Archive for June 2011
(Warning up front: This is a long post, so if you want to jump to the meat of it – comparing three digital hardbound book printers – click here!)
This is definitely one of my favorite things about digital scrapbooking: Printing all of my layouts together in a hardbound, coffee-table-quality book. I actually just recently received my third hardbound book, and I was giddy with excitement when the UPS man dropped it at my doorstep!
Getting your finished layouts from screen to scrapbook is easier than you might think. It’s simply a matter of organizing all of those finished layouts in a way that makes sense for an album, then uploading those photos like you would any other photo to an online photo developer who offers photo book printing.
For me, organizing my layouts for a hardbound book means I need a beginning and an end for my layouts, and because I don’t generally scrapbook my “everyday” layouts in chronological order, the best topics for hardbound books tend to be theme albums. My three hardbound books include a memorial album for my grandmother, a wedding album and a vacation album. Each had a definite beginning and end, and I knew when I was done scrapping these topics. (This is unlike my normal albums; for example, I still might go back and do a page from my son’s first year, even though he’s now 9 years old, just because the mood strikes.)
It’s easiest for me to organize my layouts before I try to create an album online. This means combining all of my JPGs for the album into one folder on my computer, then naming each file, starting with the number corresponding with the page I want the layout to occupy in the book. (Don’t forget to name the low-end numbers with zeroes in front to keep pages in alpha-numerical order. So, for that first layout of the book, name it something like “01 – cover.” Otherwise, your files will be ordered with page 1 right before page 11, page 2 right before 22 and so on.) This way, your layouts will be organized in your folder in numerical order, so you can see exactly how they will fall in your printed book. If you scrapbook in two-page spreads, you’ll want to chart out your layouts on paper so you know your two-page layouts won’t get separated into two separate spreads.
So, for the wedding album I did, I might chart something like this:
|Page Number||File Name|
|Cover||01 – cover.jpg|
|Pages 2-3 (spread)||02-03 – title and introduction.jpg|
|Pages 4 -5 (spread)||04-05 – bride and groom formal.jpg|
|Page 6||06 – invitation.jpg|
|Page 7||07 – location.jpg|
The added benefit to this numerical file-naming is that when you upload your layouts into your photo book printer’s online software, they will load in the order you want them to be placed in the book, so you avoid fishing through all of your layouts to get them in order at that time. And at the time when you’re uploading everything, you’re just ready to be done, so anything that makes it faster at that point is worth it, right?
Choosing an online printer
One of the benefits of digital scrapbooking (and the simpler, even more popular photobooking) becoming more popular over time is that there are now several options for choosing a company to print your photo book/digital scrapbook. When I started digital scrapbooking in 2006, I only knew of a couple of printers that offered hardbound, coffee-table-style books for digital layouts. Now the options are much greater, but taking the time to decide who will do the best job for your special project can be a little overwhelming.
But it pays to do your research.
My experience has been that you get what you pay for. I’ll share my specific experiences with three different printers, but keep in mind that these are simply one consumer’s experiences. Take my advice with a grain of salt, and know that not everyone will experience the same challenges. Also keep in mind that I printed these three books over a period of time that spans several years, and things change (often for the better) over time.
Here are the three companies I used and my opinions about each.
I printed my first book with Heritage Makers in 2006. They did an awesome job. The page thickness and color accuracy were high-quality. I paid about $75 for an 80-page, 12×12 book. (Note, though, that when I recently looked into printing from them again, the price had increased quite a bit.) They didn’t offer a custom spine at the time, but I believe they do now. It was a little bit cumbersome (OK, a bit of a pain) to have to make contact with and order my product through a consultant before I could do anything online, but that would be my only complaint. All in all, I loved this book, and it has held up nicely over time. I would recommend this printer to friends without hesitation.
OK, this is where I hesitate a bit. I printed with Blurb in 2007, I believe (or early 2008 at latest). I printed a small book, 7×7, and I have to say that I was a little disappointed in the quality. The color, specifically the reds, was not quite right, leaving some pages oddly tinted, which was sometimes most noticeable on tan faces. At the time, Blurb did not offer a custom cover, so I ordered a custom dust jacket on their standard album. The dust jacket was not folded on center, so the spine text was not centered on the spine, and the cover images were not centered. There were several small globs of glue on the back cover that were not noticeable when the dust jacket is in place, but when the cover is removed to make looking at the book less clumsy, are rather noticeable. The pages are a little thinner and seem to be bound a little less sturdily than Heritage Makers’ product (a look at the top of the album shows that the pages were cut at an odd angle), and the images inside were not super-crisp, either. The price was hard or impossible to beat (just about $35, I think, for a 74-page album), but I was left a little disappointed in the end. I will say, however, that I believe they now offer a custom cover, and I imagine that over time their color issues have improved. However, I have been nervous to try this printer again. (If you have used Blurb for a photo book/digital scrapbook and have had a better experience, please leave a comment below so we can share that with everyone!)
The most recent book I did was through Shutterfly. I chose a padded cover for a 12×12 book that had 100 pages, and I absolutely love the feel of the padding. The book feels substantial and very high-quality. The pages are super-thick, and the quality of the color and pages is overall very high-quality. I will say that if you design your own pages in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (rather than use Shutterfly’s page-design software), you might choose to turn off the aut0-correct color feature. Mine had a dark gray, lightly patterned background on all pages that turned out black in the final product as a result of the color-correction process. The price of the book was a bit expensive ($120-ish, on sale), but then, when I was researching printing this time around, price hikes were across the board. Shutterfly’s sale brought its prices down to one of the most reasonable of the printers I had researched. (I’ll share more info about that research in another post soon.)
While I was very happy with the overall quality of my book through Shutterfly, I will say that I had two big issues with the printing. First, the title on the spine was truncated. So, while the title was supposed to be “Colorado 2010: A family vacation,” all that printed was “Colorado 2010: A famil.” And page 15 was blank, even though there was definitely a page uploaded and placed in the original layout online. I double-checked my online proof, and both of these issues turned out to be Shutterfly’s mistakes. After a call to customer service, though, I am happy to report that they are reprinting the books for free. I had ordered two copies – one as a gift and one for myself – and they are printing and shipping both at no cost. So in the end, I’m a happy camper, even though I will be waiting for a “good” copy for some time.
From top: Blurb, Heritage Makers, Shutterfly
From top: Blurb, Heritage Makers, Shutterfly
And that’s a wrap!
That’s an overview. I could talk about this all day, but I imagine my wordiness has led some people to move on by now! Just wanted to share my experiences. I would love to hear if you have printed hardbound books yourself and what your experiences have been like. We can all learn from each others’ experiences, and hopefully we will be more prepared to make educated choices for our next album printings!
Oh, and watch for a post in the near future detailing my research (page counts, costs, options, etc.) on several photo book printers!
I am tirelessly working on my upcoming School Days kit and can’t wait to unveil the final product! In the meantime, I’m playing around with some of the papers I have created for the kit, just to see how they work together, what else is needed, etc. You saw one layout on the Disney challenge post. Here’s another.
As you can see, the colors for the upcoming kit are bright and bold…just right for layouts about elementary-school-age kids!
Fonts: Adobe Fangsong Std (journaling), Avenir Heavy (photo captions), You are Loved (title)
Papers: From my upcoming School Days kit. Stay tuned!
Well, Lulu.com decided that it is going to discontinue my digital products soon, so I am offering a 50% off sale of all Graphic Nature products as well as Template #2! Buy them soon, or they might be gone for good! Click on any of the products below to purchase.
Also don’t forget to grab the FREE template!
P.S. Lulu is one of the only e-vendors that allows an instant download for customers who purchase my products. So while I continue to look for alternatives to Lulu for hosting my products in the future, be aware that there is a possibility they will no longer be available for immediate download. You will likely have to purchase my products through Paypal, then wait for me to respond to you by e-mail and send you the download link. Sort of stinks…but you can blame Lulu for that!:-) In the meantime, several newbie digital designers and I are looking for alternative options as we begin to build an audience for our products. Stay tuned. We’ll come up with something, I’m sure!
Of all the time I’ve been digital scrapbooking, I’ve honestly never taken time to do any organized online scrapbooking challenges — until today!
A friend of mine from high school has recently opened a blog based on digital scrapbooking (check it out here: It’s Just Meejay Designs) and has a challenge running now through June 26. The challenge is to scraplift her layout …
… with some Disney World photos and post it into the MouseScrappers forum (check out that link for the complete rules). As a reward, she’ll give you this super-cute Donald Duck-theme mini kit!
I absolutely love the alpha and numbers in this kit (oh, and that cool craft-colored paper…oh, and those fluffy, stitched stars…so fun!), and I’m looking forward to receiving it! So, I just finished my scraplift layout. (Remember that scraplifting just means you take something – the idea, layout, color scheme, photo themes, elements, etc., – whatever floats your boat – and apply it to a layout of your own. In this case, I loved the overall balance of the layout, the journaling on the left, title on the right, stitching around the journaling block and the cluster at the bottom right. I also love the photo!)
Please contribute to Jaime’s challenge! If you do, post a link to the MouseScrappers page where you posted your scraplift layout in my comments section here, and I’ll also send you a freebie (shown below)! Just don’t forget to follow the challenge rules so you can get Jaime’s kit! You want it; you know you do! And don’t forget to check out her blog, too!
Sources for my layout:
- Fonts: Walt Disney Script (title, date and first line of journaling); Zolano Serif (journaling)
- All papers and elements are from my upcoming School Days kit. Stay tuned!
Sources for Jaime’s layout are found here.
Just wanted to say a quick “happy Father’s Day” to the two most important dads in my life – my own dad and the dad to my kiddos! I love you both very much!
I realize I need to make a page specifically about my dad! Since I don’t have one handy, here’s one from my recently-completed Colorado book. I’ll have to share that album soon.
Hope you all have a great Father’s Day! If your dad is nearby, give him a hug today! (Mine’s 1,400 miles away, so our hug will have to wait!)
Are you going to a wedding today? The brother of a good friend of ours and my former neighbor are marrying each other today…which has me thinking about weddings.
Wedding season is in full swing! If you find yourself snapping hundreds of photos at a wedding this summer and want some ideas for how to scrap them, here are some resources for you:
- Scrapbooks Etc. magazine’s wedding idea gallery
- Club CK’s wedding idea gallery
- Creative Memories Project Center: Celebrations
- Creative Memories Project Center: Love
- Photobucket search for wedding scrapbook
- vi.sualize.us search for wedding scrapbook
- Scrapbook.com Layout Projects: Wedding
You’re sure to find a layout or two you love and want to scraplift. Sometimes it just takes seeing someone else’s take on a subject to get your creative gears grinding, right?
And just for fun, here are a handful of pages from the wedding book I created for my younger sister’s wedding. Hopefully something above or in this slideshow will inspire you to do a page or two.
I used a variety of digital scrapbooking kits, but since it was early in my digital scrapbooking days (2006-2007ish, I think), I didn’t understand the value of keeping track of the names of designers and/or kits for the purpose of giving credit where credit is due. So I’ll just offer my apologies to the designers whose supplies are used here and will ask that if any of those designers happens to stumble upon this blog, please add your credits in the comments.
And if you have any wedding layouts you’d like to share, please add a link in the comments, too!
If you’re fairly new to the world of digital scrapbooking, you might be wondering what your options are for getting your scrapbook layout from your screen to your scrapbooks. There are several options for doing this, and in my mind, having multiple, flexible options is one of the best things about scrapping digitally.
Options for displaying your finished layouts include:
- printing them as individual pages (through services like Scrapbook Pictures or Persnickety Prints) and storing them in scrapbook albums (like these from Creative Memories or any number of albums available at stores like Archivers or your local scrapbook store – if you’re lucky enough to have one!)
- printing them as hardbound books (through a service like Heritage Makers, Blurb, Snapfish or Shutterfly)
- printing them and putting them on display in frames (like these)
I will cover each of these options in a short series of blog posts, starting with…
Part 1: Printing as individual pages
Perhaps the easiest way to get your pages from your computer to something you can easily see and enjoy in real life is to print your pages individually and slip them into a regular scrapbook.
Digital scrapbooking kit used in the above layout: Arctic Expedition kit by Katie Pertiet (one of my all-time favorites!)
This is my preferred option — at least for now. As someone who doesn’t typically scrapbook chronologically, I find myself placing orders for about 20 pages at a time, with pages that span several years and subjects. I might never be done with my daughter’s first year, for example, but I want to be able to see and enjoy those pages that I do complete soon after I complete them on screen. If I waited until I had enough pages finished to make a full book – and until I knew I would never want to go back and scrapbook something I missed in that same time frame – I might be 90 before I printed these pages!
I also occasionally scrapbook in paper rather than digitally (although my paper-scrapping days are admittedly fewer and farther between as each year passes), and printing my pages as individual pages allows me to mix digital pages with paper images in the same album. It’s a beautiful thing!
So for my typical scrapbook albums, printing as individual pages is my preference. Quickly viewable. Mix-and-matchable. Flexible. Beautiful!
There are many companies – several of them online – who can print your pages as 12″ x 12″ (and other sizes) photos. If you order online, they will deliver them directly to your house, and you’ll be ready to slip them into your albums in no time. My favorite to use is ScrapbookPictures.com. They do an awesome job! However, I will admit that I have never used any other company, either, so the others might be equally as fabulous. (I guess I just think if there isn’t any reason to switch, why bother.) But I’ll throw out a few options for you just in case.
Printing options (all of these print 12×12, my standard size. Check them out to see if they print a size you are used to using.)
- ScrapbookPictures.com ($1.99 per standard 12″ square print + shipping)
- PersnicketyPrints.com ($1.99 per standard 12″ square print + shipping)
- ScrappingSimply.com ($1.99 per standard 12″ square print + shipping)
- Costco Photo Center ($2.99 per standard 12″ square print + shipping – you might find that this is a better deal only if you can pick up your prints at a store near you)
Certainly, this is not a complete list. You might check with your local Target store, CVS, Walgreens and independently owned photography stores to see if they offer a 12 x 12 option. It seems to be becoming a more popular option. The others listed here are ones that fellow digital scrapbookers I know (or whose blogs I follow) use on a regular basis. So I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the ones above.
While you can also choose to purchase a wide-format inkjet printer (like this one from Epson) and large-format photo paper (which seems to be a little hard to find) and print your own photos, by the time you add the cost of the ink and supplies and consider the hassle of replacing ink, errors when printing, etc., it might be more affordable and certainly more convenient to order from a professional photo printing service like those listed above. The added benefit is that these photo printers print on high-quality photo paper and use a chemical and light process that ensures archival quality (read more about Persnickety’s process, for example). Ink jet prints are printed with ink on paper, which by nature makes them more susceptible to showing age and losing quality over time.
I can’t even begin to get into details about all of the different kinds and brands of scrapbook albums out there! There are just too many to count. If you’re looking for a new one, you can always look online at places like Archivers Annex or Scrapbooks.com.
Honestly, though, you can skip all of that if you ask me! My favorite albums of all time are those made by Creative Memories. The quality is amazing, they are guaranteed for life, and the best part about them is that they lie completely flat when open.
See those nice, flat pages? Ahhh….beautiful!
As you might be aware if you’re a scrapbooker already, many scrapbook albums – particularly the post-bound ones, which seem to be the most popular and offer the most variety in cover design – buckle in the middle near the spine, leaving wide gaps at the top of the book (between the page and the page protector) and folding/arching your pages unnaturally. This makes for awkward page turning, and it also can make the adhesive on paper pages less durable over time and can add undue wear to digital layouts printed on photo paper due to their constantly being arched and unarched while the book is opened and closed over time.
The following photos show what I mean about the buckling/arching of the pages inside their page protectors.
Notice, too, that this book only has 20 layouts (10 page protectors) in it. (And actually, they’re just plain paper at this point; if you add the extra weight of photos and embellishments, the pressure on each page will be even greater.) Plus, if you typically enjoy larger albums with many more pages, the fold at the center and the pressure it puts on the pages by way of arching and humps is even more.
Clearly, flatter is better in this case — both for the safety and longevity of your layouts and for the appearance of the album when you’re looking through it.
Pages and Page Protectors
Creative Memories offers a very high-quality page protector designed for digital pages. If you’re used to CM albums and are familiar with the reinforced edges of the standard pages, you know that those reinforced edges are actually thicker than a printed digital page, making the traditional pages bulkier than needed for digital pages. Also, with the reinforced edges thicker than the layouts filling the rest of the page protectors, if you have a large book of pages, the centers of the pages will sag while the album is lying on a table.
The side-loading 12×12 pages, however, are the perfect solution. They eliminate the need to buy separate page protectors (they include the plastic outer shell and an insert page combined), they eliminate unnecessary bulk by not having a reinforced edge (leaving everything smooth and flat while open), and their overall heavy quality will surely withstand the test of time and many, many page turns. Plus, they load from the spine-side, rather than the top, so no dust will enter your pages/page protectors when your albums are stored on your bookshelves — another drawback to traditional, top-loading albums and pages.
P.S. You can also have your CM albums imprinted with Persona Imprinting. You can have imprinting done on both the cover and spine. Here’s an example of one of our Creative Memories albums with Persona Imprinting.
[If you order Persona Imprinting online and don't already have a Creative Memories consultant, enter Kelly Hampton's name when it asks. (I think there will be two Kelly Hamptons that pop up; my consultant is the one lives in Indianapolis, and she's fabulous!)]
Editor’s note: 11:53 p.m.
Just found out from Kelly that Creative Memories also prints 12×12 pages! Check out their printing service, too! ($3.99 per 12×12 page + shipping)
It’s time for a blog hop! And you can start right here with your first quick page freebie!
What’s a blog hop?
A blog hop is a series of connected blogs that all offer something related for their readers. If you stumble upon a blog hop and follow the links from one blog to another, in the end you will have visited several blogs you might never have seen before (a treasure on its own!) AND, in our case, downloaded a bunch of free scrapbooking quick pages that are color-coordinated and benefit a great cause!
What’s this particular blog hop about?
A couple of months ago, I took a class from JessicaSprague.com called The Art of Digital Design. When the class was over, many of us who were students in the class decided to work together to design a digital scrapbooking kit that would benefit the victims of the Japan earthquake that occurred in March. The kit is the Kimono kit and is now available at JessicaSprague.com.Take a peek.
All proceeds from kit sales will be donated to the American Red Cross to benefit the victims of the earthquake.
Those of us who took the class had an opportunity to contribute to the kit (I donated a couple of papers and the frilly journaling block at the bottom left of the elements preview above), and many of us also designed quick pages to be given away as freebies on our blogs. You, our loyal readers, get a free quick page (or lots of them, if you play along!), and we get to help promote each others’ blogs and the charity kit to boot. So that is what this blog hop is about!
What do I do now?
- Download my quick page via Lulu.com.
- Then, take a look around my blog. You might find something else you like, or you might just find that you want to remember to come back and check again some day and see what else is happening around here. (Hint: Watch for a school days kit coming soon!)
- Next, visit the next blogger on the blog hop (in this case, Yvonne Michelle). Download her free quick page and take some time to browse her blog. Then visit the next person on the hop. (Yvonne will have a link to that blog on her blog) Repeat, and you can eventually visit more than 15 blogs – and get more than 15 free quick pages – along the way!
- Before you’re done with the hop, be sure to visit the Kimono kit page, and consider buying it. Not only will you be helping a great cause, but you’ll also have everything you need to create even more layouts that coordinate with the quick pages you downloaded along the hop. You can create a gorgeous, completely coordinated album using just this one kit!
Blog hop quick links
Last month, we celebrated our son’s 9th birthday. It’s tradition in our home to let the birthday boy (or girl) pick the activity for the evening, and Gabe picked Rock ‘n’ Rollers, a local roller rink. Lucky for him, it was a week night, and the rink was unusually quiet. In fact, we were the only ones there for part of the time, and the rest of the time there were only two other people sharing the rink with our family.
Gabe had a ball.
He got those skates for his birthday, and he was loving them!
It’s funny, though, because the hit of the night had to be the games. What is it about token games and kids this age? They work so hard to earn a few tickets, most of the time winning a ticket or two at a time.
Ella, however, got lucky. She hit the jackpot on one game and won 250 tickets in one swoop.
I think Gabe was a bit jealous, but we had them split the tickets, so he was happy.
I loved watching the kids pick out their prizes.
For the record, having even 150 tickets each doesn’t yield much in return. (But I didn’t have to tell you that, right?)
But those little toys bring lots of enjoyment.
And if something so small as plastic vampire teeth helps make the day of a 9-year-old birthday boy, it’s worth it.