Digital Scrapbooking | The Basics

After I wrote my last article on digital templates, which you can read here: Introduction to Digital Templates | Part I,  I received a lot of questions about how to get started with digital scrapbooking – questions that require a more basic introduction than I had started with. So bear with me today and let’s go through the basics together before I continue on with the next template article. Here are some of the questions I’ve received and my answers to them.

Can you explain exactly what digital scrapbooking is?

Digital scrapbooking is the process of creating a scrapbook layout on a computer . You move your photos into your design program and create layouts with digital products that include digital papers, embellishments, alphabets and virtually every other type of scrapbooking element you can think of. Another way to think about digital scrapbooking is that you’re creating an electronic layout. Or think about it this way – you’re probably familiar with programs that allow you to create your own Christmas cards or birthday announcements by dropping your photos into a pre-made card on the computer and then having them printed and delivered by the card company. A digital layout is the exact same thing,  just in a different size, and most digi scrappers choose to design their own page using digital products that they’ve purchased.

Are digital layouts completely flat?  What about the embellishments?

Yes, digital layouts are completely flat. Just like the Christmas card that I can print out, the embellishments are all digital images, not physical embellishments, so the layout is flat. Here’s an example of a digital layout that I recently created.


All supplies from Designer Digitals | Digital Template: Layer Works No. 297 by Studio Double D. Background Paper: Wild Island Worn Paper Pack by Lynn Grieveson.

As you can see, the layout has a lot of digital products, including papers, doilies, ripped notebook paper, an arrow, ribbons and stitching. And here is a side view of  it as printed on 12 x 12 photo paper. It is the same thickness as any other photo would be printed on photo paper, which is to say that it’s pretty darn flat!


Here it is again on top of 24 other layouts. These 25 printed layouts have the same depth as a stack of 25 printed photos would have. It’s just wider and longer photo paper than you’re used to seeing. Instead of 4 inches by 6 inches, it’s 12 inches by 12 inches but otherwise, it’s identical.


Where do you print digital layouts? Is it possible to print them at home?

You can have layouts printed at many, many different companies – probably all of those same companies that you would think of to get Christmas cards printed. I personally prefer Persnickity Prints or Scrapping Simply but you can upload them to Shutterfly, Snapfish, Walgreens or any other photo printing service. And just like any other photo, you can change the size of them. So I could have had my layouts printed in an 8″ x 8″ size or even 6″ x 6″. I just prefer to stick with the traditional 12″ x 12″ so that both my digital and traditional layouts can go into the same albums.

You can also print digital layouts at home as long as you have a standard photo printer. I print all of my 8.5″ x 11″ layouts at home on my Epson photo printer using photo paper. If I had a wide-format printer, I could also print all of my 12″ x 12″ layouts at home. But for me, it’s more cost-effective to have them printed by a printing company than it would be to invest in a wide-format printer and pay for all of that ink. Another alternative would be to resize them to 8″ x 8″ and print them at home if I wanted to but I already explained above why I like to use the larger size.

What do I need to start digital scrapbooking?

You will need four basic things to get started: your photos, a computer, a photo-editing program, and digital scrapbooking products.

The majority of digital scrapbookers use either Photoshop or Photoshop Elements as their photo-editing program. I personally use Photoshop Elements and highly recommend it. You can purchase it for under $70 usually and it is all you’ll ever need for most digital layouts. But there are plenty of other programs you could also use including Corel Paint Shop Pro, Microsoft Digital Image Suite, or LumaPix FotoFusion.

Choosing the digital scrapbooking products is the fun part! There are many, many digi stores that you can shop at and almost all of them have freebies to get you started.  My personal favorite is Designer Digitals (I’ve been on the creative team there for the past six years) and their products are the highest quality products you’ll find. But I can also recommend Oscraps, Pixels and Company, The Lilypad, and Jessica Sprague, to name just a few.

So those are some of the basics of digital scrapbooking. I hope I answered all of the questions. And while I don’t profess to being a digital “expert,” I have been completely immersed in digi scrapbooking for over six years now so I’m happy to answer as many questions as you have! Please leave me comments with any other questions you have or anything else you want clarified about digital scrapbooking and I will do my best to answer them.

6 Responses to Digital Scrapbooking | The Basics

  1. mob May 24, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    Thanks for the info. I want to get started with hybrid scrapping but don’t know quite where to start. I hope you can answer a few more questions.

    1. What about the other scrapbooking products for digi-scrapping, such as Acorn, Memory MIxer or those made by the stamping/scrapping home demo companies? I’m looking for something that won’t have a steep learning curve? Is the software image editing software or scrapbook software?
    2. Can all digi products be used in any program?
    3. Do the “flat” pages look 3 dimensional or do you have to add texture?
    4. What are “brushes” and overlays?
    5. Can you recommend any books for learning the steps?

  2. Renee T. May 24, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    Great primer on digi scrapping! Especially appreciate you including your favorite digi resources!

  3. DebraK May 24, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Great article! I have a couple of questions: what is the approximate cost to print 12×12 pages? And what is the best way to learn Photoshop Elements? Do you recommend any instruction or reference books? I had this program before my PC crashed and would like to buy another, updated copy, but I’m hesitant due to the time it may take to learn the program. I played with it and did some simple actions with it, but nothing complicated–didn’t have the time to learn it the way I wanted to. Is there a book out there that relates digital scrapbooking to this program? I’ve seen books that talk about how to modify photo’s, but I would like one specific to digital scrapping.

  4. tina phillips May 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    People are so intimidated by digi scrapping……if they would just give it a shot they would be hooked!!! And even tho the page is indeed flat, there are techniques for making things pop off the page and looking like it has true dimension. One of the greatest compliments I can get is “OMG thats a DIGI PAGE????”

  5. Gela May 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    My biggest obstacle with digital scrapping is organizing digital products. I am mostly a paper scrapper but I have dabbled in digital because it is easier to drag my computer than my paper stash when I am on the road. I am not very computer savvy so templates have been an easy way to digi scrap. Organizing digital products seems so complicated and has prevented me from buying more products and enjoying this hobby more.

  6. Amy June 20, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Great Article! Although I’ve been using Photoshop for years, the last three years I find that I’m using MiDesign@Michaels!
    As for the organizing question- I personally organize by designer 😉

    [Editor’s Note – Amy has a professional relationship with MiDesign by Michaels.]

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