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Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 & GIVEAWAY! (day 2)

I love Digital Scrapbooking. I have to admit that I did resist it for awhile, thinking that my precious touch it and feel it paper way was all I would ever need or enjoy. Not to mention I was a bit confused by the “technical” aspect of using software to make a page. However once I took that leap and gave it a try, I found that not only was the learning process of how to create a digital page not as difficult as I thought, but that I actually really enjoyed the creative process too! It is different and yet very similar to paper scrapbooking (as far as design and memory keeping are concerned), and now my digital supply collection is starting to rival my paper one (albeit about a thousand times easier to store and keep uncluttered on my hard drive).

So now, I’m a big advocate of giving Digital Scrapbooking a try and frequently encourage those that haven’t yet to do so. From those that have never given it a go however, I hear most often two basic reasons why they have not:

1. I just can’t afford that ‘fancy’ software.
2. I just know I won’t be able to understand all that technical mumbo jumbo.

And honestly? I didn’t have the best arguments against those two reasons. The most popular program out there to digitally scrap with is pretty expensive. Also it can be intimidating to use for a true beginner. So, when offered the chance to review Digital Scrapbook Artist 2, a software program that seemed to possibly solve both of those issues, I jumped at the chance!

First a note, I don’t mean this review to be a comparison between Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 and that ever popular more expensive program, so won’t be going that route. However as a frequent user of the latter, I found myself instinctively looking for options that I am used to using to create a digital page. I pretty much found them all. Would a beginner know to look for “Layers,” “Drop Shadows,” and “Brushes” when creating a page? Hmmmm maybe not, but if you are an experienced digital scrapbooker with that other program than I can tell you that in Digital Scrapbook Artist 2, like Ragu, “It’s in there.”

I was able to play with the software for a few weeks before writing this article, and enjoyed it very much. Below are some of my condensed experiences during that time, as the program has a lot to offer.

Installation is quick and easy. A set-up wizard takes you through the process and you are ready to dive in after about 5 minutes.

The start up wizard pops up when you open the program and offers three options:

1. Start with a theme, which is both a fantastically easy option as well as super-quick. The five digital kits that come with the program are very cute, and come complete with pre-made pages for you to simply drag and drop your photo into. Using one of these I created a layout in minutes:

Everything on the pre-made layout is customizable. Remove a flower, add a button, change the background, it’s all up to you.

2. Open a saved work. Something to note on saving in this program is that your document will not automatically save to a traditional “JPEG” format. It will save as a .Sbp format which cannot be opened in other photo editing programs, or sent to certain online photo printing sites as it is specific to this software. There is an “export as” option though, which will allow you to save as a JPEG or PDF.

3. Start with a blank page. I absolutely loved how the space on the screen is organized by Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 in order to create a page from scratch. To the left are spaces for pretty much everything you might desire on a page: backgrounds (your “paper”), photos, embellishments, materials (pretty literally – knits, fabrics, etc. to add some elements with texture), frames, and letters.

To add items to these spaces you can either add from the free kits that come with the software, download new kits directly from Daisytrail.com (some are free, some to purchase), or from one of the collections of kits available for purchase also at Daisytrail.com. Each collection disk has 10 kits. I was so happy to be able to play with Collection 4 and found them all quite cute! Here’s a layout using their Haberdashery Kit:

There is no need to crop a photo to fit a frame either, simply drag and drop and the software automatically fits the photo inside the frame.

The elements are definitely hybrid project worthy (printing digital elements to use on a paper project) as well. Here’s a card I created after printing embellishments from the Painted Backyard Kit:

Adding the actual items to a page is a breeze. Just drag and drop. Click on the items to re-size or rotate them. Can you use digital supplies you might already have? Yes, you can. I did so by adding these items as “photos” and dragged and dropped them into a page as I did other elements.

To the left are more great options to customize your page, my absolute favorite of which is the “Palette.” When using one of their kits, Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 gives you a palette of coordinating colors to go with it. I use this option to select the perfect color of text for my journaling. Easy!


Here also you will find a unique option that the program offers called Stencils. They are just that, digital stencils that you place on your layout and “spray” with paint to fill in. Sure you could do this with a digital brush, but this way is just plain fun!


Finally at the top are two of the popular actions when creating a digital page, including:

Drop Shadow: Incredibly easy to use in order to add a little more depth to an object on the page. Simply select the object, and then drag the shadow out to the desired depth. Think of drop shadows as digital “pop-dots.”

Transparency: I found this option a little difficult to use and get the hang of how I wanted an object to appear, but it is a neat effect.

Also included is a photo-editing lab where you can add many effects to your photos before scrapping them. There are standards such as convert to black-and-white, adjust the contrast, etc., however there are also more advanced editing options such as Levels (an adjustment I make to almost every digital photo I take!). Available are one-click actions to add numerous effects to your photo (over 70 according to the Daisy Trail website).

Finally, my favorite feature of the entire program is their Image Cut-Out Studio in the Photo Lab.

I’ve never been particularly great at using the various methods to extract an object from a photo in other programs, however somehow this option is so instinctive as to what you want to cut out, it makes it incredibly easy! I love digital pages with extracted images, and this is the first one I’ve done that I’m pleased with:

(Created with the Home Sweet Home kit)

There is so much more that this program has to offer such as blending, cut out tools, and filters. Each is easy to use. I highly recommend popping over to the website to watch their video to get another look. As a program strictly meant for digital scrapbooking, Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 delivers the goods.

So to go back to those two excuses at the top:

1. I just can’t afford that ‘fancy’ software.
Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 is $49.99, half the cost of the most popular digital scrapbooking program out there, and you get just about all of the features you could ever want to create a digital layout. (FYI I’m not saying you get it “all” because I’m in no way an expert on either program, but I really didn’t lack for anything).

2. I just know I won’t be able to understand all that technical mumbo jumbo.
This program is made for scrapbookers, and so their tools are specific to what you might want to do while creating a page. Do you need to do a little learning before hand? Well sure, just like with any computer software, but they talk to you like you are a scrapbooker and play to those instincts while teaching you how to use it. The program has many helpful tutorials to get you started and using the software, and there is also a community online at Daisytrail.com should you need help along the way.

To sum up:

Pros:

  • Ease of use. The program is meant for digital scrapbooking, so as a scrapbooker, it is easy to understand how things work and what they are for.
  • The Photo Lab allows you to edit and tweak your photos just as another program would, and the one-click filters and actions are fun. The Cut Out Studio is amazing!
  • Cost. For what the program does, it’s my opinion that $50 is extremely reasonable.

Cons:

  • Even as someone with experience digital scrapbooking, there were a few times when I got stuck on how to make something work. But I always found the answer in the “help” section, and truthfully am glad there aren’t constant tips popping up in my face for things I already knew how to do.
  • Layouts don’t automatically save in a standard JPEG format, you’ll need to export the finished project to do so.
  • Using digital elements you already have is possible, but not quite as easy as using those that are specific to the software (meaning you have to use them as “Photos” rather than “Backgrounds” or “Embellishments” unless there is a way to do this that I have not found). Edited to add: Another reason why we love our readers, Marilyn was so kind to point out in the comments below that yes indeed it is possible to import digital elements you already own or purchase outside of Daisy Trail as “Backgrounds, Frames, etc” by using an option in the program called “Digi Kit Creator”. By using this unique feature, I was able to upload my already owned Digital Elements and tag them with the appropriate names so they would be easily organized and accessible when creating a layout. What a great feature! Thanks very much Marilyn! And of course other helpful tips are abundant at Daisytrail.com, here’s a quick link to this info in their forums: http://www.daisytrail.com/search.html?from_forums=0&q=Digikit+Creator.

Finally, if you are interested but aren’t sure, Daisy Trail also has a free version called Digital Scrapbook Artist Compact so you can get a feel for the software’s style.

GIVEAWAY!
Daisy Trail is giving one lucky reader a free copy of the Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 Software. Leave a comment on this post telling us your thoughts as either an experienced or total beginning digital scrapbooker? Have you used this program and have anything to add? One comment per person, per Vendor Spotlight: Digital Scrapbook Artisit 2 article, please. Winner will be selected Wednesday, April 28th at 6pm CST.

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