Using a Word Processor to Create Simple Scrapbooking Layouts

I was recently invited to be a guest speaker on a creativeLIVE segment with Becky Higgins. The topic of the 3-day event was scrapbooking, specifically on Becky's Project Life and Digital Project Life products. Both are amazing scrapbooking tools. How does technology fit into scrapbooking? Look around you. When it the last time you saw anyone shoot photography with a film-based camera? And even if they did, I guarantee those developed shots will ultimately become digital files. We had a great time talking about digital photography workflow.

One the areas that we focused on was in editing, and specific to Project Life, we talked about how to use PhotoShop and other editing tools to get the most out of our images. When it comes to creating layouts, however, you don't need complex software to do the job right. In fact, it doesn't even need to be image editing software! Believe it or not, the easiest way to create a simple layout of multiple images might just be your trusty word processor.

I happen to use Apple's Pages app (specifically, Pages '13), so that's what I will use to walk you through the process. The same concept applies to Microsoft Word, as well as most other mainstream word processors.

In this example, I will combine three images into a single 4x6" layout. The first step is to create a 4x6" reference box in our new Pages document. This is not required, but will make it much easier to create my layout by visually setting the workspace boundaries. To create this box, I will click on the "Shape" button on the menu bar, then choose the box option, like this:

After I have added the box and sized it appropriately (using the toolbar on the right), it will look like this.

Once I have my reference box in place, it's time to add my images. Doing this is as simple as drag and drop. Once I've done that, it will look something like this:

As you can see, it looks a bit messy a this point. Have no fear! The next step is to now resize the images and place them where they need to go on the layout. Again, this requires little more then dragging and dropping to both move and resize each of the three images. Now that I have the images in the right location and roughly the right size, it will look something like this:

It's definitely starting to look good, but there's a problem... the images aren't quite the right aspect ratio to fit nicely. As a result, the bottom right image overlaps with the top right image. No problem. We can easily fix this by applying a mask to one of the two right images. A mask allows you to crop part of an image out non-destructivley (meaning the parts of the image we are masking is not lost, but hidden from view). For this example, I want to remove part of the bottom right image so that I can see more of the top right image. To do this, I will highlight the bottom right image then select "Edit Mask" on the "Image" tab on the right side of Pages.

Doing this will give us a new set of handles for the image. Resizing these handles will allow us to crop the image. The masking process will look like this:

After I have finished applying the mask, I will move my images into their final position (notice how I swapped the right two images? It looked better for this layout). The final product will look something like this:

At this point, we can do two things with this: 1) we can print the image to use in a scrapbook or 2) we can take a screenshot of the image, and have that JPG or PNG professionally printed.

Posted on November 22, 2013 and filed under Design, How To, Mac.