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How to Do Digital Scrapbooking – A Fun Activity to do Indoors

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Have you heard of digital scrapbooking? It probably sounds a little weird because a scrapbook is associated with crafts and handiwork. But it’s also a way of preserving and displaying your memories with a specific look that can be recreated digitally.

Digital Scrapbooking using GIMP

It’s also a fun activity for the whole family, and you can do it indoors. Keep reading to learn how to do it and even keep the crafting involved if you like.

Prep work

Selection

As you would do with any kind of album, you need to go through your photos and select the ones you want to include. Sometimes it’s easier if you choose a topic for it, especially in scrapbooking as the embellishment will be guided by it. For example, you could choose your first trip to the beach.

Digital Scrapbooking indoor family activity

If you want to make the most out of this exercise, you can even organize all those files that you’re reviewing. There are many programs dedicated to this, some of the most popular are Lightroom or ACDSee.

Decoration

The most characteristic thing about scrapbooking is the embellishment.

You can add notes, frames, and all sorts of decorations around the photos. Digital scrapbooking is not different, what changes is the way you do it. However, if you want to keep some of the craftings, it’s also possible.

Let me give you some examples and ideas.

  • Stock Images: This is the fully digital version. You can buy or download images from different websites. Unsplash and Pexels are great sites for free stock images. If you’re just using Google, always keep an eye on the licensing permissions of each photo so you don’t infringe any laws.
  • Photograph objects around the house: This is not exactly crafty, but it does involve your own creativity. Do you have flowers, fruits, or any home decors that can match the topic you’re working on? Photograph them! Best if you can put it in a neutral and contrasting background, as you are going to cut them out later. This is great when you want to involve more people in the activity – that way everyone can go find their favorite objects to include.
  • Make your own: This is just like the one before, except that you don’t use things that you already have. Instead, you make them, especially for this project. You can do some origami figures or ‘age’ a piece of paper with tea and coffee stains to use as background. This version is the one that includes more crafting and stays closest to the original tradition. It’s especially fun if you have kids. Once you have everything done, photograph it to use in your digital scrapbook.

Digital Scrapbooking

I’m going to do my scrapbook in GIMP because it’s free software, and this way, anyone can follow. You can also use Photoshop as the main feature you need is to work with layers. Just keep in mind that the individual tools and effects would be different.

Get your images ready

Okay, now that you have the photos of your elements, you need to have them ready for use in digital scrapbooking. That means that each one is cut-out so that it can interact freely with others.

For this, you can do the work right inside GIMP, or you can use any of the many free tools to remove backgrounds that are on the market. I’ll show you how to do one here in GIMP.

Open your image and make a selection around your subject using any of the selection tools from the panel.

There is no right or wrong when choosing the tool; it depends on the image you’re working and your skills. For example, here, it’s easier to use the Rectangle because of the shape of the object. However, I could also use the scissors or the path tool to draw the edge manually.

Selection tools

Once you have it, go to Select > Invert so that it’s the background that gets selected. Then right-click on the Layers dock and choose Add an alpha channel from the menu to allow the transparency and finally go to Edit > Clear.

Remove backgrounds

Now save your image in GIMP’s file extension by using Save As or Export to save as .png, which will make it available for other programs while preserving the transparency. Repeat the process for all the images you’re going to use and save them in the same folder for easy access.

Create your layout

To create the layout for your scrapbook, you need all the elements in the same document. To do this, you need to go to File > Open as Layers. Select all the files and click Ok. This will open one document with each photograph as an independent layer.

Digital Scrapbooking is done in layers

You can now use the Move, Scale, and Rotate tools to arrange your layout.

Keep in mind the order of your layers, as the ones on top will cover the ones below. So, if you want things to overlap, you can drag and drop the layers to change the order.

Summer layout

Once you’re happy, you can start adding notes, which is another important component of a scrapbook.

Add some text

There are many experiments you can do to play with your text. Here are a couple of simple ideas to get you going.

Use the Text tool to write a title, note, date, or whatever you want to include. If you click and drag, you can create a specific area where the text will fit. Then choose the font you like.

In my opinion, the ones that simulate handwriting are the best for digital scrapbooking.

Digital Scrapbooking includes notes

You can later change the Blending Mode to incorporate it more naturally into the image or create different effects. You’ll find this menu on top of the layer panel.

GIMP's text effects

Another choice is to type directly in the background. Then use the Rectangle Select Tool and draw a selection around it. Then go to Filters > Light and Shadow > Xacht Effect which is a default script included in GIMP – 2.10, which is the latest to the time of this article.

This will create a 3D effect that simulates a tag for your text.

Add some text to embelish

And there you go, add as much or as little as you like.

You can use it as a template and just change the image, or you can follow the same steps to create different layouts.

Have fun using digital scrapbooking to design albums, screensavers, wallpaper for your computer and so much more. I hope you enjoyed it!

Digital scrapbook summer layout

Try digital scrapbooking out at home and share your results with us in the comments!

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Ana Mireles
Ana Mireles

is a photographer and artistic researcher. She has been awarded and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands. Through theory and practice, she explores the cultural aspect of photography, how it helps us relate to each other, the world, and ourselves. She has also a passion for teaching, communication, and social media. You can find more about her and her work at her website or acquire some of her works here.