A beginner's guide to digital scrapbooking

Digital scrapbooking (or digi-scrapping) is a memory-keeping and creative craft with a vibrant and welcoming online community. If you are new to digital scrapbooking and crafting, here's a quick guide to help you get started!

What is digital scrapbooking?

Wikipedia describes digital scrapbooking as "the creation of a new 2D artwork by re-combining various graphic elements. It is a form of scrapbooking that is done using a personal computer, digital or scanned photos and computer graphics software."

A beginners guidde to digital scrapbooking | Kate Hadfield DesignsDigital scrapbook pages created by the Kate Hadfield Designs Creative Team

Along with scrapbook layouts and other memory keeping projects, you can use the same techniques to create all sorts of other items such as greetings cards, posters, school projects and worksheets, classroom activities, invitations, decorations, gift wrap, party favours, stationery, calendars and so much more!

Your finished digital scrapbook layouts can be printed as individual pages and added to traditional scrapbook albums (great for mixing with paper pages in your album!), printed into a bound photobook or shared with family and friends digitally. You can also print your craft projects onto a number of surfaces to make t-shirts, tote bags, greetings cards, decorations and more!

Craft projects created by the Kate Hadfield Designs Creative TeamCraft projects created by the Kate Hadfield Designs Creative Team

What are the benefits of digital scrapbooking?

  • It's tidy - there's no paper, glitter or glue to clean up after you have finished!
  • The supplies are reusable - you'll never run out of letters or your favourite paper ever again!
  • The supplies are customisable - you can make everything just the colour, size and shape you want it.
  • It's easy to make copies of your projects for other people. As the finished project is digital, you can print as many copies you need, in whatever size you need.
  • It's easy to change the size and shape of the photos - you don't have to decide what size photo to print before starting your layout.
  • Instant shopping - place an order online and download your new supplies straight away!
  • The pages are flat - you can fit more pages in your album as printed digital scrapbook layouts are so thin in comparison to the more bulky traditional paper pages. You can also have hundreds of layouts printed in a bound coffee-table style book.
  • And maybe the most important benefit of all - you can undo any mistakes! It's very freeing to be able to try out new techniques and styles knowing that if you don't like the finished result you have used up any precious supplies!

That sounds good, but I love paper too much - what is hybrid scrapbooking?

One of the disadvantages to digital scrapbooking (along with the learning curve of learning how to use new software) is the lack of physical project and the feeling of actually crafting something with your own hands. This is where hybrid scrapbooking comes into its own! If (like me) you're more of a hands-on crafter, you can combine digital and paper crafting for the best of both worlds! You can start a project digitally, print it out and continue to embellish your project with traditional craft supplies and techniques to create what is known as a hybrid page. If you are a paper scrapper you might already be using your computer to print out text and journalling, hybrid scrapbooking takes that process a step further!

What do I need to start digital scrapbooking?

All you need to start digital crafting is a computer (or even just a phone) with some form of image editing software, and some digital graphics and your digital photos.

Software options

There are some websites that will allow you to upload your photographs and add embellishments and text to them online to create a scrapbook page, but to have more creative control and the option to make a wide range of projects, you will need to install some image editing software. Adobe programs are the market leader but there are other options that might work for you too, including some scrapbook specific programs. Most offer a free trial so you can try them out for a period of time before you buy.

If you are interested in digital pocket page scrapbooking, the Project Life app allows you to create scrapbook layouts and photobooks on your phone or tablet! Here's a blog post that talks you through creating a scrapbook page using the app: How to scrapbook on your phone, and here's a great set of video tutorials from Pixels to Pages to help get you started.

Types of graphics for Digital Scrapbooking

These are the different types of graphic files that you can find here at Kate Hadfield Designs, and at most digital scrapbooking sites:

  • Papers: 12x12 inch patterned or solid colour papers you can use as background for your page or project and as decorative details within the design. Papers are usually supplied as jpg files (the exception here being my Sketchbook Pages range which are supplied as .png files to preserve the transparency in the ripped edges).
  • Elements: decorative details such as ribbons, bows, frames, stitching and flowers that are the equivalent of the 3-dimensional embellishment on a traditional paper page. These are usually .png files with transparent backgrounds.
  • Alphabets: individual letter files that can be used to create titles and other decorative details. Alphabets (or alphas) are different to fonts and they are not installed on your computer, they are .png files that you layer on your project in the same way as elements.
  • Doodles and illustrations: hand drawn elements with transparent backgrounds, similar to the paper equivalent of stickers.
  • Stamps / line art: digital stamps are outline drawings that are perfect for creating worksheets, colouring pages and other projects where the printed result could be coloured in. They can also be used to create pattern on a plain background or as a line drawing in your digital layout.
  • Templates: page templates allow the user to quickly put together a complete scrapbook page by "clipping" their choice of paper and photographs to the layers in the template. Common sizes are 12x12 or 8.5x11 and the files are usually supplied in a number of formats including .PSD .TIFF and .png.
  • Journal cards: usually sized at 3x4, 4x6 or 4x4 inches designed to fit the pockets of a pocket page protector. Can be printed and used in a pocket page protector, or incorporated into a digital layout. They can also be printed and used as note cards! Usually supplied as individual jpg files (great for resizing or recolouring) and as a ready-to-print PDF.

Once you have your software and supplies, you can start layering your graphics to create your page. For example, you might start with a pretty patterned paper, add your photographs on top of that, then add a frame over one of your photos. They you could add some bows and flowers or other elements. You could use the text tools of your software to create your journaling, explaining the story behind the photo. Finally, you might add an alpha or text again to create the title. The addition of drop shadows (adding a shadow style to each layer on your page) helps to create a three dimensional effect to your work and can make your layout look as if it has been paper crafted! Drop shadows can be tricky to perfect, but you can purchase ready-made drop shadow styles to help you get started.

Shadow Styles for Adobe users:

I hope that this introduction to digital scrapbooking and crafting has been helpful! There are a number of useful sites, classes and tutorials online that will help you learn more about digiscrapping and how to get the most out of your software.

 Useful resources for beginners:

Paid Classes:

What is digital scrapbooking - a beginners guide - scrapbook layouts Digital scrapbook layouts created by the Kate Hadfield Designs Creative Team

Free Digital Scrapbooking Kits

Many digital scrapbook designers and websites offer a selection of free supplies to help get you started with digital crafting! These free samples are a great way of trying out new designers, and experimenting with different styles and techniques. You might like to explore my Freebies page for free digital scrapbooking templates, elements and journal cards to download and experiment with.

I hope this guide has been a helpful introduction to the wonder world of digital scrapbooking! You might like to visit the Gallery or check out my Pinterest boards for some fabulous scrapbook inspiration! If you have any questions about digital scrapbooking please feel free to get in touch, happy scrapping!

You might also like:

How to get started with digital scrapbooking! A beginner's guide to digital memory-keeping and hybrid crafting using digital scrapbooking supplies. Learn how to create scrapbook pages and albums on your computer.

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