Tag Archives | Digital

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Flip Pal Mobile Scanner (2 of 2)

Reported by Dana Vitek

I first laid eyes on the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner at the Summer 2010 Craft & Hobby Association Trade Show. There was quite a buzz about it during the Innovations Showcase for new products (I was a part of that buzz… I leaned over to Executive Editor Simone Collins and told her I wanted one, pronto). I was not surprised at all when it won for best new product. So, when the review opportunity came up, I was the first to raise my grabby little hands.

The Flip Pal Mobile Scanner is small and portable, but that’s not what makes it awesome. It’s awesome because you can remove the lid, hold it up to stuff, and scan it. Just think about the possibilities: you can scan objects and photos that you can’t remove from the wall, say like vintage wallpaper or cool graffiti. Or maybe a tile motif.

Or, say you need to make a bunch of name tags for your next high school reunion, and can’t face the thought of wrangling the yearbook onto a flatbed scanner and scanning whole pages that you have to break down into a bunch of little pics.

Here I’ve removed the lid and flipped it over to scan
This is the display screen on the back of the scanner
surrounding photos  were blurred for privacy; they were crystal clear on the scan
My hair has changed, but my attitude is the same.

This was a cinch. Really.

The Flip Pal Mobile Scanner is also great for scanning cool textures that you definitely wouldn’t be able to use a traditional scanner for:


yes, this is my nappy carpet

Dog Fur:

this is my not-so-nappy dog

And with a little Photoshop magic, you can use those textures to create digital elements for your scrapbook pages… there’s all sorts of things you can do:

A plain flower
A wooly flower, a “felted” digital image, with the carpet scan used as texture
my dog’s name
my dog’s name, written in her scanned fur

Here’s another thing that the Flip Pal is perfect for… tattoo artists.

What? Hear me out (and thanks to Editor-in-Chief Sarah Moore for this idea)… traditionally, when a person goes into a tattoo shop for a cover-up of say, someone’s name permanently inked on her shoulder:

who thought this was a good idea?

the tattoo artist would have you basically do a backbend over a photocopier, to photocopy your tattoo, so they could design something snazzy to cover it.

I don’t know about you, but my backbend days are long past. Here we used the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner to scan my tattoo.

Here’s what the scan looks like:

Into Photoshop for some design work:

my old tattoo is going to get all swirled into that luscious hair!

My new tattoo is going to be so epic. You’d better believe I’m going to glitter him up so he shimmers when I go out on the town.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas of how you can use the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner for more than scanning old photos (although there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and I plan to do that as well). This is one of those pieces of technology that I’m going to use in my daily life, and I LIKE that. A lot.


  • Very portable. This will fit in my purse.
  • Being able to remove the lid to place the scanner flat against a wall or photo album: genius.
  • I’m looking at the world in a whole new way; now I can scan pretty much anything!


  • It’s not pink. I prefer my tools be pink.
  • Hey Flip Pal…I could use a little carrying case for it! 
  • That’s it, really.

The Flip Pal Mobile Scanner retails for $149.99, and I definitely think it’s worth the investment. Be sure to visit their website for some demos and other ideas.

The fine folks at Flip Pal are giving away one of the Flip Pal Mobile Scanners to one of our lucky readers. Leave a comment on any “Vendor Spotlight: Flip Pal Mobile Scanner” article (this is the second of 2), and answer this question:

What would you scan with the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner? Don’t be afraid to think outside the “old photo” box!

One comment per person, per article, please.  You have until Monday, December 20th at 6pm CST to enter.


* in the interest of full disclosure, “Curtis” is my husband, Curt,  and that “tattoo” is Sharpie markered on. But the idea holds, for sure!

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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Flip Pal Mobile Scanner

Reported by Rachel Johnson

Years ago, I worked for an art magazine, and scanning fine art images was a big part of my job. Since I had access to a professional grade scanner at work, I never got around to purchasing a scanner for home use. Since nearly all of my photography is digital, I mostly got by without one, but there were always instances when I wished I could scan an old photo or an illustration. It just never seemed worth it to go buy a huge, desktop scanner/printer combo for just a few projects or photos. It was a constant conundrum — I wanted to scan things, but I didn’t want to own a bulky scanner that would just take up room on my desk.

The Flip Pal Mobile Scanner solved my conundrum! The Flip Pal is a mini, battery-powered scanner that you can take anywhere. It is approximately 10 inches wide, 6.5 inches tall, and about an inch thick. It weighs about 1.5 pounds. It comes pre-loaded with batteries and a 2GB SD memory card. All you have to do to start scanning is take it out of its packaging. You don’t need to hook it up to a computer or plug it in; just switch it on, and press the scanning button! Magic!
The Flip Pal also comes with a simple instruction booklet and a handy thumb drive “SD to USB converter” that you can use with the SD card to load the scanned photos onto you computer. The thumb drive also contains special Flip Pal photo software that runs on Windows computers and can help you edit photos and stitch together large photos from multiple scans. However, I use Mac computers, so I was not able to access the software. Instead I used iPhoto and Photoshop to easily edit all my scans.

I got married long, long ago in the age of analog photography, and for years I have been meaning to scan some of my wedding photos. A perfect project to test out my new Flip Pal!
The scanning surface is 4 x 6 inches and can scan at a 300 dpi or 600 dpi resolution. Three hundred dpi is a standard print resolution, and scans made at that size can be printed at their original size. Scans made at 600 dpi resolution can be successfully printed up to twice their original size. Many professional scanners work at much higher scanning resolutions, but for nearly all hobby and craft purposes, 600 dpi is plenty large. Plus, each scan is very fast! I scanned over 80 wedding photos and didn’t even use up half of the battery power!

Each scan is displayed on the scanner’s small screen after it is completed. The digital display helps you make sure you positioned the scanned item correctly and allows you to review all of the scans you have made during a session.

Another great feature of the Flip Pal is that you can remove the cover and “contact scan” larger pieces or things that will not fit under the cover. Once the cover has been easily pulled off, you can flip the Flip Pal over and scan… well, really anything!

The clear back allows you to position the scanning surface correctly. I scanned a few of my large wedding photos and also a few older photos that are affixed to a scrapbook this way.
It was incredibly easy to import the scans onto my computer. You simply put the SD card into the USB converter and plug that into your computer. Then, you can import photos just as you normally would off of a digital camera. If you have an SD slot on your computer, you can use that instead of the USB converter. I imported my scans into iPhoto and did a little bit of cropping and editing. The whole scanning process was completely user friendly and easy.

I am thrilled that I finally got some of my old photos scanned, including the two above of my grandparents. I love my new Flip Pal!
  • Small size makes it completely portable and easy to store.
  • User friendly and extremely easy to use.
  • No set up – simply open it up and start scanning!
  • Patented flip-and-scan technology – literally flip it over and scan anything!

  • The included Flip Pal software only works on Windows computers.
  • The scanning surface is small – 4 x 6 inches.
  • Maximum scanning resolution is 600 dpi – some project may call for a higher res.

The fine folks at Flip Pal are giving away a Flip Pal Mobile Scanner to one of our lucky readers. Just leave a comment on any Vendor Spotlight: Flip Pal Mobile Scanner article (there will be 2) answering the following questions:

Have you ever used a portable scanner, like the Flip Pal? What projects would you complete if you had a Flip Pal?

One comment per person, per article, please. You have until Monday, December 20th at 6pm CST to enter.

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

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

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 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.


  • 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.


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