Getting Started: Digital Scrapbooking

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Getting Started Digital Scrapbooking | Alexandra Rae Design

*This post has been updated in 2022– I’ve added some details, fixed some broken links, and added more tutorial links! Digital scrapbooking is always evolving, and I’m so excited to be a part of a hobby that just keeps getting better!*

First, some personal history.

I’ve always loved scrapbooking, of any kind. I loved siting downstairs in our basement, cutting pictures into shapes (!!) and gluing them down to colored cardstock and decorating with stickers and crazy lettering.  I love the feel of paper and moving the embellishments around on the page– it’s amazing. It’s a fantastic creative release that lets you feel productive at the same time– you’re being creative AND documenting memories!

But while I still LOVE paper and glue and acrylic stamps (they are my newest addiction!)… I’ve really fallen for digital scrapbooking.

Steph from the Daily Digi/Modern Photo Solutions describes digital scrapbooking as, “anything using technology to document memories: blogging, Flickr, Facebook, photo books, and our favorite; creating layouts using various programs (we use Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, but there are a lot of programs out there).”  I think that is SUCH a great description, because it doesn’t really “rule” anyone out. Just because you haven’t paper scrapped first, does not mean that you can’t be a digital scrapbooker!

Without realizing it, I’ve been digi scrapping almost as long as I’ve been physical scrapbooking! I remember getting a computer “game” for Christmas (Embarrassing confession) that had a “poster design” option that I would spend HOURS creating pages with my digital pictures (I believe taken with a “Barbie Digital Camera” that had to be hooked up to the computer to work).  When my family upgraded our computer, it came with software to make “decorated photobooks” and I spent hours creating photo collages with digital elements to decorate my school binders with. While it’s not the same “type” of digital scrapbooking most people think of today,  it all counts.  If you use technology to capture and document your memories, you’re a digital scrapbooker. 

Why should I try digital scrapbooking? 

I’m a big fan of digital scrapbooking, obviously. But why do I try to convince others to “convert” to learning digital scrapbooking?

My top 4 reasons I think you should digi scrap:

  • You learn valuable skills.  I knew how to use Photoshop before I *really* started digital scrapbooking, but playing around and attempting to get the results I wanted on my pages allowed me to explore Photoshop in ways I never would have learned in typical college classes.  I truly believe that any computer program you learn will be valuable to you in the future– even if you just build upon the knowledge later. You learn new programs, you learn more about your computer– you become a lot more familiar with technology, and with the way the world is going very, very tech heavy, no skill will go to waste!
  • It’s super easy to clean up! I don’t know about you, but when I create with paper, I get EVERYTHING out, and I make a HUGE mess. Which usually takes FOREVER for me to clean up. With digital, it’s just “File, Save” and turn off my computer. Easy. Peasy. (2022 addition: with two kids under 6, the easy clean up makes this my #1 reason I keep with digital! I get to have fun, be creative, and there’s NO clean up!)
  • It’s super portable. I’ve witnessed other paper scrappers unload entire mini-vans worth of supplies when they go to group crops. That’s a little crazy to think about.  When I want to scrapbook on the go, I just bring my computer. Easy.
  • It’s affordable. I’ll be the first to admit, I go too crazy buying digital kits (“It’s less than $5!” I can usually be heard saying…) but overall, it’s less expensive than paper scrapbooking– all the “tools” you need are on your computer!  No buying 4 different die cut machines or 8 bottles of glue and mists– and you don’t have to print the pictures!  And, best of all….
  • You can reuse the supplies!  Unlike paper scrapbooking, you can use the same piece of paper AS MANY TIMES AS YOU WANT!

So, what do you need to get started digital scrapbooking? 

Most importantly, you need a computer. (I use a Macbook Pro and an iMac, because I’m an Apple girl, but any computer will work!). I also recommend digital editing software– especially ones that let you use .pngs. Personally, I think the best programs are Photoshop CS or Photoshop Elements. I use the full Creative Suite ($$!) but you can do everything you need to do with Photoshop Elements. There’s a bit of a learning curve with these programs, but once you get the basics down, they are such fun and versatile programs!

On top of the software and “hardware” that you’ll need, you’ll want some digital photos and digital “elements” to  make your pages gorgeous!

Ooh, yes! The pretty kits! There’s so much in them! 

My only problem with physical scrapbooking– especially now that I see more and more online– is that I usually want the ENTIRE collection that a company will put out.  I love all the elements and how they coordinate and work so well together… but when you buy all of that in physical form,  it gets really expensive! 

With digital scrapbooking, you very rarely buy individual items– instead of a button here, a label there, a piece of paper here… you buy the entire “kit.” Everything “goes” together and is perfectly coordinated. I usually make entire pages from one single kit– no searching for the perfect element to match the colors in the papers perfectly– the designer has already done it all for you!  But if you want to mix and match, YOU CAN! Oh the freedom!

And the best part? It’s for a FRACTION of the cost that you would spend on an entire paper collection.

My favorite places to shop for beautiful and high quality kits are: 

There are many, many, many other great stores out there, but those are my favorites!

What if you use sketches when you scrap with paper? Is there a digi alternative? 

YES. One of my favorite things about digital scrapbooking is the TEMPLATES you can use to make your pages look even better!  If you’ve used sketches in paper scrapbooking, you’ll LOVE digital templates, because it’s even easier. I always used to hate using sketches when I scrapped, and then I found digital templates, and my world has changed. Now I even use sketches when I paper scrap!

My favorite templates to use are Jennifer Wilson’s of Simple Scrapper (a monthly membership site for all scrappers, paper and digi that releases 5+ new templates a month, a monthly membership magazine AND you have access to all the past templates from 2+ years past. I love love love it!) but Peppermint of One Little Bird Designs creates great templates, as does and  Valorie Wibbens.

If you like working off of sketches still, Traci Reed has free sketches on her blog every Sunday! Many of the examples her team shows are made with digital supplies!

Are you convinced yet? Want to learn MORE about digital scrapbooking? 

Below are more of my favorite resources, articles, classes, and inspiration for digital scrapooking, just in case you’re not convinced yet!

Are you a digital scrapbooker? A paper scrapbooker? What are your favorite resources for paper or digital scrapbooking?  

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6 Comments

    1. I’m with you, Cory! Somehow I can ALWAYS find excuses…. But Allie sure makes it harder to use them now. Great blog, Allie! What I’d really like is for you to come to my house to “show” me how (aka do it for me). 🙂

  1. Awesome article! Thanks for linking over to my Digi Scrap from Scratch class 🙂

    🙂 Melissa

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