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.
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Typically Adobe® Photoshop® Elements (PSE) imaging software is the most commonly used to create layouts by seasoned digiscrappers.
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.
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 focussed 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.
This page was a fun little exercise in using a shape as the anchor for my journaling using a text path in Photoshop.
I was going for something simple that would be a frame around the central action of the page, which was the television in the photograph.
Interestingly I learned that photographing an older model television screen was pretty darned hard, the image was a blur of lines in the original photograph … manipulating images is a speciality of mine though so I melded a computer screenshot that I blurred to match the depth of field in the image and placed it over the tv screen to rectify the image.
A nice finish all up, really.
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 Photoshop® Elements when I was first getting started as it fitted my digiscrapping needs perfectly. It was only once I started designing commercially that I upgraded to the full Adobe® Photoshop® Creative Suite (PSCS). Nonetheless, I highly recommend and can say from personal experience that Photoshop® Elements is definitely worth investing in.
One of the things I loved most about PSE when I was first starting is the ease of using editable layer masks that enable cropping that can be changed if needed, 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.
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 11 Ultra – via Amazon
- Digital Scrapbook artist 2 – via Amazon
- My Memories Suite 9 – via Amazon
- MemoryMixer – MemoryMixer.com
- Hallmark Scrapbook Studio – via Amazon
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 Suite (PSCS)
- Corel® PaintShop Pro® (PSP)
- Corel® PaintShop Pro® Ultimate (PSP Ultimate)
- iPhoto – via the Mac App Store
- GIMP – GIMP.org
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® Fix – Apple Store and Google Play
- Photoshop® Mix – Apple Store and Google Play
- Photoshop® for iPad – Apple Store
- 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.
Whichever option you decide to go with remember this … you can always make a change or upgrade to something else!
So there we have it: a brief explanation of some of the imaging software options for Digital Scrapbooking.
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 Digital Scrapbooking FAQ Series, the complete index for which can be found on the Start Here: Frequently Asked Questions page.
- What do I need to start creating Digital Scrapbook layouts?
- How do I create layouts?
- Imaging Software: Photoshop, PaintShop Pro and More!