A Beginner's Guide to Digital Scrapbooking

Okay... So I've had my SIL, BIL and a few other people ask me about how to get started with digital scrapbooking, so I thought I would compile a bit of a guide on how to get started -

Programs you will need
Adobe Photoshop (or equivalent - Photoshop Elements is a cheap alternative) - This is the program you will use to create your digital scrapbooking pages.
FontExplorer - This is optional, but if you accumulate a boat load of fonts, it is a handy way to load a whole folder of fonts when you want to use them and then unload them when you're finished so that your system doesn't get clogged up with lots of fancy fonts - it can be a pain scrolling through 100s of fonts (and I'm not exaggerating - I have 100s of fonts... possibly thousands!) trying to find something...
Picasa - Google's answer to Flickr, it is a way to manage images and photos.... and for the purpose of digital scrapbooking, it is a fantastic way to manage your digital papers and elements... I use it to tag my elements so that I can find them when I do a keyword search. The topic of managing your digital elements is a whole topic on which I could write pages about alone... so I will save that for another blog entry.

Have lots of harddrive space on hand... I have a dedicated external harddrive for my scrapping for convenience... Collecting freebies can be addictive... and the downloads can be big (varying from a few MB to 100MB+)... so you will need the space. Not only that, but you'll also the space to save you photoshop layout files (.psd files)... and they can also get big very quickly!

Shabby Princess - Every digiscrapper starts here - lots of free kits and they are excellent quality.
Ikea Goddess - she is a freebie hunter and puts up links to freebies on her blog daily... usually the links are to blogs, which have links to other blogs which have freebies... so it's pretty easy to trek around from blog to blog and find freebies... There's an interconnected world of digital scrapbooking blogs out there!
2 Peas In A Bucket - Gorgeous free kits here... a lot by Rhonna Farrer who is well known in both the paper and digi-scrapping communities... I love her stuff.
1001 Fonts - lots of free fonts to use on your layouts here
Page Maps - a resource which has page sketches if you need inspiration for your LOs.
DigiShopTalk - the forum I hang out in... I lurk... and I go through the gallery for inspiration... you will soon see
what I do is very amateurish compared to people on there...
My Reflections - A Western Australian Based company who I print my photobooks with. Great service... good pricing... can't go wrong.

I also hangout in the Scrapbooking Forum at Essential Baby. It's not really a digital scrapbooking forum as there is only one thread in there dedicated to digital scrapbooking, but I go there because I like to keep up with the paper scrapping trends and also because the girls in there are so nice... they are my social network outside of Adelaide!

Now... if you're just starting out, I would say the freebies are the best way to get started... it's cheap (you can't get any cheaper than free!) and there is so much good quality stuff available. If you want to buy stuff, there are a gazillion and one sites out there you can buy from... but be warned - it can be addictive and even though it may seem like $5 here... $5 there... (all in $US)... it all very, very quickly adds up! So, I would say stay away from buying stuff for as long as you can... (yes - I am directing this at you Bao! :)) Well... at least for 6 months... because by then you will know what your "style" kind of is and what kind of things you need to buy to add to your collection... and you won't regret your purchases. My style has changed a lot over 9 months... and I only started buying after 6 months... and even now, I am very particular about what I buy... I make wish lists and wait for 15%-25% off sales (which actually happen quite frequently)... so I buy what I really want...

One place I don't wait for sales if I see something I like -

Songbird Avenue

I keep an eye on this site, because they have 1 kit available per month and all proceeds go to a charity. So I don't mind paying for their kits... I have only ever bought one kit from there, but I admire the whole concept behind it.

Basic Jargon you will need to know -
LO - layout (the page you create)
Embellishment - A term used to describe stuff like ribbons/flowers/buttons etc
PP - patterned paper (used as background or as smaller pieces on a LO)

There is no right/wrong way to scrap... and I do it because I love it - it is a creative outlet and I have the most beautiful subject in the world to scrapbooking about :) ... I am beginning to veer off and get more into the photography side of things because i think beautiful photography is a great basis to create beautiful LOs... the compliment each other hand in hand.

The best advice I can give is to learn your tool of trade... be it PaintShopPro, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements.. whatever... take the time to learn how to use it.
They are complex programs... so be patient... you won't learn everything all at once but hang in there and you'll get there. There are lots of online tutorials around... I just searched around and found things... I will write a separate post sometimes about some of the helpful tutorials I have found.

You will find that most people scrap 12x12 inch... I scrapped A4 for the book because I couldn't afford to get 12x12s books made up for everybody for Christmas and
the A4 was a more affordable alternative. You will also find a few people that scraps A4 portrait as opposed to A4 landscape...

Lots of digi-scrappers that scrap 12x12, reduce the image size and print 8x8... And often people will wait for $1.50 per print at photo places and print 8x10 or 8x12 and trim off the white space... (Still pricey compared to photobooks) Unfortunately My Reflections don't do 8x8 books yet... but I have asked them about it... so maybe they might have that option soon...

Have you found this overwhelming? I wish somebody had put all this information all in one spot for me when I started, it took me months to work out where to get free stuff and how to find things... So hopefully this will help you get started a lot faster than it took me! Enjoy ... and have fun!

Layouts for 2008