Scrapbooking Goes Digital

Preserve your family memories in style, with a few clicks of the mouse.

By Maryan Pelland

I once made a graduation scrapbook for my nephew. Filled with glossy photographs and splashy borders, it chronicled his high school years. The project took a full two weeks to complete, required three desk drawers of storage space, and cost well more than $150. My, how scrapbooking has changed. Each project no longer breaks the bank. And, say so long to spending an hour of clean-up time post scrapping session. These digital techniques and frills changed my hobby life.

Beginner Scrapbooking

Getting started was simple. First, I loaded Digital Scrapbook Memories (a CD containing a library of images, embellishments, and paper designs costing from $14.95 to $24.95) into my imaging editor. I opened a new project and some snapshots from a recent visit with my grandchildren in Chicago — the faces of those little guys are worth preserving! In minutes, I selected and combined images, festive autumnal backgrounds, and colorful borders to create a page. I printed it out and sought family opinions.

They were wowed. “Awesome colors and textures!” I heard. “How'd you scan that background?” and “How many hours did that take you?”

Before, using downloaded and printed artwork didn't work well for me. Either the outline didn't match the image, resolutions were dull and muddy, or my image scaling options included only postage or billboard size. But, with Digital Scrapbook Memories, I could:

* Resize images up or down
* Recolor objects — a purple snowman or blue daisy? Why not?
* Carry a theme throughout an entire album
* Print completed pages without struggling to align and glue multiple elements

Intermediate Scrapbooking

When you're ready to ramp up for a major scrapbook project, I'd suggest MemoryMixer software from Lasting Impressions and the Kodak Gallery. (That's not to say there aren't an abundance of other options available such as Scrapbook Flair, which is free, or Adobe's Photoshop, which I consider the ultimate photo editing program and can run more than $1,000 for the full version.)

MemoryMixer requires a fast processor, Java, and a hard drive with a minimum of 1.5 gigabytes of storage. Intimidating? Not at all. It's one of the most user-friendly programs I've encountered. Much of what the program loads are ready-made templates, embellishment libraries, and pre-arranged themes.

Once the software was installed, it was easy to open a new album. I'd describe the whole process as WYSIWYG (pronounced “wizzywig”) meaning “what you see is what you get.” I pointed and clicked my way to making a personalized scrapbook. I had a blast picking backgrounds, font styles, and adding photos from my collection. In 30 minutes, I had completed an engaging eight-page book commemorating an anniversary. In a heartbeat, I'd submit this scrapbook to DIY Network's scrap guru, Sandi Genovese.

I liked being able to recolor the elements at any time. Importing images from other sources was easy and the learning curve, instant. Tool selections were clear and the functions were obvious. It's a bit pricier than other options (MemoryMixer Version 2 costs $79.95; but, there's also MemoryMixerLite V2 that costs $34.95). With this software, you can use your photos to create greeting cards and calendars, too, which isn't an option with all of the other products mentioned here.

Once you finish the digital scrapbook, you can opt to print it out yourself, have it professionally printed, or upload it to your computer and burn it onto a CD/DVD.

Advanced Scrapbooking

If you're ready to take your scrapbooking to the next level, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and Adobe Premiere Elements 4 offer the ultimate in creative freedom. Recently, Adobe has lured consumers with a package containing both for a cost of $90 at discount stores (up to $125 elsewhere). Adobe's focus — once just on graphic design pros — has expanded to include you and me.

With the shared interface, I easily compiled, edited, and assembled still photos, drawings — and video! — all in one project. I had never worked with video before, but found it simple to add a voice track and musical background to my souped-up scrapbook-with-a-slideshow.

Phew! I have to admit it was tough to pull myself away from the computer screen, with all these easy-to-use scrapbooking resources at hand. Taking my scrapbooking hobby digital has allowed me to get started on multiple projects for less than what I would spend on one major paper scrapbooking project. And, there's no cleanup. My materials? They all fit trim into a CD jewel case. Depending on the project, I can work simply, or go all out scanning, shaping, and pasting to my heart's content.

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