Advice for Newbies!

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Posted 9/8/2008 by stefdesign in Digital Scrapbooking


PeaNut 307,816
April 2007
Posts: 12,819
Layouts: 962
Loc: So Cal Gal Living in NJ

Posted: 9/8/2008 9:03:37 PM
Recently we've had a lot of posts from newbies asking for various helps. We have tons of resources to refer them to, and recommendations for books, tutorials, magazines, threads, etc. But I was thinking, there needs to be a thread with some advice from us Peas... things that we can pass on that isn't really specific to a particular program. Just kind of general advice & suggestions. I thought I'd start it with some random ideas and hope you'll join in. Maybe this thread can stay around for a couple of years like the one Shan linked to yesterday, here.

In no particular order, here are some things I advise:

Choose the right software for you. Good software doesn't have to be expensive, but you should choose wisely. You need a program that can support layers, png images, and ideally, abr files. (You'll eventually learn what those are)

I suggest you get to know your software a little before you try creating scrapbook pages. Instead of madly downloading kits and trying to get all the cool digital effects your first day, get a handle on the basic principles of digital. Layers. Type. Your tool bar. Opening a document. Saving it. Different file formats. Basic photo editing.

Brushes, Actions, Templates, and Drop Shadows are not for Day One.

If you choose Photoshop Elements, learn how to import/ copy/ paste your image layers into your layout. Instead of using scrapbook pp and embellishments at first, try using just a couple of photos, and some simple, solid color backgrounds until you feel comfortable.

If you think you are going to love digital scrapping, invest in an external hard drive, or subscribe to an online storage hosting site. You will accumulate tons of 'stuff', you should get a handle on it from the very beginning.

Unless you only plan on scrapping what comes out of your camera, get a scanner. I recommend a dedicated scanner (not a three-in-one) you can get a good one for under $150. Now you can scan your pre-digital photos, souvenirs, heritage photos, and your child's artwork. I could go on & on about the stuff you can scan!

Don't assume digital scrapbooking is faster and easier than traditional scrapping! It can be, but it can also be very time-consuming. But fun!

If you get discouraged, it might be because you are working beyond your level. Take it slow and easy, don't try to create a masterpiece on your first attempt. Or two. Or three.

Don't ever be afraid of sounding dumb if you don't know something. Everyone was dumb at the beginning!

Look for inspiration from a variety of sources. Don't just look at scrapbook stuff- check out design websites, magazine advertising, art galleries.

Don't worry about your photography skills.

Don't worry about 'design principles'. The more you observe, the more conscious you will get of what constitutes 'good design' and 'bad design'. You don't have to be an artist to create dynamic layouts!

Ok, now I turn the time over to you.. I'm sure there will be some more great ideas out there!

Mighty Pealicious!

PeaNut 82,680
April 2003
Posts: 9,169
Layouts: 507
Loc: Central California

Posted: 9/8/2008 9:08:34 PM
When or if you start downloading freebies, keep track of the designer and or store you got it. And give credit where credit is due. If you use an element or paper (even if you recolor) give credit to the maker.

And if you lift a layout, give credit there too.

Oh, and before you start downloading, check different ways to organize all your supplies before it gets out of hand!

I have a blog now too. My blog

Biscraptual Pea

PeaNut 87,311
May 2003
Posts: 6,781
Layouts: 548
Loc: Tennessee

Posted: 9/9/2008 9:35:39 AM
Get a grip on organization from the beginning, too. It can be very helpful to use a program like ACDSee or Elements Organizer to sort your digital goodies.

You don't HAVE to have a printer or scanner to do digital scrapbooking - but it is nice to have them.

You can choose to print your own pages or have them professionally done. will print almost every size imaginable, as will other sites. You have to weigh the cost & convenience of printing your own vs. having them done.

You don't have to give up paper scrapping to do digital scrapping, and contrary to popular belief, digital scrapping really IS scrapbooking.

Amanda Mac, nursing student/mommy/wife extraordinaire

My Photo Blog
My "Other" Blog
My Recipe Blog

Doing my K*Pea Duty ;-)

PeaNut 6,147
August 2000
Posts: 16,235
Layouts: 941
Loc: right here

Posted: 9/9/2008 10:03:41 AM

Don't assume digital scrapbooking is faster and easier than traditional scrapping! It can be, but it can also be very time-consuming. But fun!

And the corollary to this: Don't assume digital scrapbooking is cheaper than traditional scrapping! It can be, but if you were inclined to buy every cute paper product you saw, you are just as likely to buy every cute digital supply you see. Not to mention there is a whole new range of technology to spend your $$$ on: software, printers, scanners, external hard drives, bigger monitors, laptops, tablets...

"Most technical writers make their living describing the smile on the face of a black cat in a dark room in a house that will be built next week." -- unknown


PeaNut 3,542
March 2000
Posts: 5,664
Layouts: 225
Loc: Pleasanton, California

Posted: 9/9/2008 10:22:38 AM
Enjoy the unlimited creative possibilities.

Karen Wilson-Bonnar
CK Magazine Hall of Fame Winner -- 2007
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Sande Krieger
Olympian Pea

PeaNut 61,146
January 2003
Posts: 11,833
Layouts: 409
Loc: Salt Lake City

Posted: 9/9/2008 10:47:30 AM
The greatest thing ever!

Also...digi scrapping should come with a warning because it is highly addictive.

My advice...
Ask around about programs. Find what others like. It's also a BIG BONUS if are free tutorials available for that program. They don't have to be digital scrapbooking tutorials but that will help you learn it faster.

Don't be afraid to post your questions on the Message Board here. There is a GREAT group of men and women here who are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable.

Remember it's a learning process so you might get a little frustrated in the beginning...but don't give up! It will be WORTH IT!

Participate in the weekly challenges. They will help push you to learn more about how your tools and program work.



PeaNut 187,882
January 2005
Posts: 1,441
Layouts: 198
Loc: southern ontario

Posted: 9/9/2008 12:03:29 PM
never be afraid to pmail a digi pea and ask "how did you do that" we like to share.

just because its a freebie doesn't mean you have to download it. you will soon find you have way to much stuff that you don't love.

digital pages do not have to look like a paper page. feel free to think outside the box.

don't give up, the learning curve may seem steep at first but once you get the hang of it you will start to remember how you did it and be able to do it quicker the next time.

Def take part in the challenges, so much inspiration.

have fun

Garden Girl

PeaNut 128,750
February 2004
Posts: 1,892
Layouts: 71
Loc: burnin' in AZ

Posted: 9/9/2008 2:16:18 PM
awesome thread! thanks for starting it, stef. you all have great advice!


Thrift Whisperer

PeaNut 114,407
November 2003
Posts: 22,729
Layouts: 66
Loc: At the intersection of Hooterville and Stars Hollow

Posted: 9/11/2008 3:01:39 PM
Remember that a digital "page" if saved properly is simply a jpeg (ie. a photo). You can - and should! - do anything with a digi page that you would a digi photo. Email, blog it, share it online, print in a variety of sizes, upload to a photobook, download to your iPod, whatever. Don't be intimidated and don't think for a minute that your pages exist "only on your computer."

just because its a freebie doesn't mean you have to download it. you will soon find you have way to much stuff that you don't love.

Amen sister! I spent nearly a year downloading nearly everything that came my way. I'd venture that I've not used about 95% of it.


PeaNut 307,816
April 2007
Posts: 12,819
Layouts: 962
Loc: So Cal Gal Living in NJ

Posted: 9/11/2008 3:44:59 PM
Or, for a different take on that, I've never used a single downloadable kit, paper, embellishment, etc. except for fonts. You don't HAVE to use anything but your imagination for backgrounds and accents. As several people have said, you can create whatever you can imagine!

Nan Nan

PeaNut 332,042
August 2007
Posts: 343
Layouts: 94
Loc: Mississippi

Posted: 9/11/2008 7:26:34 PM
I think that digital scrapbooking is definitely an art form. With the help of great digital designers and the hands on of scrapbooking and let's not forget hybrid. Sometimes I can be totally focused on a design or a sketch and go completely in another direction. That is what I love about art!


PeaNut 260,125
May 2006
Posts: 2,467
Layouts: 90

Posted: 9/13/2008 12:54:09 PM
great thread thaks for posting this

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