My 3 Monsters: Digital Scrapbooking on the Cheap - Part 2: Simple Scrapbook Project

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Digital Scrapbooking on the Cheap - Part 2: Simple Scrapbook Project

So, you've downloaded Gimp and some digital scrapbooking kits, right?  No?  Go back to Part 1.  I'm not just speaking to hear the sound of my own voice, people. {Yeah, right.  I'm a mom.  That's what we do, isn't it?} If you have, good for you!  Now we can make our first project together:

A simple 12x12 inch scrapbook page.  Yours will not look exactly like mine, unless by chance we happen to have all the exact same digital elements on our computers, but we probably don't because I created some of these things myself. {That's another lesson for another day.}  You can pick all of your elements for this project from one single kit, which is probably a good idea because designers work hard on those kits so that everything goes together.  But to me that is akin to walking into a furniture showroom and buying everything in a display that is matchy-matchy.  I don't really like it.  I like to mix and match to get a less "put together" look so no two elements I used were from the same source.  Because I'm difficult to follow like that.  As we add each element to the project I'll let you in on the source as best I can and link to it, if possible. Ready, OK!

1.  A quick word about Layers.  As we put this project together, imagine you are actually creating a scrapbook page the old fashioned way.  You'd have one piece of paper for your background, at least one other paper to mat your photos, the photos themselves, and your cutesy embellishments.  You'd lay them all out on your page, overlapping them to make it pretty and then glue it all down.  Digital Scrapbooking is very much the same.  Everything you add to your project will be a new layer.  Each of your layers can be moved independently until you get the layout you want.  When you are ready, you can glue objects together by merging the layers.  Easy cheesy.  When Gimp is open on your computer screen you will have three windows open.  The big window in the middle will be your project.  The other windows will be your Toolbox {which I like to leave to the left of my project window} and your Layers/Channels/Paths box {which I situate on the right.}  You can move all your windows around to get a layout that is comfortable for you.  Whew!  Still with me?   Another thing to remember:  If at any point you are working on this project you don't like what you've done or something funky happens, go up to Edit and click Undo in the drop down menu. That is probably my most used operation in Gimp.  It's a lifesaver!  Got it?  Let's go.

2.  Create a new project in Gimp.

{You can click on all these images to enlarge for easier viewing}

At the top of your project window click on File then click New in the drop down menu.  When you do this the "Create New Image" box will pop up, as pictured above.  This is where you set the finished size of your project.  Something to think about here:  Are you going to be printing this image when you're finished?  If so, you need to find out what resolution is required from your printing source.  I ALWAYS have my images printed at Costco because they are fast, affordable, and really good quality.  So, when I begin a project I check the Costco photo resolution chart.

I want a 12x12 page to fit my imaginary album so I will need to create a project that is 1380x1380 pixels.  Enter your dimensions in the pop up box and click OK.

3.  Let's start at the very beginning - a very good place to start. (Sound of Music, anyone?)  We'll build this project from the background up, so let's pick a background.  Go up to File again and this time click Open in the drop down box.  A box will open up to let you browse your computer to find your digi-scrap kits and find the paper you want to use for your background.  The weathered wood paper I am using is from the Sugar Sands Beach Wood Paper pack. {I actually paid for this pack because I loved it sooo much.} Once you have found the file you want, open it by double clicking.

It will open up in a new window. Click on that to make it the active window.  {Notice how your Layers window changes to reflect the layers of the active window.  Cool, huh?}  The file you opened is probably 3600x3600 pixels, which is a pretty standard size, but too big for us right now.  We'll magically shrink it.  Can't do that in old fashioned scrapbooking can you?!

Making sure that your background paper is your active window, go up to the top and click on Image.  Then click on Scale Image in the drop down menu.  The Scale Image box will pop up to allow you to resize your paper to fit your project as shown above.

Change the width and height to match the dimension of your project (1380x1380).  You'll notice that the two dimensions are locked together so if you change one, the other will change automatically.  This keeps the image from distorting.  There's is a way around that, but we don't want to do that now.  Put 1380 in each box and click Scale.  Did the image shrink?  Yay!

Now we'll copy and paste this image onto our project window.  With your background image as the active window hit CNTRL A {to select all} and CNTRL C {to copy}.  Click on your project window (called Untitled 1.0 for the moment) to make that the active window now and hit CNTRL V { to paste}.  Hopefully your background image just appeared on your project. Look at the Layers window now.  You should have two layers listed - the first will say Floating Selection and the second will say Background. We want to glue the background paper down to the project because we like it.

Right click where it says Floating Selection and click Anchor in the drop down menu.  The Layers window should only show one layer now - your chosen background image as Background.  Does it?  Yay!

Now, because Gimp is a little picky like I told you before, you'll want to close your other window {the one with the shrunken paper}.  Click on the X of that window.  When a window pops up asking you to save changes click Don't Save.  {If you save here your pretty paper will be forever shrunken, which is not cool.}

You do, however, want to save your project at this point.  Go up to File, click Save As in the drop down menu, give it a name and add .jpg at the end.  Click save.  When the Save as JPEG window pops up, set the Quality to 100% and click save again.

4.  Let's add a photo to the mix.  I'm going to stop and say here that I am not a photographer.  I have a junky point and shoot camera which I almost always forget to bring so many of my photos are from my cell phone, like the one I'm about to use.  If you are looking for tips on how to edit and beautify your photos you are in the wrong place.  Sorry, Charlie.

OK, second verse, same as the first!  Go up to File and click Open in the drop down menu.  Browse to find the picture you want and open it up.  Click on this new window with your photo to make it the active window.  Just like the paper, this photo is too big for our project.  Use your shrinking magic again by going up to Image and clicking Scale Image.

This time you get to choose how big you want your picture.  You can just kind-of guess because we can adjust it later if needed.  I'm going to set my width at 750 {just about half the total size} and see how it looks.  Click Scale.  Did it shrink again?

Time to move it over to your project.  Hit CNTRL A, then CNTRL C.  Click on the project window to make it active and hit CNTRL V.  Did the photo appear?  Look at your Layers box - there's that Floating Selection again.  Right click on that.  This time click New Layer because we're not ready for it to be stuck down just yet.  You now have two layers in your layer window - Pasted Layer {your photo} and Background {your paper}.

I like the size of the photo so I'm going to leave it as is, but I don't like the placement.  Look in your Toolbox and find the tool that looks a little like a compass {four diverging arrows] and click on that.  Now you can click on the photo and drag it around your project until you get it where you want it.

Save your project again .  From now on all you have to do is click File then click Save in the drop down menu.  When the box pops up, click Export and you're good to go.  Close down the original photo window and click Don't Save.  {Permanently shrunken photo = not cool.}

5.  And the fun begins - Let's start to make it cute.  That photo needs a mat and you know what to do. Go to File, click Open, find another paper and open it up.  Oops, too big.  Go to Image, click Scale image, set the width to 850 {or whatever dimension you want, as long as it's larger than the largest dimension of you picture because we want it to be bigger than our photo}, click Scale and, voila,  your image shrinks.  Hit CNTRL A, CNTRL C, switch to project window and CNTRL V.  Right click Floating Selection in the Layers window and click New Layer.  That was fast!  {That cute turquoise polka dot paper I used is from Rainamoon Scraps and is from the Stuff to Scrap "Bouncin' Beach Balls" blog train.}

Your paper covers up your photo, but that's OK.  Move the paper underneath the photo by reordering your layers.  Click on Pasted Layer #1 {your mat paper}in the Layers window.  Drag it underneath Pasted Layer {the photo}.  Your picture shows again, right?  Holla!

Let's move the mat now and crop it to fit the photo, shall we?  Make sure your mat layer is the one highlighted in the Layers window .  In your main project window click and drag the paper where you want it.  You'll notice the paper is square and your photo is a rectangle.  Maybe you like that.  I don't, so I'm fitting the paper around the top of the photo and the excess is at the bottom.   Trim off the excess by clicking the very first tool in your toolbox - the rectangle select tool.  Click on the excess portion of your paper and drag to create a box.  You can adjust your box size by clicking and dragging any of the edges.  You can also move the entire box by clicking in the middle and dragging it around.

Situate your rectangle over the portion of the paper you would like to remove.  It's OK if the box overhangs the edges of the paper - you don't need to be exact.  Hit CNTRL X {to cut}.  Did the extra paper disappear?  No?  Make sure you have the correct layer highlighted in the Layers window.  Correct any mistakes by clicking Edit and Undo like we talked about before and try it again.  If your mat placement needs a little adjusting, switch back to your Move tool (the compass one) and click and drag it into place. Nice!

Once you are happy with the placement of your mat, let's glue the photo down to the mat.  Right click on the photo layer in your Layers window and click Merge Down in the drop down menu.  Those two layers are now stuck together, but they are not glued down to the background.  They will move together now instead of moving independently.You with me?

6.  Give that project a little dimension!  We're going to add a little shadow behind the mat to make it look like it would if it were actually a matted picture sitting on a piece of paper.  Drop shadows are that little extra sprinkle of fairy dust that make your projects come to life, if you ask me.  The first thing you'll want to do is go up to Select and click None in the drop down menu.  If you don't do that, you'll end up putting a little shadow behind that excess piece of mat paper that you just removed which will look really bad.  No magic fairy dust, just bad.  So do that, then make sure your matted photo layer is highlighted in your Layers window.

Go up to Filters, go down to Light and Shadow in the drop down menu, then click Drop Shadow.  In the pop-up box, uncheck Allow Resizing and click OK.

See the little shadow underneath and on the right edge of your matted photo?  Cool, huh?  Remember in Peter Pan how Wendy has to sew Peter's shadow to his feet so it won't get away?  We need to do that here, kinda'.  In your Layers window, right click on the matted photo layer and click Merge Down.  Now the shadow is attached to that image and they will move together, should you need to adjust the placement of your photo. This is the process you'll follow whenever you want to add a shadow to your project.  While it is not strictly necessary, I ALWAYS merge my image with its shadow.  And I always think of Peter Pan when I do.

In your Layers window you will be back down to two layers -- one called Drop Shadow {your photo layer} and Background.  Ahhhh!  We're getting there.

7.  Continue, continue . . . It's all about the embellishments from here on out folks and this project is about to get a whole lot cuter!  I think we need to add some staples to hold that picture down, don't you?  {This staple is from the Shabby Princess Plentiful kit. Love that color combo.}You know the drill by now:  go to File, click Open, find your image and open it up.  Whattayaknow -- too big, but we're not quite sure how much too big.  Let's copy it {CNTRL A then CNTRL C} and paste it into our project {CNTRL V}.  Make it a new layer by right clicking Floating Selection and then clicking New Layer.

 Yep, that's pretty big.  Make sure your staple layer is highlighted in the Layers window then go up to Layer in your project window.  Click Scale Layer in the drop down menu.  In the box that pops up, change the width to 100 and click scale.  Your staple will shrink.  If you don't like the size, click Edit and Undo then try again.  Select the Move tool {the compass} and drag your staple where you want it on your image.

Now, I think I want another one just like that for the other corner of my picture.  Here's how:

Right click your staple layer in the Layers window and click Duplicate Layer in the drop down menu.  Bam!  But wait, where's your second staple?  Look in the Layers window.  You'll now have a Pasted Layer and a Pasted Layer Copy.  Two staples, they're just right on top of each other.  Heh, heh.  Tricky!  Use your move tool and drag the top staple to the other corner. 

How about a little foliage?  The leafy branch I used is also a part of the Shabby Princess Plentiful collection.  Open it up, scale it to 1000 pixels wide and make it a layer in your project just like we've done four times already in this project.  Use your Move tool to drag it where you want it.  Give it a shadow.  From now on it will be easier since you've already used that filter.  All you have to do is make sure the foliage layer is highlighted in the Layers window then go up to Filters and click on Repeat Drop Shadow.  Boom.  Merge the image and the shadow {Peter Pan} in the Layers window and admire your handiwork.  Also, take a minute to save your project again here, as I have forgotten to instruct you to do so in the past couple of steps.  Close down all your unnecessary windows, too, for that matter.  I got carried away in the creating and forgot the chores.

Moving on . . . Want some ribbon?  I love ribbon -- especially gingham ribbon.  This great celery green gingham ribbon is another from the Stuff to Scrap "Bouncin' Beach Balls" blog train.  You'll find it at Sweet Maple digi-designs.  Kee-yoot! Add it just like you added the greenery.  I wanted this to be a little longer than the foliage so I scaled it to 1200 pixels.  Also, I really want it to be underneath the foliage so I will reorder my layers again by clicking on the ribbon layer in the Layers window and dragging it underneath the foliage layer.

Perfect!  Add a shadow to that, too.  Now, we gotta' label this bad boy somehow.  I think a little tag with some text would do nicely.  Open up your tag image {mine is from Jen Reed's Moments in Time element pack.} and resize it.  I scaled mine down to 300 pixels. 

Add text to your tag with the Text tool -- the one that is a big letter A.  Click on the tag in your project window and type your text.  You can change the font {any font on your computer is available to use in Gimp}, adjust the size and justification {center it} in the bottom portion of the Toolbox window.  Adjust the size of your box to fit the tag by clicking and dragging the edges.  Move the entire box of text by clicking in the middle and dragging.  Once you are happy with the way the text fits on the tag, merge it down. {Right click on text layer and click on Merge Down.}

So far everything on our page is perfectly straight, which looks a little boring to me.  Le'ts rotate the tag a little to the left and tuck it in behind the foliage.  

Click on the Rotate tool in your Toolbox {see picture above} and highlight the tag layer in your Layers window.  Now click on the tag in your project window and drag the upper left corner to rotate.  Find the position you like and click Rotate in the pop up window.  Click on the tag layer in your Layers window and drag it beneath the foliage layer.  Use your Move tool to drag it where you want it, peeking out from behind the leaves, and give it a shadow.

Since adding all the other elements is pretty much the same process I won't walk you through each one step by step, but I will tell you where you can find the ones I used:

     * Small leafy vines are from the most current Blog Train Blog collection, Monkeying Around in the portion designed by Misty Cato Designs. I adjusted the color to make it a little bit greener.  To do this, make the vine image window your active window.  Go up to Color and click on Hue-Saturation in the drop down menu.  When the Hue-Saturation box pops up, set the values as follows:  Hue=35, Lightness=2, Saturation=10  then click OK.  Now you can scale the image to 1000 pixels and add to your project.  I added it to the image, then duplicated it so I had two. I also used the rotate tool {just like we did for our tag} to make them look a little more interesting. 

     * Teal button is from the Digital Scrapbooking Freebies Very Blessed kit.  Scale it to 175 pixels.

     * The crepe paper flower is from a really great mini kit called Dipity.  I scaled it to 280 pixels wide.  I've searched for nearly an hour now and I can't find the source.  Aaaaaakkkkkk!  I'd love to give credit and link to it if anyone knows where it came from.  Until then, sorry.

     *  The green silk flower is one I made myself. 

     * The glass button in the center of the silk flower is from Kevin and Amanda's Fall Collection kit, scaled to 100 pixels.

Sprinkle the magic fairy dust {shadows} on all your layers and watch the project start to pop!

Another helpful feature: If at any point  you have added a layer and want to see what your project would look like without that layer, you can click on the eye next to that layer in the Layers window.

That element will magically disappear from your project window.  Click the empty box where the eye used to be and it will instantly reappear.  Now, if you decide you like it better without that layer, simply right click that layer in the Layers window and click Delete Layer.

Try it!  It's fun!!  But I kind of really want that layer so I'm going to click Edit, Undo now.

Remember as you're working to close windows when you are done with them But don't save.  Saving in this circumstance = bad. However, it is a good idea to save your project image periodically.  Trust me.

Here is one more look at our finished project in all its glory:

Now that you have a handle on the basic steps you can begin experimenting.  Try adding more than one photo or more elements.  Add a paragraph of text explaining the picture in the empty space underneath your photo.  Use some large text to create a title for the page.  Whatever you want!!  If you make something, I'd love to see it {and maybe feature it in our next lesson!}.  If you have any questions I'd be happy to try and answer them.  Play around and be creative.  In Part 3 we'll talk about some of the other tools in our toolbox and we'll walk through another simple project together.  Hope you have a great weekend!


  1. I love this page!! I'm new to digital scrapbooking, but I love everything techie so I've been dying to try!!
    I've done two pages and am officially hooked! Excited to follow you site for lots of great tips!

    Came from tatertots and jello!

  2. I can't wait to get started :) Thanks for walking us through the process!


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