December 29, 2011

Your Design Questions, Answered

First, I want to say I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to read, comment, or email me. I really do love hearing from readers, and getting to know you guys better is so fun. That being said, could I ask a HUGE favor? If you don't have your email account attached to your profile, will you please do so? That way I can respond to you if you leave me a question. If you don't know how to do it, Libby has a great tutorial here.

If you don't want to attach your email address to your profile, be sure to include it in your comment or email me directly instead. I will do my best to respond from my phone right when I get it, and it's not possible to do if your email isn't there with the comment. :)  I've been horrible about keeping up with emails in the past, and I seriously want to change that going forward. So I'm going to try to handle them a little differently...who knows if it will work or not, but I just know I need to try to find some organization wish me luck. :)  Now on to what this post was supposed to be about!

I get a lot of questions about how I design stuff, so I wanted to put a post together that will hopefully answer some of the questions people have. If you've been reading my blog for very long, it is probably apparent to you that my design knowledge has changed & grown as time goes on. The main reason for that is because I am self taught, and have no real training in design. So it's kind of a learn-as-you-go approach. I mention that just to encourage those of you who want to learn - it's totally possible if you just take the time to explore and try to figure things out.

Now for some of the most common questions I get:

What program do you design in?
I design in Adobe Photoshop. That hasn't always been the case, but that is all I use now. I have never used Photoshop Elements, but from what I understand, it will work just as well as Photoshop for digital scrapbooking type projects. It is A LOT cheaper than Photoshop, and if I hadn't been given Photoshop, that's what I would've bought. You can download a free 30 day trial of it from Adobe here, and I would recommend doing that before you can buy it. That way you can try it and see if it's something you'll really use. I will warn you that if you've never worked in a program like this before, it will seem overwhelming at first. I had NO clue what I was doing to begin with. BUT with time, that all changes...just make yourself play around in the program, and google google google any questions you have! There are SO many great tutorials out there. If you decide to purchase Photoshop Elements, it is usually cheapest on Amazon. I've seen it as low as $40, but I think it stays around $60 - $100 most of the time.

I want to learn to digital scrapbook or make my own printables. How can I do that?
As I mentioned, I am completely self taught through trial and error and just reading random tutorials, so that's one way. Since then, I have discovered an amazing site with lots of classes that would probably make it much easier to learn - She has online classes that I've heard wonderful things about. I've never taken any of her paid classes, but occasionally she will offer a free class and I always jump in on those just for the exposure to new tips. When you first join her site, she offers 2 free basic classes - you can see the info here. I would definitely recommend taking those classes to get started.

Where do you print your designs?
For items such as cupcake toppers, banners, and water bottle labels, I typically print those at home. I don't have a fancy printer; just a normal HP inkjet. I prefer to print on matte presentation paper because it really makes the color vibrant. I usually buy my matte presentation paper at Target or an office supply store like Office Depot.

For invitations and cards, I prefer to have those printed by a professional printer. Vista Print provides good quality products at great prices. Be sure to sign up for their emails - don't ever just pay the price on the site. They send a lot of emails with specials, so that can be annoying, but if need be just sign up before you know you need something. Also, I never choose the fastest shipping option from there. The slowest option says it can take up to 21 days, but I've never had it take anywhere close to that. There is a considerable price difference, so that's why I mention that. I have also heard good things about mpix and WinkFlash, but I have never personally ordered from them.

How do you make matching or custom labels?
Again, these are designed in Photoshop. I just design something the dimensions of the type of label I want to use, and coordinate it to match whatever I am mailing.

Where can I buy digital designs such as clip art, background papers, and elements?
There are a LOT of great digital scrapbooking sites out there. For freebies, Shabby Princess has some great kits. I used these a lot at first when I was trying to decide if digital scrapbooking was something I'd get into. You can also find a lot of freebies if you just google "free digital scrapbooking" or something along those lines. To purchase kits, ScrapMatters and Jessica Sprague are great, as well as etsy. Keep in mind a lot of this stuff is for personal use only, but many designers offer a commercial license if you plan to sell your designs; you'll just need to purchase that separately.

What program do you use for your Project 365 collages?
The template I used in 2011 is a free download from The CoffeeShop Blog, and is a Photoshop file. She has a lot of free templates, and I think the majority of them are compatible with Photoshop Elements. 

Well I think that covers the questions I get asked the most. If there is anything else you'd like to know (or if you have any advice or tips to share),  please leave a comment or send me an email and I'll try to update this post. As I mentioned, I am definitely not a professional but I just wanted to share what little knowledge I have for those who have asked. Hope this is helpful to some of you!


  1. I usually design all of my party things, and I use Microsoft Publisher. They don't have that for Mac, but my Mac and I didn't get along :), so I have a PC. It came with my Office suite, and it is super easy to learn. Although, I wouldn't say it is cheap. You have to buy the most expensive Office suite there is. I have no idea how much Photoshop is. I bet that I have to do a lot of manual tweaks that you don't have do do in photoshop, but it's what I know and it works well for me. I also don't design nearly as many things as you do though! I'm glad to know that you use VistaPrint for cards, etc. I always wondered how you did nice cards and such. I will be using that for future needs!

  2. Thanks for the tutorial! You are so good about sharing :)

    I have a question though: How did you make the cute banner from the pink cravings baby shower?

    Thanks girl!

  3. I completely agree about linking your email to your blog! I reply from my phone a lot & it makes it so much easier.

  4. I'm self taught too, but I use Publisher. Photoshop scares me, but I'm learning little by little. Thanks for all the info. It is nice to see how people work and blog.

  5. I'm SO glad I read this post! My parents bought me the Bamboo Capture for Christmas and it included Adobe Photoshop Element. I'm wanting to start the Project 365 since I don't do Bryson's monthly posts anymore. Thank you so much for sharing all this great info!

  6. Really helpful your answers.
    I am a faithful follower of your blog.

    Greetings from mexico


I love hearing from my readers and I appreciate every single comment left here! If you have a question, I will do my very best to answer it as soon as I can. If your email address is not linked to your blogger account (and if you're not sure, then it probably isn't) please leave it in your comment so that I can respond to you much quicker. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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