Have you ever asked yourself why your pages don’t look as good as you want them to be?
Have you ever tried comparing your pages to other digital scrapbookers and thought what is wrong with yours?
If you are, then you are in for treat today because I will be discussing 3 of the most common digital scrapbooking mistakes that digital scrappers do. Although these are common to new scrapbookers, it is possible that even a seasoned scrapbooker is guilty of doing this. The graphic below best describes these mistakes. Take a look at them and check if you are guilty of one or all of it.
Let’s break it down and see how each of these mistakes affect the overall look of your digital layout.
1. Drop Shadows
Drop shadows play a vital role in all of our layouts. It can either make or break your creation. On the first image above, you will see a layout with no shadow at all. It looks ok but it looks flat and it has no life at all. On the second image, I used the default drop shadow in Photoshop and the layout looks a little bit different but it still lacks the life I am looking for. Finally, on the third image, the elements have been shadowed better and it looks the best among the 3. However, there is still something wrong in the picture – the journal text! Yes, it is over-shadowed and it looks like it is floating on the page.
In traditional scrapbooking, if you write something on your page, it is directly written on your paper. So, journal texts must not be shadowed. That goes true to other elements such as brushes, paint splats, rub ons and smears.
Now, how will you be able to shadow your papers and elements? In Photoshop, you just need to highlight your layer, right click and select Blending Modes and this window will pop out. Select Drop Shadows and adjust the properties as you desired. But if you are too lazy to deal on the shadows individually, I have a shadow style in the shop called Me and Mye Shadow styles. It has different shadows for several elements and papers and with just one click, you’ll achieve the look you want.
2. Resizing Photos and Elements
Resizing elements isn’t really very difficult. In fact, it is one of the easiest to deal with. The problem is, not all scrapper pay attention to it. If you resize your photos or elements just by simply adjusting the transform tool, it could end up stretched.
Not to worry though, there is an easy solution to this.
You can resize your images or elements using the transform tool in photoshop BUT press the SHIFT key while doing it to maintain the ratio of width and height.
Easy peasy right? Check here for a more detailed resizing tutorial.
3. Misuse of Elements
Digital scrapbooking is very similar to traditional scrapbooking. If you want to achieve a realistic look to your pages, you must carefully consider how you should use each and every pieces of in your layout. Just like the image above, you can have many uses of a staple – you can attach it on papers and other elements but you cannot use it on some elements like the ornate frame.
Think about real life scrapbooking. Will you try and staple an ornate frame? You can’t, right? It’s the same in digital. You can use it of course since it’s digital, however, the layout will not have a realistic look to it.
Carefully place your element pieces in your layout and consider how you will layer each of them.
Now, my question is – have you been guilty of one or all of the above? Let me know on the comments and tell me how this article helped you. And if you know a friend who can benefit from this article too, please do me a favor and share it to them.
Thanks for hitting these scrappy mistakes!
I thought I’d just mention that Photoshop Elements keeps the aspect ratio as you resize if you use the corner grips.
In full Photoshop, I’ve personally found that using the aspect ratio lock button helps while sizing even when using the corner grips and shift button to ensure that the aspect ratio stays 100% the same.
Thank you, Leslie! I only use Photoshop and it’s very useful for PSE users to know about this 🙂
It might help to know that the corner grab in PSE works but not always. If the only action you do is use the corner grab and then accept the change, then yes it works. If you make multiple changes before you accept the changes, then you lose the constrain proportions function. For example, I first change just the height or width using my mouse and then use the corner change, the ratio will not stay. If you make the height/width change, accept the change and then go back to the corner drag, the ratio stays. (Sorry if that is confusing, just wanted to point out there are times the corner grab can be an issue.)
Thank you for sharing that with our PSE users, Melissa 🙂
This was very helpful, thank you! I really struggle with shadows and understanding what angle to make the shadow and how deep it should be. Unfortunately, I don’t have Photoshop, just Panstoria’s Artisan, which I actually really love because of it’s ease of use. I have yet to find a tutorial, though, on how to use their custom shadow feature, and I find their built-in shadows aren’t quite right. I’ll keep plugging away at it, though! 🙂 Thanks for your helpful article!
You’re welcome sweetie. I am not familiar with Panstoria’s Artisan as I’ve been a PS user from the start but I am happy to hear you find this article helpful 🙂
I’m guilty of either no shadow or the wrong way. Also, I have stretched images a little too far on a few occasions. I don’t recall if I used any of my elements in unnatural ways, but, I would not be surprised to see I have. There really is a lot to learn and how to do things vary so much. I’m getting it, though. Reading good posts, like this, have been what has taught me what I do know! Thank you!
I’m glad you find this helpful, Su. Don’t worry though – I’ve been there myself but we learn. 🙂
I’m new to all of this, so I am just soaking up all the info I find on different blogs. Thanks for pointing out these 3 simple little tips. I have stayed away from digi-scrapping for a long time, because when it first was available I didn’t like the flat, unrealistic look of the pages. They just looked like photos of my scrapbook pages. Now that the programs have evolved, I love the look! I would have thought about the re-sizing, because I’ve inserted lots of photos into word documents … but the shadowing & use of elements is so good to know. Thanks!
Thanks for all the tips and tricks!
You are most welcome Stephanie! I’m glad you like them 🙂
I sometimes struggle to get the right feel with certain elements’ shadows; in fact, I tend to spend far too much time adjusting and readjusting shadows in order to get them to look just right. Which is probably why layouts where the person just used the default setting to give everything a drop shadow just plain irritates me! I’ve never stretched a photo, and the whole “misuse of elements” isn’t a problem for me, but there is one thing I never could get right with digital, and that is clustering of elements. I see the most beautiful digital layouts with such clever grouping of elements, but the moment I try to do something similar, it just looks really inane, like I have no idea what I’m doing. Oh, wait…
Elmi – one of the key elements of good clustering is the shadows. I’m putting a tutorial for clustering soon.
Thanks for the tutorial, I am new to scrapbook and I am just learning. I don’t have Photo shop yet, but can’t wait to get it. Thank you so very much.
you’re most welcome sweetie!!
Yup, those are 3 HUGE mistakes and soooo common too, and at the same time, so easy to avoid. I have also identified a few more mistakes in digital scrapbooking, like colorizing the shadows, fasteners on lifted elements, writing/drawing on different surfaces, impossible layering, missing shadows between elements (often due to rearranging layers), light spots in different directions (which is like having shadows in different directions too), and more.I have them detailed and illustrated in two posts if you want to read more on those: