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Scrapbooking for Beginners

Scrapbooking for beginners can be a bit overwhelming. Here you will find useful tips, scrapbooking ideas and supplies for beginners that I know will help you.

You’ve probably got so many photos but have no idea where to start. And you look around at all these other smarty-pants scrapbooking pages out there and think “I’m never going to be able to do anything like that”. You know what; I’ve discovered that most accomplished scrapbookers thought like you once.

They used to say things like “I could never do anything like that” or “I don’t have a creative bone in my body”

Not True!

The key is to take it slowly and affirm in your heart that you do have a wonderful creative side. And that over time, you will become a great scrapbooker in the same way that you have become competent in many other areas in your life.

Scrapbooking for Beginners - Tip # 1 - Organizing your photos
One thing that can help early on is to spend a little time organizing your photos. This will allow you to have them all at arm’s length and in some logical order for easy access.

I believe that when any area of our life (in this case photos) is organized and our mind doesn’t keep reminding us all the time about the cluttered and unorganized state of things, this frees our mind to be more creative.

A clear mind is a more creative mind. I know its not a lot of un but the worst part is getting started. Whether it be hard copy photos or digital, nows the time to set aside a day and S-O-R-T.

Scrapbooking for Beginners - Tip # 2 – Start with test photos
It is a good idea to choose some photos that aren’t particularly special to you or that you have an extra copy of. This way you can use them for a bit of a test and trial page and it doesn’t matter if they get destroyed in the process.

It’s a lot easier to do this these days with high quality scanning available and a higher percentage of people’s photos being held in digital form. But often when people start out they are very aware of those older photos of their family etc and may want to get them into an album quickly.

Make sure you have good copies of these old photos when you are just beginning. In fact it’s a good practice to get into right throughout your scrapbooking life, especially now that it is relatively cheap and easy to get good quality copies from scans.

Scrapbooking for Beginners - Tip # 3 – Start with a simple scrapbooking layout
Starting with a very simple scrapbooking layout is a good idea.

Don’t try to incorporate too much into your first few layouts. Focus on the basics of cardstock techniques, paper techniques, backgrounds and colour coordination between your photo(s) and the card and papers you choose.

Having said that, don’t ever feel that there is a precisely correct way to scrapbook. There are some underlying scrapbooking principles that usually make an eye-catching page but every now and then you see a layout that breaks all the rules and looks absolutely stunning.

Simple scrapbooking pages can be very effective. A number of world renowned scrapbooking professionals still promote simple clean layout ideas and I too am a fan of them.

Sometimes less is more and as a beginner scrapbooker, this is a great philosophy to adopt in the beginning.

Scrapbooking for Beginners - Tip # 4 - Borrow ideas from magazines & others layouts
If you are looking for inspiration to help you begin scrapbooking, getting hold of some scrapbooking magazines is a good way to gets lots of new ideas.

When flicking through a magazine remember that you are not necessarily looking for a layout that you can copy exactly, but more just one or two ideas that you can use and integrate in with other ideas.

For example you may not like the papers being used in a layout but are attracted to the layout design. As a beginner scrapbooker grab the ideas that you could see working for you and leave the rest on the table.

Also try and visit as many scrapbook stores as you can for ideas, either in person or online. Most scrapbook stores have a selection of completed layouts around the wall or in albums for customers to look at.

Scrapbooking for Beginners - Tip # 5 - Join a class
If you enjoy scrapbooking but know you could benefit from some expert help, why not enroll in a scrapbooking for beginner’s class.

Beginner scrapbooking classes are designed to get you jump-started quickly. You can then progress to intermediate classes if you want once you have the beginner scrapbooking basics under your belt.

I recommend these classes because you learn from the best very quickly and come away with a bunch of new scrapbooking ideas to implement immediately. When you’re attending scrapbooking classes it is also another way to have a look at other people’s layout ideas. Ask those who have been scrapbooking longer than you if you can have a look through their scrapbooking album. Most people will feel honored that you have asked them.

Scrapbooking for Beginners - Tip # 6 - Go easy on embellishments
You’ve probably heard of scrapbooking embellishments. They’re those zillions of little accessories that you can add to your layout to enhance them.

There is an immense range of embellishments in scrapbooking stores. But be careful when you use them, it is quite easy to get too carried away and over-crowd the page with them. This leaves the page looking too busy and it becomes hard to see where the focus of the layout should be.

The eye gets drawn everywhere on the page but nowhere in particular. Scrapbooking is still primarily about photos, so try not to let you’re your embellishments steal the show.

Scrapbooking for Beginners - Tip # 7 – Invest a little in some good quality scrapbooking tools and equipment
There are some basic scrapbooking tools that you will need to get started and with a couple of them in particular, you should be prepared to buy the tried and trusted brands.

It is always possible to pick up some cheaply made copycats but if you are like me, you know that whenever you’ve done that in the past, it’s not too long before you regret your cheap purchase and wish you had paid a bit more and purchased the better quality ones.

This is very much the case when it comes to buying the basic scrapbooking tools that you will need to give you confidence as a beginner scrapbooker.

Here is a list of some of the indispensable beginner scrapbooking tools:

  • Paper Trimmer - A paper trimmer is probably the first scrapbooking tool you should buy as a beginner.

    These are useful for measuring and cutting at the same time. They allow you to easily cut out frames and borders from the middle of a sheet of card or paper and ensure perfectly straight cuts every time.

    We’ve sold a few different types of paper trimmers in our scrapbooking store over the years but the one that most people like and find easiest to use is the Fiskars Euro Trimmer 12 inch.

  • Craft Scissors – Another basic scrapbooking tool that you will use just about every time you scrapbook.

    Make sure they have a nice smooth cutting action and that they have a fine tip and can cut very fine pieces of paper.

  • Colour Wheel – I believe this is one of the most underrated items for a new scrapbooker.

    Colour coordination is such a foundational aspect in creating great layouts and a color wheel in a beginner’s scrapbooking kit is an invaluable tool in helping you consider colour options you otherwise may not think of.

  • Stencils/Templates/Alphabet shapes - Used for making shapes or lettering for your page.

    You can also buy a special cutter to quickly cut around the templates/stencils for a fast perfect finish. There are also a range of electronic cutters out now that are fun and fast to use. But that can be in your next weeks budget.

  • Black acid free marker pen
  • Photo splits- not exactly a tool but such an essential part of getting started that I thought I better list them.

    Quick easy non-messy way of sticking down photos on to your page.

  • Scrapbooking Album – when you buy an album, make sure it is expandable as you will very quickly need the extra room.

    A major problem in the industry is when companies who manufacture albums, for a variety of reasons stop making refill pages for them.

    Many albums won’t fit any refills but their own. Even if you find one that fits your album but isn’t from the original manufacturer, you will have problems with them being just a little bit bigger or smaller or thicker of shinier or……

    So when buying an album:

    1. Make sure the company is very well established and likely to be still around in 5+ years or more.

    If the company no longer supplies refills when you need them next, you will be stuck with an album that has different looking refill pages, if indeed you can find some to fit at all.

    This is a particular problem for people buying cheap albums from discount stores. They don’t want to know you in 2 years when you go back for more refills.

    2. Always, always buy lots of refills when you buy your album. They are cheap and this may save you many headaches down the track.

  • Scrapbooking storage system – as you begin to gather a few scrapbooking products you will find you need some sort of scrapbooking storage system to keep everything orderly and to prevent damage that so easily occurs with paper and card.

    You can devise your own storage system very cheaply. One very handy item that we sell a lot of is a basic 12 inch by 12 inch cardboard box with a fold over lid – commonly known as a pizza box.

    Although these aren’t the most gracious looking things to have around you home, they are cheap and fit 12x12 paper perfectly.

    After that there are a good range of slightly more refined and more durable storage solutions that will allow you to organize your scrapbooking materials at home as well as transport them easily to classes or friends houses for crop nights.

One of the most economical ways to buy all the above items is in a beginners scrapbooking kit or as we call them, a starter kit which you can buy at a special rate when you attend one of our beginners scrapbooking classes - Scraptech One.

Scrapbooking for Beginners - Tip # 8 – Spend time with other scrapbookers
What was really helpful for me when I began scrapbooking was to look at everyones layouts I could get my hands on.

Nosing through their albums gave me some great scrapbooking layout ideas to play with. Most scrapbookers enjoy letting others have a look at their work and helping them with any questions that arise.

And of course you will get an opportunity to give back once you have completed a few layouts.

It is sort of like having your own group of personal tutors. They gave me on-the-spot scrapbooking advice and ideas and I was very grateful for those interactions.

If you have friends that scrapbook, get together at someone's house for a few hours. Take all your scrapbooking papers, tools etc with you and see if your friends want to swap and trade some of your scrapbooking products.

This is a very cost effective way of trying out different scrapbooking supplies and is lots of fun.

If you don’t have any family or friends that are into scrapbooking (invite them over and you soon will), then get along to one of the numerous crop nights that most scrapbooking stores run. There you will rub shoulders with lots of other avid scrapbookers and be exposed to a plethora of scrapbooking ideas.

If you find a regular crop night with the right mix of woman, they can be so much fun. Sometimes some of our croppers are having so much fun they forget to scrapbook. But hey, better to have fun without scrapbooking than scrapbooking without fun.

Scrapbooking for Beginners - Tip # 9 – Consider predesigned scrapbook kits
A predesigned scrapbook kit is created when an accomplished design team member has produced one or more scrapbook projects and then written up step by step instructions for you to follow.

A number of scrapbook stores (like us) produce these kits monthly and so they are also known in the industry as monthly kits. Monthly kits usually include all the materials you need to complete the pages and projects shown (except adhesives) as well as complete instructions.

The colour coordinating, design layout and scrapbooking supplies have already been selected for you. Monthly kits are also a great way to get a lot of scrapbooking done fast. All the ground work has already been done for you. However, what a lot of people do who is to use some of their own creative flair and change things a little from the original design.

So you have the option to follow the designer’s layout exactly or alter it as you see fit.

Monthly scrapbooking kits are a nice balance between you being in the creative control seat, and producing a scrapbook album quickly. They are also a very economical way to scrapbook because you don’t have to buy six of one thing just because that’s how they are packaged. Instead you usually get precisely the right amount of everything, with no unnecessary leftovers.

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