My first digital rodeo

I am not a digital scrapbooker. The most I use a computer for when scrapbooking is to look for layout ideas, edit pictures and upload them to a printer, and create journaling.

But because Close To My Heart has a special in October with their Studio J online digital scrapbooking program, I thought I would try it – for the purpose of reporting to you, dear readers.

Two of the many good things about Studio J are you can get into the program and play without committing to ordering anything, and you don’t have to download anything to your computer. When you decide you like your layout, you can choose to purchase a JPEG for $2.95 or you can order a printout of the layout that Close To My Heart will send you for $6.95. And in October, when you order 9 custom-printed layouts, you get a 10th one free.

I have wanted to play with the Dakota paper pack since it came out so I chose that kit from the Create Your Own Custom Layout option. There is another option to choose fully completed layouts and fill in the blanks. I picked a pattern called Zoom In. I uploaded photos from my daughter’s 4th birthday party, which had a cowgirl theme. Then I played. I dragged and dropped photos to the different boxes on the page. While you can’t change the predetermined sizes of the photo boxes when you are working in a template layout, you can change just about everything else. I changed the gray cardstock foundation pieces to the gray “weathered barn wood” print paper from the Dakota pack. I changed the color of the button from white to Saddle and the thread to Barn Red. I changed the color of the ribbon to White Daisy and metal photo hangers to Cocoa. You can add mats to the photos and pick the color but I didn’t. I added a MyStickease No. 4 to represent her 4th birthday and cover a car in the background of my dominant photo. You can also delete elements from the page.

The program tells you when your photos are too low of a resolution to reproduce well. I had scaled down some photos to put on Facebook and got one of those by mistake and had to swap it out for the raw image.

I really enjoyed making the digital layout and I learned to move around the page quickly because I used to design newspaper pages. Anyone who’s done any sort of desktop publishing will have a short learning curve. But I am not completely converted to this style of scrapbooking. I love working with paper and embellishments in my hands. However, I would make these pages as gifts, particularly if I gave one framed for someone’s wall. I will probably return to Studio J frequently to try out my photos on the background of a certain paper. I could design my whole layout in Studio J and then refer back to it as I work with the actual papers and embellishments.

A perk of Studio J is you can still use, digitally, papers that have been discontinued. So if you LOVE Cruisin’ or Superhero or the even older Lucy or Roxie or Mayberry, or you just now took photos at an event that would go perfect with a discontinued print, you can still make the layout … on Studio J.

When you have completed your layouts, before you check out, you get the chance to approve your layout. To order the printed layout, you have to get 5 at a time. You can pre-purchase a 5-pack of layouts from my consultant store.

I cannot tell you what sort of quality the prints are. I did not order the print – I got the $3 JPEG file for the purposes of putting it on this blog. I have no personal experience with what the photos and papers look like when you receive the layouts in the mail. Perhaps someone who does will share their experiences in the comments below this post.

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