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Book Review: Guide to Digital Scrapbooking

So, we all had to do book reviews this week at Craft Critique. Like a total moron, I didn't check to see what other reporters were reviewing before I wrote mine. I went to upload my review and realized that one of the other gals was already reviewing the same book. Ooops! You can read Julia's review here. And, without any further ado, here is my review:

As I reported earlier in the week, I made my first digital scrapbooking layout. I was fairly familiar with the very basics of Photoshop Elements 3.0. I’ve been using it for about a year to edit photos and do other super simple tasks. I had fun fooling around on my laptop after reading some of the online tutorials and such. But, I wanted something I could hold in my hands. Someone on a message board I frequent had recommended Better Homes and Gardens’ The Ultimate Guide to Digital Scrapbooking. So I bought it.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the scrapbooking world, there are magazines, books, and then expensive magazines with a particular focus (they are called books). Sold in the magazine section for $12.95, this is one of those magazine/books.

Inside, you will find the following sections:

1. Top 20 Reasons to Go Digital
2. Gear: Software, Printers, Scanners, Fonts, and Add-ons are covered in brief.
3. Level One: Covers different digi techniques for hybrid pages. Hybrid pages are those that use both traditional paper and digital work together. For example, adding text to a photo and then placing it onto a traditional “paper and paste” page.
4. Level Two: Covers some basics of making all digital pages with pre-purchased or downloaded digital elements.
5. Level Three: Covers techniques for creating your own digital brushes, templates, papers, etc.
6. Gallery: A collection of digital pages in varying styles.
7. Glossary
8. Index
9. Digital Freebies: A url is provided for you to visit and download several items for free. You do not have to buy the book to download the freebies.

After reading the book from cover to cover and playing on my computer for a few days, I feel both frustrated and elated.

Here’s what I’m frustrated about:

1. Most of the book is geared towards users with Photoshop CS2 (about $650). I have Photoshop Elements 3.0 (about $100). This led to two problems: (1) There are really cool and useful things that Photoshop Elements just cannot do, and (2) Some of things that Elements can do, are under different menus or names than CS2. This means you have to hunt and guess quite a bit. (On the plus side, the book clearly labels which program the instructions are written for.)

2. This is not a book for absolute beginners. There is no way that I could have figured out some of the tutorials without previous knowledge of Photoshop Elements. None of the instructions have more than three or four steps. This is charming and user friendly, but it also means that there are some small steps that they assume you’re doing, but don’t explicitly tell you to. On the other hand, I don’t think that this book is for advanced digi scrappers either. There were a lot of things that I (a non-digi scrapper, but Photoshop user) already knew how to do such as desaturating part of a photo.

3. I think the glossary at the back of the book is far too small. There are plenty of terms used that I didn’t know and that weren’t explained in the glossary.

Now to the good stuff:

1. I love the way the book is organized. You are given the name of a technique, such as “make your own stickers,” a scrapbook page using the technique, and step-by-step instructions on how to do the technique.

2. Written instructions are paired with screenshots of each task. This makes it easy to follow what’s going on and to fill in any gaps in the written instructions.

3. The book is so enthusiastic about digi scrapping and the techniques are so very cool that I thought very seriously about shelling out the big bucks for Photoshop CS3, the updated version of CS2! (Don’t tell my husband, but I still might…And for those of you who don’t know, you can download a free 30-day trial from

4. I learned some very cool techniques! I am definitely going to be making more hybrid pages in the future.

5. Throughout the book there are a variety of helpful extra tips that run the gamut from tips on digi storage to advice on altering a technique slightly for a whole new look.

6. I had fun playing with the digital freebies. Here’s a layout I made with them in about thirty minutes.


After reading The Ultimate Guide to Digital Scrapbooking and doing all the exercises I could with Photoshop Elements, I feel much more comfortable with digital scrapbooking and my appetite is certainly whetted for more practice and knowledge! In fact, here are a digital and a hybrid layout that I made!

I wanted to experiment with not using any purchased items. So, using my newfound knowledge, I created this layout from scratch, paint, frames, and all!


I don’t know that I’ll ever convert over to being a total digital scrapper. I like playing with paper and scissors far too much! But, I really love the idea of creating certain elements on the computer and then incorporating them into my paper creations. In that vein, here’s a layout where I created the patterned paper in Photoshop Elements and printed it out:


I have no hesitation in recommending this book to digi beginners with some Photoshop familiarity. I think having CS2 would also enhance the experience.

In the meantime, if you'd like to recommend a digi scrapbooking book for me, I'd love to hear from you!