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Scrapbooking : Using Your Computer for Paper Layouts

Scrapbooking: Using Your Computer for Paper Layouts

By Cindy Schrauben

Home made scrapbook layoutAs scrapbook artists, our preferences, skills and overall style change over time. As new products are introduced, our choices multiply. Technology allows us to enhance our layouts (LOs) in countless ways.

As is evidenced by many scrapbooking websites, many scrapbookers, like myself, create LOs entirely through digital means. The computer and its related components can also be used to supplement pages for scrappers who choose more traditional means. Paper scrapbook artists can use the computer to edit and print photos, create graphics and title blocks as well as perform a number of other functions.

I do not profess to be skillful at paper scrapbooking — far from it! I am a digital artist by choice. I would, though, like to share some tricks of the digital trade with paper scrapbook artists in an attempt to enhance their creative experience. I'm sure my ideas are not unique, but sometimes it helps to put them all in one place.

In an attempt to illustrate these techniques, I will share the few simple paper pages that I created before I discovered the digital side of this art. Because there is so much to be said on the subject, this article will give only a brief overview of a few alternatives and include some very general instructions. You can find more detailed descriptions in the form of tutorials.


  • Computer
  • Photo quality printer, ink and various papers
  • Graphics Program (such as Print Shop Deluxe)
  • Digital Camera *
  • Photo editing Software * (such as Microsoft Picture It, Digital Image Pro, Jasc Paint Shop Pro, Adobe PhotoShop, etc.)
  • Scanner *
  • Internet Access * (for downloading elements, backgrounds, fonts, etc.)
  • Digital Scrapbook Software* (contain backgrounds, elements, etc.)

(* useful, but not required)

Computer, Printer, and Graphics Programs

The basic necessities for digitally enhanced scrapbook pages are a computer, graphics and a photo quality printer. The type of ink and paper needed will depend on the elements you wish to create.

There are a number of ways in which to add digitally created text and graphics to your paper creations. Graphics programs such as Print Shop Deluxe often provide thousands of graphics, backgrounds and patterns to use on your pages using the techniques described above. Printing directly onto vellum, cardstock or virtually any scrapbook paper allows for limitless possibilities.

Graphics printed on glossy photo paper using a photo quality printer result in amazing sticker-like embellishments. The difficulty here lies in cutting out these graphics. One solution is to print on clear sticker paper: although this results in a more matte finish, they are easier to cut out because the transparent edges disappear when adhered to your LO page. It is rare to have a whole page full of graphics, text, etc to print at once.


"stickers" printed on photo and transparent sticker paper,
poem printed on transparent sticker paper

To prevent wasting the rest of a whole page, cut your specialty paper to 4 x 6 inches and send it through the photo paper slot in your printer. I have also adhered a small piece of vellum or specialty paper to a regular sheet of paper using temporary adhesive and sent it through my printer. Be careful though, as it can jam your printer if the small piece comes loose while printing. Make sure that the edges are secure first! To use this technique, print your text onto a regular sheet of computer paper using your word processing software. Then, adhere a piece of specialty paper over the text and pass the paper through the printer again — voila! Don't forget that your child's digital artwork created in computer paint programs such as Kid Pix and Paint make great backgrounds, borders, graphics and photo frames for your pages.

Digital Camera and Photo Editing Software

With a digital camera and photo editing software you can not only crop and edit your photographs, but create decorative accents and elements as well. By changing your photos to black and white or sepia tone, resizing or reshaping them, you can make the photos match your vision for a layout — instead of always trying to work around the photos you have (see butterfly above).

Photo editing software also enables you to create backgrounds and elements for your pages that match your photographs exactly. By taking a picture of fabric or simply matching colors from the photo, your pages can be coordinated perfectly. I have been known to take pictures of very strange things — the ground, a rock, even a spider web to use as background designs. Digital editing software allows you to use photos such as this and add special effects such as watercolor, sketching, chalking, etc. The finished product is often very dramatic.

Made with Print Shop Deluxe

all graphics, fonts, and frame from Print Shop Deluxe,
sheet music was scanned


My favorite tool for creating digital scrapbook items is my scanner. There is an unlimited list of things that can be scanned to include on your paper scrapbook pages. From actual paper items such as your child's artwork, journal entries, schoolwork, recital programs, sheet music, ticket stubs, postcards, etc. to 3D items such as your Grandmother's button collection, jewelry, artwork, fabric, frames — the possibilities go on and on. I find that by including my children's work in this way I am able to resize it to fit on my page perfectly.

Page done with child's point of viewHere is a page that is done very much from a child's point of view. It is entitled "Our Cottage". The background is a painting my daughter did many years ago depicting the lake at our summer cottage. I included a journal entry she wrote in school about our summers at the lake and her drawing of the cottage itself. Although it may not be the most polished pieces I have ever created, it is, in my mind, one of the most special because it is a part of my daughter!

Internet Access and Scrapbooking CDs

Last, but certainly not least is Internet access and digital scrapbooking CDs. There are many places on the web including Elemental, a division of Pages of the Heart, to download items such as backgrounds, elements, frames, etc. for your scrapbook pages. Digital scrapbooking CDs offer many of the same items. Although people most often think of using these items for digital projects, many can be printed off and included on paper pages as well.

Remember to always be true to yourself, your own style and preferences when scrapbooking. With so many choices out there it is hard not to imitate others in an attempt to keep up. Be careful, you can easily lose your vision and your creativity. Believe me — I'm guilty! Never forget the reasons you scrapbook: whether it's simply a creative outlet or a way to leave a legacy, be sure to enjoy yourself! •

© 2005 Cindy Schrauben. All rights reserved.

Cindy Schrauben is a self-taught digital artist and small business owner.