I am relatively new to scrapbooking, having started about six months ago, moving on from card-making. For the uninitiated, traditional scrapbooking is an American papercraft hobby that has taken off in the UK. It is a creative and different way of displaying your photos making layouts by using patterned backing papers, embellishments and journalling to record special memories. It is an absorbing and potentially expensive hobby, as avid papercrafters add to their 'stash' of paper, ribbon and silk flowers etc. Digital scrapbooking allows you to use photos from your computer and apply them to layouts using digital elements. These can be printed out, shared on-line or e-mailed to friends and family. There is also the opportunity for 'hybrid' layouts using a mix of the two. Wanting to explore more I did a bit of research and when I discovered Serif Digital Scrapbook Artist decided to give it a whirl.
The box is very girlie, and looks quite young, however I don't think kids are the target market, and I think this program works for beginners of any age. It includes the program CD and a digikit CD along with a thorough, well illustrated User Guide and visual guide book to the items in the digikits. The digikits contain backgrounds, frames, shapes and letters etc in 12 'themes' such as Blustery Spring, Festive Walk and Nursery Rhyme to cover a variety of occasions that you may want to scrapbook. I found the themes quite good, and often could mix them together. You can change the size, depth and angle of a number of the embellishments too.
Whilst I am computer literate and have used some basic imaging packages, I'm no technical expert, but found the package easy to use at a basic level, and have enjoyed learning by experimentation and have only referred to the User Guide to find out more about certain features. The digikit CD works with this package as well as others (apparently, I haven't tried it with any other package) and for my first page I used the Melon School themed content pack which was a pre-designed page in pinks and greens set to my preferred size (I chose A4 for ease of printing as I couldn't print the traditional 12x12" size - although some on-line print companies will do it for a charge) and tweaked it to make it look more like my style. Adding your photos is ridiculously easy, go to the photos tab, click Add, select the photo from your PC library and click Open, then you just drag and drop it onto the page and adjust the size, angle etc by clicking and dragging the mouse. You can move, remove, adjust and add to the existing embellishments as you wish. Alternatively you can start a page from scratch, which is what I did with my later pages. I chose my backgrounds, and all other accessories and features myself, and had fun playing with the program whilst making a page I was quite proud of, as a beginner, using brushes, layering, punches, cutting etc. There is also a Cut Out studio where you can cut out details from your pictures or scanned images and place them on different backgrounds and other techniques, but I've not really played with that feature. Whilst printed results would vary according to your printer, I was very impressed with the results when I tried on my mid-range HP photo printer.
The thing I love about scrapbooking is that there are no rules, so the flexibility is all yours as to how and where you add your photos and what you do with them, there is no right or wrong. Whilst ultimately it may be a bit limiting compared to the range of traditional scrapbooking accessories, it is still a package I will come back to and continue to use. Additional digikits are becoming available but thing they are a bit steep at £30, but it is an option I may consider if the stuff available suited me enough. For example Digikit 2 which is available to download from support site Daisytrail contains a Halloween themed pack, and I can't really see myself having many occassions to use pumpkin backgrounds and embellishments. Daisytrail are part of Serif, the manufacturers, and the site is worth exploring for ideas and asking questions on the forum, it is free and you also get two free themed packs for registering. Compared to other digital scrapbooking programs I have looked at this one seems to be easy to use and offer lots of choice and flexibility. Priced at about £30.