The question about what the best software is for Digital Scrapbooking is one that comes up often, especially when you are just starting out. The crucial requirement is that the software supports layers enabling the various papers and elements to be layered, aka stacked, within the layout being created. But, today there are numerous options for choice of software, so where do you start? In this post we take a brief look at a number of the options to help you choose which is best for you, ranging from closed system through to multi-versatile, and why I think that Adobe® Photoshop® Elements (PSE) is the best option when starting out.
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The Best Software Choice for Digital Scrapbooking
Typically Adobe® Photoshop® Elements (PSE) imaging software is the most commonly used to create layouts by seasoned digiscrappers.
One of the things I loved most about Photoshop® Elements when I was first starting is the ease of using editable layer masks that enable cropping that can be changed if needed. That is a big bonus for getting layouts just right and for fixing mistakes without having to redo everything. Elements also has some pretty cool built in styles to create different effects on various page elements and can be extended with Actions that have been designed in the full version of Photoshop and then customised to work in PSE.
However, there are also many die-hard digiscrappers who use other software options, for instance Corel® PaintShop Pro® (PSP) or Corel® PaintShop Pro® Ultimate (PSP Ultimate) or GIMP free open source or iPhoto® for Apple Mac®, to create their pages. Recently there has been an explosion of apps hitting the stores that are capable of supporting layers so many digiscrappers are now able to scrap on the go.
Whilst I have not used GIMP or iPhoto® myself, I have heard good things about them. Also PSP, with many staunch PSP digiscrappers swearing by it above all comers.
Other Software Alternatives
Less often pages are created in word processing or desktop publishing software, for instance Microsoft® Word or Publisher. However, flexibility and the ability to modify images as desired is not generally available with this option. That’s not to say that the pages created using word processing software are substandard, just that it provides the digiscrapper with a more tightly focused challenge on writing beautiful, compelling journaling.
Journaling, aka the feelings, the memories and the who, what, when, where, how, why of the page’s focus, is generally written within the imaging software to accompany the selected photographs and images. However, I have heard of some digiscrappers creating their journaling in a word processor and then adding it as a screenshot image to the page.
What does a typical Digital Scrapbook layout created in Photoshop look like?
The following layout was created in Photoshop® and looks like a typical, basic layout with a slightly grunged, yet clean and simple magazine quality to the composition.
It is a wonderful experience to create a page and then look back on it later recalling all the subtle nuances of the photographs, not to mention the creativity that went into producing the page.
New Specs x 2
Capturing the day to day minutiae of Life is one of the aspects of Digital Scrapbooking that I love most.
On this day, my sons were both quite excited to finally be fitted with their first pair of spectacles … me too … except … I also distinctly remember cringing at the overall price tag! Youch!
They both looked so mature all of sudden with their glasses on … and pretty cool too IMHO.
And for me this page celebrates the achievement of paying for the blessed things with zero help from anyone else. That was a bloody big achievement indeed!
Price Point Comparison
In terms of price point to get up and running with digiscrapping … there are various pay-for programs available ranging from $29 upwards, to well in excess of $800 per year at the very top end of the range.
Personally I used Adobe® Photoshop® Elements (PSE) when I was first getting started as it fitted my digiscrapping needs perfectly. It was only once I started getting full swing into designing commercially that I upgraded to the full Adobe® Photoshop® Creative Cloud (PSCC). Nonetheless, I highly recommend and can say from personal experience that Photoshop® Elements is definitely worth investing in.
Dedicated Software for Digital Scrapbooking
On another note, if you are just starting out, a dedicated, albeit limited, scrapbooking program might be a good choice for you. Sometimes these packages also come with a few kits built-in to get started:
- Cyberlink PhotoDirector® via Amazon
- Digital Scrapbook Artist® via Amazon
- My Memories® Suite 9 via Amazon
- Hallmark® Scrapbook Studio® via Amazon
Online Options for Digital Scrapbooking
Also, there are a number online options that include starter kits. These sites are often for the purpose of creating photobooks and other printed items, for example custom designed photo Christmas cards:
- Smilebox® - Smilebox.com
- Shutterfly® - Shutterfly.com
- Picaboo® - Picaboo.com
- Mixbook Photo Co.® - Mixbook.com
Having said that, if you would prefer to retain flexibility over the creation of your layouts and maintain the ability to use kits from a variety of designers and sources, then photo imaging software that supports layers is the way to go.
- Adobe® Photoshop® Elements (PSE)
- Adobe® Photoshop® Creative Cloud (PSCC)
- Corel® PaintShop Pro® (PSP)
- Corel® PaintShop Pro® Ultimate (PSP Ultimate)
- iPhoto – via the Mac App Store
- GIMP – GIMP.org
Imaging software, of course, has the added advantage of giving you greater control over your photo editing options.
Digital Scrapbooking on the Go
DigiScrapping on the go is also a thing now-a-days with both web-based and mobile applications for smart phones and tablets available:
- Photoshop® Express - Apple Store and Google Play
- Photoshop® for iPad®
- Pixlr - Pixlr.com
- PicCollage - pic-collage.com
Some of the options above have a steep learning curve that puts a few people off. So if you are worried about spending a bucket of cash and then not being able to use your program, just make sure that you select the free trial first!
Most software providers have some type of a try before you buy service to let you get your feet wet before you plunge in by committing to a purchase.
If you were to ask me which software I would choose if I were starting out in digital scrapbooking for the first time, my answer would be Adobe® Photoshop® Elements (PSE), EVERY TIME.
Whichever option you decide to go with remember this … you can always make a change or upgrade to something else!
As a little thank you for Learn Digital Scrapbooking course subscribers reading this post please be sure to grab a copy of this set of decorated text on a path hearts that are suitable for use in both Photoshop® Creative Cloud as well as in Photoshop® Elements, with my compliments. Your coupon code is included in the email for this session. Coming soon.
So there we have it: a brief explanation of some of the imaging software options for Digital Scrapbooking. Which program are you leaning towards? Have you already chosen / purchased / downloaded your software? What program is it and what made you choose that one instead of one of the alternatives? Post a comment below or drop me a line through the Contact page.
This post is part of our Learn Digital Scrapbooking FAQ Series, the complete index for which can be found on the Learn Digital Scrapbooking: Start Here with the FAQs page.