The Lightroom-Project Life App Showdown

I spent this week scrapping an entire album in the Project Life App. I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. Plus, I’ve been wanting to scrap my trip to Europe for over a year now. So I set about making it happen. I found myself, the entire way through, comparing the experience to scrapping in Lightroom. (See my previous post “Scrapping Faster With Lightroom” for more details.)

First, let’s look at my Project Life App process.

1) I went through Lightroom and chose all my photos. I exported them to JPG and saved them to Dropbox, keeping each day of the trip in it’s own folder. I ended up with over 800mb of photos, even in JPG format. So after nursing the Dropbox upload, I unshared that folder with Selective Sync on my computer to save space.

2) I launched the Project Life App and purchased additional template packs. They are very reasonably priced. Then I shopped for card packs. My eyes aren’t the greatest, and even on the iPad, I had a hard time telling which packs were which. So I ended up with 2 workarounds.

First, I found a page on the Project Life website that details all the card kits and where they can be purchased. You can download a PDF showing exactly which cards are in each pack. Only Green Dot products are available in the app. If you want to purchase packs that are available only through the Digital Project Life store, you can upload those to Dropbox to access them. You can also upload cards you’ve purchased elsewhere. The downside of uploading cards is that you cannot journal on cards or photos that you import. You can only add text to cards you purchase through the Project Life app.

The second thing I did was edit my accessibility settings on my iPad, enabling a 3-finger tap zoom. This allowed me to read the tiny white type on the card pack thumbnail images.

3) Next, I scrapped my pages, pulling in my images and journal cards. The app includes a handy photo adjustment option for quick edits. I was able to add journaling to most of my cards, choosing one of the free included fonts. You can purchase additional fonts. The one issue I had was that there was no way for me to import one of my fonts into the app. And, I could not use the fonts in the app to add journaling to my cards from my mac. So, I ended up with two different fonts in the book. If I did another album, I would not add any journaling and just add it all from Photoshop later.

4) As I finished each page, I exported a JPG to Dropbox. I started exporting the proprietary file too as a backup, but I had so many pages to complete and that took extra time, so I ended up skipping the backup file and just relying on the Project Life App to save the originals. If I had to recreate a page, I certainly could pretty quickly.

5) Next, I pulled all the layouts into Photoshop where I used a clipping mask template I created to add deeper drop shadows to my pages. I also created an action to add bleed to my pages for printing in a photobook. The Project Life Templates do not leave nearly enough border and if I printed them as is, the borders and some of the images would get cut off. My action also allowed me to pull in a background paper behind my page, save a PSD and a JPG. During this step, I found several typos, so I had to return to the app, make type changes, export new JPGs and replace them in the files. It’s important to note that I also add drop shadows for Lightroom pages using actions so that step is fairly equivalent, even though they work just a little differently. Here’s one of the 28 pages I did in a week.

6) As I saved my pages, I numbered them in order so that I could easily assemble my book in my favorite photobook printer’s software.

How does my Lightroom process differ?

1) My photos are already in Lightroom so I can skip the time-consuming step of exporting them to JPG and uploading to Dropbox. Advantage: Lightroom

2) I can use my own Lightroom templates similar to the Project Life App style, but I cannot choose rounded corners. Advantage: Project Life App

3) In Lightroom, I can even create my own templates or adjust them on the fly if something doesn’t work quite the way I want it to. For example, there were several times I wished I could convert two side by side images into one larger one. I can’t do that in Project Life App, but I can in Lightroom. Advantage: Lightroom

4) Card packs and template packs for Lightroom are more expensive than packs available from within the Project Life App. But, there are many more packs to choose from than are available within the app, both at Digital Project Life and digi stores throughout the scrap-o-sphere. Advantage: Project Life App

5) Both Lightroom and Project Life don’t allow the depth of drop shadows that I prefer, so I do end up bringing both into Photoshop. Advantage: Draw

6) Any fonts I used in Lightroom would also be available in Photoshop, so my album can use one matching font throughout. Advantage: Lightroom

7) Lightroom requires you scrap on your computer (last I checked the print module was not available in Lightroom Mobile, but I’d have to confirm that to be sure). But, Project Life App pages can be created on the go with your iPad or iPhone. Advantage: Project Life App

So, after tallying the results, we have a draw! But, which is my favorite?

For me, personally, Lightroom has the edge. Both are respectably fast ways to scrap. But, because my photos are already in Lightroom, I save so much time scrapping there as my starting point. I also prefer to have access to my own handwriting font. I’m willing to use square edge images instead of rounded ones, and since I have a laptop, portability isn’t too much of a problem for me. That said, if I wanted to scrap phone photos only, I could see the Project Life App being my go-to choice for those. I’m so glad that my album is done, though, and scrapping 28 Project Life pages, along with a cover and 30 journaling pages in Photoshop, is a good enough reason as any to give the Project Life App a try. If you have scrapped with both Lightroom and Project Life App, I’d love to know which you prefer, and why in the comments.