Saturday, April 26, 2008

Scrapbooking on the cheap - Printable and Digital

A lot of people have an interest in preserving their family memories with scrap books. The charming layouts, beautiful colors, and fabulous textures are almost too much to ignore. But, conventional scrap booking is can be very expensive and time consuming. For those one a strict financial or time budget printable and digital scrapbooking provides a cost effective way to maintain those family treasures.

Printable scrap books allow you to assemble scrapbooks at home much cheaper than purchasing kits at the store. These are great for people who have more time to devote to scrapbooking or are not comfortable with image editing software. ScrapbookScrapbook offer a great selection of printable scrap book backgrounds and embellishments all grouped by theme. Downloads are available in US letter and A4 sizes. Some downloads are also available in conventional 12X12 scrapbook sizes, but these will require a large format printer to print. Activity Village has a few printable scrapbook pages along with some other very cute printables not related to scrapbooking. Scrapbooking at Craft Café has a few nice printable pages (all set to US letter) as well as some good layout ideas. Gulf shores condo rental has a cute set of beach themed scrapbook pages. Printable family has a few nice completed printable pages for you to enjoy and ScribblesOnline has excellent (highly recommended) transparency printables. The little pillow offers some of the nicest printable scrapbook sets available for free online.

If you are low on time and cash and moderately comfortable with image editing software like Photoshop then digital scrapbooking is the best alternative for you. Digital scrapbooking is my personal favorite because all the backgrounds, embellishments, tags, etc can all be reused time and time again and modified to fit any layout. Beautiful, professional layouts are easy to accomplish and best off all I can make multiple copies of my pages for friends and family at almost no additional cost. Digital scrapbooking can be as simple or as involved as you’d like. The options are virtually limitless and there are hundreds of sites online that offer “free digital scrapbook layouts.” In fact, there are so many free layouts available that a person could make a life time of scrapbooks without every paying a dime for layouts. Of course, there are great layouts for sale by very talented designers ranging, on average, from one to five dollars each. Layouts can be used over and over again.

The largest expense in digital scrapbooking is for image editing software. Many people use Photoshop Elements, which has a manageable interface and a moderate price of around 99$ (thought you can probably find a copy much cheaper than that or come across the software bundled with a printer purchase.) is a free software very similar to Adobe Photoshop CS. It does require a plug in to open PSD files and you will have to search the message boards on their website to find such a plug-in. If you are unfamiliar with Photoshop or do not have the time or money to devote to it consider using the free software provided by Scrapbook Fair. Scrapbook Fair’s software is easy to use with plenty of free layouts and embellishments to try. The software has two features that put it above and beyond those offered by similar free scrapbook softwares online. It allows the import of other digital scrapbooking layouts that you might have saved to your computer. It also allows you to print completed pages using your home printer. This is an excellent capability since many other scrapbook softwares require that you print your pages using their (not free) printing services. The biggest downfall of the software is that it is a large, cumbersome download and it does not have the flexibility of a more complex image editor.

And for a special mention, if you want a web based software, consider Splashup. Slashup can open .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .PNG, and .TFF file types, but the uploading is a bit slow on larger files. Slashup can also import images from Flickr, Picasa, and Facebook along with offering the ability to load photos from their own Slashup photo storage. They do not offer the ability to open PSD files which is odd considering their very Photoshop styled interface. If Splashup is to “photoshoppy” for your taste try a similar web based image editing software called Picnik which, from my limited experience with it, does not support layers and is ad driven to the point of being annoying.

Once you have an imaging software you can enjoy browsing this short list of excellent free digital scrapbooking resources:
DigiFree: Digifree is an automatically generated list of free digital scrapbooking kits gleaned from blogs across the internet.
Free Digital Scrapbooking: This site offers a lot of free digital scrapbooking kits and a variety of other really cool paper crafts. The site is a little busy and confusing, but well worth the visit. They also sell digital kits.
Computer Scrapbook: What a beautiful collection of awesome designs! They offer a decent selection of freebies too.
Digital Scrapbook Place: Has a very active forum and a wide selection of freebies available to members. Just sign up for free and download until your hard drive is full.
Scrapbook-Bytes: Another excellent hard drive filling forum full of scrapbooking goody goodness.

Free Printable Fun will be adding a selection of Scrapbook items soon as well.

Edited to add: I found a cute printable scrapbook blog but it looks like it might have been abandonned. There are lots of pretty elements. :) And yes, I AM going to add scrapbook items eventually, I just haven't had the time to design any.

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