How Digital Scrapbooking Works

If you've been scrapbooking for a while, you'll find that moving the process to your computer isn't that much of a leap -- and digital copies are a lot easier to share with friends. See more cool camera stuff pictures.
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A scrapbook is one of those things that most of us picture as handmade. You imagine yourself taking scraps of memories -- a newspaper clipping here, a piano recital program there -- and piecing them together into a creative narrative of your family's notable moments over the years. You cut, you paste, you arrange and you start all over again. How could something so hands-on ever be digital?

If you're thinking that taking memory preservation from your craft desk to your desktop will eliminate creativity and personalization, you might want to take another look. The primary difference between the two is that with digital scrapbooking, the work is done on a computer. So instead of getting in your car and driving down to the local hobby store to peruse half a dozen aisles of scrapbooking supplies (and possibly racking up quite a credit card bill in the process), you can do it all by simply turning on your computer.

The beauty of digital scrapbooking (sometimes known as electronic or computer scrapbooking) is that it eliminates a lot of the cost and clutter associated with the hobby. There can be some costs, of course, depending on whether you purchase software and other new technology (for example, updated cameras, printers and scanners) for it. And it does require a bit of organization to keep all of your computer files straight. However, you will no longer have to sort through stacks of construction paper just to find those stickers you misplaced; it's all at your fingertips. And as a bonus, you'll have a digital backup to share your creation once you print it out.

Despite the benefits, you might find that creating a scrapbook on a computer just doesn't feel the same. Perhaps you like the sound of scissors cutting through paper or the process of physically arranging items on a page. Maybe you're eager to try this new method but are intimidated by using the software. If you're one of the former, our digital scrapbooking ideas on the next page might inspire you to branch out with your creativity. And if you're a computer newbie, we've got software tips coming up.

Digital Scrapbooking Ideas

If you've been scrapbooking for a while, you'll find that moving the process to your computer isn't that much of a leap. Most of the elements are the same, just modernized. Instead of using stickers or markers for your words, you can experiment with fonts. And rather than gluing fragile family photos to your book's pages, you can save the originals and used scanned, digital copies instead. You might even find graphics that resemble the embellishments you would use in constructing a traditional scrapbook, including frames, borders and common shapes (stars, hearts, schoolhouses, fall leaves and anything else you might need or imagine).

The availability of so many creative options means there are many different types of themes and looks you can incorporate into your book. And because the electronic process can be much more efficient than traditional scrapbooking, you also have the choice of creating different albums for different occasions. One big, all-purpose scrapbook is great, but why not have one just for your summer vacations? Or maybe you can make a different book for each of your children, focusing only on their respective milestones and accomplishments. And a holiday-themed scrapbook would be nice to put out on your coffee table every Christmas or Hanukah. There are many possibilities. Once you have imported and saved images onto your computer, you can use them multiple times in multiple ways.

And don't forget, constructing your scrapbooks electronically means it's easy to produce duplicates of your creation. Once the book is ready, you can e-mail it or print out copies for friends and family. Your traditional scrapbook was probably a bulky binder that resided strictly at your home. Now, with the streamlined process of electronic scrapbooking, you can make numerous copies to give as gifts. For example, if you have siblings, consider compiling memories of your collective childhoods, and then printing out a book for each brother or sister.

However, if you're planning to keep your scrapbook strictly digital and only e-mail it, you have the option of adding video and sound effects -- two things your traditional, hard-copy version could never include.

If you're looking for more ideas and inspiration, visit some of the digital scrapbooking project centers online. These pages often include step-by-step instructions along with visual examples. Many of the sites also have user forums where scrapbookers can trade tips and ideas.

Continue reading to see how software can help you create your digital scrapbook.

Digital Scrapbooking Software

A digital scrapbook is a great way to preserve your favorite memories, like a special birthday party or a fun vacation.
A digital scrapbook is a great way to preserve your favorite memories, like a special birthday party or a fun vacation.

There is no one way to create a digital scrapbook. If you have somewhat advanced graphic skills, you can work your magic in a program like Adobe Photoshop. If your computer use is a little more on the basic side, you might want to seek out scrapbooking-specific software, of which there is no shortage.

The number of software options available can be a bit overwhelming. If you're unsure what to use, ask around in some of the scrapbooking forums online to see what experiences others have had. Another thing you can do is to simply weigh prices and features. There are several sites that will review current software programs based on things like ease of use, importing capabilities and customer support.

You might also want to take advantage of the many free downloads available online. Even subscription sites sometimes offer freebies such as fonts, graphics or templates. And don't be afraid to get creative when looking for additions to your book. There are many resources online or on your personal computer unrelated to scrapbooking that still might provide you with tools or inspiration. For example, your computer's clip art folder can offer you a source of free graphics, while a Google search can direct you toward quotes and poems that you can incorporate into your pages' themes. As with traditional scrapbooking, creativity is always key.

Keep reading for more information on crafts and hobbies.

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