Design House Digital

4 Type Resources for Digital Scrapbookers

I’ve never met a digital scrapbooker who didn’t love fonts. We’re collectors, type hoarders, but occasionally we find ourselves stuck in a font rut using the same type treatments over and over again. As a digital scrapbooking instructor, I’m often asked for sources for new fonts and typographic information.

Here are 4 resources that will reinvigorate your font collection and type savvy.

1. The League of Movable Type

Recently introduced to me, the League of Moveable Type hand-picks fonts from requitable type designers and foundries who participate in open-source sharing. Every one is welcome to peruse their web-walls and download from their collections for personal and commercial use. Take special notice of their font samples. An inspirational image might influence your own scrapbook creations.

2. I Love Typography

Founded by John Boardley in 2007, I Love Typography digs deep into the mind-boggling and fascinating world of type. Each topic is presented in delectable pieces perfect to read through with your morning latte.

3. Wordle

Who doesn’t love an image cloud of words? Wordle grabs source text from your favorite website or blog, jumbles it up, and spits out a cloud of printable text. Completely customize your cloud with fonts, color palettes, and play with the layout features. Explore with caution; Wordle is quite addictive.

4. Smashing Magazine

Smashing is well known for publishing a diverse overview of fresh fonts. Their most recent selection featured my newest font crush, Melbourne. Clean, bold, modern fonts make perfect standout titles for scrapbook pages.

Enjoy rekindling your love for fonts and incorporating new type into your pages for 2011!

8 Tips to Help You Get Your Scrapbooking Layouts Published

After 9 years of being part of the Scrapbooking industry, I’ve learned a little bit about almost everything there is to know. I’ve had a lot of people ask me about advice on getting published and I’ve finally gathered my thoughts on this subject, and wrote them here to share with you all.

The first rule of any publication is to sell magazines! So if you want to get your layouts featured you must have a plan. Here are 8 quick tips that will hopefully help get you a few steps further on your goal of getting published.

1. Know your Audience.

You don’t have time to submit to all publications, so get to know which ones are out there and choose to focus and submit to the top three that fit your style the best. Editors have specific tastes – make sure that the publications that you are submitting to have a similar style to yours. For instance, If I was a very elaborate scrapper, I would not be submitting to a publication called “Simple Scrapbooks”.  This seems like a very basic idea, but it really is the most important point that I can stress to you. Look very objectively at your layouts and at the layouts in publications and choose the publications in which you feel your layouts fit the best. If you go more than 6 months and have heard nothing back, you may want to consider choosing other publications to set your sights on.

2. Watch for Trends

Editors most often have an idea of what they are looking for. There are specific articles that need to be filled as well as techniques etc. that they need to showcase. If you are constantly watching for new trends and observing what is going on in the scrapbooking community, then you’ll have a much better chance in fitting into an article. Using quality products that are on-trend are also important. Keep up to date on what products your favorite designers are releasing – and what products are being featured in your favorite publications. Joining a few known designer’s creative teams will give you access to more products that maybe you wouldn’t normally think to purchase or use. This will help your creativity grow and keep you working with trendy products.

3. Be Unique

A lot of layouts cross the desk of an editor every day. You must stand out in order to be noticed. You don’t necessarily need to start trends — but be sure to always put your unique twist on everything you do. You can also stand out by using unique color combinations, going really bright, or really desaturated – do the unexpected. An all white/neutral layout with some pops of color will be much more eye-catching than a very colorful and visually confusing layout. Don’t be afraid to use products in different ways: play with text or perhaps create a layout without photos. Most importantly create from your heart. A layout that comes from your heart will always be more unique than something that is pieced together with only the objective of getting published.

4. Photography

Photos can make or break your layouts. When you decide to start submitting layouts for publishing your photos must reflect the professionalism that is required by the publication. Remember they are trying to sell magazines, not preserve your family heritage. Even if your layout is gorgeous, if your photos are not great, then your layout will not be featured in a magazine. If you feel that your photos are holding you back, think about taking an amateur photography class that will help you take better photos and understand your equipment better. You may find that you need a better camera, different lens, or just a little refining of photo composition. Photo editing/processing can also make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to purchase some high-quality photo processing actions, even some of the best photographers use them to improve the quality of their photos. You don’t want to over-process your photos either. Making things too blurry, too saturated, or too desaturated can come across as distracting and overworked.

5. Composition counts

The most important thing to remember about composition is FOCAL POINT. Whether you are creating simple or more elaborate layouts, if you lack a focal point, then your audience will be confused. When working with focal point, you want to group objects (elements) images (photos) and typography (text). By doing this you are giving portions of your layout visual weight. These things will draw your viewer’s eye to what is most important on your layout instead of making your viewer’s eye wander aimlessly around the page. You can have more than one focal point, but make sure that there is a very clear primary focal point. A great way to get better at composition is to practice by using templates. Good template designers follow these rules, and by using templates as a starting place, you can learn how to *feel* out where you should put your design elements.

6. Be Prolific

Create, create, create! The more you create the better you will get. The other benefit is that you’ll have more layouts to choose from to submit. As you create, you should also seek the feedback of others. I recommend posting in galleries where there is an active community. In your notes, ask specifically for critiques on parts of the layout that you are concerned about. By asking for critiques, people will be more honest with you and hopefully help your skills and layouts grow.

7. Network

Think of who you know, and who they might know. People love to work with their friends, and help their friends succeed. So let people know that you’re working on getting published, and you never know what will happen. Start a blog, spend time on message boards, post layouts in galleries, and leave comments on other people’s work. The more people that you know, the more opportunity you might have to meet someone who can help get you published! Most importantly, just be a visible part of the community.

8. Submit Submit Submit!

You’ll never know what will happen until you submit your layouts! So put yourself out there and see what happens! The one thing you do want to be careful of is flooding an editors in-box. Choose only the best of the best to submit, so that you make a GREAT impression every time.

Best of luck with your scrapping and publishing goals of 2011!

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What is Sun Flare, and How Do I Fake It in Photoshop?

For this week’s 1 Kit, 4 Ways, we used MaryAnn Wise’s Sunflare Photo Overlays. This is one of my all-time favorite kits here at Design House Digital, so I was surprised to hear a bit of grumbling from the Decorators. (That’s a big lie. The DHD Decorators are a classy bunch, and would never grumble. It adds to the story, though, don’t you think?)

There were, however, a few of them that expressed concern. They didn’t know what they were. They didn’t know how to use them. So, along with this week’s 1 Kit, 4 Ways, you get a bonus blog post from me. Try not to get too excited.

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional. Keep in mind that this is just what I have learned, and what my experience has been. Don’t take anything I say here as gospel truth, and (by all means) if you’re a professional and what I’m doing is totally messed up, let me live in my ignorant bliss.

So, what is sun flare? Basically, it’s the effect that happens when direct light reflects off of the many pieces of glass in your camera lens. It is caused by a very bright light source (typically the sun), either in the image (which produces visible rays) or shining into the lens but not actually in the image (which produces a haze.) It can give a great effect with photos, like in these that I found on Flikr:

Fire Mountain by Nate Kay

Through the Window by Tambako the Jaguar

Winter Sunsets Stink by HcKySo

How do you create sun flare? By having a smaller aperture on your camera (which means a higher f-stop) and shooting directly into light. Without making your subject backlit and underexposed.

Wait. You’re like me? A busy on-the-go person, who rarely, and I mean rarely takes your camera off of automatic? And you still want that cool effect? Enter the Sunflare Overlay, and a photo processing program.

See, much like the ‘grumbling Decorator’ comment added to my story above, overlays can really add something to your photos. It’s fun. It’s unique. And, let’s face it, if you’re reading this you probably like playing in Photoshop anyway! So, let’s get to it!

I’m going to show you a few examples, using one photo. This is my husband and I, straight out of the camera:

You’ll notice there’s already a bit of sun flare in it, in the form of a ring cutting across the photo. Since pictures of my husband and I together are pretty rare, and I need to take advantage of every single one, I’m going to try to make this look intentional.

(Silly reminder here, but always remember to work on a duplicate photo when you’re messing around with different textures and overlays. Trust me on this, folks.)

So, here’s the six overlays that come in the kit, exactly as they come. Just opened, and plopped on top of my photo with the top and side edges lined up:

Some are just fine as-is with this photo, but others, not so much. You have to just keep trying until you get one that works with your particular photo. Remember, though, this is an overlay. Just like a brush, it is a tool, and while you can certainly use it as-is, you can also use it to build something more.

So, if you’re feeling adventurous, let’s keep going. (Just don’t blame me when your photos take on a new level of awesomeness.) Let’s see what a bit of playing around produces, shall we? I usually start by changing the blending mode, and I find that I use screen, lighten, and overlay the most. But, what else can you do?

  • Rotate, resize, and flip the overlays.
  • Move the overlays around on your photo.
  • Layer two or more overlays together.
  • Add a colored layer mask.
  • Change the opacity level.
  • Change the fill level.
  • Use it to disguise a busy background.
  • Erase parts of the overlay (using a soft brush) that are covering the subject, or aren’t in the line of light. If the light source would be blocked in part of your photo, there wouldn’t be sun flares.

As you can see, you can create a lot of different effects, pretty simply. Some are subtle, some are obvious. It all comes down to a matter of personal taste, and what you want your finished photo to look like!

After playing around with things, I’ve found the combination I like. Here’s the Before and After, with all of my editing done:

(To get this effect, I used the 5×7 hex 2 overlay, twice – once in the upper left corner, which is set to lighten mode at 64% opacity, and flipped horizontally for the upper right corner, set to screen mode. I also did a mild cross processing, warmed my photo significantly, faded the colors, and added a slight haze.)

I hope you won’t hesitate to use overlays in your photo processing, and, above all, have fun!

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5 Reasons Why Every Scrapbooker Should Use Evernote

I’m always on the look out for things to keep me organized, from software that you download to your computer, to things I can print out. A few months ago I downloaded this free app on my iPhone, called Evernote, because it supposedly kept you organized. Two words drew me to it immediately: Free and Organized. I am all about free, as I’m sure you all are but more importantly a sucker for organized. Now, if you ever come to my house you’d probably tell me I was lying about the organized part, but work and my computer are definitely organized.

Sample screen shot

What does Evernote look like?

Now I can hear some of you saying that you don’t own an iPhone so this isn’t going to work for you. No problem! You can access Evernote through various mediums, such as, downloading it to your desktop, using the browser toolbar, downloading it to your Blackberry or Palm Pre, or using the online version. I have it both on my iPhone and on both my home and work computers. Because all of your data is synced to Evernote’s servers you can access your information anywhere and on any medium- iPhone, computers, whatever. Did I mention that it was free?

So why should every scrapbooker use Evernote? I’ll give you 5 reasons.

  1. Have all of your inspiration and ideas in one place, accessible anywhere. I love Evernote for this main reason. If you’re like any scrapbooker out there you find tons of inspiration online. You wish you could download or print every single inspiration and stick it in a centralized place. Am I right? See a LO you want to save because it has that technique you want to use? Save it to your Evernote notebook and access it anywhere.
  2. You can assign tags. You can create tags to fit your organization techniques. The tags I use are: blog ideas, card ideas, design ideas, LO ideas, sketches, and some sketch challenge blogs.
  3. Upload your cards or LOs and include your supply list. Say you want to upload that LO to several websites but you don’t have time to do it at home and want to work on it at lunch. Your image and supply list is at the tip of your fingers when you need it and it will also be stored in one place should you ever need to refer to it again.
  4. Keep a list of links to your favorite websites. If you’re a true scrapbooker you probably have at least a hundred websites and blogs you follow. Now you can keep that list in place and even organize it!
  5. Keep track of those challenges you want to work on. We all have those handful (or maybe more!) challenges you have to do on a weekly basis. You can organize them by assigning tags with the weekday. So tags would be Monday, Tuesday, etc. You save the sketch or whatever challenge you’re participating in and tag it with the day it’s due.

I’m sure I could come up with some more reasons but this should get you started on your way to become a more organized scrapbooker. If you have already stumbled upon Evernote and are currently using it, what do you use it for? Let us know in the comments!


Wacom Bamboo Craft Tablet – Review

A few months ago, the generous folks over at Wacom (pronounced “wockem”) sent me one of their Bamboo Craft tablets to try out… and BOY, was I excited! I’ve been wanting one of these babies for a while now, and I couldn’t wait to get started with it!

I immediately pulled it all out, and noticed a few things right off the bat:

  1. It was pretty. I know, this seems really shallow, but if this is going to sit out on my desk constantly, it needs to have some good design, right?
  2. It was sleek and thin. This goes along with #1, but this is definitely not some hulking bit o’ hardware.
  3. I knew that I was only minutes away from doodling my own cute little VW bus, just like on the box.

Along with the tablet itself and the pen stylus, it came with a few extra things: an installation CD (of course!), a CD with 26 training lessons, and a disk of Adobe Photoshop Elements 7. There were also a few extra stylus tips, and a metal ring. (I haven’t quite figured out what it’s for.)

So, I loaded things up, ready to get going; I have a VW bus to doodle, after all. I started on my training lessons, and…

I made it about halfway through the first one. I decided to just give things a go, since patience never was my strong suit. (I taught myself Photoshop… this has got to be a breeze compared to that, yes?)

The stylus is actually pretty comfortable. It’s sized to about the size of a pen or pencil, so my hand certainly didn’t get all crampy like it can after a long session with my mouse. There’s a thin tip on one end, and a rounder, ball-like tip on the other. (Yeah. I’m not sure what that’s for, either. Maybe I should try those lessons again, huh?)

I played around with my doodles for a while, but no VW bus magically appeared. Darn it. Then, I started playing with my handwriting.

You know those electronic things you have to sign when you have a package delivered? And how the signature NEVER looks like your real one? Yeah. I did find that I had better results when I watched my hand, instead of the monitor, and I liked using it much better in Illustrator than I did in Photoshop, since my strokes looked so much smoother there.

When it came time to actually use it for a layout, I struggled a bit. I kept wanting to move my hand over to my mouse! In the end, there was no super cute VW bus, no super cute doodled border. (FYI: straightish lines are surprisingly hard!) I did end up with a hand-lettered title, which was pretty cool. Being able to choose exactly what I wanted it to say (and have it in my own handwriting!) can’t be beat.

Layout by Gennifer Bursett

I know many people that use this exclusively instead of a mouse. It’s a difficult transition, though, I expect I’d need to put the mouse completely away for a while to get to that level of competency. The control and precision is definitely unbeatable, and I’m excited to try it with some photo editing next! And maybe a few straight(ish) lines.

Bottom Line: For $129, this is a handy tool to have. (But I recommend sitting through the lessons!)

Credits: Design 365 Layered Layouts, vol. 6 by Deena Rutter; Wooded Whimsy Papers by Audrey Neal, Silly Disguise Stickers by Jen Allyson

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