The great thing about creating a digital scrapbooking page is that there's almost no limit to the ideas you can try. And with a little thought, you can easily go from digital to printed pages and back again. Here are some tips on preparing your scrapbooking page for printing, as well as ideas for scanning your traditional pages and using elements from the pages in your other projects.
From digital to print
A graphics program like Photoshop CS4 ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ) makes creating a digital scrapbook page fairly simple. Your page can include a colorful background, engaging photos, text entries, and embellishments-those extras like ribbons and tags and buttons that add personality to your pages-each on separate layers you can manipulate independently. (For this example, I'm using Photoshop CS4, but you can easily accomplish these tasks in earlier versions of Photoshop, Photoshop Elements ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ), or another graphics program that supports layers.)
The following tips offer some guidelines for creating a page you plan to print:
Planning your page
Starting with the end in mind is always a good idea-but it's even more important when you're preparing your pages for print. From the beginning, think about the colors you plan to use-on the page background, in your headings and captions, and in the photos themselves. Will you have enough contrast? Is your page background filled with a dark pattern? In print, the pattern may overwhelm the images on the page. Consider the limits of your particular printer. Is borderless printing an option for you? Make sure your printer can print all the way to the edge of the page, if that's part of your design.
Fussing over fonts
The fonts you choose for the page need to be sturdy enough to show up on a printed background. Some fonts, when printed, may appear thinner than they look onscreen. If you place delicate fonts on a busy background, the characters may be difficult to read and detract from the overall effect of your page. You can do a test print to see how the fonts will look on the page and, if you want to make them a bit sturdier, add bold to the selected font, choose a different font, or lighten the background by applying a different color or pattern to the page. Choosing the right color for your fonts can also help build the contrast and help the characters stand out.
You can change the print dimensions and the image resolution when it's time to print, and your changes will affect the printed file but not the saved image. Insert high-quality photo paper in your printer and print the page at the highest resolution your printer supports. If your printout doesn't print in the correct size, download and install the Adobe Photoshop CS4 Optional plug-ins, restart Photoshop, and print your page once again.
Scanning a printed scrapbook page and assembling it in your image editing software may be a bit tricky, depending on the size of the page and the number of elements you've added to it. A page with lots of embellishments-metal tags, alphabet blocks, ribbons, photo corners, and more-may feel like a lot to scan, but the more accurate your scan, the better the file you'll have to work with in your editing program. We're using Photoshop CS4 for this example.
Scanning the scrapbook page
Begin by scanning the page at the highest resolution your printer supports. If you are scanning a 12-by-12-inch page, you may have to do the scan in two passes if you're using a traditionally sized flatbed scanner, and then reassemble the page in your image editing software. The most important consideration is to scan at the highest resolution available for your hardware. Save the file as a TIFF for the best quality and open the image in your favorite program.
Embellishing a bit
Moving different elements to their own layers-for example, saving a ribbon as an item separate from the background-may be easier than you think. Begin by selecting the item and copying it; then paste as a new layer in your image. When you use Copy instead of Cut to move the elements to their own layers, you preserve the background of the image and don't leave any holes where the buttons or ribbons used to be. You can avoid the copy-and-paste routine altogether by scanning your embellishments individually, if possible.
Creating layers from a scanned image
Now you can begin the process of recreating the scrapbook page as a digital file. Cut different elements from the page (images, text, and embellishments, for example), and place them on individual layers. In Photoshop CS4, you work with layers in the Layers panel (press F7 if this panel is not open on your screen); click the Create a New Layer tool in the lower right corner of the Layers panel to add a new layer to your image.
Now you can save the electronic version of your traditional page and tweak it-by enhancing photos, rotating and adding shadows to embellishments, changing the type, and more-and save it as a Photoshop file. This preserves the layers so that you can continue to work with the file later. Be sure also to save a copy of the completed page in both the application format and in PDF and JPEG formats so that you have backups handy for easy archiving.
[Katherine Murray is a technology writer in Indianapolis and the author of Creative Digital Scrapbooking (Peachpit Press).]
This story, "From Digital to Print and Back" was originally published by Macworld.