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The "A.B." in ABCreations stands for Anmarie Bowden, that's me! My favorite ice cream is Mississippi Mud from Baskin Robbins, altho I'm partial to Oreos crumbled on top of Vanilla Bean ice cream too! I was born on Super Bowl Sunday. I have been digiscraping since 2000. I live in beautiful sunny California. I am married to my soul mate and we have two gorgeous children. My favorite saying is, “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!”


Friday, June 30, 2017

Advice from Designers

Recently I've had a lot of questions asking for various help. In no particular order, here are some things I advise: 
Choose the right software for you. Good software doesn't have to be expensive, but you should choose wisely. You need a program that can support layers, png images, and ideally, abr files. (You'll eventually learn what those are) 

I suggest you get to know your software a little before you try creating scrapbook pages. Instead of madly downloading kits and trying to get all the cool digital effects your first day, get a handle on the basic principles of digital. Layers. Type. Your tool bar. Opening a document. Saving it. Different file formats. Basic photo editing. 

Brushes, Actions, Templates, and Drop Shadows are not for Day One. 

If you choose Photoshop Elements, learn how to import/copy/paste your image layers into your layout. Instead of using scrapbook patterned paper and embellishments at first, try using just a couple of photos, and some simple, solid color background papers until you feel comfortable. 

If you think you are going to love digital scrapping, invest in an external hard drive, or subscribe to an online storage hosting site. You will accumulate a ton of product and you should get a handle on it from the very beginning. 

Unless you only plan on scrapping what comes out of your camera, get a scanner. I recommend a dedicated scanner (not a three-in-one) you can get a good one for under $150. Now you can scan your pre-digital photos, souvenirs, heritage photos, and your child's artwork. I could go on & on about the stuff you can scan! 

Don't assume digital scrapbooking is faster and easier than traditional scrapping! It can be, but it can also be very time-consuming. But fun! 

If you get discouraged, it might be because you are working beyond your level. Take it slow and easy, don't try to create a masterpiece on your first attempt. Or two. Or three. 

Don't ever be afraid of sounding dumb if you don't know something. Everyone was dumb at the beginning! 

Look for inspiration from a variety of sources. Don't just look at scrapbook related stuff like art journaling or memorydex cards -- check out the design on websites, in magazine advertising, in art galleries, etc. 

Don't worry about your photography skills. 

Don't worry about 'design principles.' The more you observe, the more conscious you will get of what constitutes good design. You don't have to be an artist to create dynamic layouts! 

You don't have to give up paper scrapping to do digital scrapping, and contrary to popular belief, digital scrapping really IS scrapbooking.

Remember it's a learning process so you might get a little frustrated in the beginning... but don't give up! It will be WORTH IT! 

Participate in the challenges. They will help push you to learn more about how your tools and program work.

The UNDO button -- enuf said!

Ok, now I turn the time over to you... I'm sure there will be some more great ideas out there!

Melissa says:
My contribution is: LEARN SHORTCUT KEYS!

No matter the program you use, there are shortcut keys that let you do things faster, and therefore get you done faster. So for example, in Photoshop, on a PC if you push CTRL+Z, that is the undo command. Now if you hold CTRL+ATL+Z, you can effectively go back about 20 steps from where you are right now, so if you messed up a step about 5 steps ago, you can undo those changes instead of starting over.

Another one is CTRL+D which is DESELECT, so in PSP lets say you need to copy and paste something well instead of using the mouse to go to the drop down menu's, you can simply push that command and deselect your image. There are a ton of guides out there that tell you which shortcut keys are useful for whichever program you have. I suggest learning those because I'm telling you, you will work quicker and your work will flow much smoother!

Ok that's my input, lol!

Thank you Melissa! I hope everyone else is willing to share their input as well, leave a comment below!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday's Tip: Edges

Decorative edged scissors are used for cutting decorative edges on paper, cardstock, photos, photo mattes, and just about anything else. You will find many designs to choose from. At first you may want to try those of a fellow scrapbooker. Then you can acquire a few of the designs that you like best.

Die cuts are pretty punched-out designs and usually come in a heavier paper or cardstock weight so they do not bend easily. A number of shapes, designs, and words are available. 

You can also purchase dies and a die cutting machine so that you can customize your die cuts to perfectly match your layout!

Novelty edged rulers come in handy when you want precise trimming on a border or elsewhere. There are rulers available with a different design on each edge of the ruler, which is two-for-the-price-of-one. Patterns come in different styles, such as scallops, zigzag, and much more. Straight rulers are essential for marking strips of paper or card stock and photographs that need to be cut straight. They are also used to draw straight lines when creating borders on your scrapbook pages. Decorative rules come in a variety of styles and allow wonderful options for enhancing borders.
Transparent rules are also called quilters' rulers. Because they are transparent, they allow you to line up your layout perfectly. They are particularly handy for lining up lettering.

Page protectors are clear sleeves into which a finished page can be slipped for protection with holes punched on the side so they can be placed into an album. Some open from the top with others open on the side. Read the package to verify that they are acid for you. Or scrapbook pages that will be handled often, these sleeves offer an invaluable protection.

Use a circular blade paper cutter for a perfectly straight cut. The paper cutter will probably be of more use than any other tool for scrapbooking. This paper cutter has a round blade, which is pulled from the top to the bottom of a photo or paper for a precise cute. the cutting blade and straightedge are attached to a ruled surface, making it very easy for measuring. Ribble or other decorative-edged blades are available for some of these paper cutters. They can save a lot of time.

Corner clipping scissors or punches are used for making decorative designs on photo or paper corners, you can get ones that will round your corners or ones that will make very detailed punches.
Punches are used to punch out small designs and can be found in a number of designs and sizes. One of the best features about punches is that you can use the punched out shape as well as the void or negative area by trimming around it. And the pieces that fall out make great confetti!

Templates are manufactured from a still plastic. They are made in various sizes with various shapes. The shapes are machine cut to give a firm edge to trace around.

Friday, May 26, 2017

5 Steps To Making The Perfect “About Me” Layout

As scrappers we (at some point) realize the absence of ourselves in all our photos and layouts. We are the memory keepers, the photo-takers, and the ones usually in charge of or volunteering at the activity or event. So finding someone to hand off the camera to can be the last thing on our minds. Besides that, we all have that little voice in our head that says, I'm not having the best hair day, or I will get some pictures taken after I lose just 5 more pounds, or the kids spilled (fill in the blank) on my blouse and I don't want a photo of that, or etc. But when it comes down to it, we can't be completely absent from this life, after all we are one of the most important people in it! So here are 5 simple tips to help ease us to the other side of the camera and onto the scrapbooking page...

1. Consider your audience
Get a photo of yourself that fits with the general vibe and tone of your event or activity. Don't try to look like a Disney princess if you are hosting the local crab feed, on a hike with your family, or camping with the kids' scout troop. The best About Me photos are fun and have a personal feel. And don't worry about the background, you can crop that out!


2. Tell your story
I find that photos that come from a bit above your head are always more flattering AND when the subject (you) is standing up straight with your head pointed ever so slightly downward (not enuf to make it look like you have 5 chins), eyes open, and a nice smile that isn't too big (because it can tend to look goofy). Try to be outside in the shade on a sunny day because natural light is the most flattering.

3. Keep it real
Remember this scrapbook layout is for the ages, but mostly i'ts for you. Give your About Me layout a fun feel. Ask yourself: who (am i or who am i with), what (am i doing or what do i like to do), where (am i or where do i like to be), when (am i happy, what day or month is it, what celebration or event is it), why (am i here at this event, why do i host or organize or join in), how (did this become part of my life).

4. Keep it consistent
This is a dedicated piece of scrapbook real estate that’s all about you. Make sure your About Me journaling expresses who you are as a person in an authentic way by including some of the hats you wear (mom, wife, sister, crafter, photographer, etc), some things you like and enjoy (cooking, sports, crafting, etc), a little known fact about you (born on superbowl sunday, collects unicorns, fosters puppies, etc), and something small about your location (born and bred in texas, loving life in the windy city, taking a daily bite out of the big apple). Getting a little personal in your journaling will help people relate to you. Your story is the thing that makes you special, and it's what your ancestors are going to want to know. Don’t forget to tell it!

5. Don’t overthink it
This is ultimately the most important step in writing your About Me.  So while it needs to be accurate, fit with your style, and serve a purpose, everyone out there knows that it’s impossible to sum yourself up in just a few words. When you relax, the words will come to you easier. Trust me.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tuesday's Tip: Matting photographs

Matting is one of my favorite parts of scrapbooking! It's where the colors start to pop and your layout really starts to take shape!

Most photos look better when surrounded with a bit of color and/or decoration. Matting is a simple thing to do, and with some experimentation you will create wonderful mats that accent your photo(s) and enhance your entire scrapbook layout. 

Making a matte is simple. Just select an archival paper or cardstock that is complementary to your photo, then cut the matting paper a bit larger than your photo (usually from 1/8 to 1/2 inch) and adhere the photo onto the paper. That's it!

Solid papers come in every color imaginable! Metallics, heathers, glossies, pearl finish, vellum, and patterned papers... plus too many more to list. But if you are looking for something a bit more unique or custom, paint on a piece of watercolor paper or cardstock with bright colors, or pastel washes. This will make an attractive background, and is fun to create! Use decorative edged scissors to cut and matte and give an instant decorated edge. Cut all four edges with decorative edged scissors or just one, two, or three sides. Cut mattes large enough so a design can be drawn around the edge of your photo with a marker or pen. Patterned papers can be as attractive as solid papers. Matte a round photo on an oval mat, use a corner punch to make decorative corners on your mat, double or triple-mat your photos with other complementary colors. When selecting a paper for matting, you may want to lay your photos on top of several colors of papers you think will enhance your photos, then select the best choice.

White album pages, patterned papers, and cardstock are the types of papers that will be used for background, matting, and decoration on a scrapbook page. It is important that all papers and pages used in an album are acid-free and lignin-free if you intend to keep photos and other items from decomposing.

Selective matting may accent your photograph and enhance your entire scrapbook page. Select an acid-free paper or card stock that is complementary to your photograph. Small patterned papers, as well as solid papers, make attractive mats. Using the photo-safe adhesive of your choice, adhere the photographs to the paper or cardstock. Trim around the photograph with a trimmer or decorative scissors to leave a mat of the desired width. Wider mats are nice for larger photographs. When double or triple-matting a photograph, the outer mat is generally wider than the inner mats. Pre-cut mats are available and make an attractive accent to most photographs.

This photo has a double mat:

Friday, April 28, 2017

Experienced Shadowing

My friend Dawn wrote this tutorial and let me just say, it's a great one! 

I use photoshop CS3 but this should work for most versions.
This is just a few steps beyond making a regular shadow...

I use this to give elements a more realistic look of dimension as if they are raised off the page.

Also as a general rule. You want your shadows to be around 60 percent opacity or a bit lower for lighter papers.

I use these basic settings to start.

Starting with this...

The reason you want to make a separate shadow layer
(where the shadow is all by itself not connected to the element anymore in the layers pallet)
is so you can modify it by using the warp tool.

So now go up to Layers then under Layer Styles.

then select Create Layer

This will separate the shadow on it's own layer below the element layer.

Now you can see in your layers pallet to the right the two individual layers.

Now go to your layers pallet and select the Shadow layer

Now go under Edit and select Transform

Then select Warp

Now pull the tips by grabbing the section of the grid...
Make sure you move the closest sections around the corner of grid too so it looks natural. You want it to look naturally bent.

You will have to play a bit.

Also, make sure that you pull back the base so it is close to the object.

Here shows what the grid looks like...

After warping the grid...

Here is the finished custom shadow.

Tip: if your shadow is too sharp go under Filter, Blur, and select Gaussian Blur and you can soften it  You can do this in the first step making the size bigger. This is used after putting the shadow on it's own layer.

Softened Shadow
I also lowered the fill to from the orig. 60 to 50 since it is on white paper.

The fill is right below Opacity and acts the same as Opacity in this step.

I hope this was helpful. There are many different ways of doing things in PS 

More Shadow Tips:

When I'm trying to figure which way to warp my shadows. I usually look at my
photo and see which way the light is casting down on the subject. I then try to imitate that when creating shadows on my page. Try to make all your shadows cast in the same direction away from the light. Think about depth and if you want something like a butterfly to look like it is flying off the page then make the shadow depth farther off the page and soften the size of the shadow.

I really love using custom shadows on my pages and think it really gives that pop to the elements. I use them on every page and even made an action for creating custom shadows. It makes a lot faster...

Oh another thing about shadows I was asked is do I color my shadows? ... I will usually use a very dark brown or black.

Another Tip:

If I have an area that I want to add more shadow too. I will make a layer above or below the item which ever area that I'm trying to add more depth.

I then put my settings to Multiply and select a soft brush. Then set the brush at a low opacity like 10. I then will paint in a shadow to add the depth I want. Building it up slowly so it looks natural.

Also a fun thing to try for lighter papers is setting your blend mode on your shadow to "Pin Light" this makes a softer shadow that I find can look more natural and especially for light elements and glass.

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day! 🌍🌎🌏

Capture the great outdoors in your next scrapbook layout with this beautiful Earth Day kit called Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! You will escape to nature with the comforting earth tones of brown, blue and green, with a hint of yellow and red for a punch of color just when you need it. This fun-loving kit is filled with a beautiful assortment of 40 earth-friendly papers and a huge 136 fanciful embellishments all in rich earth-tones to perfectly complement those outdoor shots you've been waiting to scrap including Earth Day, MLK Jr Day, Arbor Day, volunteering, picnics, park visits, hikes, adventures, camping, backyard play, Scouts and much more! Come meet the little frog, bee, dragonfly, and bird as they explore the flowers, trees, and mud while learning about how to keep our earth clean and beautiful! Also includes 37 word art.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Earth Day, Nature, The Great Outdoors, Arbor Day, picnics, parks, hikes, adventures, camping, backyard play, scouts

Coordinating Alpha sold HERE
Wooden Alphabet, alpha, font, text, title, words, word art, letters, journaling, writing, word art

CT Layouts

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday's Tip: Cropping Photographs

My friends always tell me I have a "good eye." I was never really sure what that meant until I was helping someone hang a framed photo on the wall and told her it needed to go a bit more left. She moved it a bit left and then her husband came by with a level. To all our surprise, the frame was perfectly straight on the wall. This is how cropping photos works for me, I can just tell what needs to happen. This can often get me into trouble, as my 'eye' doesn't see in standard photo dimensions, so sometimes my crops aren't 4x6 or 5x7 or 8x10. Thankfully, this doesn't matter on a scrapbook page, lol!

So in order to help explain how to properly crop photos, I went back through my photos and tried to understand what my 'eye' sees when its telling me to crop this or that. When I crop photos for a layout, I look at the photo and determine what the main action of the photo is. Many times there is too much background or foreground and it can be trimmed off. If you choose to crop your photos (you don't have to!) it will make the subjects appear closer by trimming off some of the foreground. Also, this will allow you to place more photos on the page to tell the story (i like a lot of photos on my pages). If you choose to crop your photos, make certain to use a paper trimmer to ensure straight lines (my 'eye' NEEDS straight lines). If you need to crop an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind photograph,  PLEASE have a copy made and crop that. Also, instant photos should not be cropped because of the chemicals inside them (don't crop old polaroids or the new ones either, they consists of several layers with chemicals sealed inside, you'll ruin the photo and the chemicals inside will ruin anything they touch).

Now, I know there are people out there who are going to cringe as they read what I write next, so hold on... Photographs can be cropped into any shape from a template. Yes, it is ok to crop your photos into shapes! However, it is NOT a requirement! You don't have to crop anything, ever! However, if you get the urge, or someone has photobombed you and you are ready to crop them out, a soft art pencil can be used to trace the shape onto your photograph. Once the photograph has been cut into the traced shape, the excess pencil can usually be wiped away with a soft cloth without damaging the photograph. Templates are available in hundreds of designs and themes. Keep in mind that cookie cutters make great templates! Circle and oval cutters are also available (my circle cutter means I never have to trace and cut, it does the job for me). If you choose to crop several of your photographs into circles or ovals, these tools will save you a lot of time. Check out my layout below. See? The circle thing isn't all that bad! ;)

If you cringed at the photo cutting, don't read this part... Silhouetting a photograph is another option. This simply means trimming around the subject in a photograph, following its contours. This technique is not for every page or photograph, but sometimes it enhances the page and/or the photograph as well as enables you to place more photographs on a page. When silhouetting a photograph, use a small pair of scissors so you can cut around corners and delicate areas. Take extra care when cutting around hair to ensure that heads are not misshapen! Here is one of my silhouetted photos on a scrapbook layout, its not a technique I use often, but... well, let me know what you think.

Be sure to leave a comment below telling me how you have cropped your photos or why you don't crop or if you like my silhouetting, you know I love hearing from you!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Digi-Scrap Tips

Sometimes it's the little things in life...

tip #1. Did you know that if you hold down the SPACE BAR in Photoshop and then click and drag your mouse, you can move around your layout and not have to use the scroll bars?

tip #2. Did you know that if you hold down SHIFT in Photoshop when re-sizing an element/picture/shape, that keeps it in the proper proportions so nothing looks squished or distorted?

tip #3. For those who use MMS (MyMemories Suite) it can be a bit of a challenge to get digitals into the program to use that aren't already in the program. But fear not, you can now use everything in your stash by following these simple steps!
From the Resource Gallery on the left click the camera icon. This will bring up an icon that says Select Folder.
From there you can pick the file you want. Photos and paper you can bring in from there, but for embellishments, you need to go to Embellies, Add, then in the box that comes up in the lower left corner it says Browse Other.
You need to have the kit you want to use open on the left in the Resource Gallery so you can choose from that kit. If you want another kit you have to open it on the left, then add thru Embellies again.

tip #4. There are a lot of ways to organize your stash of digi goodies. I like to organize mine by color, but that doesn't always work, so I started tagging my files so when I search for them, I have a better chance of finding what I am looking for. Here's a short and sweet tut on tagging. I use a PC and run Windows Vista, so your computer might be different than mine.
Right click the Start button and choose Explore. (not to be confused with internet explorer)
Once the Explore window opens up, go to where you keep the items you want to tag.
Click the item
At the bottom of the window you will see: Tags: Add a tag
Click on the part that says: Add a tag
Type as many descriptive words as you like.
Click SAVE.
Then when you search for one of the words in the description, that item will appear in the search!
Enjoy your awesomely organized stash!

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Spring Equinox and International Astrology Day!

Whether as a study or just for fun, reading about astrology is always interesting. Celebrate International Astrology Day with your near and dear ones. Have fun predicting the future, studying the planets, your last trip to your psychic, or scrapping about UFOs!

This kit is Outta This World! It comes with 45 papers and 100 elements, including a complete solar system with real photos from NASA! There are fun aliens and lots of great rockets, spaceships, UFOs, stars, and even a vortex! There are lots of great typical scrapbooking items too such as staples, journaling blocks, photo prongs, bakers twine, buttons, tabs, glitter splats, brackets, and much more! This kit is perfect for school projects, trips to the observatory or planetarium, meteor shower evenings, astronomy class, or trips to see aurora borealis; but you will use this kit again and again because of the universal color palette and all the great papers and embellishments!
Out of this World, outer space, planet, universe, solar system, alien, earth, space ship, ray gun, UFO, vortex, digital scrapbooking kit

 photo ABC_Space_zps94456b20.gif


This star-strikingly lovely set includes the 12 signs of the zodiac in black and again in chrome (each larger than 6 inches at 300ppi). Also included is a full set of 12 clear overlays featuring each of the signs of the zodiac in black (but you can make them whatever color you like), 12x12 inch at 300ppi. CU OK.
Zodiac Signs and Overlays, Halloween, Wicca, Wiccan, Solstice, Star Signs, Witch, Pagan, Digital Scrapbooking, Scrapbooking


In addition to their use as a written alphabet, runes were a system of symbols used for magic and divination. Runes are a complex system steeped in legend, myth, and mystery; and they are loaded with power! This naturally gorgeous set of 24 Runes charms will add that something special to your next project. Each file is named with the Rune name and meaning. CU OK.
Runes Charms, Halloween, Wicca, Wiccan, Pagan, Ancient Runes, Magic, Divination, Norse, Digital Scrapbooking