Friday, December 20, 2013

Making Project Life Work For Me - Digitally

I have been playing around with a modified version of Project Life for my scrapbooks for a little while now, and thought I would share with you a bit of my experience.
When I first started it, I decided to buy several different page protector layouts and give it a try with prints and journal cards. I love it! It is so easy for me, and you can read about that here.
I had heard of people doing digital scrapbooking, and Digital Project Life, but didn't really think it would be my thing. Honestly, I didn't think I could get the hang of it. 

 photo 6257e919-7ad1-486f-9f23-599270f5c590_zps74ae6099.jpg
{A layout I created using PicMonkey}

So much of it is geared toward using Photoshop, which I don't have, and I really couldn't see how I could use it in my scrapbooks. I was using Picasa to make small collages, which was great for turning 2 pictures into 1 4x6" print - but not the best for scrapbook layouts, I don't feel. There just isn't enough control for my liking. I tried, but I really couldn't get the hang of that. Bummer, since it is supposed to be very similar to Photoshop, but I just couldn't figure it out.
{If you do have photoshop, and understand it, you rock! And I can't help you. But there are tons of tutorials online to help you, as well as sites with templates for you to use. }
Back to the drawing board.
I searched online, hoping to find an actual offline program I could use, that met my criteria, but found a few good (free) online options:

I have been using PicMonkey for awhile now, but never really thought to use it for scrapbooking before.
But it's perfect if you don't have photoshop. You can still use .png overlays and any of the printable cards that are in .jpg or .png format! And the collage layouts are editable. WooHoo! You just can't save your blank layouts, bummer. {I do like that Ribbet! has an option to use your own fonts from your computer, but they don't offer editable collage layouts...}
The photo at the top of this post is one I made using PicMonkey, by editing the collage layout.
{Here is a great beginner tutorial on PicMonkey, showing you how to create an invitation, but also showing you a lot of the basic steps for creating a project}
Since I use PicMonkey, I'm going to show you some steps from there:
Under Create a Collage
 photo 65e72903-4762-4a0b-871e-6bffb3c5a16d_zps46d90634.jpg
{This is the original collage I used, I just dropped in a color square for a filler}

 photo 76b07983-a4ce-4dfa-8456-06ce229c2e47_zpsf5876d91.jpg

{Then I added 2 photo cells next to the 4, and spaced everything equally}

You now have a collage template similar to a Project Life sleeve layout.
(ps - you can click the arrow at the bottom to rotate)
Now you can replace your filler color with pictures and journal cards.

Here's a sample collage I created with journaling I did in PicMonkey:
PicMonkeyEXAMPLELayout photo EXAMPLEPicMonkeyCollage_zps94ba54d4.jpg

Once you have your collage created, save it to your computer in .jpg format. Now you can print it and add it to your scrapbook, or have it made into a book.

{I like to make my collages a square shape. This way I could order them in a 12" square print and slide it right into a page protector. You could also print them at home in a 6" square size, then place multiple collages together into a page. There are page protectors with 6" square openings. But you could also create 4x6" collages just as easily. }

What about adding journal spaces, cards, and stickers or embellishments? 

I like to add any journaling spaces, decorative 'paper', quotes and cards, etc ... when I am creating a collage.
In the above example, I added the cards when I added the pictures, rearranging as I wanted, then saved the entire file as a .jpg onto my computer. I then opened a New Tab back to PicMonkey, and opened the .jpg of the collage into that tab.

I like to keep the original collage open, just in case I want to make layout changes. Once you've closed the collage, it can't be reopened for editing.
Now, working on the PHOTO of the collage, you can overlay stickers, text, etc ... to embellish your page.
{Small Note : Embellishments can come in 2 file forms - .jpg and .png . The .png will have a transparent background, and is what you want when layering onto your pictures. The .jpg files are a solid color background, and that will show on your picture.}

{ Bear Embellishment Here }

Once you're happy with your design, save the .jpg to your computer, then print (or order the print) for your scrapbook.

There are tons of sites for digital scrapbooking, both for free and for purchase.
Papers, stickers, overlays, borders, fonts and letters, ... and more ...
So here is a little list of links to get you started:

Also check Pinterest and Etsy for goodies too!

{You will need to download the digital scrapbooking items on to your computer in order to use them. How you organize them is up to you - by designer, by theme, by item (papers, stickers, letters, etc ...). PicMonkey can also upload images from Dropbox and Flickr - if storing them online for backup is something you'd like. I really wish PicMonkey would allow you to create an account to save to, though!}

Hopefully this gives you some ideas about Digital Scrapbooking, and ways to create fun layouts and pages without using Photoshop.

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