Why and how you should use a digital template

When you are learning to cook, or sew, or something else that requires certain steps to be followed, it's useful to follow a plan. That's why we have recipes, patterns, and instructions! You wouldn't just throw a pile of food or fabric at someone and tell them to make a meal or a dress without any further guidance. Why should scrapbooking be any different? If you follow a list of logical steps, you can end up with a great finished product.

I'm always surprised when people say it's too hard to digiscrap, because if you use the right tools, it's SUPER easy! That's why I love to use templates. That's why I have templates available in my Scrap Shop - to help you cut out the stress and get to the scrapping. Let me show you a few tricks using some of my own templates:

Once you have downloaded a set of templates, you will need to unzip them. Here are some basic instructions to help you learn how to do that. You can also use an unzipping program to let you manage multiple files at once. I like unzipthemall and have used it for years. After your files are unzipped, they are ready to use. Just open up the folder you want to work with.

My templates come in both PSD and TIFF files. You only need to keep the format you like to use. I prefer TIFF because the file size is a little smaller and I can view the designs on my Windows system computer. Mac users can view PSDs as well as TIFFs. There really is no big difference between the two. Just use what you feel comfortable with.

My templates are named with the number of photo spots available on each one. You don't have to use all the spaces for photos, but it's helpful to know how many slots you have available when you start working with a design.

In this case, I have 7 photos that I want to put on a page and I chose a template with 8 picture slots so I would have room for a journaling card.

Then I simply open up the photos and template in Adobe Photoshop Elements (I'm currently using version 13) and proceed to drag and drop them into place. You have to see it to understand how easy it is, so I recorded a video for you.

Once your finished page is saved as a jpeg file, you can print it from home or send it to be professionally printed (my preference). You upload the image to the printer of your choice and you will have something special that celebrates your memories! I use AdoramaPix for photobooks and Persnickety Prints for single page prints. There are other places to print your photos (a lot of people use Costco), but I'm pretty picky about the quality of print so I stay with my tried and true favorites. I always create my pages as 12x12 size when I'm scrapping, but you can print in a variety of sizes such as 6x6, 8x8, and 12x12. My favorite photobook size is 10x10 - it's just right for me!

This is what my 8x8 albums look like. I use We R Memory Keepers ringbound albums.

This is what my 10x10 photobooks look like. This is my new favorite way to put together albums!

Some of you have asked about the double page spread templates I have been designing and using. I love creating 2 pages at a time because I feel like I have a bigger space to tell the story in. I also like to visually see what will be including on the entire spread, even if they are different events. You can upload the full 2 page spread to a photobook publisher, but if you want to have the double pager printed as 2 separate layouts, you will need to separate them when you save the jpegs. There are a few quick things you will want to know so I have created another video for you.

Finally, it's important to remember that you can tweak the templates to fit your own style. Once you feel comfortable following a basic recipe, you often add your own flair to dishes you serve in the kitchen. Digital scrapbooking can be the same way (or not) and you need not feel limited when using a template. You can turn off specific layers or shadows, add embellishments, or mix and match page designs for maximum usability. How about one more video to illustrate the possibilities?

 

If you need more resources to help with shadowing options, be sure to check out this post I wrote for The Daily Digi.  I also love to use shadow styles because they take the guesswork out of shadowing. Melissa Shanhun wrote a great post at The Daily Digi about how to install and use these styles.

I hope I have helped you see how easy digital scrapbooking can be. There is no reason to be afraid of using programs or opening files on a computer. Like anything else, it just takes a little time to learn the basics. Once you get going, you will find it all to be very simple and quite rewarding!