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Scrapbooking with Studio J by Close To My Heart

Reported by Kristine Fowler

While I’m a traditional paper scrapper at heart, I have done some digi-work in the past – and I’m always open to try new things.  Most recently, I’ve been playing with the new online scrapbooking studio by Close To My Heart called Studio J.

With Studio J, you can create two-page 12″x12″ scrapbook layouts that can be printed and added to your scrapbook album.  You create your layouts using the online tools, and when you purchase your layouts, they are printed by Close To My Heart, and shipped back to you in 5-7 business days (shipping times will vary by delivery address).  Alternatively, if you are a Studio J Member, instead of printing by CTMH, you can choose to purchase only the digital images (high resolution JPG files) for printing elsewhere at your discretion.

The Studio J interface is completely web-based, and there is no software to buy or install.  This means that anywhere you have an internet connection with the Adobe flash-player plug-in installed, you can access Studio J and work on your layouts – even from a public access computer!  The software is extremely intuitive and easy to use (even if you’ve never scrapbooked digitally before); there is also a built-in online help area to assist you if you get stuck and a dedicated Studio J support email address if you need help beyond that.

The digital papers and embellishments pre-loaded to Studio J are all part of current or retired Close To My Heart My Reflections scrapbooking kits, as well as new CTMH kits that are exclusive to Studio J.  For the current and retired kits, all of the same patterned papers and My Stickease stickers that are/were available in the classic paper versions of the kits are available within the corresponding kit in Studio J.  One big bonus though, is that with the Studio papers, you have the option of changing the colour of the paper to any colour in the CTMH 60-colour palette.  Now that’s flexibility!  These means that you customize your papers to match your photos – something that can’t be done with paper.

New papers are added to Studio J with each Idea Book release – and unlike other forms of digital or online scrapbooking there is no additional charge to access the new content.

Probably one of the coolest features of Studio J is the way that you can add distressing to your pages.  I personally love the look of distressed art and almost always incorporate it in some form when I am classic scrapbooking.  In Studio J, it only takes a click or two and you can sand & stipple and even apply digital ‘ink’ direct to your patterned paper and cardstock.  You cannot, however, distress your photos, which would be a cool enhancement if they decide to add it later.  With Studio J you can also add digital embellishments that mimic classic metal brads, hinges & photo turns, and/or add digital buttons and ribbon & all of these embellishments can be custom-coloured to any colour in the CTMH 60-colour palette.

There is even built-in photo editor that allows you to adjust a photo’s brightness and contrast, saturation, sharpness, etc.  You can apply filters to change your photo from colour to black & white or sepia, and there are even tools within Studio J to brighten teeth, erase wrinkles, soften blemishes, remove red eye, and more.  While you won’t find ALL of the photo-editing flexibility that you’d find in a full-service specialty program like Adobe Photoshop Elements, you can certainly do more than just the basic photo editing within Studio J.

What About Print Quality?

According to Close To My Heart, Studio J layouts are processed (not printed) “using a silver-halide process considered the highest standard in the photo developing industry. Unlike printed papers or images you might find from a home printer, the silver-halide process yields a “100-year+ quality” that has long been tested and used by the top photo labs in the world.” I personally have ordered several Studio J printed layouts over the last few months and I can attest that the quality is truly superb. The paper they are printed on is, in my mind, comparable to a high-quality photograph – it is not a light-weight paper or cardstock.  It has a light gloss appearance; unfortunately at this time a matte finish option is not available.

What About Price?
Studio J is absolutely free to use as there is no charge until you decide to purchase your layouts.  When reviewing the pricing structure it is important to remember that a Studio J layout is two 12″x12″ scrapbook pages.  When you print 12″x12″ elsewhere, pricing is usually stated on a per page basis.

There are two ways to purchase: Member & Non-Member pricing.  {Follow this link to get all of the Studio J Pricing/Shipping details directly from Close To My Heart}

With Studio J Membership:

  • Layout printing:  $6.50 US / $7.50 CAN for a 2-page layout (includes free JPEG files for archiving & sharing)  that equates to $3.25 US / $3.75 CAN per page.
  • JPG Files purchased separately:  $3.00 US / $3.50 CAN for a 2-page layout
  • Free shipping on one minimum order per month (minimum is 4 layouts in US and 7 for Canada)
  • Free Memory Protectors so your layouts are album ready.
  • Maximum of 10 layouts per month can be purchased at the reduced rates.  Price per layouts ordered over 10 is $11.00 US / $13.00 CAN  {this restriction removed effective September 24, 2010}
  • Cost of Membership:
    • $99.00 US / $115.00 CAN for 12 months.
    • $30.00 US / $35.00 CAN for 3 months

Without Studio J Membership:

  • Layout printing: $13.00 US / $15.00 CAN for a 2-page layout
  • Shipping per box of up to 20 layouts:  $5.95 US / $13.95 CAN
  • JPG files are not available to non-members
  • Free shipping is not available to non-members
  • Free Memory Protectors not available to non-members

When you consider that members get access to additional layout patterns and kits, free shipping, and free Memory Protectors, the membership program is well worth the up front investment.  For example, if you were to maximize the membership and order 10 layouts per month for 12 months (120 layouts per year), savings from membership are unbelievable!  Under this maximized scenario, by my calculation (in Canadian dollars) non-members would pay more than $1900 for layouts, shipping and memory protectors whereas Members would pay only $900 for the same product + the cost of membership.  Members would also receive additional benefits like free JPG files for sharing and archiving, as well as access to members only online content.  When you’re looking at that kind of savings, the membership fee of $115 is more than worth it.  All tolled with an annual membership, creating 120 layouts per year, your cost per layout would be approximately $8.45 or just about $4.25 per 12×12 page.  That seems pretty reasonable to me.

{all of the above figures exclude taxes and shipping on the Memory Protector portion of the order for Non-Members}

So How Does Studio J Work?

Step 1:  Upload photos. This follows the same procedure we are used to seeing in other applications: Navigate to the directory on your computer where your photos are stored, select the photos you wish to upload and press Open.

Step 2:  Choose the desired themed kit.  There are currently 61 kit options available with more to be added with each Idea Book release.  There has been no word to my knowledge of kits being ‘removed’ or retiring from Studio J in the future.  Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find. You can also ‘filter’ the available kits by theme; for instance only displaying kits that are themed ‘Celebration’ or ‘Family’ etc..

Step 3:  Select a layout pattern.  There are currently 57 layout patterns available to members, and 32 available to non-members.  For every layout pattern, the pages can be swapped left to right, and/or rotated individually for an endless number of possible combinations.  At present there is no functionality to ‘transpose’ pages (that is flip individual pages horizontally).  Here is a sampling of the available layouts.  Note in the top right of the screen you can filter the available layouts by number of photo wells – displaying only that layouts that would be suitable for scrapbooking the specific photos you have in mind.

Once you have selected a kit and a layout pattern, you are then prompted to choose a suggested ‘kit mix’.  These kit mixes represent suggested placement of the various cardstock and patterned paper combinations available in the kit.  While you must select a kit mix to start with — you can always change things in the next stage if you are not satisfied.  Here is an example of a kit mix selection screen and the resulting blank layout.  For the purpose of this demonstration, I chose the exclusive to Studio J “Class Act” Kit, and the “Photo Booth” (members only) layout pattern.  I chose Kit Mix #6.

Step 4: Add your photos, embellishments, title, and journaling to your page.  The interface is easy to use as it is essentially drag and drop.  You can see in the above image, that there are 7 photo wells on this layout, a spot to add a title, and a journalling block.  You might also notice that some basic embellishments are already placed, but are ‘greyed out’.  In this layout there are ribbon tabs and buttons in the top right above the photos, more buttons in the centre area around the title and an additional piece of ribbon (which is hard to see) in the bottom left corner.  You can choose to ‘colour’ these embellishments as placed (using any of the CTMH 60 colours), or you may choose to delete them altogether and either print your layout without them, or change them to something different altogether or modify their placement.

Here are a some closeups of the working toolsets you will use to create your layouts.

Here is the layout I completed while pulling this demonstration together (click the image for a larger view).

{Please note: This image is shared via screenshot, and the quality is thus not suitable for printing.  It is not indicative of the image resolution of purchased JPG files.}
A few things I’d like to point out.
  • The kit I opted to use is actually themed for Back to School, but here is proof that it can work equally well for non school-related photos.
  • I changed the background cardstock from white to black and then ‘sanded’ it.
  • In the suggested kit mix, the paper border above the photos and in the circle was yellow, and I changed it to green.
  • I ‘Grunged Up’ the green paper further by adding edge distressing and stippling in Black ‘ink’. converted the ‘Add Title’ journalling box to a photo well.
  • I removed the ‘Add Journalling’ circle to make room for my title, which I placed on the layout in a position other than what was suggested.
  • I added a transparent journalling box in the top right of the layout that was not in the original sketch.
  • I added an additional border below the photos by using the ruler border sticker that is included in the Studio kit.
  • The word Journey in my title was created using the Studio J Quick Title tool which uses the kit letter stickers and automatically aligns and evenly spaces the letters (this is so easy and convenient!)
  • I removed the ribbon tabs from the top right of the layout, but left the ribbon scrap in the bottom left and added a couple of Star stickers from the available kit stickers.

Step 5: Purchase custom-printed layouts ready for a cherished album and/or order digital images for printing elsewhere (Members only).

So what’s the bottom line?

Is Studio J worth trying?  Yes.  There is a ton of functionality built into this online interface that will have you creating layouts unthinkably fast.  The layout possibilities are countless and even if you use the same layout pattern or kit again and again you can make each layout unique.  With membership, print pricing is competitive.  Locally, I can print 12×12 pages at Costco for $2.99 per page.  Studio J Members pay $3.75 per printed page ($7.50 for a 2-page layout).  The way I see it, for the extra $0.76 over Costco, Studio J gives me great value considering that I did not have to invest in software or digital elements, and I am receiving free Memory Protectors with my order.  The quality of the Studio J print is stellar, and I have been more than satisfied to date.  I have not yet had opportunity to purchase the JPGs so cannot comment as to their resolution etc., but CTMH advertises that they are high resolution suitable for printing.  Unfortunately, without membership, the cost to print and ship layouts may be prohibitive.

Are you ready to try it out for yourself?  Visit Studio J now and try it for free.  There is no charge until you decide to make a purchase.

Is there room for improvement?  Yes, but a product as young as this one with likely improve greatly over time, as user feedback is received.  In fact, we’ve already seen tremendous improvement since the initial product launch in April 2010.  Here are some things that I would like to see improved or changed hopefully in the very near future.

  • Allow members to purchase as many layouts as they want per month at the reduced rate – remove the cap of 10 layouts.  {effective September 24, the 10 layout cap has been removed}
  • Add the ability to Fully Justify text in a journalling box.  In many cases I prefer that look.  Currently only right-, left- and centred-alignment are available options.
  • Add the ability to add a photo well.  Currently photos can only be positioned in existing photo wells, or by converting journalling slots to photo wells.
  • Add functionality for creating pages from scratch if desired.
  • Allow the user to ‘zoom’ a layout using the mouse wheel.  Currently there is a zoom slider in the top left of the screen, but mouse wheel zooming would be much more convenient.
  • Allow the user to add/define drop shadows to give the printed layouts further depth.  I think that some of the current printed embellishments (e.g. buttons) look a little ‘flat’.

In summary,

Pros:

  • With Membership, the cost of printing Studio J layouts is basically comparable to getting scrapbook layouts printed elsewhere especially since you get bonuses like free Memory Protectors, and you consider that there is no upfront software investment.
  • The interface is extremely easy to use, even for an individual with limited computer experience.
  • The ‘Studio’ is is portable.  As long as you have internet access (even from a public access computer), you can create/edit your scrapbook layouts.
  • You can customize the digital papers to coordinate with your photos by changing the colour of a selected pattern with just the click of a button.
  • No need to purchase templates, scrapbooking papers or embellishments separately.  There are 61 ‘kits’ available to members as of today, and more will be added with each CTMH Idea Book release.
  • You can order prints of your layouts without any ‘digital’ embellishments and add ‘classic’ embellishments later for hybrid pages.  If you use CTMH classic accessories and embellishments, the colours will coordinate perfectly since they are from the same colour palette.

Cons:

  • Even with membership you are limited to purchasing only 10 layouts at half-price. This is a big disappointment making it especially difficult for artists who may wish to purchase more than one copy of an album for gift-giving purposes. {10 layouts at half price cap removed effective Sept 24, 2010}
  • You cannot change the size of photo wells (although you can convert a photo to text)
  • Single page layouts are not available – all templates and order pricing are based on 2-pagers.
  • You can design/print scrapbook layouts only – no cards.
  • Currently 12″x12″ is the only available print size.
  • No matte finish processing option for printed pages.
  • No option to print a bound photo book.
  • You cannot mix papers/stickers from more than one kit on the same layout.
  • Without membership, you cannot purchase JPG files of your layout, and the price of printing layouts (without membership) is less than competitive.

Here are few more sample layouts that I have created with Studio J.

Have you tried Studio J?  What are your thoughts?  Do you agree with my opinions?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Disclosure (author is a CTMH Demonstrator)

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: My Memories Suite Software

Reported by Erin Bassett

When asked if I wanted to try out My Memories Suite v2 software I was pretty excited. I used to do a lot of digital scrapbooking years ago using both Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro, and I wanted to see how this would stack up to those programs.
The first step was to download the program. You can also have them ship out the program to you, but I don’t like to wait! The program is quite large (almost 500MB) so it took me a few minutes to download it. After it was downloaded I easily installed it by following the prompts.
I wanted to see how intuitive the software was, and if I’d have to download the user manual to really figure it out. The good news is that, for me, it was really easy to figure everything out without the manual.

When you first open up the program it will ask you if you want to create an album from one of the designer templates that comes with the software or if you’d like to create your own. I started off by using one of the ones that came with it. After I played around with one of the album pages I decided I’d create a layout on camera so you could see how it worked (see video below).

And here’s my first page using the My Memories Suite v.2 software and the template, paper, and embellishments it comes with:
As you can see in the above video and the photo below, there’s a control panel on the right hand side of the screen that allows you to manipulate all the objects for your scrapbook pages as well as icons across the top of the screen that do the same thing.
Even when creating my own pages from scratch, I found it as easy to put together a page digitally as I would using traditional scrapbooking supplies. I started off by telling it I wanted to create my own album so it had me name my album, choose where I wanted to save it, and then decide what shape of page I wanted. I created a page square so that it could be printed 12” x 12” (or smaller) but I could have also created it rectangle so that it could be printed 8 ½” x 11” (or smaller) or 11” x 8 ½” (or smaller).
Next it had me add a page. I could choose a blank page in which I could totally design myself, or I could choose one of the many photo templates they have available by scrolling through them. (Note: I think it would be great if the templates were organized by the number of photos, however they are all mixed up so I had to look at each one to decide if I wanted to use it.)
I choose to start off with a blank page. Daring eh?! I wanted to see if I could load some digital scrapbook paper from Jessica Sprague onto my page. Once again good news, I could. I also played around with creating my own embellishment using the shapes and texture papers that come with the program (See the cardboard scalloped circle on my “Re-do” layout).
You can also buy more templates and paper/embellishment kits online at their site. Since My Memories Suite was nice enough to credit me enough to do just that, I thought I’d try it out as well. It was easy to maneuver through the choices and find a couple of things that I wanted to download. Installing them was easy too, and they load right into the software. Here are a couple of layouts I made with them:
Adding text for journalling and word art for titles was easy too. The control panel had all the options I needed to create exactly what I wanted. I could even add my word art in a curve shape (or other shape) more easily then I could in Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro. And there is also a spell check! -That’s a big plus in my book!!
There are quite a few features that I didn’t full test out on the software like the ability to add video, music, or other audio to an album. However, all in all I’m pretty impressed with My Memories Suite v. 2 software. It was able to do most of the things I wanted it to do like creating my own embellishments, loading paper and embellishments from other online digital scrapbooking sources, and simple photo manipulation (crop, red eye correction, photo matting, and a few special effects). Although because of it’s uncomplicated interface you are not able to change the pre-designed elements color like you would in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro.
I really liked that there was so many options to share my scrapbook pages too. You have the option to print at home, export to jpg, print professionally (photo albums, calendars, cards), and to create multimedia output such as interactive albums, movies, DVD videos, and an iPod-ready movie.
Speaking of printing at home, as fun as doing digital scrapbooking is, if the pages don’t print out well it’s not worth it to me, so I made sure to test out how well they printed on my large format photo printer (an Epson Stylus Photo R1800 in case you’re wondering). Unfortunately I couldn’t get the program to print directly to my printer correctly. It wouldn’t let me choose the correct printer or change the paper size to 12″ x 12″. Instead I ended up saving my album in the highest quality jpgs I could, and then I printed them out like I normally would print photos or scrapbook pages. The background papers, photos, and page elements printed out terrifically…just like they looked on my monitor. However on the three pages that used word art ( my “Granola” page, my “Re-do” page, and my “Cupcakes” page) the word art doesn’t look as great as I’d like it to, or as great as it looked on my screen. It looks pixelated which is really unfortunate since I thought the word art feature was pretty cool.
While this software is really easy to use, it did have one other drawback that I found annoying. It was slow to load things. I thought it may be the computer I was using; I had originally loaded on my “barely meets the software computer system requirements” PC laptop. So I tried it out on my newer desktop PC that more then met the requirements and it still had very similar results, although my desktop felt slightly faster (you can find both the PC and the MAC requirements in the User Guide).
Pros:
  • Easy to use
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Able to purchase more digital content for it through the program from designers such as Tinkering Ink, Paper Trunk, and Three Bugs in a Rug.
Cons:
  • Slow
  • Didn’t print out word art very well
  • A lot of the papers and elements that come with it are pretty basic and, in my opinion, not very cute
Cost: $39.97
Do you digi-scrap? What software do you use and why do you like it?

GIVEAWAY!
My Memories Suite is giving away a copy of their total digital scrapbook software. Just leave a comment on any of our My Memories Suite articles (this is 1 of 2) to be entered to win. One comment per person, per article, please. Winner will be randomly selected on Wednesday, July 21st, or therebouts.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

ACDSee Software for Organizing Digital Scrapbooking Supplies

Reported by Jessica Ripley


Click on screen shot to enlarge

Ah the feeling of being organized. When everything is in its place and right where we need it. Because just as we promised ourselves we would back on January 1st 2009, we have contained not only our regular household clutter, but also kept all crafting supplies together by color, manufacturer, style, and type right?

Ha! Me neither.

While the Virgo in me screams for color coding and alphabetizing wherever I can manage it, sometimes the task of getting to that organized point seems just too daunting to tackle. Where I have the most trouble lately isn’t household or crafting clutter however, but rather in one of my new found hobbies, digital scrapbooking. Any digi-scrapper can tell you (or I’m sure you know if you are one) that there are so many wonderful digital supplies to be had at affordable prices online (if not free), that downloading a new kit or alphabet soon becomes a cheap thrill that you just can’t get enough of. Before you know it, your hard drive becomes a haven of digitized ribbons and papers that isn’t as easy to navigate through as it once was. You forget what you have, or don’t realize how perfectly some pieces fit together, or just plain get tired of searching through files and files of supplies and give up.

Though I still consider myself a beginner digital scrapbooker, I definitely have my fair share of supplies collected. I heard about ACDSee Photo Organizing software from a few friends and also saw it discussed on a couple of message boards. Many swore by it, and said it made putting together a digital layout so easy. So, when I discovered that there is a free trial offered on their website, I decided it couldn’t hurt to download it and see for myself.

ACDSee offers a few types of software on their website, which they break down into three categories: For Home, For Work, and For Pros. It didn’t take me long to decide which software I needed, the Photo Manager for Home, and I clicked the link to start the trial download (you can find it through the link above, at the bottom of the right hand column). They also offer a separate photo editor, however I am happy with Photoshop Elements when it comes to that capability.

The download from start to finish was very quick, about 5-6 minutes. You must enter your first name and email address to access the download, so be sure to uncheck the special offers box if you do not want to receive any additional email from ACDSee (future coupons, tips, etc) when you sign up.

The first thing I noticed upon the program successfully installing in my PC laptop (running on Vista) was that it automatically defaulted to the “My Pictures” file. I could see all folders located within the file instantaneously. Hovering over any image gave a slightly larger preview, and I could also double click on any image and see a full screen view immediately. ACDSee advertises on their site that they are “the fastest viewing software around”, and after playing with it I have to agree. I also found that you could change the default folder which automatically opens at start up, a very nice feature.

I decided the try out the software not to organize my digital photos at this time however (we’ll save that for January 1, 2010), but to get all those digi-supplies managed. Therefore now came the time to navigate through the program itself and see how simple it really was to do so. The remainder of this article isn’t a tutorial for the software, they do offer help and tips if you decide to give it a try, but rather a report of my experience with it. With that in mind, I consider myself only slightly tech-savvy, meaning if it was too much of a hassle to figure out, then forget it.

The biggest positive to using ACDSee as a digital supply organizer is that it recognizes over 100 files types, including; BMP, GIF, JPG, and PNG, which are those that I am most familiar with (JPG and PNG being the most common in my digital scrapbooking supplies). It took me very little time to find the Catalog Wizard, which allowed me to select several file folders in my computer to fall under one large category. This is one step that I may have saved myself some time with the little organization which I had already done within my hard drive. I did not have to go to several places to find my digital supplies, I do keep them all under one big file called “Downloads”. If it wasn’t for this, it may have been a headache to find them all.

The wizard then guided me through adding “database” information for the catalog, including a caption (“Digital Scrapbooking Supplies”). It also allowed me to add an author and notes if I desired.


Click on screen shot to enlarge


Once all folders that I wished to organize were added to the wizard, I was warned by the software that cataloging a large amount of files could take some time. Cataloging each of my chosen items into the “Digital Scrapbooking Supplies” category took 6 minutes to do so for 873 items. So it didn’t seem very long at all, especially since a small thumbnail preview of each image is shown as it is added to the database. It was kind of fun to see those supplies I forgot I had already!


Click on screen shot to enlarge

The display of all items is very easy to read and user friendly.

Click on screen shot to enlarge


I had a bit of an “Ok…. now what” moment once the files were categorized into the Digital Scrapbooking Supplies database. I didn’t find the software as informative on the steps to take next (though I can’t state that I read the help menu, I’m more of a touch and do rather than a read and do person). I knew from experience of using other photo organizing software that I could add “tags” or “categories” to each image to organize them even further, so that’s what I set out to do next.

It was very easy to add new categories. Just click the “new” icon and you’re in business. I started by adding any I could think of as a general category, such as solid paper, patterned paper, and miscellaneous embellishments, and found that it is also possible to add sub-categories which is a wonderful feature. I used this to add the subs buttons, ribbons, etc., to the miscellaneous embellishment category. I also added a few colors to the paper categories.

Then came the most tedious part of the process, tagging all of those files with the individual categories to make finding them easier when the time came. There are two ways to add items to a certain category:
  1. Drag and drop them onto the category name
  2. Right click the item and select the appropriate category.
If you drag and drop, you can do so with more than one item at a time which is a fabulous time saver. Simply hold control or the shift key while clicking each item to drag and drop them together.

You can also assign each item to more than one category, as many as you wish. It’s all about creating a filtering system for the software to help you find what you are looking for. This can be addictive, but you’ll learn what you need to stay organized as you go along. I quickly discovered that categorizing into “Ribbon”, “Blue”, “Polka-Dot”, “Tied” was getting a little too ambitious.

Even with the ease of doing it, to me the process of tagging each item did start to get a little old and time consuming. But, I really can’t expect any software to automatically know that I classify that embellishment as a “tag”, but that one as a “frame” can I? I would recommend, depending on how many categories you create, (to which there is no limit) and supplies you have, to do a little at a time so it isn’t quite as monumental a task.

Once all my items were categorized, it was time for the real test, creating a digital layout. I hit a small road-bump here, not sure of how exactly I was to get my nicely organized digital items into Photoshop Elements to actually create a page. What good would organizing in one program do me in the other? Just to see, I tried the easiest way possible I could think of to accomplish this. I clicked and held an item in ACDSee, and then dragged it into my already open Photoshop Elements in the start bar of my laptop. It worked like a charm. Talk about easy!

Using both programs in that manner, I created the simple layout shown below.
(All supplies in this layout were designed by Leah Farquharson and are available at Funky Playground Designs)
Rather than searching through all my saved kit files to find the perfect blue paper, I simply clicked the categories in ACDSee “Solid Papers” and then “Blue” to see all that were available to me at a glance.

Click on screen shot to enlarge


And again when I searched for a frame, I clicked on the “Frames” category which I had created and quickly found the one I wanted.


Click on screen shot to enlarge

Using ACDSee to create a digital layout did not only save me some time (even though I had to invest some in the beginning), but also allowed me to utilize supplies together that I might not have taken the time to look for before. I could definitely now see what all the talk was about. Once the tedious part was done, I found the software to indeed be extremely helpful.

The cost of the photo manager alone with added download fees and a back up copy is around $40 which I do find a little pricey, but I also feel as if I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the software can do, and plan to test drive it until the trial expires and make my decision.

Pros:
  • Lighting fast viewing of photos once they are in the software, including full-screen. This also makes the organizing easier to do.
  • The software recognizes many file types, making the organization of all image files on your computer possible.
  • Endless categories which you create based on your needs make it very user-friendly.
  • Easy and quick to drag and drop files into Photoshop.

Cons:

  • It seems the more organized you are to start, the easier it will be to use the software’s capabilities (putting all of your supplies into one file for example).
  • The categorizing itself is a bit tedious and requires work.
  • I feel the software is pricey, especially since I already have organizing capability for photos with Photoshop Elements.

All in all, if you have digital supplies on your computer I really don’t see how you can go wrong by not downloading the free trial to see for yourself how it will work for you.

How about you? Have you used ACDSee before and can offer any tips or suggestions? Any fantastic features that I haven’t touched on here? We’d love to hear what you have to say.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!