Digital scrapbook pages should look like paper

Say no to the shoulds and set your scrapbooking free #digiscrap no to the shoulds and set your scrapbooking free #digiscrap

Or should they?

There's been a line of thought that digital pages need to look like paper ones to be good scrapbook pages. I know it's fun when someone reaches out to touch my printed pages, but that's not the be all and end all of digital scrapbooking.

The main way digital scrapbookers get their pages to look like paper if by buying quality supplies, adding shadows to make objects look three dimensional, and using embellishments in a similar way to paper scrapbookers. Instead of spending hours working on your shadows (shadows, and more shadows), paper piecing and 'paper' techniques you can tell more stories by freeing yourself from those expectations.

The truth is, photos + words = scrapbook.

If you aren't going to be making your pages look like paper then what do you do instead?

There's a huge array of styles and techniques to try.


Championed by designers such as Anna Aspnes, the blended digital look is a distinctive look that would be difficult to achieve in paper.

Here I took a movie poster as inspiration, blended my photo and added some glows to my type. Not an easy effect to achieve on paper.


Why not have fun combining the paper and blended looks? I often do this in my pages.

Paper + Blended look

Paper + Blended look

adult birthday blended 2adult birthday blended 1


Do you fancy fussy cutting photos? Me neither! I used to get fussy about how I extracted my images, but now I do it just for fun! Here's how.

A 'messy' extraction

A 'messy' extraction

As a paper scrapbooker you probably wouldn't want to spend the money on an enlargement to cut it up. But you can do it for no extra cost on a digital page.

Extracted roses - certainly not a paper look



Speaking of enlargements - why not go all out and have a full 12x12 photo? Here's how I achieved this look.

Take a look inside my album to see how I used only 6 words to tell my story! #digiscrap #digital #scrapbooking

Full page photo? Don't mind if I do!

I can even 'stitch' on an elargement without fear.

12 December 2010

There's no risk to stitching on an enlargement here

With digital scrapbooking there's no extra cost for a larger photo! On the other hand, if small photos are more your style, you can use programs, actions or templates to make a pile of photos into a collage. I guess you could create this in paper, but...

Fancy cropping all these tiny photos?

Fancy cropping all these tiny photos?



Digital scrapbook pages aren't restricted to what will fit inside a page protector. In paper scrapbook pages you couldn't include 3 dimensional object like these.

Add a branch to your page? Why not?

Add a branch to your page? Why not?

Of course real leaves wouldn't stand the test of time

Of course, real leaves wouldn't stand the test of time.

Sometimes I just pile on the embellishements too! It doesn't cost a cent more.

Would you really use this much product on a paper page? It would hardly be able to stand up!

Would you really use this much product on a paper page? It would hardly be able to stand up!


On my digital pages, I've even been known to recolor memorabilia to make it suit the pages I create. Don't feel limited to 'reality'. It doesn't take away from the story to change a fluoro yellow sticker to look a little more tasteful.

2011 Royal Show_600

Spot the I patted a pig sticker? It used to be fluoro yellow!

You can even take three dimensional memorabilia to add that too.

Scrapbookgraphics Collaboration Kit Impressions of Honour Fonts Amienne Vintage Press by Fontologie

See that shot casing?

Pseudo Paper

I don't mess around with fussing about my shadows, but I do still like a paper look to my pages. I like to think of them as 'pseudo paper' so I can always add a few aspects of the techniques I demonstrated above. It keeps me interested, and it keeps me from going down a rabbit hole of Photoshop tweaks. Of course, I still have the freedom to spend half an hour tweaking my layouts if I want to, and sometimes I do! If you digi scrap, do you try to create pages to look like paper layouts? Have you ever tried something different?     Melissa1

PS  If you want to ditch a few more shoulds from your scrapbooking  you can get more help here!

August 4 - Paige Evans A Scrapbooking page SHOULD always have a story and lots of journaling

August 5 - Ashli Oliver
Scrapbook pages SHOULD be fast and simple to just get them done
August 6 - Jen Gallacher
Scrapbook pages SHOULD look perfect
August 7 - Melissa Shanhun
Digital scrapbook pages should look as much like a paper page as possible 
August 8 - Ashley Calder
Scrapbooking SHOULD be done *this* way  
August 9 - Caroline Davis
A Scrapbooker SHOULD scrapbook FOR her family
August 10 - Lisa Harris
Scrapbooking SHOULD be a legacy for the scrapbooker's family
August 11 - Connie Hanks
A scrapbooker SHOULD follow the trends and be aware of what others think of her pages
A Scrapbooker SHOULD scrapbook chronologically
August 13 - Nancy Gaines
Scrapbooking SHOULD be 12x12 traditional paper pages
August 14 - Cara Vincens
A scrapbooker SHOULD always be caught up
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  • Cara Vincens

    Fantastic post Melissa!!! I didn’t realise there was so much you could do with digital 😀 I might just have to give it a go 😀

  • Gabrielle McCann

    Great post! I’m really enjoying this series!

  • richelle

    wow amazing variety! very pretty :)

  • soapHOUSEmama

    Such an awesome post! I just love all of the examples you gave!

  • digiscrapgeek

    Totally agree with your post! It’s digital- have fun with your tools.

  • Marie-Pierre Capistran

    I discovered digital scrapbooking through get it scrapped as on their team, we are half paper scrapbooker, half digi scrapbooker. I am always AMAZED by what the digi scrapers come up with. What I love looks nothing like paper! It’s almost like a digi scrapper mind doesn’t work at all like a paper scrapbooker’s mind and I love that! It can be different it can be alike, in the end, just like you said, photos+story= scrapbooking. :) oh, and having fun doing too. :) awesome blog post Melissa!!!

  • JenFW

    Ohmygosh! So many possibilities. There are endless techniques to learn. So much fun, and such gorgeous, creative results.

    I’ve never called myself a scrapbooker, but I think I am one. A digi-scrapper at that. My slide shows are getting fancier and fancier as I learn to use PhotoShop.

    Thanks for all the ideas and instruction!

  • Connie Hanks

    Fabulous post, Melissa! I’m mostly paper, but still absolutely LOVE a hybrid page I did using your text-in-shape tutorial ( Love your tips and these ideas for embracing the strengths of digi-pages! I still gotta try that blended look 😉