A Beginner's Reference to Digital Scrapbooking

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Digital Scrapbooking Introduction

A Digital Scrapbooking Layout
A Digital Scrapbooking Layout. © Bonnie Covel

Digital scrapbooking, also called digi scrapping and computer scrapbooking, is the art of using graphics software to create layouts that display photographs and other memories (such as newspaper clippings, hospital bracelets, certificates, etc) for the purpose of preserving the moment. Layouts can be shared online, archived, or printed and placed in albums. Printed digital scrapbooks look similar to scrapbooks created the traditional way, with papers, stickers, and photos, in that they showcase photos in interesting designs.

Digital Scrapbooking Layout

A digital scrapbooking layout is the outcome of digi scrapping. It is a page of memories. A layout might include photos, elements, and journaling. A layout may include a single picture, multiple pictures, or no pictures at all.

The digital scrapbook layout shown above was created in Photoshop 7 and makes use of the magnetic lasso for the cutout at the top, drop shadow layer style for all photos, rectangular marquee and paint bucket for the stripes, and the custom shapes tool for the heart cutouts.

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Digital Scrapbooking Software

Digital scrapbooking software ranges from easy to learn to full-blown professional graphics software. It is important when choosing software to weigh how much freedom you wish to have against the difficulty level of a professional program and the cost. The About Graphics Software website devotes a section to Graphics Software Categories and Buying Advice and another section on Software Reviews. Once you have your software, learn to use it with these Software Tutorials. If you happen to choose Photoshop, I highly recommend this free Photoshop Email Class.

Some commonly used software for digital scrapbooking are:

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Digital Scrapbooking Papers and Elements

Digital Scrapbooking Papers and Elements
Digital Scrapbooking Papers and Elements. © Bonnie Covel

Digital Scrapbooking Papers

Digital scrapbooking papers make up the backgrounds of layouts. One paper can cover the entire background, or multiple papers can be used to create a layered effect. Papers can also be used to mat photos and elements.

Scrapbooking Overlay

A scrapbooking overlay is a paper that goes over your layout. The page is filled in around the outside, leaving a hole in the middle for your photos, elements, and papers.

Digital Scrapbooking Elements

Digital scrapbooking elements, also called embellishments, are graphics that enhance the layout. Common elements are digitally created bows, ribbons, clip art type graphics, parts of a photo, tags, and more. Many digital scrapbooking websites sell elements in additional to offering free elements for download. Create elements with graphics software, extract a part of a photo, or scan an item. The tea cup in the above example was scanned but also could have been extracted from the photo. Ribbons and bows are popular elements. I often


ribbons from my children's clothing.

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Digital Scrapbooking Fonts and Alphabets

Digital Scrapbooking Fonts and Alphabets
Digital Scrapbooking Fonts and Alphabets. © Bonnie Covel

Digital Scrapbooking Fonts

Any font you have on your computer can be used on your digital scrapbooking layout. In addition to the fonts already on your computer, you can buy fonts and download free fonts. Many layout titles are made by using different fonts for each word or letter. Many digital scrapbookers collect fonts to use on their layouts. This can lead to font overload, but there are programs that can help you with font management.

In the font example above, the font name for the word "My" is Lucida Bright. The word "Favorite" was created with LainieDaySH font, which I warped with the flag style in a +41 bend using Photoshop. I then duplicated the "Favorite" layer, changed the color of the lower layer and moved the lower layer up and to the left to create the white above the blue. Love Letters is the name of the font for "Quads" and was authored by StimulEye fonts. These fonts are available for free download and can be found through an internet search.

Digital Scrapbooking Alphabet Set

Alphabet sets can also be used to create titles and journaling. Alphabets are different from fonts in that each letter is a piece of art independent from the other letters. If you use layer specific software, each letter would be its own layer. Alphabets do not go in your font program and are often more detailed than fonts, but not as fast to work with. The lower example in the image above was created with an alphabet set.

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Digital Scrapbooking Kits, Quick Pages, and Journaling

A Digital Scrapbooking Kit
A Digital Scrapbooking Kit. © Bonnie Covel

Digital Scrapbooking Kits

A digital scrapbooking kit is a collection of coordinating papers and elements that sometimes includes alphabets. Scrappers use all or part of the kit, adding their own pictures, to create a layout. Kits are most often offered for download in zipped folders.

Quick Pages

Quick pages are similar to kits, except for the layout is already put together for you. You simply add your pictures and any elements to the layout and you are done.


Journaling for a digital scrapbooking layout is the same as journaling for a traditional layout. Your words might include an explanation of the pictures, a memory of the event, a quote, or a poem. On a digital scrapbooking page journaling is almost always in type, but can be hand written after the layout is printed. (It's nice for later generations to see your handwriting.)

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Digital Scrapbooking Techniques and Photos

Digital Scrapbooking Techniques

Digital scrapbookers use many different techniques to embellish their layouts. Some favorites are photo collages or montages , applying tones to such as sepia or black and white to photos, and creating shadows to give your layout a layered look. The

Software Tutorials

section of

About Graphics Software

gives step by step instructions for great techniques to jazz up your layout.

Digital Scrapbooking Photos

The rise in digital camera use has increased the popularity of digital scrapbooking. It is more convenient to create layouts digitally than to print photos and create traditional pages (though some people prefer the latter). If you don't use digital photos, you can scan hard copies of photos into your computer for use in digital layouts. Check out About Photography for tips on capturing the best pictures.

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Digital Scrapbooking Scraps and Inspiration

Digital Scrapbooking Scraps

Scraps, sometimes called crops, are when a group of scrappers get together, often online via chat rooms, to chat and visit while working on scrapbooking layouts.


is a scrapbooking community that holds scrap challenges. My favorite is the speed scrap challenge, where they post an inspiration and you have a limited amount of time, often 1 hour, to post your layout to the gallery. Scrapbook-Bytes also has other challenges, such as the kit challenge where you scrap using a free kit that they provide, a snail scrap where they give inspiration and you have several hours to post, photography challenges, fonts challenges, and many others.

Digital Scrapbooking Inspiration

You can find inspiration for you layouts anywhere you look. I find inspiration for graphics, techniques, and composition all over television, clothing, and billboards. Two specific forms of scrapbooking inspiration come in the form of sketches and scraplifts. See examples on the following page.

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Digital Scrapbooking Sketches and Scraplifts

Digital Scrapbooking Sketches and Scraplifts
Digital Scrapbooking Sketches and Scraplifts. © Bonnie Covel

Inspirational Sketch

An inspiration scrapbooking sketch is a drawing with suggested spaces for photos and/or elements, a title, and often journaling. The scrapbooker uses the sketch as a blueprint and places items in roughly the same area. Sketches are great for inspiring you to do a layout a bit different than your usual style. There are books of sketches and you can also find sketches on many digital scrapbooking sites.


is a site dedicated to sketches. In the top example above you can see a digital scrapbooking sketch and a layout based on the sketch.


A scraplift is when you see a layout of someone else's that you like and you then copy it with your own photos and your own flare. Scraplifting is considered a huge compliment, but always be sure to give the person you copied credit if you post the layout publicly. In the lower example above, the layout on the right by Bonnie Covel was scraplifted from the layout on the left by Cara Lowe. Cara used a sketch inspiration from


to complete her layout.

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Displaying Digital Scrapbook Layouts

I like to share my layouts with friends and family on the web. We have a family web site where I often post layouts. I also sometimes email them. I save all of my layouts to an external hard drive and CD for later use and I print the layouts and put them into an album.

Sharing Layouts with other Digital Scrapbookers

There are many digital scrapbooking sites on the web where you can post your layouts for feedback or just fun. You can post here in the About Graphics Software Forum in the "

Art Gallery - Show & Tell

" section. Whenever you post your layout publicly, be sure to list any elements or papers you bought or downloaded for free from someone else, any sketches or scraplift information, and always be sure you have permission of parents and guardians if your layouts contain photos of children. If you do not have permission, it is okay to blur the face of the child so that he or she cannot be recognized. It is a courtesy to list any freeware fonts you used, and a must to list any commercial fonts.

Printing Digital Scrapbooking Layouts

Digital scrapbooking layouts can be printed in any size. The most popular sizes are 8.5x11, 8x8, and 12x12. To print layouts larger than letter size, you will need a wide format printer or a printing service (i.e. Kinkos or Walmart).

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Backing Up Your Scrapbook Layouts and Scrapbooking Sites

Backing Up Digital Scrapbooking Layouts

Unless you will print them and then never, ever do anything with them again, back up your layouts and photos. I recommend backing up to an

external hard drive

as well as CDs or DVDs.

Digital Scrapbooking Sites

There are many websites dedicated to digital scrapbooking. Some favorites are: