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Tag Archives | Digital Scrapbooking

Event Review: Spark!

Reported by Erin Bassett
Spark No. 2 took place this past weekend in Lindon, UT and women from all around the globe came to renew the inner flame of creativity within themselves and to ignite it in one another.
The location at Noah’s was new this year (Spark No. 1 was at This Is The Place Heritage Park in UT) and although the building wasn’t as quaint and historic as the Spark No.1 location, it did have WiFi so I really can’t complain!
Rhonna Farrer, Margie Romney-Aslett, and Elizabeth Kartchner organized the event and let me tell you, those ladies have such an eye for detail!! Here’s just some of the décor they created this year:
I could seriously put up 100 shots of all the décor that was up throughout the entire building and the gardens. It was fabulous! And to top it off a lot of it was green and had been collected and upcycled into pure cuteness.
Everyone was divided up into color groups and rotated into each of the four core classes and the four mini-classes. Most of the materials and tools were provided to share so that those who had to fly could travel lighter.
The main classes were:
“Enlighten” with Wendy Whitacre was an awesome photography class that explained how digital SLR cameras work and how to make them do what you want them to do. Wendy has a great teaching style and simplifies the big scary parts of using your camera out of the automatic mode. She also had little stations around the class room for us to put into practice what we learned.
“Nurture” with Emily Falconbridge was a wool felting class where she taught you the concepts behind felting and then we were able to make either wool scarves or wool beads. It was really fun to watch how everyone’s projects came together and then see how they turned out….some turned out better then expected and some turned out different then expected and a bit quirky, but they were all beautiful in their own right.
“Cherish” with Janet Hopkins was a class where we created a corsage out of Glimmer Misted flowers, tulle, a vintage ticket, charms, and other doo-dads. While most of the finished projects looked similar they each had a bit of character from the person that created it.
“Uplift” with Margie Romney-Aslett was a fun home décor class where we used stripped down lamp shades to create mobiles. While everyone stuck to the same concept, no two lampshades were the same and the photos and ephemera that hung on them told such a warm-fuzzy story.
The mini-classes were:
“Explore” with Rhonna Farrer was a how-to digi-scrap class and we used an awesome House of 3 digital kit to create with. As an avid digi-scrapper I loved to see and hear traditional scrapbookers “get” how to create things digitally.
“Ignite” with Liz Kartchner was a class were we made a fun little mini-album that was shaped like a flag and was entitled “Celebrate”. I didn’t have time to get it finished in class, but it will be great to finish up and throw in some cute photos from a birthday or something.
“Create” with April Meeker was a mixed media class were we used paint, Mod Podge, paper, ephemera, and silhouettes to create beautiful canvases. There was not a enough time for me to complete my project in class, but that’s totally fine with me since I have some things at home I’d like to add to it.
“Relax” with the Dear Lizzie store was where we created a cute little pennant from ephemera and then had a chance to just chill or catch up on other stuff…like getting snacks from the snack room.
On Friday night we had a roof top soiree where we bundled up to do some “mini-mini’s” (aka: make and takes). The space was small, but the projects were cute!! Stephanie Hamen (Fiskars) had us making the cutest mini canvas. Michelle Hill (Epiphany Crafts/Polka Dot Whimsy) had us make a flower pin (or it could have been used as a barrette if you changed the backing). Lori Allred (Imaginisce) and Shannon Lerner (ProvoCraft) had us making quilled flowers that were embellished with the iTop and iRock. Lori Ward (Miss Ruby Sue) had us making headbands. Jayme Shepherd (Making Memories) had us creating some beautiful Vintage Groove necklaces. Rebecca McAllister (Sassafras Lass) and Hayley Blumenstock (Sassafras Lass) had us make a cute mini-book. (I love the technique they used for the spine and pages of the book.) And lastly, Jennifer Garry (We R Memory Keepers) and Mallory Straus (We R Memory Keepers) showed us how to use the Cinch to create a mini-book.
After the soiree was over we went out to the garden to enjoy a concert by Mindy Gledhill. This was my first time to hear her music and lyrics and I do have to say…her songs are magical. She told us the story behind many of the songs and that made the words mean even more. Once I got home I hopped on iTunes and downloaded her latest album “Anchor” so I could listen to it over & over again.
Saturday night after classes there was a private party at the Dear Lizzie store where we sipped on Fizzy Lizzies while we shopped and took even more photos.
All in all, it was an amazing event and I left wanting to flap my own wings home so I could grab my glue gun and some glitter and get busy creating.
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Vendor Spotlight: Wacom Bamboo Craft Tablet

Reported by Jessica Ripley

There are those certain items in the store that we daydream about. We visit the aisle they are in, probably pick them up and read the box, but then put them back down because well… do we really need it? And then we decide to let it remain a daydream for now.

That was my relationship with a Wacom Tablet until I was granted the most wonderful opportunity to review the Bamboo Craft. I had heard of the tablets and their capabilities, but since I wasn’t a digital designer per-se and felt like I could get by okay with what I did do using my mouse, I hadn’t thought it a necessary purchase.

But now that I’ve had the time to play with this amazingly fun piece of technology, that thought would pretty much be the same as “Well I have scissors, so do I really need a paper punch?” Yes! Yes I do!

It’s always hard to touch on every single aspect of either a tech tool like this or software, but I’ve included some of the main points and highlights in the review below as to what convinced me.

In the Box:

As listed on Wacom’s website:

  • Bamboo Craft tablet
  • Bamboo Craft pen
  • Quick Start guide
  • Installation CD (includes driver software, interactive tutorial and user’s manual)
  • Software DVD (containing Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 7.0 Win/6.0 Mac, Corel® Painter™ Essentials 4.0, Nik® Color Efex Pro™ 3.0 WE3)
  • DVD with 26 scrapbooking lessons from Jane Conner-ziser and a library of digital craft embellishments
  • Offer for free 8″ x 8″ photo album from Shutterfly
  • Offer for free online store from Café Press
  • Offer for free one-year subscription to Scrapbooking & Beyond Magazine
  • Offer for free online training with DigitalScrapbookPlace.com

That is a lot! And so much too. For the price of what I might just only pay for the tablet, also included is great software to use it with like Photoshop Elements. If you haven’t made the jump into purchasing really great photo editing software yet, this just may be the reason you should. Not to mention the fun free offers that come with the tablet as well (in the form of coupon codes to use online).

Installation (Technical Mumbo Jumbo):

The Wacom Bamboo Craft Tablet works with both PCs and Macs. System requirements are PC Windows 7, Vista or XP with Service Pack 2, Mac, or Mac OS X (10.4.8 or higher). You will also need a color display, powered USB port, and a CD/DVD drive. Installing the software and tablet is extremely easy. Simply place the installation CD into your computer’s drive, plug the tablet into a standard USB port, and follow the prompts to get up and running. I installed the software on both my Desktop PC (running on Windows 7) and my Laptop PC (running on Vista). It installs quickly, in about 5 minutes.

The tablet is ambidextrous, you can set up the orientation for whether you are right or left handed. The cord is also nice and long as you can see in the photo above, so there is ample room to play with setting up the tablet to fit your work space. It measures approximately 10″ x 7″, though the area where you can actually gesture and write is smaller, about 5″ x 3.5″ for gesturing and 6″ x 3.5″ for the pen (both proved to be plenty large for me).

Getting Started:

After installation is complete, the fun can begin! Well almost. I’m one that normally wants to jump right in and start playing with a new toy rather than read through the manual or instructions, but not only is that step necessary in order to getting started with the tablet, some practice is needed as well. I highly recommend going through the tutorials, otherwise it can be a bit frustrating at first to get used to the gestures and movements.

There are two sections for the tutorials, one for gesturing with your fingers, and one geared toward using the pen.

Gesture movements will be very familiar to anyone with a touch screen device (such as a smart phone) as they are very similar (think pinch-out to zoom for example). In this way, the tablet is basically an enlarged track pad (what tracks cursor movements on a laptop). While using the pen is my preferred method for doing just about everything on the tablet, being able to gesture as well makes it such a fantastic tool for my laptop. I’ll never leave home without it in my laptop bag again.

Pen movements are extremely easy as well, and don’t have as much of a learning curve as gesturing does. I was surprised to learn that when using the pen to move a cursor around the screen you don’t actually touch the pen tip to the table surface, it only needs to be a little off the surface (we’re talking millimeters) to work. Touching the pen to the surface is like a mouse click, and works the same as left clicking does (tap one to click, twice to double click, hold to drag and select). The pen and gesture movements are fully customizable, everything from pen pressure to speed can be set to your tastes.


I actually was a little frustrated with the performance speed at first, I thought it was slow, until I realized I could customize it for me. Thinking I had to crank it up all the way I did so, and that was way too fast! So I was then easily able to find a happy medium.

There are also 2 buttons on the pen itself, and 4 buttons on the tablet which you can customize to whatever you would like. These are called “Express Keys”. For example, I’ve customized some of mine to be a right click and un-do, and even programmed one of the Express Keys to open up Photoshop Elements. Just another way the tablet can make your digital editing or web surfing that much easier.

The tutorials on the installation CD are very helpful and enough to get you going. There are even smiley faces along the way when you practice a gesture correctly, and sad faces if you don’t. You also won’t be moved along to the next step in a tutorial until you correctly perform the gesture or pen stroke you have been taught (though you can cheat and skip ahead too if you know you understand and want to just move on… cheater). While these tutorials are fine, I found the video tutorials by Jane Conner-zier included with the tablet on a separate CD to be much more helpful.


These are actually geared toward digital scrapbooking, and made the technical necessary movements of the pen make more sense to me.

After I completed the basic tutorials I did some general playing around, and kept thinking how beneficial it might be if I could actually share those experiences with you via a few screen videos. So I’ve done so. Below is a brief intro to one of the Wacom Tablet’s features, and then we’ll get into the crafty applications.


Using the tablet and software, a few highlights:


As mentioned above, the tablet comes with some most excellent software, included Photoshop Elements 7, Corel Painter Essentials 4, and Nik Color Efex Pro 3. While the versions of PSE and Corel Painter that are included are the full versions (seriously, wahoo), it’s important to note that the Nik Color Efex is just a sampling of 3 available filters to whet your appetite for them.

I primarily use Photoshop Elements to edit photos, and was anxious to try out the tablet using the pen on a specific technique, extraction. I found that using the pen in extracting an object worked wonderfully, much easier for me than using a traditional mouse. Here’s a video which shows the process taking place on my computer screen:

I had never used Corel Painter before so am not as familiar with what I should try in the software using the tablet, however I can tell you that it is so much fun! Navigation is easy, and pen strokes are picked up just like paint strokes on a canvas. This is a program I will be playing with a lot in the future!

And speaking of canvas, it’s worth mentioning that the tablet surface was designed to mimic the feel of writing on paper and absolutely delivers on that. It’s very comfortable and doesn’t feel slippery or anything like that at all.

I also wanted to briefly show you one of the filters that comes with the Color Efex software, I’m not sure I’m that tempted to buy the full expensive version of Color Efex, but it is fun to use the samples:


When it comes to digital scrapbooking, I again primarily use Photoshop Elements. Just in case you are unfamiliar with even the basics of digital scrapbooking however, that is no reason to think the tablet isn’t for you! As mentioned above it comes complete with a CD of tutorials geared towards using the tablet for just that, as well as online training at DigitalScrapbookPlace.com. Wacom has even included several digital kits to get you started right away:



Utilizing the pen when creating a digital page is just as easy as using a traditional mouse, and then some. I found my navigation faster and my strokes more precise. One thing I wanted to try in particular was adding my own hand writing to a digital page. Here’s a video showing that process:

(Digital supplies used in the above video by Bluebird Chic at Misstiina)

While I have to admit I’m not completely thrilled with the result of my handwritten date, I can also tell you that it’s 10 times better than when I first picked up the pen, and that I know with practice it will just get better.

Finally, I wanted to use the tablet to create a hybrid element. I also wanted to try it out in an art program which didn’t come included with it, so decided on regular old “MS Paint” Here’s a look at my experience in doing so:

It worked great! Not saying my artwork is great, but you know what I mean.

Here’s the finished hybrid project once I printed my flowers out, a cute little storage pouch for the tablet itself so it stays safe while traveling in my laptop bag, which it will be doing often!



In Summary:

I’ll be honest, of course didn’t expect I’d not like the tablet when it arrived, however I can also say I didn’t expect to like it so much due to all the wonderful things that come with it. At a price of around $129 it seems steep at first (hence always putting it back on the shelf) but the software that comes with the tablet more than accounts for the cost and then some. If you already have Photoshop Elements and Corel Painter, it may not be as wonderful a bargain, but in that respect, if you do have those programs already the tablet will enhance their performance for you, increasing their value. It’s an easy to use, fun, capable piece of technology, and I highly recommend it.

It’s difficult to sum up the pros and cons for something that has so much to it, but here’s a few in general.

Pros:

  • Delivers big-time on what is advertised, including making navigation in programs (and on the web) fast and fun, and enhancing ability to create digitally or edit photos.
  • Comes with full versions of 2 excellent photo editing programs, Photoshop Elements 7 and Corel Painter Essentials 4.
  • Takes a lap top’s capability up a notch, acting as a larger track pad for finger gestures.

Cons:

  • This is not a “jump right in and be an expert” tool. It takes practice and patience in order to fully utilize what it can do, and can be frustrating at first.
  • Price might be a factor if you already own the software which it comes with, thus reducing the overall bargain (or if you would want a higher version of either of those).
  • If you are not a big photo editor or digital scrapbooker, this may not be something you would get as much enjoyment out of as someone who is.

Now I’d love to hear what you think. Do you own a Wacom Bamboo Craft Tablet and love it or no? Have you picked one up and put it down before and didn’t buy one? Tell us your thoughts and let’s discuss.

Disclosure

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 (2 of 2)

Reported by Jenny Chesnick



So have you been pondering digital scrapbooking? Don’t know where to start? Don’t know how to use Photoshop? Look no further!

My Memories Suite will help you build beautiful pages from scratch or to make a page using one of the many professionally-designed scrapbook templates provided within the scrapbook software. A large collection of papers and embellishments are available at your fingertips to help you make each page uniquely your own. Drop in your in pictures in seconds-then crop, edit, retouch and rotate them right on the page. If this were any other scrapbooking software, you might be finished. But with My Memories Suite, the real power-and fun-of this software is just beginning.

You can make a beautiful scrapbook an interactive memory experience for anyone who sees it. Use simple one-click options to enhance your scrapbooks, with music, narration, video, and even the Internet. Go beyond pictures by showing off video of the birthday party, or record a narration to capture the memories that pictures alone cannot. With My Memories Suite you simply don’t look at a scrapbook-you experience it!

So let’s start with the basics. Run My Memories Suite, The following screen will pop up. You have 2 basic options. Create your own design or use one of their pre-designed layouts. Since I already know how to digi scrap I went with create my own.

Next name your album. Also choose which standard size layout you will create. I choose 12×12. I print online, but if you want to print at home maybe 8×11 is for you!

Next choose a page template. This by far is my favorite thing about the software. I like having my basic elements already chosen like a sketch for me. It makes placement so much easier! They have tons of templates to chose from. You can also buy more on their online site.

Below you can see my start screen and the template I chose. All of these images below are large so click on them to see the small print details. You have 3 areas in which you can chose your elements. The right-side column is the one I used, it was easier and larger. On the left you see similar tabs. I was hoping to be able to chose my elements from this side, but I could not figure out how to load my own. If you are using their elements, this menu makes it super easy to add them to your project. Double click each photo to add. You can also add an element such as paper to the block if you choose.

So as you can see I added each photo and I chose to make one of the blocks a paper block. Next up you want to set your background paper. On the right main menu chose background paper. You can choose your own, a template, color, store bought or a texture. I went again with my own. So click custom, then chose your file.

So as you can see we now have a background.


Next up is how to add elements to your page. Again in the right main menu chose the Embellishments tab. You have similar options with your embellishments as your other elements for your page. I chose to add my own. So I clicked “add” then chose the file I wished to add. One downfall I did not like as an experienced digi scrapper is that you have to add each element separately. I like opening all my elements at once to play with in case I change my mind. Also it saves time.

Once you have your element open and placed on your page you can then add your drop shadow to make it look “real” along with some other enhancements such as mirror flipping or rotating. The screen below is what you will see with adding a shadow. You can change the opacity, color & blur. There is also an options to add this shadow to all elements on your page. If you like that then that will save you a ton of time! or you can go one by one to customize.



So here is my finished layout. I added all the elements I wanted as well as some text. There are so many options to add to your finished layout. You can add music, video, voice over narration and more. You can also export your layout, share it right from the program, print it, make a movie, dvd and more. The options are truly awesome with this program.

My Memories Suite also offers tutorials on THIS blog on how to use your software. Their website is super helpful and shopping and set up was a snap! I am sure there is so much more you can do this was only the tip of the iceberg for me!

Pros:

  • Price! half the cost of most PSE software
  • Ease of use for novice digital scrapbookers
  • Awesome designs to shop from
  • You can add music, video and the like to your projects
  • You can print and export directly from the program with no issues

Cons:

  • Could not add elements that you currently own from the left side bar
  • Price of elements on their site is high compared to other digital scrapbook shops
  • If you are already running PSE or PS this program is not for you
  • I wish there were two versions of this software. Light and Advanced. If you mixed this and PSE it would be like Scrapbooking Nirvana

All in all I was very pleased with My Memories Suite. I will be taking some time to play even further to dig in to what it really can do. Do you digital scrap and use this product? I’d love to hear your stories and things you have learned to do with the software!

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 2 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.

Disclosure

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