Recently I've been asked by a few people that have never used Photoshop or Gimp, let alone digital scrapbooking, how to get started. I'm going to break down the basics and eventually get into more details as I go. It'll get easier as you learn. It may seem overwhelming in the beginning. In time you'll forget you even did some of these steps as it becomes natural.
Items you'll need:
Objects: computer, scanner, camera, extra storage and/or back-up DVD's
Software: some form of image manipulation program such as Gimp, Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. You can use Scrapbook Factory but they are a bit behind in the output quality department. Gimp being free, it's a good place to start.
If you already are a paper scrapper, gather your items you want to use in digital. Don't worry if it's a sticker, I'll show you later how to use it in a page.
Grab your paper photos that you want to scrap.
**NOTE: being organized is KEY here, as well as BACKING UP your tools, scans and creations. I keep my things sorted between my designs, copyrighted designs I've downloaded, Gimp tools, Photoshop tools, photographs/scans and completed projects.
Before you actually start scrapping, I suggest scanning all of your paper media and making DVD copies for future reference. I have lost items due to damage of the DVD or computer, so I keep a working copy and an archive copy (in case the back-up is damaged). A 500 gig USB external is a great investment because they are under $100 and do not need an external power source.
Paper media: this will consist of photographs, old school papers, yearbooks, paper scrap backgrounds (as well as other supplies), interesting book covers or pages, heirloom documents, even the fabric of your favorite dress (no kidding!).
Scanning: Digital scrapbooking pages and graphics tend to be large in file size and dimensions, but there's a good reason for this - output quality and how you present your creations. If you choose to display your pages on a large flat screen tv or print them out for large frames or in book form, you'll need the larger size (of everything). You can always downsize and have smaller projects look amazing, but once something has been reduced, you can't make it larger again without distorting or pixelating the image. With that being said, proper scanning produces better results in the long run.
Scanning rules to follow:
I'm not going to get into scanning procedures since each scanner is different and there are thousands out there, so learn your scanner. You don't have to alter or crop each scan you make - do that during the creative process down the road. I call these images "raw scans" because they are right off the scanner, may have extra space around the image or multiple images on the glass being scanned at once. Keep your glass clean! You can use those lens cloths for eyeglasses, these work the best and dry quickly. Anything on the glass when you scan will be a part of your image and you'll have to do touch-ups later.
How large should you scan an image? If it's a 5x7 or an 8x10, I'd leave it like that unless it's a group shot and the people are smaller, then use the enlarge feature to scan the image at 150% or more. If you can hide it in the palm of your hand, then scan it at 300%. What you are after is getting a larger image to fit properly (and with quality) on a 3600x3600 pixel canvas, that's the standard 12 inch page for digital scrapbooking.
Once you get your scanning done, you can take the time to crop your images or leave them as is, dealing with the cropping later when you scrap. Have you backed up your scans to a DVD or external hard drive?