Archive | April, 2010

New iPhone Apps for Scrapbooking

A whole slate of new iPhone apps from scrapbooking manufacturers have come out recently. Here’s a look at all of them together in one place!

iTunes doesn’t seem to know what to do with scrapbooking apps – the first app below appears in the Lifestyle section, while the others are in the Photography section. And not all of the apps can be found by searching “scrapbook” either. So it seems there is no easy way to keep up-to-date on available scrapbook apps in the store.

CSS Daily by Clear & Simple Stamps ($4.99)

This app is – to me, anyway – absolutely gorgeous in its simplicity.

CSS Daily functions essentially as a “page a day” calendar, with a new project idea every day made with Clear & Simple Stamps. But you don’t have to have a huge collection (or even any) of the company’s stamps to get inspiration from these ideas.

The project screen starts by displaying the project sample at the top. However, if you scroll down there is a button that will take you to a second screen with instructions and a supply list (including direct links to items on the Clean & Simple Stamps website for purchasing them). The projects I’ve seen in the several days that I’ve had the app are beautiful examples of cards that definitely fit the “clean & simple” style, but which could also be created with supplies on hand.

Besides the project idea function, this app only has two other tabs: one that gives a brief profile of the company, and one that lists the company’s social media and web addresses.

Users will likely have two complaints about this app. First, it may be somewhat overpriced for an app of simple function that is basically a marketing tool for the company that created it. The average listed price of a paid app in the app store is $3.63, according to recent analysis. Three-quarters of the apps that are downloaded are free apps, however, and the average price has been falling in the app store.  iPhone users are very intolerant of high prices and this app may be overpriced for their taste.

The other possible complaint about the app is that there is no way built into it to store the daily ideas for later use. One idea is available each day, and then it disappears and is replaced by another. Perhaps this would be good functionality to add in an update. In the meantime, users can hack half a solution to this problem by using the screen capture feature on their iPhone to capture the image of any item they really love to save for later in their phone’s camera photo roll. This could even be done with supply lists, although of course the purchase links won’t work in the screen captures.

(To do a screen capture with your iPhone, click the home and power button at the same moment and release them quickly. You will hear a click and see a flash as the content of your screen at that moment is captured and sent to you camera roll of photos.)

All in all, it is fun to see on a daily basis what this app will have in it for inspiration. Checking it on my phone provides a stolen scrapbooking moment in the middle of other tasks or errands. With a few improvements, it could be a truly great app, and in the meantime it is still fun.

Bazzil Basics Paper by Paul Schreiber ($9.99)

Paul Schreiber, who is listed as the seller of this app, is the IT Director at Bazzill. The app is designed as a reference guide to the palette of Bazzill cardstocks, and as a tool for matching a photo to coordinating cardstock colors.

This app, with its reference libraries of all of the colors that you’d think could replace Bazzill’s hefty swatch books, almost has the potential to be incredibly useful. But it runs up against a problem: the technical limitations of the iPhone’s screen and camera. The screen isn’t capable of displaying fine color differences, especially in lighter colors. A good example of this is the Classic palette, where four colors display on the screen as visually white although on close examination of their details their RGB codes are slightly different:

The concept of the color matching to a photo was great but I was unable in working with several photos to get a palette that looked like it was anywhere near accurate to the actual photo as I saw it on the screen. In one photo, trying to match items that were pink and orange on the screen resulted in suggestions of bright red cardstocks by the app.

The most useful part of this app may be that it supplies the RGB and CMYK codes for each Bazzill color, making it easier to match a printed item like journaling to a cardstock that you may be using. This matching of course will be limited by the color accuracy of your printer in producing the code that you put into it, but having the right code to start with will at least give you a good starting point.

Another useful feature is the suggested palettes that are built into the listings for the individual colors. There are suggestions for monochromatic, complementary, triadic, analogous, and split-complementary palettes. Favorite palettes can be named and saved to a library for later reference. The individual color listings also have a link to an image that shows the texture of the paper – a good reference for use ordering online, although some of the images are better than other at conveying the actual appearance of the texture.

The Bazzill app, with its $9.99 price tag, is another one that potentially will run afoul of the price sensitivity of app store customers. Its scope is ambitious but until the display and camera technology catches up with the design, its usefulness is handicapped.

eScrap by Die Cuts With A View ($1.99)

The most reasonably priced app of the three reviewed here, this is also perhaps a case of “you get what you pay for”.

eScrap has two major functions (besides a hugely prominent button linking to the company’s site). Both the functions are ways to design miniature scrapbook pages for use as iPhone wallpaper or for sharing on social sites. Pages can be created from scratch using different paper sets in the “Design A Page” section, or using pre-designed templates in the “Quick Pages” tool section.

The design tools are actually pretty user-friendly and the library to work with is quite nice – with one exception. The photo management and manipulation in this app is almost unusable. Photos are often inserted distorted in the wrong aspect ratio. In the Quick Pages, you get one attempt to insert a photo. If you change your mind or it inserts wrong, you have to start completely over. In the Design A Page section, attempts to move a photo to a new position than where it was automatically inserted often result in the photo disappearing to a position behind the background (from where I was never able to retrieve any of them).

DailyDigi by Point About, Inc (Free)

This free app is by the Daily Digi website. Like the CSS Daily app, it keeps its function simple. It basically has five different pages that offer different types of content for browsing. The Daily Digi blog and Twitter stream occupy two of the slots. Two others are filled with projects for inspiration from various sources.

A final section is filled with the excerpted feeds of a large selection of scrapbook and photography-related blogs (Scrapbook Update included) with the most current entries at the top. A click on the brief excerpt takes the reader to the full article on the actual blog if the user finds a headline they want to read the full story of.

Items in most of the sections can be emailed, tweeted or viewed in a browser instead of the app if desired.

This is an aesthetically beautiful app, and doesn’t stumble over overly-ambitious design. It just flat out works and it aggregates good content into a fun and easy way to browse through it. DailyDigi also gets the pricing right by setting it at free for an app that largely contains their own content that could also be consumed free on the web. They seem to correctly recognize that the app is a marketing expense that will pay off by keeping users more engaged with their site and their content, instead of using it as a direct profit-maker.

iPhone apps are gaining momentum in the scrapbooking market. These (and the Scrapbooks Etc app released last summer) are just the beginning.


Three ideas for Spring Scrapbooking

As I begin taking photos of spring events with flowers blooming in the background, I find myself looking for products and looks that will help me embrace the season. I feel the need for things that hint at warming weather, flowers in bloom, and an overall happiness as the new year gets into full swing. Today I have three suggestions: a color combination, a pattern, and a growing trend – bees on supplies.

First up, I’ve seen a lot of aqua + coral or pinkish red tones together in the clothing departments lately. I think it will be a really fun combination for both spring and summer scrapbooking. (American Crafts swatches are shown below.)

Then there is a pattern that is not only versatile, but very spring friendly as well. It’s been showing up in my girls’ clothes as well as in favorite scrapbook brands. The Girls’ Paperie (shown below in yellow), Jillibean Soup (shown below in pink), Little Yellow Bicycle’s Clothesline collection, and Jenni Bowlin are a few companies that come to mind when I think of cute gingham patterned paper. Bazzill has some cute gingham ribbons, and the Homespun Chic line by Melody Ross is a great example of both spring colors and cute checkered patterns. I’ve been seeing checks and gingham everywhere – and I love it!

I am not finding bees replacing butterflies this season on my own pages, but the buzzy insects do seem to be a growing trend in products. In addition to papers from Nikki Sivils (one shown above), Pink Paislee has a Queen Bee collection, Martha Stewart has a bumble bee punch, and the Dear Lizzy line even has a bee paper.

I am enjoying the traditional spring colors right now, and I made a layout to share here with some favorites from the Jillibean Soup Egg Drop Soup collection that is perfect for spring crafting. This is one of my favorite spring themed lines this year. I added in some texture with a favorite CHA pick (Nikki Sivils buttons) and the canvas flowers from Jillibean as well. Adding in a few bits from another favorite spring line (Dear Lizzy) was the icing on this creative cake.

Supplies: Jillibean Soup papers, tag, flowers, and letter stickers; Nikki Sivils buttons; American Crafts (Dear Lizzy) dimensional stickers; Sakura pen.

With warming weather and flowers beginning to bloom, I find myself inspired to make pages that feel like spring to me, and projects that come together quickly are especially appealing.

Summer is just around the corner – and I will be back here sharing more seasonal ideas. What products and patterns are you reaching for? Please do feel free to share!


Paperclipping Roundtable #16: Implanted Under Your Skin

Paperclipping Roundtable episode #16 featured Noell, Izzy, Ali Edwards, Cathy Zielske and me talking all about how to use our social media content in our scrapbooking.

To listen to this week’s episode, you can click here.

Show Notes:

As Izzy mentioned in the episode, he has created a new “Intro to Video” course for video beginners. If you have an interest in learning some basic video fundamentals, this course will help.

The Paperclipping Roundtable audience can save $17 off the normal price of $50 with coupon code pcvideo, lowering the price to only $33 if you sign up by April 23, 2010!

You can learn more here.

The Panel:

Our Picks:

Here’s an example of a perfect Photopass picture from a Disney photographer that we were glad to have them there for:

I was there, insanely snapping away when Bridget met Santa at the Magic Kingdom in December. But I never managed to get her looking just right. The Disney Photopass photographer did…and now I have the perfect photo for my scrapbook page about her meeting with Santa.


Ning Ends Free Social Network Offerings

Social network host Ning announced this past week that they will be ending their free level of service and transitioning to paid-only offerings.

Ning is a platform which allows users to create social networks in a way similar to services like Blogger & Typepad host blogs. Up until now, the company has offered a free level of service along with paid upgrades for additional services and service levels. On May 4th, Ning says it will be announcing a new fee structure that will not have a free option. Users of the free service level will be given 10 weeks to transition off of Ning to a different provider or upgrade their service.

The free level of service at Ning has been a popular host for small scrapbook hobby groups to utilize to congregate online. (A search of the term “scrapbook” on Ning yields 114 results, although not all those results are craft-related.) The majority of these groups have fewer than 50 members, and many of them have less than 20 users. Even a small charge will displace many of these boards off of Ning to other services, according to many of their owners.

Shawn Lahr, who owns the Nuts About Sketches board, summed up the situation of many of the free Ning network users:

I’ve had the board I believe 6-7 monhths. [sic] I think it has 30 or 40 members. It’s a board for my sketch site. I can not afford to pay for a message board, so they’ll have to delete it.

Several scrapbook companies also use Ning to host social networks. Among these are Pink Paislee, Unity Stamp Company, Graphic 45, and Reminisce. These companies, however, typically are already paying for some level of premium service from Ning, and so will not be as affected by the new fee structure.

As Pink Paislee’s Rebecca Cross told Scrapbook Update:

We use this community to interact directly with our consumers while providing them with a place to share their Pink Paislee projects and we are convinced this is an integral part of our marketing efforts. We were one of the first manufacturers in this industry to launch this type of community and we will continue to support this portion of our website for our fans.

One complaint of both the free and premium users of Ning has been having their boards overrun by spammers, a concern voiced to Scrapbook Update by Graphic 45’s Candy Rosenberg. The fee structure changes may be the last straw to push those users to go elsewhere.

So where else is there for displaced Ning users to go that offers similar services for free? The following options are among the ones that Scrapbook Update has found being discussed in various places as replacements for Ning’s free service level:

At least one scrapbook group with 1500 members, Jennifer Bliss Community, has already begun the migration to the Spruz platform. [Note that the above are not recommendations of Scrapbook Update but just sharing suggestions made in other resources.]


Eco Green Crafts Lives Earth Day Everyday (Giveaway)

Today is Earth Day, so everyone is talking and thinking “green”. What can we do to save the planet? But one crafts company lives and works by the principles of Earth Day everyday.

Eco Green Crafts debuted to heavy buzz (heavy enough to be a Scrapbook Update hot pick) at CHA Winter 2010. The company was co-founded by Julia Andrus and Susan Sepaniak. Andrus’s “green” motivation comes from being a survivor of a rare form of cancer, which lead her to believe we need to get rid of the toxins in our environment. As a dedicated crafter, she wanted chemically safe crafting supplies to use. Sepaniak brings to Eco Green a wealth of expertise about craft mediums, having formerly been Director of Product Development at Plaid.

The color palette introduced by Eco Green at CHA Winter 2010 was described to me as based on several influences: 1963 fashion colors, Royal French, Biblioteque, and Country French. Basic metals were also included.

Eco Green’s ink pads are an excellent example of the company’s commitment and attention to detail in their “green” mission. During my visit to their booth, I was told the inks are vegetable-based, the bottom of the case is made of recycled plastic, and that the rounded shape of the pads is designed to be ergonomically correct. Eco Green Crafts offers both dye and pigment ink pads.

The company’s stamps are cling-mounted rubber. Their “green” feature is that since they are unmounted, they save wood. The stamps’ designs are steam punk and vintage styled. Eco Green also offers beads that are made of recycled glass, a very intriguing concept.

In keeping with the natural theme of the company, their color names are almost all drawn from nature: mushroom, sky, butternut, coral, etc.

Noell Hyman of (my co-host on Paperclipping Roundtable) taped a really inspiring demonstration in the Eco Green Crafts booth in Anaheim with Julia Andrus:

If you are reading this via an RSS or email subscription and can’t see the video, please click here to view it.

Would you like to craft in an eco-friendly way? You can win some of Eco Green Crafts’ eco-friendly acrylic paints on Scrapbook Update!

We’ve got a selection of their metallics, plus zucchini and mushroom that will go to one lucky reader:

How to Enter:

All you have to do to be one of the lucky winners is leave a comment on this entry before Midnight U.S. eastern time on Monday night, April 26th. (Note: If you are reading this post via an email or RSS subscription, click here and it will take you to the giveaway on the  Scrapbook Update website where you can fill out the comment form at the bottom of the article to enter.) Make sure you include your email address in the line reserved for it on the comment form (for your own protection, don’t put it in the text of the comment, where it will be visible to the public – just in the line labeled “email” in the form where only Scrapbook Update staff can see it). We will need it to notify you if you are a winner. Winners will be drawn by random drawing from all eligible entries. One entry per person.

Good luck everyone! And happy “green” crafting!

Paperclipping Roundtable #15: The Mini Book Show

Paperclipping Roundtable episode #15 featured Noell, Ana, Stacy and I talking all about the how, when and why of mini-books!

To listen to this week’s episode, you can click here.

Show Notes:

Promo code for the Big Picture Scrapbooking class, Colorful You: roundtable

The Panel

Product Picks

Here’s the layouts that I referred to in the show when I was talking about the color scheme I picked this week:

This is the digital layout, for an 8×8 photo book about my 2009 trip to CHA Winter (and Disneyland). This is actually just the left page of a two page layout.

Supply List – Page Template: Designer Digitals Create A Book Classic No. 9 by Katie Pertiet; Digital Elements: Amelie Kit by Sara Carling for (no longer available); Fonts: American Typewriter, Apple Chancery.

This second layout is a 12×12 layout for my regular album:

Supply List – Patterned Paper: Autumn Leaves; Rub-on Alphabet: Making Memories (Beach); Cardstock Alphabet: Cloud 9 Designs; Brads: unknown (red), Marcella by Kay (pearl); Flower Die Cuts: Cricut Cartridge Graphically Speaking; Journaling Cards: October Afternoon Cherry Hill.

We also promised on the show to share mini-books that we’ve made. Some of mine I can’t share for privacy reasons, like the one in progress of my son and the digital one I did of my daughter and her classmates in pre-k. But here are a couple that I have done or in progress that I can share.

At CKU in 2005 we started a 6×6 album as one of the projects. When I got home I finished it up with all my pictures from the event. A mini-album was perfect for the series of disconnected snapshots I had from the event.

Probably my favorite mini-book is the one that I did that I entered in the Simple Scrapbooks Coolest Album Contest (in 2004?). Part of the reason that I love it is because it won the contest, but I also love it because it was a special time for our family – the album was of a family reunion of my mother-in-law’s family.

I don’t have the album, just a color copy of the pages in it, because I gifted it to my mother-in-law. But I can share scans of the book that it was in…

The layout at the top of the page, Main Street USA: California Style is also part of a mini-book that I am currently working on from my trip to CHA Winter 2009. It’s the first time I made it over to Disneyland so I figured it warranted special recognition!

The other book I have in progress right now is this one. I’m waiting to find the perfect set of pictures to go with it.

Supply List – Chipboard Album: BoBunny Press (Beach); Patterned Paper: Autumn Leaves, Daisy D’s, My Mind’s Eye; Paint: unknown (acrylics), Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint (Picket Fence); Stamp: Stamper’s Anonymous by Tim Holtz French Market; Other: Mudd Puddles Sand Paste (Malibu Beach).

Here’s everyone else’s mini-books: