I have been making videos for you online. I have a complete mini course all about making shapes in Photoshop. It’s targeted to digital scrapbooking, but anyone can get something out of it. I just lowered the price – it’s only $5 for over 30 minutes of instruction. Check it out!
I’m working on a new class – all about selections, coming soon!
I’m branching out, trying something new. I’ve created a fan page on Face Book, come and be my fan! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Melissa-Piccone-Certified-Adobe-Intructor/166327136754939
I am planning on making more videos. I’ll be posting them here and on the FB page, they will live on youtube, http://www.youtube.com/user/melissapiccone. For all the technology I know, the social media world is new in regards to me actually using it for my business. It will be an adventure!
As you know, I used to own a photobook company, Photobookmemories.com and I sold it to Smilebooks.com. That makes me very picky about my books. I think my books were the best. I made 4 copies of the same book with 4 different companies, Smile Books, Shutterfly, Mix Book and Shared Ink. They are all very different. Conclusion – not all photobook companies are the same!
I made a 32 page 12″ x 12″ book.
Smile Books $86.94
Shutterfly $64.67 (with a 30% off coupon)
Mix Book $65.98
Shared Ink $109.95
The image above shows the books from largest to smallest – Mix Book, Shutterfly, Shared Ink, Smile Books.
Ease of Use
Mixbook.com was by far the most annoying interface for placing images. Each image is added to a page with a border and drop shadow and spans 2 pages. You need to turn this off for each image and then you need to resize your page so it goes beyond the page border. It’s not digital scrapbook friendly at all. The software is meant to be used to actually make your own pages. I managed to get all of my pages in there, previewed the book and everything looked great. Unfortunately the final pages were not full bleed and I have white edges around most of them. After going back and forth with customer service, I’m guessing the problem was that I didn’t enlarge the images enough beyond their borders, but they looked OK. It’s just a guess, I originally thought they did a bad trim. At any rate, the had me “edit” my book in their software and I think they will reprint it, but I haven’t gotten a confirmation from them. I had to take photos and visually explain my complaint.
Smile book – In between – not as fast and easy as Shutterfly, but not annoying at all.
Share Ink – easy, just upload pages, no software to place them in.
The one that stood out from the others (in a bad way) was Mix Book. The colors are a little light and washed out and of course, the whole full bleed issue. The other books print quality are almost identical.
You can se the variations in colors. Blues are hard to print – don’t hold out for color matching – that’s a whole other can of worms.
Mixbook was the thinnest, but that doesn’t make it bad. It means the book lays a little more flat, it weighs a little less and the pages are a little more fragile, might not let the 3 yr. old next door look at it alone. Maybe 100 stock?
Smile Book and Shutterfly appear to be about the same weight pages – maybe 110lb. cover stock? But, the Shutterfly pages turn better. Shared Ink has the nicest pages. They are like the pages I used to print.
The casing is the actual book part, the outside. They are all very different. I tried to make them similar, but each company has different stuff.
Smile Book has a poorly made case. The corners aren’t tight and “catch”. The cover material was poorly trimmed. I noticed it right away when I pulled it from the box. It’s solid black and the smallest book. It measures 11″ x 11.5″. The boards inside the book are flimsy – I can easily bend the cover which leads me to believe the book may warp over time and to never store this book flat. The inside is also a little weird. It has a mesh in the binding and the 2 endsheets are double wide papers folded over. It looks bad when you look at the first page. There were no options for foil, so no stamping anywhere on the faux leather cover. The faux leather looks nice, shiny black, but again, the material is very thin. The corners will wear quickly.
Mix Book has an image cover. I chose a background from their site and put my first page on the cover over their background. It’s shiny and well made. The boards are thick and strong. I have no concerns about warping. This case will last. I was able to add a title to the spine and I could have designed the whole front back and spine if I had wanted to. The inside of the book casing is also nicely done. The end sheets are plain white paper, then neither add to or take away from the book.
Shutterfly is also black faux leather, with a cutout. I didn’t plan for the cutout so my book looks kind of dumb with heads poking through. I suppose I can print my own image and paste it in – it would probably make it worse. If you use this option – design for it. The black faux leather is nice, not shiny like the other, but not dull, either. I like it. I would have liked an option with no window. No options for writing on the spine of front. The boards are thick and strong, the corners are tight and well done. The inside has black end sheets – which look great with the black leather, and the paper is a good hearty stock. There is a little wonkiness going on with my inside cover near the binding, I think the glue under the endsheet might be coming up or maybe the glue wasn’t placed far enough to the edge.
Shared Ink – they only have real leather, and I didn’t want to shell out the money, so I went with blue linen. This book is substantial. It’s heavier than the others. The boards are thicker and stronger than the others. This book will still be around in a 100+ years. Love the case – very nice high quality like mine were (mine were all handmade by a bindery that has been around since 1923). Beautiful thick inside sheet that covers the seems so you can barely see them inside. Pretty flecked cream paper (you can choose others). The first cover page and the last page is nice thick, vellum – classy. The casing is definitely a cut above the rest.
This is extremely important for longevity. 2 of these books are perfect bound (ick) and 2 are sewn – much better. Perfect bound means the pages are glued in. Glue melts at high temps, don’t leave these books in a hot car or attic, they will fall apart. And they just won’t last as long.
Smile Books – perfect bound
Shutterfly – perfect bound
Mix Book – sewn – it’s hard to tell, it might actually be stapled with 8 staples. I’m not willing to ruin the book to figure it out!
Shared Ink – sewn – I counted 30 holes – excellent binding
Smile Books came in a big brown pizza box and was shrinkwrapped – I like it.
Shutterfly came in a big orange shutterfly box – you know what it is
Mix book came in a brown unassuming folded box – nice
Shared Ink came in a big UPS box, but inside of that was a very nice black box with my book nestled inside – very nice.
Clearly Shared Ink is the hands down winner for quality – you get what you pay for. For longevity, Shared Ink is the way to go. For books that aren’t as important or for gifts, I will choose Shutterfly.
Mix Book has potential. They need to iron out the kinks in their software and be more digital scrapper friendly. If they manage that, I would actually choose them over Shutterfly for the binding.
Smile Books needs to improve their materials. In my personal opinion, the book looks and feels cheap next to the others.
Break everything down into little chunks to make it all manageable.
You should have some sort of Photo organizer software like iPhoto or Picasa to store and manage your photos. You should also have a back-up plan. I have lots of back-ups of my photos, DVDs, external hard drives and online storage. I lost a months worth of photos once and I’m a little paranoid! I am moving into the “cloud”. I want everything stored and backed up online – we’ll save that for another post.
I like my digital scrapbooking to be in chronological order. Focus on small chunks like special events or months. I do a book for each year, although I’m considering doing multi-year books because I’m 4 years behind! Once you have an overall topic theme, it’s time to start pulling photos and organizing them. I just finished a cruise book from 2008, so I’ll use that as my example.
You want to make copies of your image from your organizing software. I go into iPhoto and just drag and drop the photos I want to use into a new folder. They are simply new copies, not actually moved. Once I have all the images I want to use, I can organize them further by topic. For the cruise book I organized them by port of call, general candid shots including outside, inside, at dinner, etc. and all of the formal shots we purchased on board (that gets very expensive!). I now have a bunch of folders full of photos to work with.
Keep thinking chunks or you will be overwhelmed.
To make things easier and faster, I make shortcuts to the scrapbooking graphics I want to use for those images or sometimes I just copy graphics into the folders. If you followed my advice in the previous post about organizing graphicsthen you will want to copy over the actually files you want (remember, you are making copies, not actually moving anything).
There are several ways to manage this task. For the cruise book, because it was mostly the same themes (beach, vacation, anniversary and Thanksgiving), I created a dedicated folder for all of the graphics I wanted to use. If you are doing something like a whole year with many different themes, place the graphics into the folders with your images.
Here is a whole year. I have a folder for the final layouts – Print – and save them as high quality jpgs (12″ x 12″ 300 ppi, quality 10). All finished pages go into the finished PSDs. Always keep a copy of the originals incase of typos or accidentally using the same photo twice, etc. The working folder has all of the photos and graphics inside of it.
A Whole Year Top Level
Below are the themes for my year inside of my working folder. I have also included a folder called done so I can place the folders in there when I finish the pages for each theme. It’s nice to watch the folders go down and know I’m making progress.
Below is my folder for November. I have all of my photos, layout templates I want to use and a folder full of graphics that I want to use. Now I’m ready to put the pages together.
Once you have everything organized, it’s time for the fun part, actually putting your pages together. Should you place the images on the page and then add the digital scrapbooking graphics or should you design the pages and then add the photos? I do a combination of both. We’ll save this conversation for another post!
Back to posts for what this blog is supposed to be about, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and more.
I have gotten back into my scrapbooking which has been sorely neglected for the past 2 years. I’m so far behind! I have had to revisit everything. Let’s start at the beginning.
You will collect thousands and thousands of scrapbooking graphics. Trust me, you will. It may take a little time, but before you know it, your hard drive will be bursting. I highly recommend you start out with an external drive just for your graphics. You’ll thank me later. The external is just for storage, don’t try and work with the files while they are on the hard drive, always copy them over to your internal hard drive to work in Photoshop or Elements.
You want to be very organized. I have a top level folder called All Digi Scrap Supplies. Inside are all of my graphics – well over 10,000 and I’ve taken a break for the past 2 years!
Inside of your main folder you want to have lots of top level folders for themes. Whatever makes sense for you. I have folders for holidays, time of year, types of kits, etc. Some of my folders are 4thJuly, xmas, halloween, fall, summer, kids, designers, actions, brushes, word art, zoo, alpha, beach, mini kits, etc. Think about your keywords. I have 60 folders in total, but you may have many more.
Inside of these individual folders I have all of the folders that fit into that category. I keep my kits together in the main folder they came in, usually some form of the designers name or initials and the name of the kit. You can break these folders down into more categories if you need to, like for word art, you can have more themed folders in there, holidays, family, etc.
Once you have everything in the same place, you need a way to quickly browse your collection and find what you want to use in your pages. I’ve tried expensive software and it’s just not worth the money. Most of your digital scrapbooking graphics are going to be png files. The fancy organizing products won’t display png files correctly. I use Adobe Bridge, which is included with Photoshop and Creative Suite.
Bridge is a powerful program and in CS5 it has come into it’s own. It’s stable and has the power to help you get organized. Open Adobe Bridge. Choose Essentials from the top menu bar for the interface layout. In the lower left hand corner you will find a tab that says collections. This is where the magic happens.
You could go through and keyword everything, but it takes forever, you just want to get in there and play and create! Ideally, you will have preview files for your kits. Most kits come with a preview. If it doesn’t, contact the designers and request they start including a preview file. Usually this file is called preview.jpg or something like that.
You have 2 ways to create collections. You can create custom collections by hand by clicking on the new collection icon at the bottom of the collections panel, or you can create a new smart collection. The regular collection requires you to find stuff to put in it. It’s great for when you are working on a theme. Maybe you want to do an album on just Disney. You can search through your files (using bridge) and drag and drop the previews or specific graphics you want to use into your collection called disney. The files are simply all referenced in one easy to access spot. They aren’t moved anywhere. When you want to use a file, simply right click on it’s thumbnail in the preview window of Bridge and choose show original in Finder or Windows. You can now quickly access those files.
Smart Collection is the bomb. Remember how all of those nice designers created something with the name preview that is a jpg? You can create a smart filter to find just those preview files. Click on the new Smart Collection icon in the bottom of the collections panel. For Look in: navigate to your main digi scraps folder. For Criteria, you wan the name preview and the file type to be jpg. Under results, you want Match: set to if all criteria are met. You want to check include all subfolders and include non-indexed files. This will take a while. Like maybe even more than an hour if you have tons of stuff like I do. But – it’s totally worth it. Once Bridge has completed this first pass, all of the files are now it’s cache and will be access very quickly next time.
I know I don’t have previews for everything, unfortunately, But it’s a good start. I have well over 1000 a previews in my smart collection to peruse at my leisure. And, because it’s a smart collection, it will scan the folders for new stuff each time you call it up. So there’s nothing more to do when adding new kits. With a regular collection, you need to manually add any new files you want to include.
Good luck, have fun and if you have any questions, post them here on my blog. For you friends on Facebook reading this, please link your comments and questions directly to my blog website for all to benefit from, www.inspire-me.com.
Here is a screenshot of Bridge and my Smart Collection.
I have officially passed the Photoshop CS5 and Dreamweaver CS5 exams. If you are considering taking the exams or re-certifying, I recommend you download the official prep guides from Adobe. Go through them very carefully, looking up each concept you aren’t completely familiar with.
I purchased some self study stuff from ExamAids.comI was disappointed. There is way too much information to go through. They have literally hundreds of questions. The questions are much harder than what is actually on the Adobe exams. There is no way to copy the study guides or print them out, so you are stuck squinting at the text in a tiny little window on your computer. The information is pulled from the Adobe help files. The questions are just rediculous, you need to know all the keyboard shortcuts, each question has multiple answers, but no clue as to how many. The real test is doesn’t ask about keyboard shortcuts and if you need more than one answer, it tells you exactly how many to choose. Save your money.