f you are new to digital scrap booking, let’s walk through the basics of making your first layout. These instructions were made using Adobe Photoshop, so if you are using a different program, you may have to tweak them a bit to suit your needs.

It seems like an intimidating task, making your first layout. Surely you’ve perused some galleries so far and seen others’ work and may be wondering to yourself how you could ever create such beautiful works as well. Really, it’s not that daunting! Once you have the basics down, the rest comes easily from there.

The first thing you have to do is to open a new canvas with the proper specifications. A standard layout is 12×12 in (3600×3600 px) with a resolution of 300. Digital kits are made to fit these standards unless otherwise specified. If one day you decide you want to make a smaller scrapbook (like 8×8 or 10×10 for example), you can simply resize your layouts to a smaller size from 12×12. Before you start, decide what kit or kits you would like to use and photo(s) as well. Take a look at the screen shot here. You should start with something like this:

The most common thing to add first to a layout is papers. You can choose as many or as few as you like, but you should have at least one! In photoshop, select from the top menu file gt;open and navigate to the folder that holds the kit you are working with. Another way to do this is to have the folder open and right click on the item you wish to use and click open with gt;Adobe Photoshop (or whichever program you are using). Once you have your paper open, you can simply drag and drop it onto your blank canvas. An easy way to ensure that it is centered in the canvas is to select from the top menu view gt;snap. You can always turn that off later on. The kit being used here is Picture Your Life by Cardamome.

Items can be added in any order one prefers, but the next logical choice would be to add a photo, and then to add embellishments that will emphasize it. The important thing to remember when making a layout is that you are showcasing your photos, your memories, and to try not to overshadow them with embellishments. The same goes for adding a photo as adding a paper. File gt;open and navigate to the appropriate folder. Then drag and drop onto your canvas. You may want to turn snap off now.

We now have a photo on our canvas (of some very cute little Tinkerbell lovers at that!), but obviously it is a bit large. And you will now see to the right that you have more than one layer. There is a background layer, a layer for the paper, and a layer for the photo. If it helps you to keep your place, double click on each layer’s name and change it so you will know what they are. There are many times when making layouts you will find that you have many layers to work with and it can get confusing to know which item you are working with. Now, to resize the photo, type ctrl t on your keyboard, or in the top menu click edit gt;transform gt;free transform. This will bring up a box around your photo and you can drag any of the corners to resize it. Always hold down the shift key and drag a corner to resize. Holding down the shift key will keep your photo proportionate! The same process goes for resizing embellishments on your layout.

Now you may add other embellishments and fun items using the same steps listed above. You may want to frame your photo, add ribbons, buttons, etc. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination!The next thing we will cover is adding drop shadows for realism. Really, this is a MUST for any layout.

Drop shadows are very important, and can easily be done in a bad way! To create your drop shadow, double click on the layer you want to add a shadow to in the layers palette. A layer styles menu will pop up. It is the first option underneath blending options. See below that for a flower, there is a bit larger, blurrier shadow. You can adjust any of the sliders. Having a larger number for distance will make your shadow stretch away from the object more. Increasing the size makes the shadow more blurry, less hard edged.

When making your drop shadows, keep in mind the realism of it all. See for example the photo frame in the same screenshot above has a smaller shadow with a harder edge. In real life, a photo would not stand a half inch away from a page, nor would a flower or ribbon lay completely flat against a page. You should keep these things in mind when making your drop shadows.

You may also want to try this in photoshop mac for a sleek and more user-friendly designing experience.

Now, with all items added and drop shadows applied, you can flatten your layout. Flattening simply means that you are merging all your layers into one. You might find that before you finish, there are items you want to change and resize several times before you are satisfied. Take your time because you are preserving a special memory and this is not something to be rushed through! Putting the time and effort into creating something beautiful with your photos makes the memory all the more cherished. To flatten your layout, on the top menu click layer gt;flatten image. If you have hidden layers, it will ask you if you want to delete them. Choose yes. Then of course you want to save it! Click in the top menu file gt;save as gt;choose your destination folder, name your layout and choose the file type jpeg. Another window will pop up after that asking you about quality. A number between 10 and 12 on the slider is usually good.