9 Simple Steps to Beginner Scrapbooking

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Beginner Scrapbooking - The How-To Guide

These 9 steps are the minimal bare-bones. If you’re a beginner, absorb these easy steps to help you start scrapbooking. It’s easier when you have a simple guide to let you follow through when you embark on this fun adventure of creating layouts featuring photos, beautiful papers, journaling, and some embellishments.

1) Select a Set of Photos to Work On

To begin, choose a set of photos based on a theme or occasion. Starting with a specific focus is much more manageable than tackling a family heritage project based on chronological order. If you want to learn about different ways of sorting through your photos, check out my article “Efficient Photo Sorting for Scrapbooking: Simplify Your Process and Save Time“.

2) Decide on a Central Photo

Select one photo to be the main focus of your layout. This central photo will set the tone and serve as a visual anchor for the rest of your design.

3) Have an Overall Layout Image in Your Mind

Where to place your photos? Where to write? Where to add little extras? Remember, this initial layout image is not set in stone, so feel free to make adjustments as you go.

Most beginners will usually draw a blank when it comes to this part, it’s natural. You can look at other scrapbookers’ layouts for some inspiration.

Additionally, scrapbook sketches can save you time and provide guidance for creating attractive pages. Check out my website for five free samples of my double-page sketches.

4) Choose 3 to 4 Pieces of Acid-Free Papers

Few pieces of patterned paper

Select solid-colored cardstock or patterned papers for your layout. One of these papers, typically a cardstock, will serve as your background, holding your entire design together.

Use the other papers for layering, creating journaling text boxes, matting your photos or titles, and more. Choose colors that complement your photos and enhance the overall aesthetic.

5) Crop Your Photos If Needed

While not always necessary, cropping your photos can remove distracting backgrounds and focus on the essential details. That said, it’s normally a good idea to retain as much of the original photo as possible.

For more tips on photo cropping, you can check out “Mastering Photo Cropping: Techniques for Stunning Scrapbook Layouts“.

6) Mat Your Photos

Consider matting your photos to make them stand out. Neutral colors like black, white, and beige are popular choices as they won’t clash with your patterned papers or photo colors. However, don’t be afraid to experiment with bold colors that add a vibrant touch.

Occasionally, I gave my photos bright, bold colored mats and they worked out well too.

Matting every photo is not mandatory; you can choose to mat only the main photo or opt for a more casual look without any mats.

7) Write Something

Page titles can provide a quick overview of the page’s content and it’s usually one of the highlights of a layout.

Another highlight of a page is the journaling and adding it to your pages is crucial for storytelling. While photos support the story, journaling brings meaning and emotions to your layouts. Take some time to write out your journaling, it doesn’t have to be anything lengthy, just a few lines would do.

As you gain more experience, you may find yourself starting with a story in mind and then selecting photos to support it.

8) Add a Few Little Extras

Washi tapes, clear rubber stamping, stickers, paper flowers, or other embellishments can help to dress up your layout or draw attention to specific areas.

Have fun here but try not to overload your page. Focus on telling good stories and saving your memories.

9) Start Laying Everything Down on Your Page

Now it’s time to arrange your elements on the page and assess the overall visual appeal. Don’t hesitate about shifting things here and there. Make adjustments as needed until everything looks in place.

Once you’re satisfied, cut and glue everything down, and voila! Your beginner scrapbooking page is complete.

That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? If you just dive in and not be “paralyzed by analysis”, your first layout can be completed quickly. Don’t worry about striving for perfection in your early efforts.

Okay, if you want step-by-step articles and videos to show you how to create your first scrapbooking page, be sure to check out this how-to guide.

Methods of Sorting Photos

A box of old photos

1) Sorting Chronologically

Ah, the classic approach. Sorting photos chronologically can be a nostalgic journey through time. However, it can also be quite challenging, especially when dealing with older photos lacking specific dates or details. You might find yourself reaching out to relatives for help in filling in the missing information.

To tackle the mountain pile of photos, you might like to consider setting aside certain time slots dedicated solely to just sorting through these photos based on the long timeline. Be prepared to set aside a couple of days or perhaps weeks, especially if you have numerous boxes of photos to work with.

While this method allows you to relive past memories and connect with your ancestors, it can be a tedious process, especially for beginner scrapbookers. So, if you’re not keen on becoming the family historian or if chronological order isn’t crucial to you, fret not! There are other easier sorting methods available.

2) Sorting Current Photos

If the idea of diving into a pile of very old photos seems crushing, don’t worry! Start with your most recent photos and sort them backward. Your memory of details will serve you well here, as you can easily recall information and verify it with others if needed.

Sorting current photos is less intimidating than starting from the beginning and sifting through a large collection. It’s much simpler to begin with 2023 than to tackle photos from 1958. Plus, if you don’t plan on doing family heritage scrapbooking, you may not need to dig into the history of those early photos at all.

This method is perfect for those who prefer to live in the present and want to document their current generation. You can start fresh with your own generation or include your parents’ generation to help your children get to know their grandparents better.

Now, let’s jump ahead to other ways that you can sort your photos.

3) Sorting by Occasions

Birthday cake with Happy Birthday tag

Let’s take the easy route for your first scrapbooking project. Sort your photos by special occasions, such as anniversaries, birthdays, new years, graduation ceremonies, Halloweens, Christmases, etc. This method is great for organizing your photos and serves as inspiration for your scrapbooking ideas.

Sorting by occasion allows you to start quickly and on a smaller scale. It’s an enjoyable way to create something meaningful, and it will likely motivate you to continue scrapbooking. And there are always enough occasions to go around throughout the year.

Scrapbooking for beginners should be fun, shouldn’t it?

4) Sorting by Themes

Here’s another simple and effective method. Themes don’t always have to revolve around significant events. They can be as simple as capturing everyday moments or individual experiences. People often forget to document their daily lives, which make up a significant portion of their time.

One popular theme is “baby’s firsts,” but you can also focus on events that span a timeline, such as college life, home renovation, or changing fashion styles. The possibilities are endless if you let your imagination run wild.

Themes don’t have to consume a lot of time; you can choose a specific timeframe. However, themes that cover different timelines can provide interesting ideas for creating diverse pages, such as My Personal Style in the 2000s, 2010s, and the 2020s.

For my very first scrapbook, I created a “Favorite Photos” scrapbook gift for my best friend’s birthday. To establish the theme, I asked her for ten pieces of her favorite photos. Without breaking into anxiety, I churned out my very first scrapbook within two days.

If you find shopping for supplies a little challenging, try checking out these suggestions on scrapbook supplies based on themes.

5) Sorting by Individuals

Sorting photos by individuals can be more time-consuming, especially if you’re covering a longer timeline or focusing on someone in their advanced years. However, you can simplify the process by selecting a crucial period of that person’s life instead. This scaled-down version of chronological sorting allows you to highlight significant moments and create a more focused album.

When it comes to sorting photos by individuals, don’t forget to include yourself! As scrapbookers, we often prioritize documenting others, especially our children, and unintentionally overlook our own stories. So, take the time to create an album that celebrates you. After all, who else will do it if not you?

Scrapbooking about yourself can be a rewarding and introspective experience. To help you get started, be sure to browse through my collection of 50 simple scrapbooking ideas about you!

Armed with the 9 simple steps to beginner scrapbooking, you might be wondering what are the basic supplies to get you started on scrapping. Let’s talk about the basic scrapbook supplies next.

Supplies to Get You Started

Basic scrapbook supplies

Without a clue about what to buy as a beginner, stepping into a local craft store or ordering from an online scrapbook store can be overwhelming. It can make you feel like a lost child in a huge department store. Alternatively, you might get so excited and go on a shopping spree, ending up with loads of supplies without really knowing what to do with them.

So, what basic supplies do you need exactly? Well, not many to start with. Begin by selecting one or two sets of photos you want to work with, so you know what you’ll be focusing on.

Here are some essential items you may want to have on hand before you start:

Acid-free printed papers or cardstock – What colors will complement your set of photos? Look at the prints, feel the texture, and see in your mind’s eye if the paper will blend well with your photo.

Archival-safe adhesive/glue – Choose an adhesive that can be used for both papers and photos. You’ll need it to adhere your elements to your background page.

Straight-cut scissors – Ensure they trim neatly and reserve this pair solely for your scrapbooking needs. It’s recommended to use scissors designed for detailed cutting. Personally, I love my Cutter Bees Scissors.

Black pens – These are essential for journaling purposes. Opt for pigment-based, permanent ink pens.

Extras– There are countless tempting embellishments such as washi tapes, ribbons, stickers, die-cuts, border punches, and more that can boggle your mind! To start, select some common accents like washi tapes and ribbons that you can use on different layouts.

Acid-free album – Consider the size you want to work with. Popular sizes include 12″x12″ and 8.5″x11″. Also, think about which colored album would complement your theme. Starting out, an album isn’t a must-have. You might want to wait until you’ve scrapbooked a few layouts to see if you enjoy it enough to create more pages. However, if you prefer having a proper “home” for your completed layouts, go for it!

Album refills/protectors – If you choose non-standard sizes, it’s worth considering getting a few packs of refills at the same time, just in case the manufacturer discontinues that size. It’s a precautionary measure. Additionally, if you decide not to get an album right away, purchasing some page protectors is a good idea to safeguard your completed layouts from damage, dirt, and dust.

You might want actual product recommendations so you know what are some of the best buys out there. Check out these highest-rated scrapbook supply recommendations at Scrapbook.com.

As you get more involved with scrapbooking, you’ll find that you’ll naturally expand your collection of supplies. Then as your scrapbook supplies grow, you might want to look into organizing your supplies.

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