The Proven Path to Becoming a Great Digital Scrapbooker
I thought I'd give you some tips about using my "how to learn to make digital scrapbooking layouts" tutorial series – Software Scrapbook Secrets Revealed for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.
Sometimes I hear from people that they are confused about how to use my Secrets tutorials. My experience is that this confusion is caused by one of three things:
The person tries to watch too many videos at once. Because there are so many videos with so many topics covered, they feel overwhelmed.
The person starts watching the videos in the middle of the series. They feel confused because it seems so difficult. They don't realize that they haven't learned the basics yet. Remember learning to swim? Until you learned, you would have drowned if you had jumped in the deep end of the pool. Starting in the middle of the video series is like jumping in the deep end of the pool – don't do it until you learn the basics.
The person is too hard on themselves. They feel like a failure – or that digital scrapbooking is too hard for them – if they don't "get it" after one viewing. They think that because they are an adult, they should be able to do it the first time around.
How People Learn
I taught piano to these twin sisters. One of them played the violin, and the other played the piano. I'll tell you more about them in a moment.
Many people don't know that I was a music teacher for over 25 years. (I have a Bachelor's of Music Education in voice and strings). If a beginner wanted to learn to play the piano, I always took them through the same first steps.
First, I taught them about the piano itself – that the notes were higher on one end of the piano and lower on the other end. Then I taught them how to sit on the bench properly and how to hold their arms, wrists, hands, and fingers.
Next, I taught them some basics about rhythms – how long various notes lasted – and then, finally, they would learn to read notes on a page – not all of them – just a few notes right in the middle of the piano. Maybe they would start by learning five notes.
If I skipped the introductory information and just plopped a book full of music on the piano and said, "Okay, have at it. Play something for me, then I'll tell you what you're doing wrong," the piano student would have looked at me like I was nuts. They would have felt overwhelmed, and some of the children may have started to cry. At the very least, they would have felt that it was too hard for them and would have given up.
Sounds kind of silly – that a piano teacher would do that to a kid, right?
But guess what? That's what beginning digital scrapbookers do to themselves all the time! They expect that because they know something about the computer, they should be able to open their software – Photoshop Elements or Photoshop – and start making layouts immediately. They try to plop open their supplies and make the same kind of beautiful, intricate layouts that they see in the Scrap Girls newsletter! When they can't do that, they tell themselves that it's impossible.
They forget that the best way to learn anything – to read, to write, to play the piano, and to learn how to use software - is to learn the basics - first. They forget that it's best if they learn each skill – one at a time. And they often forget that the best way to get good at something is to practice each step until it feels easy to do.
Why Adults ‘Submarine' Their Efforts to Learn Something New
Adults are sometimes the worst learners. I saw this all the time as a music teacher. Why? Because they are too darn hard on themselves (self-critical) or are extremely impatient (I want to know this today!).
Indeed, my biggest challenge when I took on an adult beginner was to overcome their impatience. They wanted to be able to play hard songs now! And if they couldn't do that, they believed this meant that something was wrong with them (they should give up) or that something was wrong with me (they should find a new teacher).
The truth? They didn't want to take the time to practice. Some part of them thought that being an adult meant that they didn't need to.
Now, add this impatience with practicing to the maddening tendency that most adults have to be too critical of themselves. The result? Adults miss out on a lot of fun stuff that they could participate in if they just gave themselves a chance to learn how to do it!
Kids don't have this problem. They expect to practice. They know they must repeat their spelling words to get them down. They understand they have to do lots of long-division problems before the process becomes natural. They know they will burn a few cookies as they learn to bake.
How This Applies to Learning about Digital Scrapbooking
Now let's look at the Secrets tutorial series and how these tutorials should be used in order to get the most out of them.
Scrapbook Software Secrets Revealed comes with the following things:
Short tutorial videos, each containing a small set of skills to learn and practice.
An eBook, containing the scripts for the tutorial videos. Some people like to read and learn. Following along with the script in hand as the video plays can speed up the process for these learners.
An outline of the tutorial series that shows which skills are taught in each video. This makes it easy to find the video containing any given skill that needs to be reviewed.
The supplies needed to make the first layout which is demonstrated in the tutorial. This allows you to follow along with the video exactly.
For instance, the first Photoshop Elements training video (named 1_Unzip_OpeningFiles) covers these things:
If you already know how to do these things, then you can skip that video. But if you are unsure of these things, you can watch the video and then practice opening your files in Photoshop Elements until it feels easy. You should practice opening files using the supplies provided with your purchase as you will use them to you create your first layout.
The second video is named 2_CreatingNewDocument. This video covers:
- Creating New Documents in Photoshop Elements (You'll learn all about the different elements of creating a new document and what each means.)
- Saving the document as a layered PSD file (You'll learn what a PSD file is in the process.)
After watching video 2 (which is only two minutes long!), you will practice creating a new document and then saving it. If you need to create multiple new documents until it all makes sense, then do it! The need to practice as you go along doesn't mean that something is wrong with you or that it's too hard to do; it just means that this is completely new information to you and your mind is still in the "figuring it out" stage.
You'll get it. I promise!
Next, you will go onto the third video named 3_LayeredFiles_PhotoBin_NamingLayers_MoveTool. This video is where you finally start assembling part of your layout. You'll start to feel like a scrapbooker as you do it!
In video 3, you'll learn these things:
- What the Photo Bin is and how you use it.
- What the Layers Palette is and why it will be important to you as you create your layouts.
- What the Move Tool is and how you use it to move your supplies onto your new document. This is one of the most important things you will learn to do because making layouts consists largely of sliding supplies from place to place.
- How to hold the Shift key down as you drag-and-drop supplies into your layout document and why it will make your scrapbooking life easier.
- How to name the layers in the Layers Palette to help keep things straight.
Wow! There's a lot of brand new information in that little two-and-a-half-minute video, right? It's likely that you will need to practice each skill multiple times because this information is completely new to most people. But because the video is so short, you can click around in it and find any piece of information that you need to review. And that's what you should do... review each step until you completely understand it. Don't go on to video 4 until you understand these skills.
Here's how your layout will look after you have completed video 4.
Here's how your layout will look after you have completed video 5.
This is how your layout will look after you complete video 6.
This is how your layout will look after you have watched video 7. Along the way, you will have learned to do some important things such as adding embellishments to files, rotating and resizing photos, how to "cut out" a piece of paper to add an accent, adding stitches to your layout, and wrapping ribbons around a photo frame.
By the time you have started video 11, you will have added text to your layout, rotated it, learned how to add a paper clip to the layout, how to add drop shadows, and more. You will be ready to learn how to save your layout so you can print it out or share it over the Internet.
And then – finally – you will be able to start creating layouts using other supplies.
(As a side note: The Scrapbook Software Secrets Revealed tutorial series teaches you a lot more than how to make your first layout. By the time you are through it, assuming you are practicing, you'll feel like a full-fledged digital scrapbooker!)
Remember: My video tutorials teach you these skills one step at a time, and you can do these things – as long as you are willing to practice as you go along!
Maybe you are someone who learns how to use software very quickly. If you do, then you have a talent for it – just like some of my piano students who learned how to read music unusually fast. But if you don't learn this kind of information super-fast, that's perfectly okay.
It doesn't matter how much you must practice to learn any given thing; it only matters that you do practice when you need to!
A Story of Two Sisters
Now let me explain that picture of the adorable sisters by telling you a little story. These two girls – twin sisters - were my piano students. One of them, Lori, was a whiz-kid. She learned everything extremely quickly. She progressed fast, and it was exciting to teach her because I was always having to think ahead to keep her interested.
Her sister, Amy, didn't learn as quickly. She had to work harder at everything. It took her longer to learn songs and acquire skills. But she was doggedly determined to do it, and I could always count on her to practice her assignments.
Guess which one ended up being a band teacher? Amy!
It turns out that Amy's determination to learn the piano (and the clarinet) made the difference between the two sisters. It wasn't the speed of how she learned that mattered. It was her desire to learn. She graduated from a very strenuous music teaching program at Brigham Young University and has done very well for herself.
When I heard that she had finished this big accomplishment, I was so proud of her that I practically popped the buttons off my shirt with pride. In the beginning, I merely gave her the tools to learn, but she was the one who practiced, practiced, practiced, and believed in herself enough to try.
I hope you have fun as you learn – because digital scrapbooking is fun! Tens of thousands of people have learned to become a great digital scrapbooker with the Secrets tutorial videos, and you can, too – as long as you are kind to yourself along the way... and practice, of course!
And please... if you get completely stuck or if any given thing is kind of confusing to you, fire an email to [email protected] or post a question on the Scrap Girls Message Board and someone will help you right away. We are simply delighted to help you out, because sometimes a little boost over a bump makes all the difference!
Article written by Rozanne Paxman