Pursue Your Beloved

Pursue Your Beloved (Write a Love Letter)
Hi everyone! It’s the start of a new month, and that means a new crop of challenges in the forums here at The Digital Press. Each month we create a series of blog posts and challenges that correspond with one word.  This month, we chose the word PURSUE.
Pursue could mean many different things and we would love to have you join us as we “pursue” different aspects through our scrapbooking.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, this is a great time to focus on our loved ones. If you have a spouse or partner, it’s likely that you don’t communicate things you love and appreciate about that person every single day. Personally, although not a writer by nature, I find it easiest to communicate those thoughts to my Beloved through the written word.
Pursue Your Beloved
Here are a few journaling prompts you can use to jumpstart your own love letter:
– Use an endearing name (i.e. Beloved, Darling, etc.).
– List qualities you love about your Beloved and tell them why you love those qualities.
– Write about things your Beloved does for you that often get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of life (but you still really appreciate).
– Record the story and relive the memories from when you first started your relationship with your Beloved, and write about how things are different and better today.
– Write about your hopes and dreams for your future together.

And one final tip: be sincere and leave the humour to a minimum for this letter. Really dig deep and write from the heart!
Pursue Your Beloved
So, now it’s your turn – I’m hosting a challenge over on the forums at The Digital Press and I hope you will come play along! Check it out at The Drawing Board: Challenges. See you there!

Amy H.About the Author: Amy is a wife and mom to three from Ontario, Canada. She’s always been interested in scrapbooking, but didn’t try digiscrapping until 2008 when she received PSE for her birthday. By then she had 1 year old twins and a baby, so the thought of just playing for 10 minutes, hitting save and walking away with no mess was extremely appealing! She’s been hooked ever since. She loves being the memory keeper in the family, loves taking photos, loves telling the stories. She’s also excited to know that these memories are recorded for her grandchildren to enjoy someday!

Pursue What You Love This February

We hope you are enjoying our inspirational posts and challenges here at The Digital Press! I’m here today to introduce our word for February and give you a taste of what’s to come!

February is usually overshadowed by one little holiday on it’s calendar. But instead of just focusing on romance and chocolate all month long (not that there’s anything wrong with either one of those—yum!), we kinda liked the word “pursue” for this month.

Pursue can mean many things…


via Pinterest: (1) (2) (3) (4)

From pursuing what you love to pursuing the one that you love… there’s a lot out there to pursue! What are going to be your personal goals for this month?

We have some amazing and inspirational posts coming your way right here on the blog. You will also find new challenges on the forums to spark your creativity and help you to make pages you really love!

You’ll find all the details of our challenge system laid out for you here: Everything You Need to Know about Challenges

Our new month of challenges starts tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us then!

Nicole About the Author: Nicole Seitler is a designer here at The Digital Press, creating kits under the name Sugarplum Paperie. In her free time, she loves to to work on her Project Life album, knit or craft with her kids. But she doesn’t have much free time, since she’s also a stay-at-home homeschoolin’ momma of four. Her life may be a little crazy, but she wouldn’t want it any other way!

Focus on the Good within the Bad

So often when we scrapbook, we show off the fun photos, we tell the favorite memories and we share all the good things in our lives. This is great and a large part of why we love this hobby.

But what about the bad days, the hard times and the moments when we just want to walk away from it all? Do they deserve their moment in the spotlight? Is it our job as the family storyteller to brush away the bad, hide it in the corners or the back rooms and hope that no one goes in? Is it our job to ONLY roll out the good, the wonderful, and the beautiful moments and put them on display to show what a wonderful life we have?


I want to encourage you to memorialize the bad. Don’t brush it aside. Don’t pretend it never happened and most certainly don’t let guilt convince you that your hard days aren’t worth the telling. It doesn’t mean your pages have to be full of negative things, but be honest. Tell the real story of your family. Let it be a little raw. Let it cost you some tears in the telling. Pour out your heart into your pages and see what happens to your albums. Mix in the difficult memories with the good, sprinkle your books with a healthy dose of realness and watch your story come alive.

Remember, life happens. Life with all the pain, the beauty, the joy and the tears is worth being remembered.

Here are THREE tips to help you scrap the bad and still want to share your story with others!


Sit down and write out a list of the things you didn’t like about today or the holidays or the summer, etc. Get it out! Make that list and give yourself permission to be brutally honest about the things you hated in that moment. This will serve two purposes.

  • It allows you to get it out. You don’t have to let those negative thoughts or feelings stay hidden and fester. Write it down, get it out and move on.
  • It gives you perspective. If you see it written down in black and white, it is easier to then pair it with the good. You can’t appreciate the good, unless you’ve experienced the bad!



It probably wasn’t possible, in the moment, to capture photos of everything going on. That doesn’t mean you are lost! I remember one of the many messes that Sam made, he had taken a brand new bottle of dish soap and poured it all over the kitchen and living room floors. That was some mess to clean up! The linloleum was bad enough with bubbles multiplying with every drop of water, but can you even imagine the carpet? It was awful. I was not in the mood to capture the moment with photos. But after the fact, I could take a still photo of some dish soap and a picture of my clean living room and talk about what happened when the two came together. In this way, no memory is ever too late to be told. Think back to any experience and think of 2-3 photos that would best sum up how you felt or what happened. Take the photos and scrap them while sharing the memory.



Write out the experience as if you were a fly on the wall telling the events. Write it all out. Even if the moment was bad, chances are with time and distance, the story can have a little humor. Wait until you are able to look back and laugh a little (even if you are cringing too) and describe it. Give as many details as you can remember and put it all out there! By telling the story one detail at a time, it distances you but gives the reader a chance to connect. The nice thing about bad memories is that we all have them! We’ve all had the cringe worthy experiences that we hope no one ever knows about. When one person is daring enough to share theirs, we feel an immediate connection that we are not alone!


Life Happens. Life is not easy. Don’t get so caught up in documenting the wonderful that you forget the difficult. It is all part of your story and deserves a chance to be told. And as I read recently:

“Never blame any day in your life.

Good days give you happiness.

Bad days give you experience.

Worst days give you a lesson.”

So cherish your happiness, ponder your experiences and learn from your lessons! And in the meantime, check out my challenge HERE in the forum!

Ramona About the Author: Ramona Brown is a storyteller and graphic/web designer. She loves finding the stories in the every day and sharing them with others. She believes that everyone should “Scrap Your Story” and find purpose and meaning in doing it. Her best stories come from life with her six kids and the adventures they take her on daily! You can read more of her stories on her blog.

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
Being organized in life generally means we are more efficient, and the same goes for digital scrapbooking. I love to create “mash up” layouts where many different elements and papers from many different kits are used. For instance (click for credits):
Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
Layouts like this take a lot longer to complete without having an organized stash. Enter: Adobe Bridge. If you are a Creative Cloud subscriber or own a copy of Photoshop, it’s likely you also own Adobe Bridge. If you do, here is a tutorial on how to get your digiscrapping supplies organized in that software!
First of all, open Adobe Bridge and make sure the keywords panel is visible by going to the Window menu and ensuring Keywords Panel is checked (make sure your Folders Panel is also checked):

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
Next you’ll need to set up some keywords. If you currently don’t have a keyword library set up, feel free to download mine HERE. You can then import them by going to the drop down menu on the side of the Keywords Panel and choosing “Import” and then navigating to this downloaded file. Importing these keywords will update your current keywords list, but will not replace it.

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
Once you have your keyword structure set up in a way that makes sense to you, you can start tagging your items. To add a keyword, click the same drop down menu you used to import the keywords list and choose “New Keyword.” To add a sub keyword to one of the existing categories, hover other the top level of the category, right-click, and choose “New Sub Keyword.”

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
Jpgs, pngs, psds, tiffs, etc. can be tagged, but things like actual folders, layer styles, brushes, etc. cannot be tagged. There should be a pop up that will warn you when something cannot be tagged. The reason that Adobe Bridge tagging is so powerful is that it embeds the keyword/tag right into the metadata of your file, so you can search keywords outside of Bridge on your computer and that tag will still be associated with that file. This also means that if Adobe Bridge were to be uninstalled at any time and reinstalled, your files will be tagged already and you will not have to re-catalogue your entire library of digiscrapping supplies. This is a huge time saver!

OK, so on the left hand side you see the Folders Panel. Navigate to the place where you keep your digiscrapping supplies. I tend to organize my folders by designer, or by store and then designer within the store folder if I have things from a few different designers within one store. This is helpful if you like participating in challenges where you can only use items from that particular store. You can see a bit of my file structure here on the left:

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
To tag something, simply select the thumbnail and then check off the keywords you want associated with that file in the keywords panel. If you see a list of filenames rather than thumbnails, you can go to the View menu along the top and make sure “As Thumbnails” is selected. If you want to see the thumbnails bigger or smaller, use the size slider on the very bottom of the software window. You can tag an item with as many keywords as you like. For instance, if you have a paper with two predominant colours, you can tag it as “multi-coloured” or with the two main colours. You can quickly see which keywords are assigned to your selected thumbnail by looking at “Assigned Keywords:” at the top of the Keywords Panel.

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
Using your keywords is as simple as selecting the folder you want to search within in the folders panel on the left and then typing the keyword in the search box on the top right of the software. For instance, if I’m doing a TDP challenge that has to include a piece of string, I would select The Digital Press store folder in the folders panel on the left and then search “string” on the top right and all the tagged string from my TDP stash will appear in the content window:

Focus on Organization using Adobe Bridge
I hope this tutorial helps you get on your way with using Adobe Bridge to organize your stash. The time invested in organizing is well worth it, as it will make your scrapping time more efficient and enjoyable! Feel free to ask questions in the comments below and I’ll help as much as I can. Happy organizing!
Amy H.About the Author: Amy is a wife and mom to three from Ontario, Canada. She’s always been interested in scrapbooking, but didn’t try digiscrapping until 2008 when she received PSE for her birthday. By then she had 1 year old twins and a baby, so the thought of just playing for 10 minutes, hitting save and walking away with no mess was extremely appealing! She’s been hooked ever since. She loves being the memory keeper in the family, loves taking photos, loves telling the stories. She’s also excited to know that these memories are recorded for her grandchildren to enjoy someday!

Focus on Shadows

Hi, all! Heidi here with a simple little trick that will help make your shadows a little more realistic.

I don’t know about you, but I am a sucker for premade shadow styles. Push a button and done. So today we are going to be using Sabrina’s new Shadow Styles.  One thing I have discovered though, is that sometimes, the COLOR of the shadow just isn’t right. And if the shadow looks bad, where is your focus? On what is “wrong” with the layout instead of your focus being on your subject.

So in the screen shot below, the shadow on the lace is from Sabrina’s Shadow Style. It is the perfect size, but the color is way to dark for the paper I am using.

Shadow 1

To change this takes less than 30 seconds … ready? Double click on the Drop Shadow effect (circled in red on the screen shot). It will pull up your layer style box.

Shadow 2b

Once you have the layer box open, make sure “drop shadow” is highlighted like mine is in blue. Next, you will click on the color box circled in purple below. That will open up the box to be able to change the color of your shadow.

Photoshop should now look similar to this:

Shadow 3

Notice the small white circle in the color box (bottom right)? That is the color of your shadow. It is way to dark for the paper I am using, so my next step is to move my cursor over my paper that I have my lace on and click on the paper. Notice how the white circle moved to the top right and the actual color changed from an orangish color to a little more yellow as well?

shadow 4

That means I now have a more accurate shade to create a shadow from.  Also, notice how my shadow pretty much disappeared?  It is now the same color as the paper, so it is hard to see an actual shadow.

What I want to do is move my cursor back up to my shadow color box and pick a new shadow color. When I have a hard time finding a realistic color for my shadows, I stay with a grey color. Look at shadows around you right now … grey is probably what you will see. Sometimes, I can stay within the brown color for my shadow, but just pick a lighter brown. Play around with it. Click on lighter greys, darker greys, which color works for the paper you are using?

Here is the color I finally picked:

shadow 5

Much softer and a little more realistic right? Don’t believe me? Look at my first screen shot again. That shadow is way to dark. 😉

I usually use this method with pink paper. Brown shadows overall work great! Which is why Sabrina chose the color she did. But every once in awhile, you get that one perfect paper and horrible looking shadows. Now you know how to fix it fast and put the focus where it should be!!

HeidiHeidi has been scrapping for 17 years. Her passions include dark chocolate, photography of her family and reading Christian fiction. When not doing one of these activites, she can be found working at an elementary school library or enjoying being a SAHM.

Focus on Capturing the Everyday

Capture the EverydayHey All! Krista here taking over the blog today 🙂

Part of telling our story is including the details that make up our everyday. Sure I love to scrap all the fun, BIG moments- our vacations, birthdays and holidays. But some of our most cherished moments happen in the mundane of our everyday.

 Here are 3 easy tips to help you Capture the Everyday:
tdp blog 4 tdp blog 1

1. Keep your camera out and ready.

I keep my DSLR (Canon Mark ii) on all the time with a Memory Card in it. It sits on our kitchen counter ready to be grabbed at any moment. I admit I grab my iPad or iPhone 70% of the time to catch our everyday moments, but I do try to use my DSLR as well. I think mobile photos make great everyday pocket pages. The photos aren’t generally the best quality and would look best sized smaller.
I have a smaller camera (Canon 7d) “my diaper bag camera” that I take with me to the park or on vacation. If I had to lug my big DSLR, I most likely wouldn’t take as many photos. I can also fall back on my phone too.
tdp bog 2
2. Make the Effort.
It takes effort to document your daily life. The thought of documenting every.detail.of.our.day seems daunting. It overwhelms me to the point that I don’t want to do it. I actually want to do the opposite! lol
I let myself off the hook and capture a moment here and there. I focus on things my Kids like to do all the time- play Barbies, Legos, ride bikes, etc. I snap a few pictures and then join in with them and have fun.
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3. Let your Kids in on the Fun!
My Kids are so used to seeing a camera out and they are getting interested in taking photos too! And what a great way to get in some of the photos too! Hand over your camera and let the Kiddos in on the fun too! I love downloading the photos after they have had my camera and seeing what they captured.
 tdp blog 8

Krista About the Author: Krista Lund is a mom of 3, married to her High School Sweetheart living in SF Bay Area. Some of her favorite things are brownies, chips n dip, taking pictures and documenting her family’s story.

Focus on YOUrself

Hello everyone – Judie here with my first blog post and related challenge at The Digital Press!  I’m going to be talking about the “oh so dreaded” selfie (well, for some of us, anyway).  But it really doesn’t have to be that way – I promise!  We all know the importance of documenting ourselves along with our family and friends, but too many of us skip over it because it’s a pain to take selfies, or we don’t want to give up the camera to someone else, or we simply hate taking photos of ourselves.  If you’re not one of those lucky people who are naturally photogenic and love snapping selfies, then this post is for you.  Even if you are a selfie aficionado, you might just pick up a couple of cool tips along the way. 🙂


Focus on Yourself


I was definitely one of those people (the one who always ran away from the camera unless I was behind it taking the photos), until I decided to make a project of it last year, and now I have a hard drive full of selfies and a gallery full of layouts that document me.  So, how did I do it?  I was simple really, instead of focusing on taking pictures of myself, I focused on the process of learning about portrait photography.  That way, the focus was on growing my photography skills, as opposed to just taking photos of myself.  This approach really helped me to get interested in the process of documenting myself and, after a while, I found that I really enjoyed it (both the photos and the scrapping).


This is one of my favorite selfies (taken in December 2014):


Focus on Yourself

Created with Woodland Winter by Studio Flergs


Step One: Taking the Photos

I thought I’d start by sharing my process with you, and then suggesting some other ways to put the photo focus on you.  As I mentioned earlier, I encouraged myself to take selfies by approaching the project as a photographic learning experience.  There are many online tutorials and tons of books and resources on taking selfies or head shots.  If you Google “self-portrait” you’ll find many free articles and videos, but here are some of my favorites:



These are just a few of my favorites, but there are many more resources out there.  I’d love it if you’d share your favorites in the comments to this article. 🙂


I used my DSLR (Canon 70D), 100mm lens,  tripod and remote shutter release for my selfie project – but you don’t need all of this equipment.  I would highly recommend some type of tripod, though.  It will give you much greater freedom in terms of your environment and posing if you aren’t limited to the reach of your arm.   A camera with a repositionable viewing screen and remote is also optimal because you can see exactly what the photo will look like before you take it.  This set up gave me the opportunity to test different poses and determine which ones worked the best (without taking 100+ photos).  Of course, you don’t have to focus on the technical photography details.  If you’re more comfortable taking arm’s length selfies with your cell phone – go for it!   The most important thing is that you get in front of the camera.


Here are some tips from my year-long selfie taking experience:

  • Try to take photos in natural light whenever possible (you’ll like the results a lot better).
  • Don’t take photos in bright sunlight, though.  If it’s a sunny day, take photos in a shaded spot or at sunrise/sunset.
  • Try to vary your environment and poses so that you don’t have a group of photos that all look the same at the end of the year.
  • Don’t be afraid to include props in your photos (such as a Starbucks cup, football, favorite book, cell phone, etc.).
  • Remember that a selfie doesn’t have to be limited to just you!  Feel free to include others in your photo to document your relationships.
  • If you don’t like yourself in photos, wear sunglasses.  Everyone looks cool in sunglasses – seriously.
  • Get creative and really let your personality shine through in your photos!


Here are a couple of examples of creative selfies.  One that I used several filters on (see what I mean about sunglasses?) and one with my iPhone that I used as a “frame” for another photo:


Focus on Yourself


And here are a couple examples of non-traditional (straight on) poses:


Focus on Yourself


Step 2: Getting the Photos Out of Your Camera


The next step is getting those photos out of the camera and ready to go in your scrapbooks (digital or hybrid).  If you are using your cell phone, you may be able to process the photos right on the phone itself, or you can download and process them in your favorite software (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.).  I shoot in RAW and use a combination of Lightroom, Photoshop and RadLab for my photos.  I start by doing basic adjustments in Lightroom (white balance, exposure, sharpening).  Then I tweak the  photo in Photoshop (eye pop, skin softening, etc.).  Then I export to RadLab and add my favorite adjustments there.  Don’t go overboard with the process though.  The whole point of this exercise is to have photos that document you.  The last thing you want are photos that look over-processed or nothing at all like you.  My post-processing goals are limited to making basic adjustments and adding a pop of color (or converting to black & white).  The entire procedure only takes me a few minutes for each photo.  Even this basic post-processing can make a big difference, though.  Here is an example of a photo straight out of the camera, and after post-processing:



Focus on Yourself


There are hundreds of resources for photo retouching techniques, but one of my favorites for Photoshop is Professional Portrait Retouching by Scott Kelby.  If you Google “photo retouching” and your software program you’ll find many free tutorials and YouTube videos on the subject.  You can spend as little, or as much time on the post-processing as you like, just make sure the the final result is still true to YOU.


After a selfie shoot, I generally download all the photos onto my computer and pick out my favorites.  Then, I delete (yes, I said delete) all the other ones.  One disadvantage to shooting in RAW format is that the files are pretty large, so I don’t want a bunch of photos that I’ll never use taking up space on my hard drive (or external hard drive).  While we’re on the subject of EHDs, let me take a second to remind you to back up your photos.  I don’t delete them from my camera until I have them saved in at least two (often three) different places.  Generally, I have a copy on my desktop hard drive, a copy on an external hard drive, and a copy in the cloud.  If I do the back up as I download from my camera, I never have to worry about losing anything.  After downloading the photos, I put the selfies in their own organizational folder in Lightroom.  That way, I have them all in one place and don’t have to go through folders by date to find the one I want.  Sometimes, I do the post-processing before I know what digital page I’m going to use the photo on, but most of the time I process them as a scrap.  As I mentioned before, my post-processing only takes a couple of minutes, so it’s not a big deal to wait until I know whether I want to use a color or b/w version of the photo.


Step 3:  Getting Creative & Documenting YOU


The whole point of this exercise is to document YOU and your life, right?  So it doesn’t do any good to take photos and leave them on your computer.  As digital scrappers, we document with photos and (sometimes) journaling.  So let’s talk about the best part of the process – getting creative with your selfies!  I talked about some ways of getting creative when taking the photos, but as you know, creativity knows no bounds with digital art.  Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate selfies into a digital page:


  • Include the post-processed photo on a traditional digital page.
  • Blend a photo into the background of an art journaling page.
  • Apply an artistic filter to the photo and use it on a page.
  • Include the photo in a pocket scrapping page.
  • Make a review page, including selfies from throughout the month, quarter or year.
  • Make a photo shoot page, including selfies from a particular photo shoot.
  • Use a photo with you wearing sunglasses and replace the lenses with reflective photos or patterned paper – BE CREATIVE!


Again, the most important part is to get the photos off of the computer and into a page documenting you.  If you are uncomfortable scrapping photos of yourself, try doing something creative with the photo such as applying a sketch filter and blending it into the background of the page.  Ready for some selfie inspiration?  Here are some examples of some of the the styles I mentioned above:


First up is a traditional page with a post-processed photo:


Focus on Yourself

Created with Krafty Basics by Mari Koegelenberg Creations


Here is an example of an art journaling type of page with a sketched version of the photo blended into the background:


Focus on Yourself

Created with It’s Complicated by Sugarplum Paperie


Finally, here is an example of using a photo with a sketch filter applied:


Focus on Yourself

Created with Emotions by Anita Designs


So, are you ready for a selfie challenge?  Be sure to check the The Drawing Board forum and join me in the January Focus on Yourself Challenge!

Until next time ~


Judie About the Author:  Judie is a member of The Digital Press creative team.  She spends most of her time engaged in creative endeavors of all sorts.  Traveling, Starbucks, football and Harry Potter are just a few of her favorite things.


Focus On Finishing Your Page with Overlays

How far have you been come with your New Year’s resolutions? If you made it to today, you pretty much left the danger zone. The first 21 days of the new year will show if we will make it or break it. I set a resolution, that I will try something new in my creative realm at least once a week. If this wasn’t your resolution, don’t worry. I hope after you read this tutorial you WANT to try something new.

You wouldn’t believe how detailed I can become when it comes to finishing my page. I can spend up to a quarter of my scrapping time with finishing details AFTER I completed my page embellishing. I often tweak my shadows until there is nothing but custom shadows left on my page items. I can show you how I do this in my next tutorial. Today I will narrate a bit about my other obsession: Overlays on the whole page. They come in various colors and benefits. I will show you how I use color and gradient overlays, blended textures and photo actions for my page finish. This usually doesn’t take me that long. It can be pretty fast once you know how to do it.

Color Overlays

Color overlays can create a special mood on your page like vintage, fresh, clear, girly, dreamy… whatever you think fits. It can also help in gaining color consistency, especially when you draw elements from different kits with different tones or shades.

In short how you do it: Go to the top of your layers panel, 1. click on the adjustment layer icon and on 2. Solid Color. The color picker dialog opens and you 3. chose a hue and your 4. tone or shade (more to that later). Then 5. set your blending mode to overlay or soft light, opacity 8-15%. You can always play with blend modes or opacity, hue, saturation and brightness to your liking. 6. You can always change your color by double clicking on the layer color.


Follow the steps for applying a color overlay

Depending on the color you chose, you will get different effects. For a vintage effect, use an orange hue. Sometimes a deep purple will work like that as well. For freshness, use the hue spectrum from green to blue. If you want it hazy, use the screen or lighten blend mode. Of course you can always take the effect away from parts of the page when you mask it out. 7. Use a soft brush on the layer mask 8. with 20-30% opacity and turn the foreground color to black before you 9. partially hide the layer by brushing into the layermask. With all overlays I usually go very subtle. Someone looking at the layout will most likely not notice the overlay although the mood that is created is noticeable.

Gradient Overlays

The effects of gradient overlays are pretty similar to the color overlays. You can create a little more movement on your page when you use them like a color overlay. I usually apply them to make the page seem more like a real paper page. What you do here is to make the parts of your page that are close to the virtual light brighter and the other parts darker.

1. Create a new layer on top and 2. choose white as your foreground color. 3. Click on the gradient tool in your toolbox. It’s housed with the paint bucket tool. 4. Choose the first gradient in the list and use the 5. linear gradient with 6. Dither and Transparency checked. Before you drag the gradient out, be sure to know where the shadow on your page falls. This is the side where the page has to get darker. 7. Drag your gradient line from the virtual light source of the page to the side where the shadow falls. 8. Set the blend mode to Soft Light and opacity to about 30%. You can always change the gradient later by using the gradient tool again. Play around with the gradient and the blend mode settings.


Follow the steps for applying a gradient overlay

Here you see the difference it makes. I used two color overlays, both masked off for a gradient effect without using the gradient tool. Plus the black and white gradient overlay. The page feel is sunnier and has a little more dynamic with the lighter/darker effect of the gradient.


Left without overlays, right color and gradient overlays.


If you really want to play around and try something a little weird, use textures. You can get free textures everywhere on the internet. Of course you can also buy them. Just google „photo textures“. Your digital scrap stash might be handy as a texture provider as well. Pretty patterns or worn paper textures may work. Or you create some textures by yourself. Use your camera and try it out!

I will show you how I used two photos I shot myself on the following layout.


Layout without added texture

One with roses, one with something I shot when I got bored at a party. I just photographed the windows of the house across at night. For blending a texture in, the photo doesn’t have to be perfect in any way. You can get creative here!


The textures I will use for the example.

I layered the bokeh shot on the layout with blend mode Color Dodge at 40% opacity. The difference is very subtle. It’s just a little added dreaminess. It’s most visible on the large blue flower.


Layout with added bokeh texture

The roses were a little trickier. I used blend mode Hard Light at 12% Opacity plus an adjustment layer Hue/Saturation, colorize checked with an orange hue and lot of lightness. You don’t have to remember these settings! Play around with the settings on your page until you get something you like. Use what comes to your mind to get the look you want.

You can mask out the texture partly. Pick a color of the overlay (at Normal blend mode 100% Opacity), that will blend like a neutral to your overlay photo (you have to try before) and paint it in to the parts where you want no texture. If your brush won’t paint on your picture, you have to rasterize it first (right mouseclick on the picture layer → rasterize layer). You see how my layer icon of the roses look when I painted a blend-neutral color in. On my page you can see how the roses blend in on the edges of the cluster but leave the cluster itself like it was before because of the green I painted in. Textures can be used widely and wildly, especially on art journaling pages.


Layout with bokeh and roses texture

Photo Actions

Photo actions are also available on the internet. You can buy them but there are lots of free samples out there as well. With an action you can get special effects and bring in a mood with one click. This is like a color overlay, only much more elaborate and with more features available. The action does it all for you. I bought several action sets that I really love and use them frequently in my photography. With some of the actions you can also enhance your finished layout. Usually it’s better to save and flatten your image to a jpg first. There’s a whole science to getting your actions installed, just google „install actions on *insert software version* *insert system*“ (for me it’s ps cs6 windows) and you will get the help you need. Be sure to check whether the action is suitable for your software and system.

Every action set works differently, only the start is usually the same. 1. Go to your actions palette (also via Window → Actions) and 2. click on the action you want and the 3. play button. Let the action be played. Sometimes prompts come up. Just follow them. You will see a new group or several layers in your layers panel when it’s finished. 4. You can now play with the layers until you get the result you like.


Follow the steps to start an action

I tend to use any vintage, matte or hazy action. Sometimes even sunbursts are available. I use them, too. To not overwhelm the page, I take the action layers back a lot. I want it subtle. You may have noticed that I locked the layers of my overlays in this screenshot. I often do that when I want to change something on the layout after I applied my overlays. This way I can access the layers beneath with auto select.

Here I share with you one last example of before and after. First one without an action, the right one with an action that has some features in it like enhancing saturation and contrast and adding a vignette with a brown hue.


Layout before and after using an action

I hope your brain is burning by now and it’s not only because it was a lot to cover here, but you feel inclined to try any of these suggestions. You would make me and other readers so happy when you show us your layouts with overlays. What comes easy for you, what makes you crazy, I take it all 😀 Link us up to your layouts! If any questions occur, feel free to ask in the comments section, too.

Other than that, have a great day!

About the Author: Alina enjoys sitting in front of her large computer screens too much. Apart from that she loves walking her dog and watching sunsets while being amazed of life in general. She is married to her best friend. Tries to manage the needs of her two cats and her dog and badly fails when they all want their cuddle time at once. Everything else is scrapping, taking photos and currently crafting. Having said that, she needs a bigger craft room.

Jazz Up Your Journaling

If you are anything like me, you probably spend forever picking out just the right patterned papers and moving elements around until they are in the perfect spot. I can spend several hours staring at a layout until everything looks just right. Once every element, photo and paper has been positioned, I start to think about my journaling and how I am going to work my text box into my layout. I’m so often guilty of just drawing a simple text box, typing in my journaling and calling it done. But not today! I want to focus on a few ways to jazz up your journaling blocks.

jazz up your journaling

One idea for making your journaling stand out is to use brushes to highlight key words or phrases in your journaling. In my layout below, I used brushes to make certain parts of my writing stand out. It draws your eye to those more important words and gives a little pizzazz to that area of my layout. Brushes are great for this because you can pick the colors from the kit you are working with and can make them any size to suit your journaling.

Jazz Up Your Journaling - Butter Monster

Another idea for bringing interest to your writing is to change up the font, color, or size of some of your text. In this next layout, I used a different font to give attention to more important parts of my journaling.

Jazz Up Your Journaling - Little Family

Word strips are another fun way to really make your journaling sing. I love this layout by Kat and how she used the word art from the kit to tell her story. I think it is so clever that she was able to work all of those word strips into her own journaling.

Jazz Up Your Journaling - Sleep Tight

If you don’t want to work the existing word art from the kit into you journaling or if there aren’t any that fit with your story, you can make your own. You can use a product like Dawn by Design’s Line by Line Templates to create your own word strips to add emphasis to your story. You could simply use one strip, like in the layout below, or you could do all of your journaling on word strips. I love how the strips break up the text so that it isn’t in one big block.

So, now it’s your turn to give it a shot. I would love to see what you can do to jazz up your journaling. I’m hosting a challenge over on the forums at The Digital Press and I hope you will come play along!  Check it out at The Drawing Board: Challenges.



KatieAbout the Author: Katie is a member of the Creative Team here at The Digital Press. She lives in Central Florida with her husband and their four sweet but crazy boys. When she’s not dodging Nerf bullets or trying to dig out from under the never ending pile of laundry, she enjoys photography, cooking, going to Disney World with her family, and, of course, digital scrapbooking.

Pocket Scrapping and how I Challenged Myself to Complete One Month in a Day.

When it comes to pocket scrapbooking. I’m an embellisher. I can spend more time looking for that perfect addition to my page than I spend on any other part of the pocket scrapbooking process. It’s probably partially due to this reason that I’m not anywhere close to caught up. I began pocket scrapping in 2012. I am now the proud owner of partially unfinished 2012, 2013 and 2014 albums. And that’s ok. I don’t mind being “behind” because I’m still working toward documenting those memories and to me that’s the important part.

But then something happens and I ask myself…can I do an entire months worth of pocket scrapping in 24 hours? And so I gave it a go. I should go on to explain this was a normal everyday day. My husband went to work, I homeschooled (DD is a teenager so I realize that makes it easier), did some household chores (maybe a little less than normal), and prepared meals. I took phone calls, checked emails, and got lost on facebook more than once.

But I also focused on completing this project.

may 2014 blog header















May 2014 has been looming large. For some reason I’ve been scared to tackle it. It was a busy month, with lots of stuff going on but I didn’t have good notes. I decided that this was the month to take on. So finally I loaded up facebook, looked at my status reports from that month and cut and paste the ones that I want to document into a text file. I then quickly went through my photos for the month, jotting down notes on which ones I would use and just trying to get an idea of the types of product I would need.

Then I decided on the product. I went with a selection of items from the January Special Edition releases. The bright colors were perfect for this spring month and I knew there would be more than enough coordinating products to complete an entire month’s pages. I also decided that I wouldn’t embellish my pages with anything other than what I could print from the Special Edition products and a simple office date stamp. My next decision was that I was going to use just the Project Life Design A page protectors. I love variety and typically use different configurations, but this is my favorite and I knew it would take the guess work out of figuring out what journal cards to use where. Since I normally I create one page at a
time looking at an entire month (6 pages in this case) was a bit daunting so I decided to work on it in batches.

At 11:00 am or so my (imaginary) timer begins. My first step was to go through my notes and photos and plan out where I wanted each story and picture to be. This gave me an idea of what I was working with topic wise before I started printing out my journal cards and embellishments. I used 4×6 index cards and crudely sketched out a diagram for each page. I loved using index cards for this purpose because I could use the blank space below my sketch for notes as I worked on each page.

index cards

Now that I had an idea of what photos would go in which size spots I began editing and printing my photos. There were a lot of photos and I had to break this step up into a couple of sessions. This break was a perfect time to have lunch, get some laundry going and start my daughter on her afternoon assignments.

Next I began printing the cards for my pockets. I had a pretty good idea of how many I would need for each size so I kept tally marks as I went, to keep from printing more than I needed. Then I used my Silhouette to print and cut embellishments that I thought I might use. I printed off two pages worth of embellishments knowing that I probably wouldn’t use all of them but also knowing that I could set the unused pieces aside for another page down the line.

By this point my husband was home from work and wanted me to watch some TV with him. Instead of forgoing spending this time with him I set up the TV tray in the living room and set about cutting out all of my photos and journal cards. I typically like doing something while watching TV anyway so this worked out great. It took me about three epsisodes of the sitcom we were watching to get everything cut out and then it was time to prepare dinner.

tv tray

After dinner I sorted through all of the photos and journal cards and placed the ones I thought I wanted to use together with each page’s index card. I continued working on this project while we watched a few more episodes and I was able to get the photos and embellishments adhered to the journal cards before my husband and daughter went to bed.

I typically stay up for a few hours after they go to bed so this was the perfect time for me to tackle the journaling. I was surprised that it only took me an little over an hour to get most of the journaling knocked out. For my last step of the evening I went through all of the cards I’d put together and made a list of any titles I wanted to print and cut out of the alphabets I’d chosen to use. I grabbed up the stack of cards so that I could make sure I’d get the sizing right and print and cut the titles. At this point I was done and decided to call it a night.


Come morning, the only things I had left to do was adhere my titles, journal on a few of the cards that I was waiting on the titles for and print a photo that somehow I’d missed when I did my initial editing session. I was feeling good. Surely I could get this done by 11 am. Of course, life happens. I’d promised my daughter the day before that I’d make her something for breakfast that was not cereal, homeschool math was a little harder this morning, and I spent 20 minutes searching for my 2 way glue pen that I’d misplaced. Still I was able to get through this and slide my last card into the last pocket at about 12:30. Could I do it in 24 hours? No, but I could do it in 25.5 hours and to me that was just as good.

Here is a look at the pages that I created.

Page 1

May 2014 Page 1
Page 2

May 2014 Page 2

Using collages is a quick and easy way to get more photos into a small space.

May 2014 Page 2 close

Page 3

May 2014 Page 3

I decided not to add much embellishment wise to the 3″x4″ photos on this page. I’d already talked about going to the zoo on this page and so I let the photos speak for themsleves.

May 2014 Page 3 close

Page 4

May 2014 Page 4

I created cards from some of the solid papers by placing paint and stamps on them. These are perfect for matting these photos that aren’t quite 3″x4″.

May 2014 Page 4 close

Page 5

May 2014 Page 5

I love using patterned papers for backgrounds as well. I desperately wanted to use the You are so Darling journal card with this photo, but I couldn’t make the photo size work with the card the way it originally was. Rather than taking the time to reprint the photo at a smaller size, I cut up the journal card, placed it on patterned paper and used it as a journal spot.

May 2014 Page 5 close

Page 6

May 2014 Page 6

One of my favorite things to use as journal cards is notebook paper. I used Danielle Engebretson’s Graph and Crafts papers for all four 4″x6″ pockets on this final page.

May 2014 Page 6 close

While I don’t think I’ll embrace this as a new way to tackle my pocket scrapping backlog, it was nice finding that I could accomplish all this in a little over a day’s time. I know for my next project I’ll be back to digging through my paper clips and wood veneer looking for that perfect piece to embellish my page, but for me this was an awesome challenge, and in the end I love the pages that I created.


sarah 150x150Sarah is a member of the Hybrid Creative Team at The Digital Press. She is a homeschool mom currently living in rural Missouri. Her passions are tabletop gaming and, of course, hybrid scrapbooking.

3 ways to capture life’s details like a pro

3 ways to capture life's details like a pro

As a wedding photographer, you quickly learn the value and meaning that small details can have. Weddings are full of details that a couple and their families put a lot of themselves into: items that represent their love for each other and the way they live their lives. Capturing those items – from the invitations, to the flowers, to the rings – is an essential part of capturing what it feels like to be there on the day. In other words, some of those details are an intrinsic part of the memories that are created, and the memories that I as the photographer hope will be evoked one day when people look at the photos.

Some of my favourite detail photos, in addition to being part of the day, have a story to tell all on their own, like the bride who spent hours knitting her own flowers with her friends, or the groom who was so inspired by Boardwalk Empire that his shoes got almost as much attention on the day as his bride’s!

3 ways to capture life's details like a pro

Obviously, a wedding is a planned event, and a significant one. In our everyday lives, we’re less likely to encounter cute calligraphy and artfully arranged roses. But that’s not to say that there aren’t beautiful details to be captured that can enhance your storytelling and add another layer to what you scrapbook. Here are my top three tips on how to take some inspiration from the pro photographers and capture the details to enrich your memory-keeping, along with some favorite photo examples of how I’ve applied my wedding shooting style to my personal photos:

  1. Don’t go straight to the portrait
    It’s easy enough to do, especially when we’re standing behind the camera looking at friends and family. Part of us can’t help but want to see smiling faces: we want the ‘cheese!’ moment. But before you ask your kids or BFFs to pose nicely and grin for the camera, think about how you could capture a thing in the photo, not just the people.A classic example is a kid who’s drawing you the most gorgeous (obviously) picture. It might be tempting to ask them to hold it up and smile, but first try to take a moment and document their grip on the pen, the way they stick their tongue out when they concentrate, or the picture from above as they are drawing it.3 ways to capture life's details like a pro
  2. Fill the frame
    To really place the focus on the detail, set up your shot so that you get a whole photo of one thing. Play around with your aperture or try out macro mode to experiment with depth and field too, so that your image has one area of focus that really stands out against your background. Don’t be afraid to style a little – often a small collection of things is incredibly visually effective.3 ways to capture life's details like a pro
  3. Capture the ‘where’
    I think most of us are pretty good at capturing and documenting who was there and what we did. Detail photos can enrich this story by showing you more about where you were. Capture what the light was like, the way you’d like to remember the colors, or any little features about the background or surroundings (think texture, style, design). Some great ideas include:

    • trees or flowers
    • the texture of a wall or door
    • a design feature of the building or room you were in
    • a non-traditional ‘scenic’ view (such as a normal street) that captures the feel of the city or town.

    3 ways to capture life's details like a pro

Struggling to imagine how this translates to your scrapbook pages? Here’s a recent layout example I prepared to illustrate how I use detail shots alongside more traditional portraits on a page. This type of photo also lends itself perfectly to pocket-style scrapbooking and 365/52 projects, because you may already be capturing little details like meals, new purchases, or favorite things.

Layout: Into The Woods by Kathryn Wilson
Using Woodland Winter Collection by Studio Flergs available 01/16 at The Digital Press

3 ways to capture life's details like a pro


So there you have it! For this January, we’re setting ourselves challenges that are all about focus over in the forum. Hopefully we’ve inspired you to focus on the details in your photos and memory-keeping, so we hope you’ll join in on our details challenge, which starts January 16.


KathrynAbout the author: Kathryn Wilson shares her 1920s New Zealand home with her husband, a wauzer, and a cavoodle. She is a photographer, and both a digital and hybrid pocket scrapbooker, who has lots of DIY projects she should probably be working on right now.

Grab that DSLR out of the closet and focus on your subject

Focus on your subject

The holidays are over, our schedules are a little less strenuous, and for many of us, it’s cold outside. It’s also a new year with new goals and new projects. That means it’s time to drag out that DSLR and work on our photography skills. Yep, even professionals strive to learn new things and brush up on basic skills, or even push new limits to our creativity. The subject of focus could take up the whole month of tutorials and challenges, but I’m going to keep it simple and add some links for more in-depth study.

Nail your focus

One of the first rules of photography is that the subject should be sharp. Most modern digital cameras offer a number of ways of achieving sharp images. Portrait photography often means using a wide aperture and longer focal lengths to create a shallow depth of field, throwing the background out of focus. This makes focusing more challenging than usual, as sharpness is captured across a very narrow plane, often of just an inch or two. Some basic tips include using a narrow aperture, using a faster shutter speed, and image stabilization with a tripod and a timer or shutter release to avoid camera shake.

Tips for Sharp photos

Getting Sharper images

Some more advanced tips are below:

  1. Focal points

Some photographers like to focus using the center focus point and then recompose, while others will set an off-center focus point. The important part is to choose just one focal point at a time. Most DSLRs are set to use all focal points at once and choose what to focus on. The camera is likely going to choose to focus on an area of highest contrast. Setting the AF point yourself gives you the maximum level of control over where your camera focuses, and it’s a good option for landscape, still life and portrait photography when you don’t have moving subjects. This way, you’ll prevent your camera from hunting around for what to focus on, or focusing where you don’t want it to.

For more information about focal points, check out these links:

Getting to know your camera’s focal points

Know your focusing system

  1. Where to focus

The eyes are the most vital element of a portrait, so it’s essential to record them sharply, particularly if you’re using a wide aperture. As I mentioned earlier, cameras like to focus on areas of high contrast. The best place to point your camera is at the edge between the iris and sclera of the subject’s eye. This is the area of highest contrast. Aiming at the corner of the eye is also used.

  1. Back button focus

Most DSLRs are set up so that half-pressing the shutter triggers the autofocus. Why entrust both focusing and shutter release to the same button, when a button for each can potentially give you greater control?  Many photographers prefer a custom function that triggers autofocus with a rear button positioned where your thumb usually rests  (see your camera manual to see how to set it up). It takes a little time to get used to it, but can give you greater control when focusing and composing your shot.

In addition to your camera’s manual, here are some links for more information about BBF:

Back button focusing

Focus accurately

Here is my example for a photo in which I nailed the focus on the eyes.  My daughter loves to take baths and play in the bubbles with her rubber ducky.

Grab that DSLR out of the closet and focus


Selective focus

One of the first steps toward taking more creative photos is learning how to control how much of your picture is in focus.

  1. What is Selective Focus?

Selective focus is when you focus on the specific part of a subject you want to highlight or emphasize, and let the rest fall into the blur of the background (or the foreground — you can be as creative as you like with selective focus). Selective focus is often used to draw attention to a subject or part of a subject to make it stand out in a busy settion. Other times, it’s used to evoke an emotion when viewing the subject in context of its blurred but recognizable surroundings.

  1. Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used a lot by photographers, but what the heck is it? In photography, bokeh is “the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens” or to put it bluntly, it’s the blur of the background

  1. Achieving selective focus

Larger apertures, f-stops like f/1.2 – f/2.8, let in more light, while smaller apertures like f/16 – f/22 let in less light.

The choice of aperture has much more impact on the look and feel of an image than brightness alone. Although small apertures let in less light, they offer a wider depth of field. Landscape and macro photographers routinely use small apertures to get more of the picture to appear as sharp, where as, portrait photographers tend to shoot at much wider apertures. Large apertures produce a narrower depth of field, producing a sharp subject between a blurred foreground and background. The closer you are to the foreground, and the more distance there is between the subject and the background, the more pronounced the effect.

In selective focus photography, the parts in focus and out of focus are equally important, but nothing about the technique is particularly difficult.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Use a Large Aperture- Depending on your lens, your largest aperture may be 2.8 or even 3.5.
  • Choose a Longer Focal Length – If your lens won’t open wider than 3.5, use your longest lens or a zoom lens extended to the far end of its range. Longer focal lengths create a compression effect that throws the background out of focus.
  • Identify Useful Out of Focus Areas – The out of focus areas of your photo should be recognizable, not just blurry blobs in the frame, so think about your goal.
  • Pay attention to the Angle – The goal is to use an angle that causes the surrounding defocused elements to be farther away from the main subject, especially when you are limited by space.
  • Keep Composition in Mind – Put the subject in such a place that allows the viewer’s eye to wander off and still be able to enjoy the rest of the image.

Find more information and helpful tools about Depth of Field here:

F-stop chart

Selective focus

DOF master

DOF calculator

DOF tutorial

Here is my example photo where the rubber ducky is in focus, but my daughter is not.  Notice that you can still identify her in the background, but the focus is on her playing with the rubber ducky.

Grab that DSLR out of the closet and focus

January 14 challenge

The challenge is to make a LO that highlights a photo (making the photo take up 50% or more of the page) with either SHARP focus or selective focus/great bokeh. To complete this challenge, please complete a page and post it in a reply to this post.

Now, for the rules…

  1. Pages must be created using 100% TDP Products and loaded in the gallery no later than midnight EST on January 31, 2015.
  2. Please link your gallery listing in this thread: The Drawing Board: Challenges– JAN 14
  3. Link your comment in this thread in the monthly challenge tracker thread. You can find it here: January’s Tracking Thread
  4. Have fun!!!



FarrahAbout the Author:  Farrah Jobling is a member of the Creative Team here at The Digital Press.  She lives in Denver with her amazing family, Mike, Nicholas (8), Claire (5) and Hope (7 mo puppy).  She works from home as a photographer and enjoys scrapping her personal photos.

Getting started with Digital Pocket Scrapbooking

Pocket scrapbooking is hugely popular at the moment, and especially at this time of the year when we’re all excited about recording our year. We’ve all seen beautiful page protectors filled with gorgeous physical and hybrid goodies, but for some of us the thought of getting all covered in glue and glitter or having to spread out all over the kitchen table (and clear it up for every meal!) doesn’t appeal.

Digital pocket pages are a great option and have some advantages over the physical version. For me, the best thing about digital pocket scrapbooking is the space that I’ll save. I print my pages in a photobook at the end of the year, so rather than a large album or two, I have a slim volume which sits nicely on my shelf. Of course, if you prefer to print throughout the year and put the pages in page protectors you can absolutely do that too. I don’t need to print my photos in advance so much, simply drag my photos into Photoshop Elements (or the image editor of your choice…) and get started. And of course I don’t glue my fingers together.

The easiest way to start is with a pocket scrapbooking template. I’m using the Project Twenty-Fifteen templates by Laura Passage.

When the PSD file is opened in Photoshop Elements it looks something like this (I’m using PSE 9) but it shouldn’t be different in other versions.


Each rectangle is a shape on its own layer. I’m going to be replacing them with my photos and cards from Krafty Basics by Mari Koegelenberg. I’m also using a card from 2015 Calendar Journal cards by Scotty Girl.

Let’s start with a card. When I open the card file, it appears in the project bin at the bottom of the screen. Click on the rectangle that you want to use so that we’re working on the right layer, then drag the card onto the template. The card will be on the layer above the rectangle. Move the card to where it needs to be, then click ctrl-G (cmd-G on Mac). This applies a clipping mask so that the card is now the exact shape of the rectangle below. You can see where you have a clipping mask applied as the layer appears indented in the layers list on the right.


I do exactly the same thing with my photos and any other cards or papers I want to use. The size of the photo layer can be changed by dragging one of the corners until it’s the size you want. It’s best not to increase the size though, as that affects the print quality.

We are scrapbooking here, so I’ll need to add some journalling. I use the text tool to draw out a rectangle to type into, either on a card or right on top of a photo.


I could be done at that point, but sometimes it’s nice to add a few embellishments. I’ve just used a couple of tiny flowers from Mari’s collection. Laura’s template comes with shadows included, but if I add extras, I’ll need to add them. Right click on one of the shadowed cards in the layers panel (the layer name has ‘fx’ next to it), click ‘Copy layer style’. Now select the element you want to shadow and right click on it in the layers panel. Click ‘Paste layer style’.


One last tip that I’ve found really useful. I really like to journal directly on top of my photographs so I can get more pictures and more words in. Sometimes though, it can be hard to read so I add either a strip of paper, or just a rectangle of white underneath the text and adjust the opacity of the layer (at the top of the layers panel) so it doesn’t completely obscure the photo beneath.


And that’s it, a completed pocket page! Remember you can adjust the page to suit your style. This template comes with stitching to make it closer to the style of the physical products, but you might prefer a cleaner design. I changed it up by removing some of the embellishment, shadowing and using more neutral colours. Which do you prefer?


I hope that’s inspired you to give digital pockets a go. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the forums! We also have a pocket scrapbooking section in the gallery where you can head for inspiration.

JudeAbout the Author: Jude Toone is part of the Creative Team at The Digital Press. She lives in the UK with her husband and two fantastic girls. She’s loves travelling and would be off in her campervan every weekend if she could get away with it and loves time spent exploring new places and trying new experiences – and photographing them! She also spends too much time on the computer and doesn’t go running as often as she says she’s going to.

Focus on the Story

Let’s face it… grabbing one awesome photo and the new, latest fun kit is the easiest way to get your scrap fix. I’ve done it and I’m sure you have as well. This year I am striving to change that. I want to delve deeper. Find more stories. I want to focus on finding stories in my photos. I want you to focus on this as well and be on the lookout for those photos that can lead you to tell a deeper story.

Yesterday, I was outside with my son and I remembered how as a toddler he would love to run free and I would take a photo of him running free. Well, I asked him to run free for me yesterday with every intention of telling this story. I went looking in my hard drive for running free photos and started with the one of him a toddler. To see the changes in 4 years is incredible and also made me a little teary. I almost have a 6 year old boy! And this is what I want you to get from focusing on stories- the emotional aspects.

Here is the layout using a new release coming this Friday from Anita Designs. The kit is called Timeless.


Another story finding approach I tend to use is compiling photos from a couple of months to tell a story. Like this two pager with photos of my kiddos and I between January and March of last year. I went through my monthly photos and picked out my favorite photos and created a wonderful story. Telling your story as a Mom AND getting in the photos with your child(ren) is something I consider priceless.


Telling stories gives photos a deeper meaning then being just a photo. It can capture the blessings of the ordinary everyday life, the silliness of your child over the months, the fun hobbies you enjoy and an overall appreciation for the vast quantity of photos we all take.




This year I want you to join me in Focusing on finding more stories to tell, journaling the story and printing the story. Be mindful of story opportunities in your life. And be sure to check out the Focus on the Story challenge.

SabrinaAbout the Author:  Sabrina Poole lives in a quaint house with her two lively children she calls Captain and Sunshine. When she’s not cleaning up their messes she can be found lost in a good book or creating another scrapbook page.

Digital design + Silhouette Cameo = True Love (and a Giveaway!!!)

Happy Saturday!  A huge hello to you!  Today marks the very first Hybrid post here on The Digital Press blog!  I am going to show you how to use those digital designs with your Silhouette Cameo to create a one of a kind home decor item perfect for gift giving to newlyweds or for keeping for yourself!

And…. I’m hosting a giveaway where one lucky reader will win this beautiful set of pillow cases simply by commenting on this post!  You can receive additional entries by sharing this post.  To get additional entries, comment again telling me where you shared this post!

Digital design + Silhouette Cameo = True Love (and a Giveaway!!!)

I have had this project on my “to do” list for months and, after seeing Kim Broedelet’s Forever: I DO word art in the shop, I knew it was PERFECT for what I had in mind.

Digital design + Silhouette Cameo = True Love (and a Giveaway!!!)

The word art is part of her Forever: I DO: Collection.

Here is what you are going to need to create your own pillow cases:

  • Pillow cases, pre-washed without laundry soap or fabric softener
  • Siser Easy Weed heat transfer vinyl
  • Silhouette Cameo
  • Silhouette Studio program
  • Bride and Groom stick figures from the Silhouette design store
  • heat press (or iron)

I just recently ventured into the heat transfer vinyl (HTV) world with my Silhouette.  It has been a learning process with lots of mistakes along the way!  Hopefully, I can help you avoid some of the same mistakes I’ve made!

First, make sure that any tshirt, sweatshirt, hoodie, pillowcase, etc. that you are working on is pre-washed.  This helps pre-shrink the item so that all your hard work (shhh… it’s not really HARD work) isn’t ruined with the first wash.

Also, I do not use any laundry soap or fabric softener when pre-washing items.  Fabric softener can cause the heat transfer vinyl not to adhere to your item.

After washing my pillow cases, I used my heat press to “iron” them so that they were wrinkle free.  I then measured my pillow cases so that I knew how large my design needed to be.  I decided that my designs needed to be around 9 inches tall.

In my Silhouette Studio program, I opened and resized the bride and groom stick figures.  Next, I needed to trace the word art that I chose for my pillow cases.  Unfortunately, the Cameo cannot “read” a png file and “cut” it.  You have to trace it.

Tracing things definitely takes practice, but since I am cutting images in vinyl, it’s forgiving if it’s not perfect.  YouTube has many videos on how to trace.

To trace Kim’s word art, I opened the two files that I chose – the “From this day forward” and “The Best is yet to come” png files.

Open the trace window – it’s the little icon in the top right corner of your program that looks like a little blue slice of bread. LOL

Click on the Select Trace Area button.  Click and drag a box over the image that you want to trace.

Digital design + Silhouette Cameo = True Love (and a Giveaway!!!)

For this particular image, I found that by unchecking the High Pass Filter, decreasing the scale to 1, and increasing the threshold to 100% gave me the best trace.  By “best trace”, I mean that it gives me the most detail and the sharpest edges on the small areas of the design – like the word “the”.

Digital design + Silhouette Cameo = True Love (and a Giveaway!!!)

The change of color to yellow is how the program “knows” what to trace.  Any areas left the original color won’t cut correctly.

Once I was happy with the trace, I hit the Trace button in the program.  By using this option, the program traces (puts red lines) around all the parts of the letters including the inside of the letters.  At this point, you can either move the original png file off the mat or delete it.  This leaves the red tracing lines that the program will use to cut the heat transfer vinyl.

Digital design + Silhouette Cameo = True Love (and a Giveaway!!!)

Copy and paste the word art onto the same mat as the bride and groom stick figures.  Resize the word art to your liking.

NOTE: At this point you can position and space the word art where you’d like it to be next to the stick figure which will leave you with pieces of wasted, possibly unusable pieces of HTV or you can position both images very close together so that they are cut with the least amount of wasted vinyl possible.

Once you are happy with the layout of your design, group all the different files together by clicking on one and then while holding down the shift button of your keyboard, click on the rest of the files.  Click on the “Group Selected Shapes” button in the lower left corner of the program.

Next, you will need to mirror the image.  This cuts the vinyl so that correct side of the vinyl adheres to the pillowcases.

TIP:  Much to my dismay, I’ve wasted several pieces of HTV because I did not remember to mirror my image before sending it to the Cameo for cutting.  I now have a post-it note taped to my cameo that says “Mirror the image for HTV!!”  Another tip I saw online somewhere is to use a sharpie to write “Mirror image for HTV” on the edge of the cutting mat.

Apply the HTV to your cutting mat SHINY side down.  The shiny side is very obvious.  The shiny clear piece is the transfer sheet for applying the HTV to your fabric.  Load your mat into your silhouette and send your design to be cut.

Weed your design.  This is the term used to describe the peeling of the excess pieces of the vinyl that are not part of your design.  This includes the insides of letters like a, e, o, etc.  Your design will be backwards on the clear transfer sheet.  Now we are ready to apply the HTV to the pillow cases.

Pre-heat your heating press or iron.  If using a heating press, follow the temperature recommendations for the brand/type of HTV you are using.  For my heat press, I use the setting of 305 degrees F.  My heat press has a digital display.  If using an iron, I use the hottest setting on the iron and lots of pressure when adhering the HTV.

You will need to “warm” the area where you are applying the vinyl.  This helps draw out any moisture that may be in the fabric as well as helps improve the transfer process.

Position the HTV on the pillow case and cover with the teflon sheet or a piece of lightweight, cotton fabric to protect the HTV.

Using the heat press, I did a press of 10 seconds using medium pressure, allowed the design to cool a bit before performing another press of 10 seconds.

TIP:  I recommend doing some trial ironing when using HTV and an iron.  Cut some small pieces of HTV and play around with the settings on the iron, the pressure, and the amount of time it takes for the HTV to adhere to your fabric.  I used one of my husband’s old white undershirt to practice with both the iron and the heating press.

Siser Easy Weed vinyl is designed so that you can remove the clear transfer sheet while the vinyl is hot or cold. I like to start to slowly remove the transfer sheet while it’s still warm.  While doing this, I check to make sure the vinyl is adhered to the fabric.  If it’s not, I replace the transfer sheet and press again (not usually necessary if using a heat press).

After removing the clear transfer sheet, I once again cover the pillow case with the teflon sheet (or lightweight piece of fabric) to protect the vinyl and press it again for another 10 second cycle.

I then let the fabric cool and turn the tshirt/sweatshirt/pillow case inside out and press again on the reverse side of the design.  This pulls the HTV further into the fibers of the fabric for an even better transfer.

Here are the pillow cases side by side.

Digital design + Silhouette Cameo = True Love (and a Giveaway!!!)

and again, the finished pillow cases on the pillows.

Digital design + Silhouette Cameo = True Love (and a Giveaway!!!)

I hope you enjoyed my project!  If you have any questions about my project, please don’t hesitate to ask!!!

And remember, if you’d like to be entered into the giveaway, comment on this post!  And don’t forget that you can receive additional entries by sharing this post.  To get credit for additional entries, comment again telling me where you shared this post!

I will stop taking entries on Friday, 1/16/2015 at 11:59pm EST.  I will announce the winner here on the blog on 1/17/2015.  Good Luck!!!


LuAnn   About the Author: LuAnn Spang is a member of the Hybrid Team at The Digital Press. She lives just outside of Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, 2 adult sons and a teenage daughter.  She manages to find time be creative as a way of relieving stress while working full time as a LPN in an assisted living facility and attending RN school part time.

What’s The Focus Of Your Photo?


Now that the holidays are over, I am back to taking photos of my everyday life, my family, my dog, my neighborhood and a few selfies here and there. Have you noticed that sometimes the “focus” of an image might be obvious but other times your eye wanders all over the image, not really knowing where to look? You often don’t have time to stage a photo but if you have a few seconds to set it up, some simple tips might help you to better frame your subject and make your “focus” clearer. These tips can be used with a DSLR, point and shoot camera, your I-pad or your camera phone, whatever type of camera you have.

1.  Look at the background, are there any distractions that detract from your main subject? Is there a lot of clutter, especially around your subject? If so, try moving yourself, whether up or down, or to each side, to diminish that clutter out of the camera frame and then take your shot. Sometimes moving yourself and the camera just a few inches makes all the difference in what the camera will capture. Try standing on your tiptoes, get up onto a stool or chair, or get low, squat down, hold your camera lower and point upwards. Changing that perspective can make a world of difference in what image you capture. In these two images, I shot indoors, in cluttered rooms, so I came down to their level and shot across at them, thus eliminating a lot of the clutter of the furniture.

What's The Focus Of Your Photo?
2. If there is something in the foreground that I can use as a “leading line” to help bring focus to my subject, I will use it. A fence, a row of trees or a sidewalk are all great “leading lines”.

What's The Focus Of Your Photo?
3. If there is no getting around the cluttered background, then just try some tight framing, so the background distraction is minimized. Be careful not to come in too close because you might want to crop or print at different ratios so you will want to give yourself a bit of leeway for that. For these two images, I came in close enough that there is no mistaking what my “focus” is but leaves a bit of the background that isn’t distracting enough to worry about.

What's The Focus Of Your Photo?


When  your background is not uncluttered, try to remember to take a look at what is around the subject’s head, looking for some clean space. Watch out for anything that might be right behind your subject’s head. I’m sure we’ve all taken those photos where it looks like an antenna is coming out of someone’s head (the tree branch in the background).  The more your eye sees through the viewfinder or LCD and can correct before snapping that pic, the less you need to do in post-processing. Of course, the most important thing is to capture that moment, take the photo, but of second importance is to capture the best photo you can, preserving that memory forever. I hope these tips are helpful. Have fun and enjoy taking photos!

The Digital Press now has monthly challenges for you to participate in! Come on over and play along! Among the challenges this month is one called “What’s The Focus Of Your Photo?” which you will nail if you’ve read this blog article.  So, go have fun! Here’s the link:

What’s The Focus Of Your Photo Challenge at The Digital Press



Rae Clevett is part of the Creative Team at The Digital Press. She lives on the west coast of BC with her hubby and labradoodle, Taz. As a photographer and avid digital scrapbooker, most days she is either behind the camera or scrapping some of her personal photos. There is usually a cup of coffee on her desk and some chocolate treats, as she is a chocolate addict. Her laptop sits next to her computer so she can watch tv or movies as she scraps or edits photos. Taz usually lies on the floor beside her, playing with his toys. It’s a pretty sweet set-up, comfy and casual.

Focus on Journaling

Welcome to the kick-off of our monthly challenges!  Each month we will create a series of blog posts and challenges that correspond with one word.  This month, we chose FOCUS.  Focus could mean a myriad of things and we cannot wait to have you join us on our journey to discover how we can be focused in our scrapbooking.  You can read more about the thought behind the word here: Find Your Focus This January

For more information on our challenge system, please read more in our forum: Everything You Need to Know about Challenges

Now on to our first challenge…

Not to sound cliché, but some say that a picture says a thousand words. Perhaps. But for many of us, we create scrapbook pages as a form of memory keeping. As our family historians, we have set ourselves up to record the who, what, when, where, why and how of our lives. To pass on our life, in the moment, to our children and grandchildren. I know that I love it when my kids look through an album and not only look at the pretties on the page, but read them as well. Sometimes it sparks a memory which leads to some wonderful conversations. I love those moments!

Early on, right after discovering digital scrapbooking, I made many pages with a picture, paper, and elements and called it a day. Sure, it looked great to me, but looking back on those pages, I wish I would have jotted down, at a minimum, what was occurring in the picture(s).

I created the page below several years ago.  While the word art could speak for itself, I have found that when people look through my album, they tend to ask why my husband and I were so dressed up.  If I had added one simple line of journaling, then this would have been recorded and people would not need to ask.

Now don’t get me wrong, I to this day will scrap a page with no journaling because there are instances where I don’t feel like it is needed. That the picture(s) used do convey what I wanted, or a piece of word art speaks for me. Early on I rarely included journaling or put much thought into it – this is one of my scrapping regrets.

Why didn’t I journal? Good question. I suppose my own insecurities got the best of me as I felt like no one wanted to read what I had to say – I was wrong. Maybe it was because I felt like the picture was enough and looking back I realize that it wasn’t. Perhaps it was because I was not aware that I needed to journal. I do now in most cases.

Journaling does not have to be a long drawn out paragraph of deep, immense feelings and detail. It could simply be a one sentence statement of what is occurring, your thoughts/feelings, or simply who is in the picture. I tend to ask myself will I know the answers to who, what, when, where, why and how of the page looking back at it in 10 years?

Here are a few recent pages of mine where the journaling included the answer to these questions.  Reading the journaling, the viewer should easily be able to see what happened and the memory I wanted to capture.  Pages are linked for credits.


Christmas Spectacular


Christmas Spectacular

So why this discussion on journaling? I thought it would be great challenge to kick us off on our month of FOCUS. Let’s focus on the journaling. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is located here, on the forums: Focus on Journaling Challenge

We cannot wait to see what you come up with!

About the Author: Rachel Alles is on the Creative Team here at The Digital Press.  She is fortunate to share her life with her loving husband, Doug, and two blessings: Madeline and Maxwell.  The three of them are her main source of inspiration for her pocket and traditional style pages.  When she’s not scrapping, she enjoys anything Disney related, learning more about photography (and attempting to turn the dial off Auto) and dabbling in home decor projects.

Find Your Focus This January

It’s the start of a bright and beautiful new year and we are so VERY excited to be launching our challenges here at The Digital Press! I’m here today to introduce them to you and tell you a little bit about our vision for the year.

Each month always seems to have a flavor all its own. January, for example, is a month that can be full of wishes, hopes and dreams. It’s a time for resolutions and a time to daydream. It’s a time to clear out all the clutter and put those messy holidays behind us. Everything is fresh, new and exciting. It’s a time to focus on the things that we want most from the year that’s so full of potential.

The word “focus” really stood out to me last week as I thought about things in my own life. But I just loved how this word also could apply to my love of photography and scrapbooking!

Focus has so many shades of meaning…


via Pinterest: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

So, in this first month of the new year, we are focusing in at The Digital Press!

We have some amazing and inspirational posts coming your way right here on the blog. We will also have a host of new challenges on the forums to spark your creativity and help you to make pages you really love.

You’ll find all the details of our new challenge system laid out for you here: Everything You Need to Know about Challenges

Our challenges start tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us then!

We hope you’ll have a great time scrapping along with us throughout the year. We’re looking forward to seeing all your beautiful work!

Nicole About the Author: Nicole Seitler is a designer here at The Digital Press, creating kits under the name Sugarplum Paperie. In her free time, she loves to to work on her Project Life album, knit or craft with her kids. But she doesn’t have much free time, since she’s also a stay-at-home homeschoolin’ momma of four. Her life may be a little crazy, but she wouldn’t want it any other way!