Tag Archives | Digital Scrapbooking
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).
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:
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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!
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.