find that your style constantly evolves as you try more challenging and interesting techniques and ideas. All the while, you're creating lasting memories for your family; your children and future generations.

The photo above shows one of my very first traditional scrapbook layouts. Perhaps it's a little bit naive and simplistic, but I still love it! It reminds me of the day we brought our newborn son home from the hospital.

All photos and layouts in this lens are my own, unless otherwise stated. The scrapbooking supplies, fonts and PhotoShop tools I used for my layouts originate from various sources (some purchased, some free, some of my own creation). It would be impossible to credit all of them to the original sources, but if anyone recognises their own products used in my layouts, please let me know and I will include a back link to your website if requested.

The problem with traditional scrapbooking

Scrapbooking supplies I threw myself into my new hobby, which helped me survive the baby years as a stay-at-home-mum. I found a kind of creativity that I never knew I had and it helped me stay sane. I grabbed every free second I could to work on my layouts. I created a baby album and started a second one to record the toddler years. The problem was, by the time my son was able to walk, I couldn’t leave my supplies lying around. I had to keep putting everything away and then bring it out again when I had a chance. I was running out of storage space and work surfaces. I had accumulated so many supplies and tools, that it was getting impossible to store them without a dedicated craft room, which to this day remains my dream!

I got so frustrated with the lack of storage, that I actually gave up scrapbooking for a number of years. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I rediscovered this wonderful hobby in the form of digital scrapbooking. It was like falling in love all over again!

The photo shows some of my traditional scrapbooking supplies. I sold most of my tools on eBay when I decided to go digital, but I kept some of my favourite papers and basic necessities, so I can still create the occasional “real” page if I choose to.

Scrapbooking Poll

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Digital Scrapbooking Kits

The best thing about digital scrapbooking is that everything is on your computer. Just think about it! It’s so liberating! You can scrap anywhere, anytime, just take your laptop with you. Most of your digital supplies will fit on a single USB stick.

The photo on the left shows a typical digital scrapbooking kit. The kits usually contain some background papers and coordinating elements that you can arrange with your photos for an artistic effect. You might find this strange, but I get as much enjoyment out of looking at digital papers as looking at regular paper products. I love the ones with textures and a bit of added grunge. It doesn’t matter that they’re not real – I still find them very appealing to look at.

There is an endless supply of digital scrapbooking goodies available on the Internet that you can either purchase or download for free. This particular kit is supplied free of charge by ShabbyPrincess.com. There’s a lot more where this came from! It always amazes me how many generous people are willing to offer their own creations for free. I hope to be able to do this one day myself! Please note that similar copyright restrictions apply to digital scrapbooking supplies as any other digital content on the Internet. Some of my best kits came free from the Internet made available by the creators and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank these wonderful artists for sharing their talent so generously.

The advantages of digital scrapbooking

Before listing the numerous advantages of digital scrapbooking as opposed to traditional scrapbooking, let me just mention its only (obvious) disadvantage: you can’t touch and work with the materials the same way you do with real paper supplies. Of course, you can print your finished layouts, but you’ll never be able to feel the textures, or see the dimensions the same way you do when using traditional scrapbooking materials. However, digital scrapbooking has numerous advantages, which (for me, at least) far outweigh this one single shortfall.

It’s a bit like comparing the experience of reading real books to reading Kindle books! Before I got my Kindle, I never realised just how much more convenient and cheaper it was to buy and read e-books. I thought I was going to miss the physical feel of printed books, but I don’t really miss it that much. Then again,I still sometimes buy printed books, just like I still do traditional scrapbooking from time to time, so you don’t have to commit yourself to one or the other.

Here’s a list of advantages digital scrapbooking has to offer:

  • No more clutter, easy storage

  • It’s easier to find things on the computer than at the bottom of a messy pile

  • You don’t have to worry that your designs will fade with time or that your supplies are not photo safe

  • You don’t have to worry that you lose your scrapbooks, just make plenty of copies of your files and keep them safe in several places: external backup drives, memory sticks, cloud storage

  • When you pass on your legacy, your family doesn’t have to lug around 50 heavy scrapbooks, you can just hand it to them on a memory stick

  • You can use all your papers and elements more than once

  • You can change the size or colour of your elements any way you like

  • You can make your own papers and elements

  • You can change your photos anyway you like (resize, recolour, blend, texture, etc)

  • You can use hundreds of free fonts for titles and journaling in any colour and size

  • no need for expensive tools, stamps, die-cutting machines, paper punches, etc.

  • digital kits are much cheaper than paper kits and you don’t have to pay postage

  • You can hide your stash from your hubby!!!

  • You can display your digital layouts online

  • Paper scrapbookers are always limited to the colour, size and availability of their supplies. The only limit for digital scrapbookers is their imagination.

  • You can’t mess up your layouts – just hit the undo button if you make a mistake.

  • We live in the digital age. Sooner or later everything will be digitalised. You might as well go digital sooner rather than later.

Some of my digital scrapbooking layouts

Everyone can find their own style

Click images for larger view

Here I isolated my son from the original background of the photo and pasted him directly on the background paper. I quite like using this technique.

In this layout, I created the colour chip page element sampling the colours from the photo.

OK, I admit it, this one's a bit cheesy. Still cute though!?

Here, I tried to imitate dried up mud with the word 'muddy'.

In this layout I matched the colour of the stripes on my son's top with the colour of the background paper.

Here I extracted my son from the background of the original photo and placed him in an open window.

I like including lots of photos in one layout. Sometimes it's because I can't choose!

I used one of my photos here as the background paper.

I followed an online tutorial to create the title/border combo.

In this layout I used a brush to create the background effect and I blended the photo using a layer mask.

Every day I learn something new!

In order to do digital scrapbooking you have to use either a special scrapbooking software or a photo editing program, like Photoshop. I started out using My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Suite, but I very quickly realised that it was not enough to keep up with my creative ambitions. I already had Photoshop Elements at the time, but I had no idea how to use it for scrapbooking. I spent a lot of time on YouTube learning the basics of digital scrapbooking. It was a steep learning curve, but once I understood how layers worked, it got much easier.

I’m still learning and every day I learn something new. That’s probably part of the appeal of digital scrapbooking for me. I enjoy learning new tricks and techniques and I’m always eager to incorporate them in my layouts. I feel like I know a lot now, but I probably still don’t know half of what Photoshop is capable of. There are lots of free resources on the Internet and I still spend a huge amount of time watching videos and following step-by step tutorials. I hope to create some of my own tutorials one day. For now, here’s a simple tutorial I found on YouTube that explains how to put together a basic scrapbooking page in Photoshop Elements.

Digital scrapbooking behind the scenes

This is how they do it!

This is a beginners' tutorial to show the basics of digital scrapbooking with Photoshop Elements.

Digital Scrapbooking Poll

What type of software do you use for digital scrapbooking?

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I'd love to hear from you!

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  • VioletteRose Mar 13, 2014 @ 1:03 pm
    I have lots of photos of my kids, this is so helpful. Thank you :)
  • Radgrl Feb 25, 2014 @ 11:35 am
    I love scrapping. For Christmas I made a scrapbook fir my husband and my mother. They loved it. It was a lot of work, but it helped me express myself through pictures!
  • ellyse2003 Feb 24, 2014 @ 8:46 am
    I am not into this but I wish I had started it before. It is great to see your own craft after a few years with your family pictures in it.
  • ItayasDesigns Feb 20, 2014 @ 5:01 pm
    I'm not into scrapbooking of any form but I do love all the different creative elements that go into digital scrapbooking. Like you, I love the grungy papers and can enjoy them on the screen just as well as in my hand. :)
  • favored1 Feb 20, 2014 @ 11:26 am
    Very creative work and ideas. Congratulations on LotD.
  • KonaGirl Feb 20, 2014 @ 9:41 am
    I have been interested in digital scrapbooking for sometime now and have been putting off looking for instructions on how to do it. Thank you so much for the information to help get me going. I am pinning this to my 'DIY Craft Ideas" board so I can come back to it. Oh, and BTW a Big Congrats on LOTD!
  • susan369 Feb 20, 2014 @ 5:23 am
    Thank you everyone for your comments and congratulations. Squidoo is such a fun place to be! I ran out of SquidLikes for today but I'll make sure to pay a visit to everyone in the coming days. Take care and keep writing.
  • rauspitz Feb 19, 2014 @ 10:23 pm
    Terrific lens. Congratulations on getting LotD!
  • mountainmist Feb 19, 2014 @ 6:38 pm
    Great lens!
  • TedWritesStuff Feb 19, 2014 @ 5:37 pm
    At least if it's digital you don't clutter your house with a load of tat..
  • Janet21 Feb 19, 2014 @ 4:43 pm
    Congrats on LOTD! I am a traditional scrapper...probably always will be. I also read real paper books and I have no interest in getting a Kindle. lol
  • AmineBomBom Feb 19, 2014 @ 4:10 pm
    sometimes i use photo brush, or photo filter when I dont have CS photshop
  • mbgphoto Feb 19, 2014 @ 3:28 pm
    What a great lens! I love arranging my photos into interesting pages and adding text...but rather than use a digital scrapbook program, I use Shutterfly. They make it so easy and have some fantastic options for pages for those of us that don't necessarily have the time or inclination for the more timely versions. Thanks for a very enthusiastic lens.
  • ChrisBroome Feb 19, 2014 @ 2:31 pm
    I'm one of those who has put of organizing my photos for years (decades really). I keep saying I'll do in when I retire. My mother retired with the same thought and 20 years later she still hasn't gotten around to it. Over the past couple of years my daughters have gotten into scrapbooking the physical way so this has been on my mind lately. Now learning it can be done digitally has gotten me excited. I will definitely look into this more closely and forget waiting until I retire.
  • Umanitea-T-4Life Feb 19, 2014 @ 12:34 pm
    Scapbooking can be a lot of fun and also a cost effective and a much more easy and practical way of creating a visual history of valuable moments in life. And they make great books as well when you add the timelines and also a story or dialog. And you won't loose your photos's with the suggestion to back up everything. I've done it a few times...but not fully digital..it was a mix of both. But thanks for the advice and for sharing...it's a lot of fun.
  • Lgraham7980 Feb 19, 2014 @ 12:33 pm
    Lots of great information and very well put together. Thanks so much for sharing. Never really thought about digital scrapping. All my pictures are still in a box under the bed because time never allows for traditional scrapping!
  • psiloveyou Feb 19, 2014 @ 12:25 pm
    I just started doing digital scrapbooking after doing traditional scrapbooking for 12 years. Congrats on LOTD!
  • Steve_Kaye Feb 19, 2014 @ 12:00 pm
    After reading this, I realize that I do use a digital scrapbook - it's my collection of photos. Wow! What an insight. Congratulations on receiving the LOTD.
  • grammieo Feb 19, 2014 @ 11:40 am
    Congrats on LofTD
  • Owen_Barry Feb 19, 2014 @ 11:22 am
    Great lens. I spent some time getting to traditional scrapbooking as I found myself with a big box of photos, receipts, tickets etc, but it became a bit time consuming. I'd not considered doing it digitally until now! Thanks.
  • ericahuise22 Feb 19, 2014 @ 10:54 am
    Very informative lense. Thank you for the great information on scrapbooking.
  • d-artist Feb 19, 2014 @ 10:32 am
    Congratulations on LOTD! What a great project to express your artistic desires...you've done a great job with your photos & designs!
  • 3QuartersToday Feb 19, 2014 @ 10:28 am
    Great information!! I love designing on Photoshop and have done several photobooks through various companies and only use the ones where I have total control.
  • DaisyDixon Feb 19, 2014 @ 9:40 am
    Congratulations on lens of the day you deserve it. This is one of my favorite lenses! Can't wait to get started doing this
  • Feb 19, 2014 @ 9:16 am
    Very interesting lens. Has inspired me to get back into this. I do tend to be more digital than hands on with scrapbooking though.
  • vallain Feb 19, 2014 @ 9:08 am
    This is certainly inspiring. I'd like to make some heritage scrapbook pages that I could use in my great-aunt's biography that I'm working on.
  • partybuzz Feb 19, 2014 @ 9:04 am
    Great idea. I'd never thought of digital scrapbooking. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations on LotD!
  • kjolley1962 Feb 19, 2014 @ 7:24 am
    Beautiful and informative lens! Congrats on LOTD and Purple Star!
  • susan369 Feb 19, 2014 @ 8:44 am
    Thank you!
  • PriyabrataSingh Feb 19, 2014 @ 7:02 am
    Traditional Scrapbook and Digital Scrapbook both have same importance in my life. But with the changing technology digital Scrapbook is taking over the traditional Scrapbook.. Congrats on the Lens Of The Day. Well done ! Thanks for sharing some great inspiration.
  • susan369 Feb 19, 2014 @ 8:44 am
    Thank you - I've tried to visit some of your lenses, but there aren't any yet. You must have just signed up. I'm looking forward to reading some of them later!
  • esmonaco Feb 19, 2014 @ 5:09 am
    Just back to say Congratulations on LOTD!! Very Well Deserved:)
  • susan369 Feb 19, 2014 @ 5:45 am
    Thank you so much!
  • LindaWhite Feb 19, 2014 @ 5:08 am
    I am a traditional scrapbook artist, but I hope to be able to branch out. I still like the feel of a book rather than a kindle, But I have been itching to try, and you have my attention. Congrats on the LOTD. Well done !
  • susan369 Feb 19, 2014 @ 5:44 am
    Hi Linda, thank you for your comment. I know what you mean. I still get excited just looking at real paper products, but the strange thing is, it also happens with digital. The good news is, you really can have it both ways! Some people go hybrid - part digital, part traditional.
  • Feb 19, 2014 @ 4:19 am
    not really my type of hobby. but interesting way to keep your memories
    congrats on lotd
  • susan369 Feb 19, 2014 @ 5:40 am
    Thank you! I guess, digital design doesn't appeal to everyone the same way. I don't even understand why I'm so crazy about it myself, but I have it bad!
  • kinworm Feb 19, 2014 @ 2:01 am
    I can absolutely understand why you chose to move to digital scrapbooking and your layouts are gorgeous! I spend hours on a computer writing so prefer to craft away from it but the possibilities of scrapbooking digitally are amazing. Congratulations on LOTD!
  • susan369 Feb 19, 2014 @ 5:37 am
    Thank you so much. So unexpected! I'm actually trying to get into designing digital elements, which will involve a bit of "getting my hands dirty" with traditional materials. It's the best of both world's really.
  • dwelburn Feb 09, 2014 @ 6:00 pm
    Fascinating. I'm sure this could be great fun if you got into it. I don't have a camera, but maybe I should get one. I do have an old scrapbook full of postcards of places I visited when I was in my 20's.
  • susan369 Feb 10, 2014 @ 8:27 am
    Even if you don't scrapbook, you do need a camera! Everyone needs a camera!
  • MarleMac Feb 07, 2014 @ 10:43 am
    Great lens, Susan! I've just recently started digital scrapbooking too! Love it!
    I love your Fact file idea! I also cut out a lot and stick them all over - great technique. I use CorelDraw though, have been using it for years for my other design work, but I really want to learn to use Photoshop!
    Your lens is inspiring and your passion shows through! Thanks for sharing!
  • susan369 Feb 07, 2014 @ 11:23 am
    Hi Marle, thanks for your comment. I'm always happy to meet a fellow scrapper! Photoshop is awesome, you'd love it. Just for scrapping with kits, I think Elements is probably enough, but if you want to make your own kits or do some advanced photo editing then Photoshop is the way to go.
  • esmonaco Feb 06, 2014 @ 12:25 pm
    I can see you have a great passion for this and it shows very well in your lens. Just a wonderful read here. I like squidoo because I'm always learning something new. Thanks you
  • susan369 Feb 07, 2014 @ 4:52 am
    Thank you, Sam, that's very nice of you to say! You know, you could do a digital layout for your family tree? In fact, that's just gave me an idea!
  • eva_writes Feb 06, 2014 @ 6:51 am
    Interesting! I knew about scrapbooking but not about the digital version.
  • susan369 Feb 06, 2014 @ 8:30 am
    Hi Eva! Thanks for visiting my lens.
  • DaisyDixon Feb 05, 2014 @ 8:05 pm
    I will have to look into this more, I think it would be a lot of fun- I used to scrapbook as well and can relate to you when it comes to trying to have your supplies out and a grabbing child haha. Junior would never be able to keep his hands out of my supplies! Great article, really enjoyed it! I loved your pictures too!
  • susan369 Feb 06, 2014 @ 8:28 am
    Thank you, Daisy! You're right, it is a lot of fun!
  • LynnKK Feb 05, 2014 @ 7:52 pm
    Hey Susan, nice examples! I really do not do much of this, but I can see how much fun it must be. Your passion for this really shows - thanks for sharing something so personal with us!
  • susan369 Feb 06, 2014 @ 8:29 am
    Thank you, Lynn, for your lovely comment!
  • Aibrean82 Feb 04, 2014 @ 3:29 pm
    You had me at "no more clutter!" :) I'm definitely giving this a go. Superb lens and gorgeous examples!
  • susan369 Feb 04, 2014 @ 5:11 pm
    Awww, thank you!
  • kiwinana71 Feb 01, 2014 @ 7:23 pm
    I would love to learn digital scrapbooking, I didn't know there were free sites, will check out the link you have here. I am receiving monthly emails for doing this, lots of classes which cost money, Thanks for sharing.
  • susan369 Feb 02, 2014 @ 5:42 am
    I used to have a paid subscription as well, but there are lots of free resources for people who don't want to pay. The advantage of paid subscriptions is that the classes are more structured and perhaps better quality, but I've seen some pretty high quality free tutorials on the net. Same with supplies. Some of my free supplies are better quality than the ones I paid for. Thanks for your visit!