Getting Started in Digital Scrapbooking: Guest Blog Post!

After I posted  the amazing first year book Jasper’s (second? third?) cousin Alicia made for him, Alicia received several emails from you all asking about how to get started doing digital scrapbooking.  I asked Alicia if she wouldn’t mind putting together a post about it and she generously agreed to be  my first ever guest blogger!

I have taken the liberty of putting a few of her digital scrapbook pages throughout the post, I hope she doesn’t mind. You can email Alicia at dorothy.munchkin@ yahoo dot com if you have any questions, or post them here and I’m sure she’d be happy to try and answer.



from Alicia’s photobook of her son Owen

For me, it all started just 12 short months ago. I was getting ready to order some photo prints from Shutterfly, and then began looking into their photo books (you know, those awesome bound coffee table yearbook-quality books?) Cool! I really wanted to make a book of my son’s first year with all the photos I managed to amass. I checked out Shutterfly’s pe-made book template designs – nice! They had several template options and color themes to choose from.

Then I made the horrible mistake of browsing through the Gallery. Oh dear! I saw one book in particular that was indescribably awesome! Note to self: I must make that exact same book for my son. Hmmm… there was a “Copy This Book” option – which I did, repeatedly. But became increasingly frustrated with Shutterfly, as every time I tried to copy that book, I could not figure out why I kept getting a totally blank book as my copy. When what I really wanted was a copy that would allow me to replace those baby pics with photos of my son. An easy perfect pre-made book! Right? Wrong.

I finally figured out how to contact the creator of that book, and I ended up on her blog. Turns out she was a digital designer – she designed various digital scrapbook pages and freely shared her techniques, creations, and other useful and inspiring info on her blog!


from Alicia’s photobook graduation gift for her sister Hannah

I was blown away. And very overwhelmed. I started googling “digi-scrap” and became even more overwhelmed. Turns out there is GIGANTIC worldwide digital-scrap community out there online – I mean HUGE – shock full of information, tutorials, free giveaways, inspiring creations, etc. The clearest, most concise article I’ve found about getting started with digi-scrapping can be found here:

So, here you are – you have access to all this free digi-scrap “stuff” at your fingertips, but you now need a photo-editing software in order to get going and start creating your very own layouts. I personally use Adobe PhotoShop 7.0 for all of my digi-scrapping (not because its the best, just because it is the first and only software I’ve managed to learn my way around and I really haven’t had the burning desire to go through a whole other learning curve with another software). There are tons of different software you can use – some people even use Microsoft Word!

So, here you are – you have your personal photos, and you have your photo editing software. In Digital Scrapbooking, just like in paper scrapping, you’re gonna wanna jazz up your pages (layouts) with background papers, decorative embellishments (digital image files of life-like ribbons, buttons, staples, paperclips, leaves, flowers, you name it!), and even word art or cool fonts. ALL of these essentials come in the form of digital image files – .jpg or .png, etc.

While there are many many designers out there who make a living by creating and selling online their gorgeous “kits” (zipped file containing coordinating papers, embellishments, word art, etc.), I’m here to tell you that you don’t actually have to spend a dime. There are some excellent freebie search engines which scour the designer’s blogs the world over for their freebies! Some designers (mostly the European ones I’ve noticed) are incredibly generous and consistently create huge, gorgeous kits (the whole package) and give them away for free! All they ask is that you leave them a little love on their blog. ****MUAH****
And while I am by no means an expert scrapper; I do have a knack for thrift! Check out my favorite search engine sites for collecting these freebies: and

So, here you are – you have your personal photos, your photo editing software, AND your amazing freebies which consist of a variety of goodies like backgrounds, embellishments, and templates. Now you simply have to decide which approach you wish to take to create your layout: what I like to call the “Ready to Scrap Shortcut” approach, or the “Scrapping from Scratch” approach.

The Ready to Scrap Shortcut approach is incredibly simple! You may have noticed some of those freebies are called “Quick Pages.” Its for a good reason. It is a fully decorated, pre-designed page, where all that’s left for you to do is “drop” your photo into place, save and print! Voila! The designers did all the… designing work for you! They were kind enough to leave a blank spot where your photo should go. Genius, really. And, once you get to following the blogs of your favorite digi-designers, you’ll start to notice that they all work on teams – creative teams – CT for short. So, every member of a certain creative team will work with the same kit and create free quick pages using that kit. If you stop at each of their blogs to download their free quick pages, you’ll have a coordinating album in no time flat!


From the amazing first year book Alicia made for Jasper

The Scrapping from Scratch approach is for those of you visionaries (and for those of you with a slightly more advanced photo-editing software skill set). You’re up to the artistic challenge. You start with a blank template (tons of free blank templates too!), and you choose your color scheme, papers, embellishments, etc. AND you arrange/position each and every one of them on your page to your own liking. You control everything from the size of your decorations to their positioning on the page. The world is your canvas! Go forth and create! Like this approach but sure how to technically maneuver around in PhotoShop? For you, my friend, read or watch a few PhotoShop tutorials – you’ll find tons of free tutorials on the designers’ blogs

So, here you are – you have your personal photos, your photo editing software, your amazing freebies, AND your totally awesome layouts! What next? PRINT THEM!!!! Show off your work! You can order prints of your layouts in many size options, or my personal favorite is to order a hardcover professionally-bound PHOTO BOOK of all my layouts! There are many companies and site who specialize in this. I have had numerous excellent results using Shutterfly, so I tend to stick with tried and true. You simply upload your layouts (saved as a .jpg) to the site of your choosing, and select the digi-scrapping photo book design; this will give you a book with completely blank pages in order that your uploaded layout images will completely fill each page! (This is why when I tried to copy a digital scrapbook way back when all I got was a blank paged book!) Afterward, you have a beautiful edition to your coffee table to showcase to friends and family!

So, here you are! With digi-scrapping, there’s no mess, no clutter, and your creations are totally reproducible! Also, its ART! There is no such thing as bad art! Just have fun creating and designing. Make something unique and personal, and something that you and your loved ones will cherish! It IS overwhelming at first, but after you get the gist of it and soon find yourself horribly addicted, please don’t blame me!!!!

* Note from Ariana: here are two other blogs that I used to troll regularly for freebies:

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Maria says:

Thanks for talking about my site :-)

Maria (DigiFree)

Ava says:

Thanx for the guest post. I agree that Digital Scrapbooking is fun. It’s also time intensive, but rewarding. I did my own “scrapbook” of our wedding and I honestly love it so much more than the professional album we got.

Anh says:

Hooray for guest bloggers! Alicia, thank you so much for sharing these valuable tips. I can’t wait to start my first digi-scrapbook.

And Ariana, here I thought I’d learn a few tips about motherhood but I’m learning so much more! With digital scrapbooking coming into play, I’ve pretty much convinced myself that I absolutely need Lightroom too!

ariana says:

Glad you guys liked it, digi scrapping is something I REALLY want to devote more time to in the future.

Kristen, so glad you delurked! Doesn’t the Vado rock? Now when I look at my non-widescreen videos they look so…stumpy!

jbhat says:

Great info. Thanks for sharing!

Kristin says:

Thank you so much for these tips! I’m a lurker on your website, and haven’t ever commented, but I couldn’t resist thanking you and Jasper’s cousin for this advice. I’ve poked around in digital scapbooking, but have never given it my all…now I think I just may!

PS- I bought the Creative Labs Vado HD pocket cam that you had recommended and we LOVE it! We were going to buy the Flip, but your review pointed us towards the Vado and after looking into some more things, we chose it instead. Thanks a ton!

Jessica says:

I’m really excited about this post. Digital scrapbooking is something I have wanted to try for a while now . . . thanks!