Last Day to Get The Digi Files #12 & Some News

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Today is the last day to get The Digi Files #12!! At midnight EST TDF12 will be taken down and a new set will be put up. So, hurry up and grab ALL of this digital goodness while you can for only $5!! You can see bigger previews of each contribution on our awesome designers page.

The Digi Files it what pays The Daily Digi bills and allows us to be here every single day, bringing you the awesome content we do and we really appreciate your support!! We LOVE doing what we do and are excited about the great things we have in store!! 🙂

I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to this month’s contributor’s!! One of the favorite parts of my job is getting to work with and know these designers each month! We have some AMAZING talent in the digital community!

This month’s contributors are:

CD Muckosky

Mari Koegelenberg

Sir Scrapalot Designs (our first guy, YAY!)

Janet Phillips – templates

Cheeky Monkey Designs

Suzy Q Scraps

Catscrap (site contributor)

Before I leave, I wanted to share some very exciting news with you! If you are Kindle owner, you can now access The Daily Digi in the Kindle store and have our posts streamed to your Kindle!(note: Amazon decides on the prices on all Kindle Blogs and TDD does make a small commission on subscriptions, the above link to Amazon is NOT an affiliate link).

Lightroom Fun (for Free!)

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I (Katie) have had my eye on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for about a year, but I wasn’t sure if I “needed” another program or if I wanted to spend that kind of money. The program retails for $299 US dollars on the official Adobe website, so I’m sure you will understand my hesitation. I was planning to download a trial version (I love that Adobe lets you try before you buy), but then I found out about something even more exciting!

A contact of mine at the Adobe company emailed me this press release:

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 beta software for Macintosh and Windows, a public preview of new and improved functionality to be delivered in the next major release. Available as a free download on Adobe Labs, Lightroom 3 beta delivers a preview of new tools that will be in Lightroom 3, including more intuitive importing, unparalleled noise reduction and sharpening tools, enhanced slideshow capabilities and direct publishing to online photo sharing sites like Flickr. Adobe encourages photographers to test this early selection of new features and provide the product team with their feedback.

The beta is available as a free download to anyone on both Macintosh and Windows platforms. Visit http://labs.adobe.com/downloads to learn more and download the beta. Feedback can be submitted on the Lightroom forums: http://forums.adobe.com/community/lightroom. Users also can connect with Adobe at www.facebook.com/lightroom or http://twitter.com/Lightroom, and can add the tag #AdobeLR3beta to tweets about the beta.

You can read the full press release here if you would like to know more about the beta version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.

What’s the catch?

This is a “beta” program which means it is still in development. Adobe is looking for meaningful customer feedback to help them make this version of Lightroom the best one yet. It’s not required for you to send your input, they just appreciate it. I was thrilled with the opportunity to try out this program that I’ve heard so much about – and to be able to do it for free!

A few things to know:

  • You will need an Adobe account to be able to download the beta version. It is free to create an account, and it’s a good idea to have one anyway if you own any of the Adobe products. You will be prompted to create an account if you don’t have one when you select which product you want to download at this link.
  • Setup is very easy, and as someone who has never used a Lightroom product, I was pleased with how easy it was to get started. You will need to import your photos into Lightroom and it did take quite awhile to import my photos the first time, but I have a lot of photos!
  • You can use Lightroom in several different ways: to organize photos in collections, add keywords, and to edit photos.
  • When you are done playing with your photos in Lightroom, you will need to export them to be able to use them in other programs. This is a simple as saving a file.

I decided to spend a few minutes playing around with the program presets (see drop down menu in image) and I used this silly photo of a Play-Doh creation hamburger and fries.

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With just a few quick clicks I was able to change the photo in several ways:

It went from this:

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to this…

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And you can change the look of each preset by customizing color, white balance, exposure, and other settings.

For TONS of great resources and tutorials for using Lightroom, be sure to bookmark the Adobe Lightroom learning centers page. Of course many digital scrapbooking shops and designers have some neat Lightroom presets for sale, so you might enjoy trying some of them out once you have tried out the Lightroom features.

Matt Kloskowski has a lot of great presets available for free on the Lightroom Killer Tips blog. He also includes instructions on how to install them (very easy!) Here are a few of my favorites:

Have fun playing in Lightroom – I know I will!

katie

How to Create Brushes From PNG Files

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One of the best parts about writing posts here at The Daily Digi is the opportunity to teach a new trick or skill to help someone feel more comfortable with digital scrapbooking. I (Katie) love those “AHA!” moments that come when you learn something new, and it is such a great feeling when you try it out for yourself and it actually works!

I remember feeling mystified by brushes. I didn’t know what they were, and I really did not understand why I would want to use them. Now I even know how to make my own brushes! I thought it would be fun to show you how to turn a .png file image into a brush and explain why you would want to do that. Before I begin, here are a few previous posts on brushes that will be helpful to review:

Let’s get started on making a .png file into a brush. You will need a photo editing program that supports brush (abr.) format. Photoshop Elements, Photoshop, and Paint Shop Pro are all good examples of programs that work with brushes. I currently use Photoshop Elements 7 so I will show you the steps in that program.

I am going to use a piece of word art from the Family Ties kit by Kristin Cronin-Barrow

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Open the .png file you want to use in Photoshop Elements

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Go to “Edit” then select “Define Brush”

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I keep the name of the brush the same name as the file. My program automatically chooses that name for me.

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Select OK to keep the name. Repeat this process with the other files you want to include in the brush set (I could do this with all word art in this kit if I wanted to). After the set is made go to “Edit” and select “Preset Manager”

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Select all the brushes you want to include in the brush set by clicking on each one while holding the shift key at the same time (this is the way to select multiple files at once in many programs). Then choose “Save Set” and name your set accordingly. I used the name of the designer and kit.

At this point you will need to close Photoshop Elements and reopen it to fully load the brushes.

Here’s the layout I want to use the brush on

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Still using the kit by Kristin. Template is by Yin.

With that layout open in Photoshop Elements select the brush tool from the left sidebar menu (toward the bottom right below the pink eraser). After selecting the brush tool, you will see the brush selection window visible in the options bar on the top of the screen.

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Click on the arrow next to the top brush selection window in the options bar and find the brush you have created. Then just click on it and click on the area of your project where you want the brush.

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For this layout, I just used the brush on the standard settings, except that I adjusted the size of the brush in the slider on the options bar. This is where you can have all sorts of fun so feel free to play around and try different modes and opacity settings.

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And don’t worry if you “mess up” – just click on this little black triangle in the very top left corner to reset the tool.

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Why use brushes?

  • Brushes give your page a hand-stamped look
  • Brushes can soften up a background, create a journaling space, or add visual interest and texture to a layout.
  • There are loads of options for customizing brushes with different settings for many creative variations.
  • Brushes are loaded right into your program so they are easier and quicker to find than looking through several files in your stash.

Have fun making and using brushes from .png files!

katie

Newsletter For February 25, 2010

Here are the contributor’s as well as their contributions to THE DIGI FILES 12 for February 2010:
Catscrap (site contributor), you can see the Catscrap feature here along with sale and event announcements. The Catscrap contribution is below:

Suzy Q Scraps you can see her feature along with her exclusive coupon here, her contribution to TDF12 is below:

Cheeky Monkey Designs her contribution to TDF12 is below and you can see her feature along with a great sale here:

Janet Phillips – templates – her contributions are below and you can find her feature along with a coupon here.

Sir Scrapalot Designs (our first guy, YAY!): his contribution is below and you can find his feature with a coupon here.

Mari Koegelenberg: her contribution is below and you can find her feature with a coupon here.

Printable projects included in TDF12 as PDF’s:

CD Muckosky: her contribution is below and you can find a coupon in her feature.

Also this month we had some great posts that you should check out if you didn’t catch them already:

How-To Guide: Plan a Photobook or Album

How-To Guide: Printing Photobooks and Albums for Digital Scrapbookers

Un-Digi: Couponing 101 Without the Junk(food)

Digital Scrapbooking Challenges

Some of My Favorite Pages

Go Ahead, Give Yourself Permission to Cheat

From our twitter feed, a few things you might be interested in:

Quick way to completely desaturate a layer: hit cmd/ctrl + shift + U.

Photoshop Tutorial: Text In Stitches (tutorial is done in 72dpi, but the steps would be the same at 300dpi): http://bit.ly/ckgl85

Sweet Shoppe Designs was featured on the Ella Publishing blog and there is a free digital scrapbooking kit. 🙂

210 Free Fonts

If you haven’t listened to the newest episode of Paperclipping Roundtable, this is a great one for digital scrapbookers!

Happy Scrapping!


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Go Ahead, Give Yourself Permission to CHEAT

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When I first started getting involved in digital scrapbooking communities in 2004, there were only a handful of digital designers that sold their designs. There were resources and online classes in many places to learn how to design elements and papers. I thought that I needed to create all of my own papers and embellishments in order for a layout to really be mine. I thought it was cheating to use supplies created by someone else. I did use items created by other people once in a while, to speed the process up, but the layouts that I wanted to truly be MINE, were mine from start to finish! The above layout is one of those layouts and I still love it today!

Then, I evolved and realized that I didn’t LOVE making papers, nor did my papers turn out quite as well as some of the designs I could purchase. So, I stopped making stuff for the most part and bought the gorgeous supplies I used on layouts from talented designers. About this time was also when LOTS of people started designing, so my options on supplies got much larger as well.

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Layout, as seen in Digital Scrapbooking Magazine, stitched arrow, ‘M’ and papers from The Shabby Shoppe; stitched doodle alpha unknown.

Every layout that I made from then on pretty much, used supplies created by other people. A lot of my layouts created during that time I still love…even today.

Then, layered templates came on the digital market, but silly me, I thought it was cheating to use a template, because the layout wasn’t really MINE if I used a template…it was cheating! Then, something happened and I started using templates more. The more I used them, the more I discovered that I can make a layout my own, even if I use a template as a starting point. I realized that I could delete layers, flip the whole template, rotate part of it, and have a completely different look! I started giving myself permission to use templates more often. I still love my layouts created using templates, even years later!

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Papers and sticker by Mindy Teresewa at Designer Digitals, button and ribbon by Angedawn (no longer available).

After our move this past summer, we left the scrapbooks I had made over the years in storage tubs, but we finally pulled them out this past week. I don’t think we realized how much we had missed them (okay, I knew I had missed them, but the rest of the family…I’m not so sure)! It was thrilling to see that my family loved the scrapbook pages I have created too (and missed them)! They went through the albums and we talked about all of the memories on the different pages, they laughed and even sighed. I am so glad that I evolved and gave myself permission to cheat, because in the end….it’s the memories that matter most!!

P.S. Corinne was the random winner from the Catscrap post yesterday! She won $10 of product from Catscrap! This is what she said: “Love the Innovative kit- great for my baby boy, and I also really like the About a Boy kit which I ‘m sure will be great for my little man as he gets older.”

In The Designer’s Studio With Catscrap

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I am so happy to have Catscrap with us in THE DIGI FILES this month! They are a very fun group of talented designers that each have wonderful strengths and signature styles! Here is a closer look at their HUGE contribution to TDF12 this month:

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You get this awesome collection plus everything else pictured on our Amazing Sponsor’s page for ONLY $5!!! It’s a great way to stretch yourself and try some new-to-you designers while getting some high quality products at the same time!!

Our team really had fun playing with this collection:

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Layout by Ana, additional supplies: Template (modified) Collection 22, Janet Phillips, Fonts: DJB Tina, Darcy Baldwin, and Giggles, Fontologie

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Layout by Karen

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Layout by Jacki

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Layout by Karen

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Layout by Katie

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Hybrid card by Kim, inspired by Flower Pocket card tutorial by Andrea

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CATSCRAP

The owner of CatScrap is Catrine Hallingstad, living in Oslo – the capitol of Norway, with her husband Jarle and their three kids – Tobias (11), Mikkel (6) and Emil (6). Catrine has been digi scrapper since August 2005, and designer since January 2006.

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The designers that sell at Catscrap are:

Birgit
Catrine
Christian
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Danielle
Dawn Inskip
Fizzy Pop Designs
FruitLoOp Sally
Fuchsia
Ida
Lynne-Marie
Madame Mim
One Little Bird
Sausan Designs
Syrin

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It all started when Catrine was home with her newborn twins, and had lots of photos on her computer. She wanted to do something with the photos, and not just have them on the computer. She searched around on the internet and discovered digital scrapbooking! She was soon hooked on this hobby. But, after a while she wanted to find out how the digital kits was made, and looked around for all kind of Photoshop tutorials and tried them out. After a while she had made her first kit and asked a Norwegian shop owner if she could sell her shop, and got accepted. Catrine used to work as a system developer, and while she still was home with her twins she started to get curious on how to set up and run a web shop. After some searching and testing the shop was up and running August 19th, 2006, with just three designers, Catrine, Ida, and Syrin. The Cat in CatScrap is from the first letters in Catrine’s name. When CatScrap started, we had so many comments that our products were so unique, like Ida´s wonderful hand drawn doodles and Syrin´s stitches (especially the loose stitches). Every designer has their own unique style, and we are proud of our high quality and unique design.

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The CatScrap challenges are a big hit for us. We have a lot of participation from scrappers including designers from other shops. The challenges are not only fun, but very unique to us, and the winners are always awarded with generous prizes. A couple of our most popular challenges include:

1) Something Old, Something New where scrappers must include items from the first product purchased (old) and from the most recent product purchased (new) in their layouts

2) The Right Accent where scrappers use mostly neutral colors on the layouts and then accented with one color to achieve the right accent

We have a very nice community with boards for both English and Scandinavian speaking members. The most popular happenings in our board is the Photo-A-Day ‘challenge’, where all members can post their photos and share their thoughts and stories. And we have the monthly BoB contest, that involves nearly no effort from the members, but the winner will be priviledged with a proud BoB blinke, and win a guest spot on the exclusive CatScrap Creative Team! To qualify for for the monthly Bob Award the only thing the members need to do is to post layouts in our gallery. The members must follow our gallery rules and the BoB guidelines. The BoB guidelines are very simple – the layout must include CatScrap products, there is no minimum or maximum amount required. The more, the better, of course. Based upon CatScrap team members’ discretion, 5 layouts will be carefully selected and recognized each week from the CatScrap gallery, and will be announced in the appropriate BoB thread in the CatScrap BoB forum thread. The members may post as many layouts as they wish, as the more they post, the better winning chance they will have. The monthly BoB award will be awarded to one participant chosen from the weekly lot of layouts selected that month.

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I wanted to share some of my favorite Catscrap products with you as well:

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Here are some layouts created with Catscrap goodies:

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Layout by Katie, supplies, from the Catscrap store – Primavera collab by Catscrap designers, Template by fei fei’s stuff

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I would like to thank the wonderful CATSCRAP designers for being here with us this month and sharing their talents with us! We appreciate it!

Go have a look in the CATSCRAP store and come back and tell her what you like, we will randomly select a winner from those comments to win $10 of free products from their store (CU products and Digital Artist Magazine are excluded)! (Comments must be posted before midnight EST and must include a product name to qualify)!

Catscrap has some great things in store for our readers!!

FIRST – a 25% off storewide sale today through Friday!!

SECOND – There will be a special chat for TDD readers at 5:30PM PST, 7:30PM CTL, and 8:30PM EST

How-To Guide: Printing PhotoBooks and Albums for Digital Scrapbookers

This is the second post in the series about creating photobooks and albums. The first post was all about planning photobooks and albums by Liz and Audrey. Still to come, we will have indepth reviews about different printing services (for both albums and individual layouts).

Today’s post is by Wendyzine @Scrapbookgraphics. Wendy is my go-to-girl for any actions and anything printing related. I have always been impressed by how much she knows! I asked her to share her history in this industry with us and this is what she said:

After college, I landed my first job at an advertising agency. I learned hands-on graphic design under a talented art director. From there, I went on to work as a graphic designer for a corporation with an in-house print shop. Several years later, I moved to a prepress shop where I have spent the last 13 years preparing files for printing presses in addition to my graphic design tasks. When I fell in love with digital scrapbooking, photobooks were a natural fit for me!

If there is one thing Wendy knows, it is printing! So enjoy this resource and bookmark it for later reference when you are ready to upload a photobook of your own!

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Photobooks are perfect for those who want a finished product in their hands without needing to lift a pair of scissors or open a 3-ring binder. For many digital scrappers, especially those without paper scrapping experience, this is an attractive option. For others, it’s simply a really nice way to gift a scrapbook. Photobooks are truly a stunning product and nothing gives quite the sense of satisfaction as finally touching your scrapbook pages in your hands. If you’re leaning toward photobooks but are a little intimidated about the terminology or process, I’m here to help! Let’s unbind the photobook process and discover how fun creating a photobook can be!

Choosing A Printer

There are a multitude of printers online who offer photobook printing. As with any product, quality and price vary considerably from printer to printer. So, how do you choose? First, I recommend reading some reviews.
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Make Your Own Photobooks

Pay attention to quality, ease of use and turnaround time. Take a look at their prices. Cheaper is not always better. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good deal either! Search for coupons or other specials.

Once you narrow the list down, take a look at the book sizes offered. As a digital scrapbooker, you are likely to scrap in traditional scrapper sizes (8×8 or 12×12) or letter/A4. So, you will want to choose a printer that will allow you to print your layouts without having to rework the pages too much. If you scrap square, look for printers that offer true square sizes. And, pay careful attention, just because a printer calls their book a 12×12, doesn’t mean that is the actual book dimensions. One printer, for example, actually has a finished size of 11.75×11.7 while another is 13×12. If you want an unusual book size, this may narrow down your printer choices considerably. For example, very few printers offer tabloid (11×17) or portrait size book. Brag books can come in many different sizes.

Now that you’ve read the reviews and narrowed down the book sizes, check out the cover options. The basic cover options include standard hard cover (usually leatherette or linen, though leather and suede can be optional, with or without window), custom hard cover (cardboard covers wrapped with your printed image, also know as case-wrapped, with or without dust jacket), wirebound, softcover (also known as perfect bound).

Finally, consider the software you will be using to assemble your book pages. Although you may create your digital scrapbooking pages in software like Photoshop, Elements, Paint Shop Pro or even Creative Memories, you will need to save or export your pages as a JPG or PDF and import them into the printer’s software. There are 2 basic types of software: online and downloaded. Online options don’t install any software on your computer, but require that you be connected to the internet to work on your book. Your projects are stored online. Downloaded software allows you to work on your books from your computer and stores the books on your hard drive. There is no right or wrong software, but you might find yourself more comfortable with one over another.

Once you’ve considered all the reviews, chosen a book size, cover type and examined the software, you are probably ready to choose a printer! Now what?

Printer Specs

The next step is to look at your printer’s specifications. Most will have specific size requirements for your pages. And, if you do not size your layouts ahead of time, their software will enlarge your pages to fit, which can result in some unwanted trimming on one or more sides of your layout. Unfortunately, finding specifications on the printer’s site may not be the easiest thing in the world. If you cannot find the specs, try a web search, email the printer, or contact me and I’m happy to assist if I can. There are 3 things you want to pay attention to when looking at specifications:

BLEED SIZE: This is the actual size of the file you should upload. The bleed size includes extra background that will be trimmed off when the book is cut and bound.

TRIM SIZE: This is the size of the page once the book is trimmed.

SAFE MARGINS: Keep your journaling and photos within the safe margins to avoid accidental trimming if the books shifts during trimming. In addition, on the inside fold of the book, there is often 1/4″ of the page that is hidden due to the gluing and stitching process. (The new lay-flat book option avoids this problem, but this is a very new option and may not be available from many printers yet.)

Saving Your Pages

Now that you are armed with your specifications, it’s time to take a critical eye at your layouts and save them for uploading. Almost all printers accept JPGs, and most recommend sRGB color profile. If you cannot generate a JPG with your software, see if the printer can accept a PDF. Before your eyes glaze over and you admit defeat in the wake of dozens or hundreds of layouts that might need to be resized, let me make life a little easier for you! I have created actions for Photoshop and Elements that allow you to check for bleed, resize your layouts or even add textured borders. If you want to do it all on your own, without the help of actions, the following steps are what you would need to do:

You want to check your layouts to see if they have enough margins for bleed to avoid resizing your layouts. That’s a simple process if you are armed with the above specifications.
1. Open your JPG.
2. Make your IMAGE SIZE the BLEED SIZE.
3. Make your CANVAS SIZE the TRIM SIZE. (This is what your book will look like once it is trimmed.)
4. Make your CANVAS SIZE the SAFE MARGIN SIZE. (This will show what might get cut off and hidden in the book.)

If your layout looks good after Step 3, and nothing is trimmed off after Step 4, you can upload your JPG as is without any additional work. Most printer software that accepts JPGs will automatically size the page for you.

If during step 3 or 4, you find that important photos are being trimmed or cut off, you should consider adding bleed to your layout.

Adding bleed is as easy as the steps above if you have your layered files.
1. Open your layered file.
2. Make your CANVAS SIZE the BLEED SIZE.
3. Select any background paper layers, and resize them slightly (usually adding about 5-6%) so that they complete cover the canvas to the edge.
4. Drag guide rules in to the safe margins (in most cases, this amounts to 3/8″ from the canvas edge, but check your specs).
5. Make sure any photos and journaling are inside this area. If not, select all the non-background layers at once, group them and reduce them slightly.
6. Save your JPG!

If you do not have your layered file, consider placing your layout on a coordinating background paper or nice textured black background. Simply size your background paper to the Bleed Size, drag your layout on top and size it down to the Safe Margins.

Assembling The Photobook

Now that you have your pages saved in JPG format, it’s time to download the software, or create your online account and assemble your book. For online software, you will be prompted to upload your pages to an “album.” After you do, you can start your “project.” Simply add the pages to your project from your album. Drag and drop your pages onto the interface and reorder them if necessary. Downloaded software works in a similar way. Simply import the JPGs to the software, drag and drop them on the pages. Once you are done, you can submit your book to the printer at which point the book will be compressed and uploaded to the printer’s website. At this point, you can choose any options related to your order and process your payment.

TIPS
1. Turn off COLOR CORRECTION. Most printers offer automatic color correction in their software. This option works wonderfully on photographs, but not so well on scrapbook pages. The reason is that your scrapbook pages often have a wide range of colors throughout. Sometimes they may convey a color cast (if you scrap a pink page for example). The algorithm that the automatic color correction uses do not understand the difference between a scrap page and a layout. So, it’s best to turn it off.

2. What does 20 pages mean? 20 pages is 20 layouts, or 10 sheets of paper, front and back. Pages must be added in sets of two (a front and a back). If you only add one page, an extra blank page will be added to make up the difference.

3. Can I use my layouts from my web gallery? Web-ready layouts are not recommended for printing. You should go back to your original layered Photoshop files, created at 300 ppi for best quality. If you do not have a full-size original file to work with, consider a small brag book size as a compromise.

HeartWendy

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Wendy’s “Toolkits” are available by book size and for many popular photobook printers including Shutterfly, MyPicTales, InkuBook and Winkflash.

Not only has she done the specifications research for you, but the actions will make very quick work of processing your layouts. Tutorials on using the actions are included. For non-Photoshop users, she offers template only toolkits that will help you easily match the specifications for your chosen printer. (Her toolkits also come with cover templates which are often the most challenging part of creating books.)

P.S. Vickie was randomly selected from those that left comments on SuzyQ’s post yesterday and won a $10 GC to SuzyQ Scraps store! Congratulations and check your inbox! 🙂 – Steph

In The Designer’s Studio With SuzyQ Scraps

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I am very excited to welcome SuzyQ Scraps here with us this month! I have really enjoyed getting to know Suzy AND her designs over the past few months since she applied to be a contributor. I love her color combinations and how she pulls together a kit with a complete look and feel. Here’s a closer look at Suzy’s contribution to THE DIGI FILES this month:

You get this bright, happy kit along with 6 other amazing contributions by our awesome designers for ONLY $5. Profits from THE DIGI FILES is what keeps THE DAILY DIGI running and allows us to do what we do! Also, there will be SEVEN random customers chosen from those that purchase TDF12 that will each WIN TWO $10 GC’s to our contributor’s stores! So, what are you waiting for??

Here’s what our team did with this fun kit:

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Layout by Rachael, additional supplies: Art Notes Alpha by CD Muckosky, Template Collection #37 by Janet Phillips

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Layout by Katie, additional supplies: template by Janet Phillips (collection 33), font is calibri

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Layout by Karen, additional supplies: Font is Fontologie Textura

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Layout by Amy, additional supplies: fonts-pea jennifer, pea mee mee

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Layout by Janet, additional supplies: paper cut templates by Emily Merritt, fonts are Typewriter Scribbled and DJB Gimme Space

And a fun hybrid project:

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Hybrid card by Kim

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SUZYQ I’m Suzy, SAHM to one rambunctious 2-year-old boy and wife to my fabulous husband of 4 years. We live in the middle-of-nowhere, Utah — what my husband calls “the sticks.” Definitely rural — if the power goes out we lose electricity AND water, since our water is pumped from a spring. But I love the solitude and peace. 🙂 I graduated with a BS in biology (go figure!) and now I find myself on the opposite spectrum of science. I love creating and I’m absolutely having a BLAST as a digital scrapbook designer.

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I read The Daily Digi for tips, lolol! But, since you asked, I’ll share one.

For scrappers who use PS: Here’s a trick for getting your text to “follow” the folds or crinkles on your tags or papers, or to kinda blend with the texture, so it looks like you actually wrote on it. (Does that make sense?)

Make sure your text layer is directly above the paper layer it’s “written” on, and make sure the text layer is active. Click on the fx icon (bottom of the layers palette) and choose Blending Options.

Towards the bottom there’s a section called Blend If with a couple of sliders. The black arrow focuses on the dark colors of the layer underneath your text; the white arrow does the opposite. Slide the black arrow under Underlying Layer towards the right until the text starts to disappear. Then hold down ALT and slide the left half of the black slider back to the left so some of the text reappears. Now do the same with the white arrow, first sliding it to the left until some of the text disappears, and then holding ALT and sliding to the right until a little bit reappears. It takes some playing around at first to get the effect you’re seeking.

I love using this when my text is on a folded tag or heavily textured paper, so that my text becomes more lifelike — like a pen was actually rubbing across a surface. Try it with paint strokes too!

If you use PSE, you don’t have this option, but you can try changing the color of your text and play with the blending modes. For example, on a kraft tag you could make your text the color of the tag, and then change the blending mode to multiply, and then adjust the opacity until you reach your desired effect.

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Let’s see … I started paper scrapbooking as a teenager — you know, cropping all the pictures and plastering stickers everywhere. That evolved into simply sticking on the photos with a few stickers (yes, still stickers) and calling it done. By 2007 I was tired of all the time (and space!) it took to set up to scrap, and then all the mess I had to clean up after. So I started looking for a way to use my computer to scrapbook without using some dorky clipart program. I stumbled across digital scrapbooking and I’ve been hooked ever since. I wanted to design from the beginning — I looked at the kits available and thought, “Hey, I can do that!” I was confident I could learn to do it and do well at it — I just really, really wanted to create. I spent nearly 2 years learning all I could from tutorials and playing around with my program before the timing was right for me and my family. I gave away my first freebie in December 2008 and started selling my designs in January 2009.

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Anything … everything. 🙂 I’m inspired by food, my little boy, nature, magazines, little characters in my head, wacky dreams, computer games, color … yep, everything.

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I am the proud owner of a BRAND NEW HP Pavilion 180t (desktop PC), so I actually know all the specs on it, lol. It has a 23″ monitor (yeah baby!), Intel Core i7 processor (3.0 GHz), 750 GB hard drive, 8 GB RAM (she’s smokin’!), and 1.8 GB NVIDIA graphics card. I’m running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. Sigh. I love this computer. The poor motherboard on my old computer was maxed out on upgrades, so it was time for a new one. Now if only it came in a yummy color …

Programs…
Photoshop CS4 Extended, Illustrator CS4, occasionally Inkscape (’cause I’m more familiar with it on some things), sometimes PSE 6.

Camera…
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 … it’s an SLR-like camera and I LOVE it! You just can’t beat 10.1 MP and 18x zoom … especially for the steal of a deal we snagged when we bought it. I mostly shoot in automatic mode, but it does have some manual options, and even a couple of additional lens options.

I also use a Wacom Bamboo tablet (small). Oh, and a sketch book and lots of No.2 pencils.

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My favorite product to date would have to be Love Monsters. I just love the cute little monsters and all the bright colors. But my favorite tends to change monthly, lol! So I’m sure I’ll have a new favorite soon.

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Hmm … well, my stitch packs are my most popular line of products.

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I wanted to share some of my favorite SuzyQ products:

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And some fun inspiration layouts using SuzyQ products (layouts without credits are linked to originals):

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Layout by Karen, supplies: SuzyQ Scraps Love Monsters kit, Storytellers 2 template; Font is Pea Jokilyn

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Layout by Katie, supplies: SuzyQ Scraps Roughin It and Not so Roughin It kits. Template by Janet Phillips, CK journaling font

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Suzy, thanks so much for joining us in THE DIGI FILES and at THE DAILY DIGI this month! We appreciate you sharing your talents!

Go have a look in SuzyQ’s store and come back and tell her about a product you like, we will randomly select a winner from those comments to win a $10 GC to her store! (Comments must be posted before midnight EST and must include a product name to qualify)!

As a THANK YOU to our readers, SuzyQ has this coupon for us:

suzyqscraps_ad

Un-Digi: Couponing 101 Without The Junk{food}

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We’ve had some requests to do an un-digi post on the basics of couponing. When I got this request, I immediately thought of Kelleigh Ratzlaff. If you follow her blog or twitter feeds at all, you know she knows her coupons! She was nice enough to write this post this week and helped disprove MY preconceived notions about coupons! Enjoy!

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September 2009 was a big month for me. I finally figured out how to manage my budget, I started using the cash envelope system, and I discovered couponing. Up until that time, my husband and I always felt like we were living paycheck to paycheck, and if you have ever lived that way, you know how stressful it can be. We used our credit card for all store purchases, gas, and restaurants, however we paid it off every month and never carried a credit card balance. We figured that we were building up rewards, so it was better this way. We both made wise financial decisions, yet at the end of the month when we paid the credit card bill, we just felt like we didn’t have any money left! We realized that something needed to change, so we set up a workable budget and froze our credit cards.

Around this same time, I was scrapbooking with my friends, and the grocery budget topic came up. I felt pretty good about my rather frugal budget, so I blurted it out. They went around the table and shared their budgets for their small families and they put me to shame! I asked one gal how she was able to do that, and she responded, “I use coupons!”

I told my friend, “But all the coupons out there are for junk or for brands that I don’t buy. Besides, it’s not worth it to me to cut coupons to save .30¢.” She set me straight, and I’m so glad she did.

My friend Angela, from the coupon blog Frugal Living NW says, “The goal of couponing is to get the name brand item for cheaper than generic.” I just love that! It is SO true, too!

In November, I heard about a great sale at Walmart on Campbells Cream of Mushroom and Chicken soups, PLUS there was a great coupon available online, which I was able to print. I headed on over to my local Walmart, and stood there in the isle right next to another woman who was looking at the cream soups, too. She reached for the generic brand, which was on the shelf right next to the Campbells brand . . . even though it was 20¢ more than the Campbells sale price! I ended up buying 8 cans of Campbells Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom soup for 25¢ a can. The other lady paid 70¢ for her single can of generic soup.

It’s time to change your mindset about coupons.

Here are some common coupon myths:

It’s cheaper to just buy the generic brand. Fact:Generic is not always the cheapest option. Remember the goal?

It’s not worth it to cut a coupon for .30¢ off. I’ll only save 30¢! Fact: Coupon ladies cut the coupon whether they think they will use it or not, then wait for a great sale, THEN you use the manufacturers coupon and a store coupon (at the same time on the same product) to stock up on something at rock bottom prices. It gets even better if your store doubles!!

Coupons are only for processed food. Fact: Do you buy yogurt, condiments, soup, rice, flour, pasta, cereal, canned vegetables like corn, green beans, and tomatoes, cheese, tortillas, frozen fruit and vegetables, meat and more? Then, you buy processed food. Let’s get over that argument, okay?

All the coupons I see are for junk food. Fact: At first glance, it may seem that way, but once you start digging a little deeper, you will find that there are coupons available for vegetables, yogurt, milk, eggs, rice, beans, organic food, and even fresh veggies! (see Does Couponing Only Work if You Eat Junk Food? @ Money Saving Mom for more information).

If you are still skeptical, let’s throw the whole “food” thing out the window. If you simply started using coupons for your household items like toilet paper, toothpaste, razors, deodorant, cleaners, etc. you would significantly cut your budget down so that you can splurge on items that are important to you.

On a personal note, my “splurge” item is household cleaners. I prefer to use non-toxic cleaners in my home rather than store-bought chemicals. I could get my household cleaners for virtually free using coupons, as many couponers do, however this is an area that is important to me. Maybe your splurge area is buying organic or gluten free. Perhaps you are a toilet paper snob (as I am!) or maybe you like to buy shade grown coffee. By couponing and saving on items you regularly buy, you can afford to splurge on these items.

Cutting coupons takes too much time. Fact: Yes, it can, if you find out that you love couponing and you go a little crazy with it. (It is terribly addictive!) However, it doesn’t have to take you any more than 20 minutes on a Sunday afternoon to gather your coupons and cut them out. For more information, visit these resources:

Getting Organized @ The Krazy Coupon Lady

Are coupons worth it? @ Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Figuring out the deals takes too much time. Fact: YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT! There are many, many “frugal” bloggers who love gathering the deals and post them on their blogs! (Oh, how I appreciate these ladies!) They will scour the grocery store ads, find the best deals, find the coupons to match up with those deals listed in the ads (called a match-up), link you up to printable coupons so you can just click and print, and even do the math for you! They come up with “scenarios” to help you get the things you need at rock bottom prices.

Here is a list of my favorite coupon blogs:

Money Saving Mom – My favorite national coupon blog. It is full of inspiring articles about frugal living and has all of the grocery store match ups.

The Krazy Coupon Lady – These gals taught me everything I know about couponing in their 10 Days to Become a KCL series. I highly recommend it! Great match-ups, too!

Hip 2 Save – This gal is all about the freebies! She has some coupon match-ups, but LOTS of links to great deals and free items.

And, my favorite local coupon match-up blog is Frugal Living NW. I believe it is very important to find a local coupon blog so that you can see what others in your area are saying about the stores YOU shop at. Read the comments to find out what deals are working for people, and what deals are not. Find out where the nice cashiers are and which store is out of a certain item. Ask your frugal friends about their favorite coupon blogs, or check out the Nationwide Grocery Guide @ The Krazy Coupon Lady or The Frugal Map.

We have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to couponing, so I encourage you to check out the 10 Days to Become a KCL series.

As for me: I discovered that when I have money leftover in my grocery envelope, I will spend it. As a result, I decided to cut my family of four’s grocery budget down from $400 a month to $200 a month (a good starting point for a grocery/household item budget is about $100 per adult – or child who eats like an adult- per MONTH, $75 per child, and $50 plus the cost of formula for babies. Obviously you will have to adjust this amount if you are dealing with food allergies, etc., however this is a widely accepted guideline…) I typically shop my pantry rather than the store, and I have a list of the things I will never pay for again or won’t pay more than .25¢ for:

  • disposable razors (free)
  • toothbrushes (free)
  • shampoo, conditioner and styling aids (free – although sometimes I rotate with stuff I paid money for)
  • boxed cereal (my spending limit is .75¢ – and that’s for Kashi – although I have gotten that for free, too! LOL!!)
  • granola bars – Nature Valley (and the nut clusters)
  • Hunts tomato sauce
  • cake mix, brownie mix, cookie mix, frosting (free)
  • Nabisco crackers (Wheat Thins/Triscuts, etc)
  • Progresso Soup (which I never bought before couponing, but now get for free)
  • Pancake mix
  • canned green beans
  • canned corn
  • frozen veggies (green beans, peas, mixes, etc)
  • yogurt (free)
  • a whole lot more!!

Intrigued? I guess it’s time to get Krazy!

HeartKelleigh

P.S. We had 6 participants in the “From the Files Challenge” who all created wonderful pages. So we decided to give a $10 gift card from one of our contributing designers this month to EACH one of them! Congrats to all who participated! Check your email in boxes 🙂 and if you didn’t get an email from me (Katie) please send me one at katie@thedailydigi.com since 2 of them bounced back to me as spam.

How-To Guide: Planning An Album or Photobook

I would like to welcome back Liz of Paislee Press and Audrey of Audacious Designs, this time as contributing writers! I have loved the idea of creating an album or photobook since I went digital several years ago, but I haven’t done it yet. I have scrapped many, many layouts with the intention of having them printed in book form, but I always get stuck. Actually creating a book is something that completely overwhelms me. I decided if I feel that way, then some of you probably do too.

We will be having a series of posts over the next few weeks all about albums, from planning, to uploading, through printing. We will even be including a thorough and honest review of various printers (for both layouts and books). True to THE DAILY DIGI style, the print reviews will be uncluttered by biases based on affiliates, coupons, freebies, or advertising agreements, so you can trust that you will be getting honest information.

Liz and Audrey have the first post in this mini-series, all about planning those albums/photobooks. We hope you enjoy it!

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Putting together an album – whether it’s a random collection of favorite photos and quotations, a celebration of your grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary, or a chronological documentation of an overseas trip – can be a daunting task. There’s the issue of organization, and figuring out where to begin, and what pictures to include, and which kind of album you should go with, and let’s not even think about where and how to store all of the pieces during the process. We’re overwhelmed just thinking about it.

But sometimes, just the right amount of flexible structure can take an overwhelming project like this and break it into more manageable pieces, pieces that add order and clarity to the process without being too rigid. It’s important to realize, right from the start, that this is not a list you have to follow step-by-step, nor do you have to follow it in the order presented. These steps are flexible and, more importantly, cyclical, depending on your own specific needs during a project like this.

Building an album is much like building a house. You start with a shell, a structure, and you add layers of materials and personal items until you’ve transformed it into a home. Here we’ve outlined a series of 8 steps, a blueprint if you will, to help you manage your album projects.

  1. Determine the focus of your album. Will it be event-based (a trip, a vacation, a birthday party, a holiday celebration like Christmas) or is it something more thematic and abstract (lessons I want to teach my children, things I’m grateful for)? This is much like choosing the style of house you want. Do you picture a 1930’s Arts and Crafts bungalow with stained glass or a three-story Victorian with gingerbread molding and a turret? That style of home will influence much of the way you proceed with building, just as your album’s theme will contribute to the overall structure and content.
  2. Brainstorm content: what are the essential features you must have? A separate dining room, built-in bookshelves, lots of windows? When thinking about this from an album point of view, ask yourself: what initial concepts for this album do I have in mind? Will it be something that primarily focuses on single photos and lengthy journaling, or will it be multi-photo with simple captions and memorabilia? Right now is the time to think about the things that you want to make sure you don’t overlook them as you create this project.
  3. At this point, you are ready to select a floorplan. Another way to look at floorplans is to consider them as the organizational style of the house you are creating. They tell you what goes where. The same is true for albums. What organizational style do you want to focus on? If this is an event, do you want the album to be chronological (day 1 of the trip, day 2, etc) or geographical (the first place we visited, the second place, etc)? Do you want to follow a timeline? Do you want to assign every aspect to a category (characteristics, personality traits, etc).
  • Decide how you will manage the process. Architects and construction crews stick to a tight plan during the building process, but they are flexible enough to realize that all plans must change. Still, as you work through an album project, you need to plan for all the major processes that will occur. Setting mini goals (today I will scan 25 photos, next week I will post process a batch of photos, etc.) will keep you on track and will keep the momentum going. It is also important to set up a filing system for all the files you will be working with: your photos, working files (layered psd files), completed pages (saved as jpeg for print), etc. You can read more about how to manage your project files on Liz’s blog HERE.
  • Raise the framework of your house. Now, logic might indicate that this is the step where you want to choose the layout and design of your album. But in this instance, the real framework of your album will be the photos. Take the time now to look through your photo albums or archives and gather the photos you’ll want to use. If you need to talk to other family members or friends to get additional files, do so now. If your album requires additional pieces of memorabilia, now is the time to make sure you have everything you need. Also, determine if you’ll be doing any post processing for your photos and gather the tools you’ll need for that.
  • Once a building’s frame has been raised, then construction moves on to fleshing out the rest of the floor plan by finishing the exterior portions. Developing the design and layout of your album will be similar to this stage as you find a place for everything – photos, journaling, titles, embellishments, and more. Perhaps you want to use a template or quick album (prefab houses or modular homes, right?) or you may choose to build yours from scratch. In addition, you need to make choices about your “building materials.” What colors will you use? What kit(s)? What embellishments? All of these choices should support the style decisions you made in Step 1 – do you want to be simple and minimalist or highly embellished?
  • At this point, the exterior of the home is complete and we can move indoors to focus on the interior – the wall colors, flooring, cabinetry. The interior details bring your house to life, just as your words + journaling bring your photos to life. Although this is one of the last stages, that doesn’t imply that journaling should always be last on the list. But once your photos and the overall design are in place, you can use your stories and your journaling to pull the whole project together. Audrey offers some great suggestions on pairing photos and words in this post, and she also offers a free journaling class on her blog here.The final step is adding the finish touches to the house. Prepping your files for print and the actual printing process (printing yourself or sending to a photo vendor to print) will be covered in detail later this week at TDD by the guru of all things print related – Wendyzine.Liz recently completed a 296 page album documenting the first three months of her daughter’s life. Her album is minimalist, photo-centric and organized in chronological order. Liz documented the album making process on her blog. You can read more about it HERE.
    Audrey switched to digital scrapbooking a few years ago but never printed any of her digital layouts, until just very recently. Read about her first printing experience HERE.

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    Audrey and Liz are currently collaborating on a series of blog posts that will address how to “build” an album. They are tentatively set to launch the series sometime next week. If you are interested in album planning, please consider adding their blogs to your reader and/or following them on twitter.

    audacious designs | paislee press designs
    follow audrey on twitter | follow liz on twitter