What Do You Need to Get Started in Digital Scrapbooking?

It’s no secret I love digital scrapbooking as a way to create photo albums and tell stories. I’ve been receiving quite a few e-mails lately so I thought I’d spend a few posts going over the basics and answering some of your questions. (And if you have more, please feel free to ask: pamelaodd@gmail.com)

First off, what do you need to get started in digital scrapbooking?

  1. Computer
  2. Image Editing Program 
  3.  External Hard Drive (optional, but suggested)
  4. Digital Scrapbooking Supplies

I’m guessing if you’re reading this you can go ahead and check computer off your list!

Besides a computer, the most important “supply” you’ll need for digital scrapbooking is an image editing program that works in layers and can open/work with .jpeg, .png, .psd, and .abr files. The most common program among digital scrapbookers is Photoshop Elements (PSE) and Photoshop Creative Suite (PSCS).

I started with Photoshop Elements and personally recommend it because most digital scrapbooking tutorials are written for this program and in most cases will do everything you’ll need/want to do. Elements is also quite affordable (around $80) compared to it’s big brother, Photoshop Creative Suite (around $600). You can download 30-day trials of Photoshop Elements and Adobe Photoshop on adobe.com.

Two things I suggest before you purchase any program:

  • Download the free 30-day trial version and play around. Follow a tutorial, create a page or two, and get a feel for the program to see if it’s something you’ll enjoy. Just sayin’ cause I hate buyer’s remorse!
  • Check to see if you qualify for an academic discount. My husband was in graduate school when I purchased Photoshop Creative Suite and so I was able to buy it at the school bookstore on an “academic discount” for less than half the retail price. There are also student editions available on Amazon. Worth looking into for sure.

If you’re interested in programs other than Photoshop Elements or Photoshop Creative Suite, The Daily Digi has some suggestions.

An external hard drive is optional to start out, but I recommend having one if you decide you love digital scrapbooking. You’ll be working with photos and other large, high-quality images and they will quickly fill up and slow down your computer’s internal hard drive. It’s also smart to keep a back-up in case of a computer crash (more on this later). When I first went digital I used a small jump drive, then upgraded to a much larger external hard drive once I’d decided digi was for me.

Once you have your program loaded onto your computer and you have plenty of hard drive space, you’re ready to start acquiring digital supplies! Yay! The fun is about to begin!

There are two ways to stock your digi stash:

  • Download free samples. Many digital designers offer ”freebies” (usually on their blogs or newsletters) so you can test them and get a closer look at their style and quality before purchasing. When I started digital scrapbooking I pretty much only downloaded and scrapped with freebies, but I quickly learned that not all freebies are created equally, so make sure to look for quality when downloading free digital supplies (here’s a good place to start!). Katie gives some good freebie 411. 
  • Purchase digital supplies. By far, one of the funnest parts of digital scrapbooking is going shopping! There are many different stores for every scrapbooking style, so shop around and discover what you love. May I suggest this one? ;) The Digi Files are one of my favorite ways to inexpensively try out different designers and get a feel for styles.

Up next, downloading, saving, and unzipping digital supplies (and maybe even a freebie!). . . .


  1. I’m forwarding this to my mom – Thanks for the quick and straightforward intro! By the way, I wrote a blog post earlier this week on digiscrapping on a budget that your readers might appreciate – you can find it on my blog at lifeinkscraps.blogspot.com. :)


  2. Hey Pam… I am posting a link to this article on the weekend wrap up of Ellie Lash’s CT blog. http://ellielash.com/ctblog/

    Thanks for sharing such great info!


    pameladonnis Reply:

    Awesome. Thanks!


  3. Hi. I am brand new to digital scrapbooking and was wondering how you print out your scrapbook pages. What type of paper do you use? Can you use a regular printer, or do you have to get them printed somwhere special?




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