I have received a few emails recently asking how to make a quick page template for digital scrapbooking. A “quick page” (also called a digital scrapbooking template or premade layout by some), works because it contains a transparent area. When you layer one over your photos, the photos are then visible through the quick page’s cut-out areas.
To make your own quick page, or premade digital scrapbooking layout, you first need to have access to graphics editing software that will open and save files in transparent .PNG format. This includes free web-based applications, such as GIMP, commercial applications like Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, CorelDraw, and Paint Shop Pro.
Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro may be the most commonly used for digital scrapbooking, especially among hobbyists, while professional designers tend to prefer Photoshop’s full range of capabilities. I use Photoshop exclusively, and am hoping to be able to buy the new version, CS4, this year.
One other file format allows you to create transparent areas and save the files with these intact, and that is transparent .GIF. However, .GIF does not offer the same level of detail that .PNG does.
Not only must your graphics editing software support .PNG transparency, but it must allow you to create layers, stacking on graphic on top of another and combining multiple graphics files. If you are serious about digital, printable scrapbooking, I recommend buying Photoshop Elements. You should be able to find an older copy of Elements 7 on eBay or Amazon for around $50. That’s a far better investment than buying a lesser-known product with fewer available tutorials and tools.
To make your first quick page in any program, you need to create a new, blank document with a transparent background. Look for this option, because it’s a whole lot easier to make it transparent from the start, and add your opaque layers on top, cutting the frames out from there.
If you plan to share your quick page, whether selling or giving it away, you should create your new document as a 12X12 inch square at 300 dpi / ppi (that’s pixels per inch). This is generally accepted as the digital scrapbooking industry standard. However, 200 dpi images will still print nicely and save significant space on your computer, so design at this resolution if drive space and RAM is an issue, bearing in mind that you will need to reduce embellishments that you download from other designers to match your settings.
And speaking of resizing, you can generally reduce the size of your graphics files without losing details, as long as you do not save and re-save your .jpg files. Those will lose some definition with each iteration. BUT you should almost never increase the size of a file, especially a .jpg.
That said, if you are making a family scrapbook and you need to make a button or a frame a little larger, you can probably do so without degrading the appearance of your quick page layout, especially if you do not plan to print it.
Learn to work with layers in your software, experiment with saving and printing your own quick page designs, and I will bring you more tips soon for making the most beautiful quick pages ever.
Write to me in the comments section if you have questions, and my next tip will address the question most often asked. Ask anything you like — I am always happy to share how I design my premade quick pages.