March 12, 2012

Digital Scrapbooking: Is It As Fun As Real Papercraft?

There was a time when I worked as a moderator on a craft forum. My main interest was building action dioramas, although I did appreciate the range of arts and crafts projects we covered on the board.

During the entirety of my tenure there, the scrapbooking section always had the most activity. Simply put, there are tons of people out there who scrapbook as a hobby — it’s easy enough that anyone can do the work well, all while producing attractive and meaningful results.

Because of scrapbooking’s popularity, it’s no surprise that its digital counterpart is similarly regarded in a favorable light. While we doubt digital scrapbooking will ever replace traditional scrapbooking, it does make for a nice alternative when you’re not quite in the mood (or don’t have the extra time) to cut paper, trim pictures and glue stuff up on a notebook.

Same Thing, Different Medium

Digital scrapbooks work much like traditional papercraft scrapbooks. The products from both activities are similar — you get an album with multiple pages filled with pictures, texts and various on-page ornamentation, each one bearing things that are meaningful to you.

Of course, traditional scrapbooks are things you can put on a coffee table, pass around when family comes over or line up on a shelf, while digital ones stay on your computer. If you want to show it to friends, you’ll need to turn on whatever machine you have it saved in.

Not As Fun As The Real Thing?

I’ve heard some people say that digital scrapbooking is nowhere near as fun as its traditional counterpart. While I do agree to some extent (if you love papercraft, the drag-and-drop nature of software-based scrapbooking will leave you wanting more), there’s a reason why it’s growing in fans: it brings its own set of advantages.

  • No mess. Digital scrapbooking saves you from the everyday mess of traditional papercraft. After you’re done with a project, you won’t have slices of paper lying around, crumpled pages of bad layouts and sticky glue caked on your fingers (not to mention all the paper cuts). Just the same neat desk where your computer has been sitting in all this time.
  • Ease of use. Chances are, you have all your pictures stored digitally already. If you’re going to make a paper scrapbook, you’ll have to print every single one that you plan to include. You’ll have to cut stuff up with scissors, use a marker to write down text, draw borders, glue items individually and more. Plus, you’ll likely need to lug a box (or, worse, a bag) around where all your kits, supplies and tools sit. It’s just a whole lot of work compared to going digital, where a few clicks here and there on a single computer are all you need to do.
  • It’s fast. Just like it’s easier to write on a computer than by hand, the same goes for this hobby: Digital scrapbooks are just faster to complete. With fewer things to worry about, you can literally crank them out like a factory.
  • No expensive supplies. Scrapbooking can turn into an expensive hobby, especially when you get into the habit of buying kits to produce attractive-looking albums. Those kits tend to be used for only one album, after all, so you’ll have to keep pouring in cash to keep going. With digital scrapbooking software, on the other hand, you can get away with buying kits once and using them an unlimited amount of times.
  • You can share them digitally as soon as you finish. Normally, you’ll finish a scrapbook then put it away. Later, when meeting friends, that’s when you pull it out to show them. With digital, you can literally finish a scrapbook by 10:00 PM, email it to all your friends by 10:15 PM and share it to your favorite forum by 10:30 PM. It’s really just an incredibly convenient platform for sharing your projects with others.
  • It gives you options in presentation. When you do your scrapbooks digitally and want physical copies, all you have to do is print them out and compile them into an album. If you use a good printer, quality paper and have them professionally-bound, you can end up with albums that look like hardbound coffee table books — much prettier than the glued up stuff you usually end up with doing things manually.

It Can Be Just As Fun

In fact, I’d go on to argue that a lot of people will find digital scrapbooking just as fun — if not more fun — than the old-school glue and scissors method. While papercraft enthusiasts will rightly find the pick-and-click style of working a little too bare for their enjoyment, there are a whole lot of folks who will find it very addicting. In fact, I know people who were turned off by traditional scrapbooking that ended up embracing the medium digitally — the ease of working and the quality of output they produce just makes the whole activity seem more worthwhile.

Scrapbooking Software

There are plenty of software options out there for digital scrapbookers. Those only dabbling with the hobby tend to use whatever image editing, illustration or desktop publishing software they already have on their computer, such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw and Microsoft Publisher. There are also plenty of free options for those software categories available online, so anyone can really get started quickly without much investment.

Those a bit more serious about the hobby can invest in a dedicated digital scrapbook software, like Craftartist Scrapbooks or something similar. Personally, I prefer these if you’re going to really get into the hobby. The initial cash investment is small enough that it’s way cheaper than a whole lot of other hobbies out there, all while serving you over many projects for a long, long time. If you need extra graphics and layout help, you can download free kits all over the web, as well as buy kits from professional designers who sell their creations online. We suggest going over the free options before shelling out more money, though, as there’s really enough downloadable content from forums and numerous craft websites to keep you busy for a long while.


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