Photos make for lasting memories. They are shared among family and friends and lead to stories about past events and fun. And we have been creating photo albums which tell the story of those memorable events for decades. With the rise of digital photography more and more often photos remain digital; sharing them often means showing a slideshow or emailing them. The art of creatively presenting photos seems to be on the path into oblivion.
Today we’ll take a look at ScrapPad for Mac. This app lets you stay on the digital path and still enjoy scrapbooking the analog way. Decorate, theme and share any way you want.
Welcome to ScrapPad
The app makes the first steps very easy. When you open it for the first time, you’ll be presented with an overlay over the normal interface which will explain to you in short how to proceed. But even without it, it’s pretty easy to grasp.
Even for someone like me who’s not been scrapbooking very much at all, the basic principles are clear: create a book and then choose a theme from the many provided. Each theme comes with it’s specific assortments of backgrounds, stickers, borders and other embellishments.
The following themes are already included in ScrapPad:
- ScrapPad Starter Kit: Basic kit
- Stars ‘n Stripes: Patriotic Kit for US Americans
- Father’s Day: For the world’s best dad
- Mother’s Day: For the world’s best mum
- Easter Eggstravaganza: Tell the story of your last egg hunt
- Luck o’ the Irish: Go green!
- Love You: Everything you need to express what your heart is saying
- Christmas Cheer: Relive the holidays
- Give Thanks: Thanksgiving themed kit
- Halloween Scream: This will make you shudder
- Back to School: May be more fun than the actual day
- Costume Party: You always wanted to give someone a mustache or different hair cut?
- Birthday Bash: Just celebrate
- Oh Baby: Document the very special journey a new life takes
- OMG So Cute: For pets and other cuties
- Beach Bumz: Sunny, fresh and happy
- Spring Forward: Flowery
The actual scrapbooking is fairly easy. Simply drag and drop an image onto a page. You can set a background beforehand, but you can change it at any time.
The image itself can be scaled or rotated. To achieve rotation, simply select an image (or any element) and move your cursor outside of the selected image. It’s not the most intuitive thing to figure out, but once you know, it’s fast and easy.
Now the actual fun starts: pick from the stickers, borders and embellishments available in your theme to decorate the page and photo.
As you might see right away, scrapbooking is not about subtlety. There are neutral backgrounds and extravagant ones, but overall the entire idea is geared more towards “overdoing” things, which might take a little time getting used to if you’ve never done it before. Being a graphic designer myself I really had to get into a more “kitsch” mindset before I could appreciate the possibilities offered. This isn’t about winning a design contest, this is about fun and bringing out the specialness of a moment.
Look Beyond Your Theme
While every theme is a well selected kit of stickers and borders which all match, you might want to look to other themes for some additional inspiration.
You can put elements of different themes on a single page – for example, grab stickers from a different theme. And not every theme comes with the same kit elements.
Just be creative and pick the stuff that is best for your scrapbook, even if it means breaking out of the theme. It’s a feature I really appreciate because it allows you much more creative freedom.
You are also free to place the elements any way you want – in front of each other or sending them to the background. And if you need the very same element again, just duplicate it. With a simple right click all the options are revealed:
While the app itself is very easy to use and allows for many choices, there are some limitations that you need to be aware of.
First of all, I’m missing some importing and editing options for the images. I’ve just been dragging images into the app because that’s the easiest and most comfortable way. The image appears instantly, which is great, but I have no options to downsize it – file size wise – or to edit it after the import.
While file size doesn’t necessary need to become a problem, I’d love to be able to have basic image adjustment options like cropping an image, adjusting contrast, saturation or exposure. While I realize that you can do all of that in iPhoto, it would be nice if that could be done within ScrapPad as well, eliminating the need to go through another app.
The other issue I have is that sometimes the controls within ScrapPad are not responsive or that they’re getting stuck. When resizing a sticker or a border or manipulating it in any manner, it’s sometimes impossible to deselect it. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed by leaving the page and coming back to it, but it’s annoying nonetheless. This definitely needs ironing out.
Share Your Scrapbook
Once you’re done, it’s time to show others what you’ve created. There are three options available and each has it’s benefits. The most comfortable one is of course to send it straight to email. ScrapPad will need a couple of seconds to compile your book and downsize it, so it will be easier to send. My three pages with uncompressed photos came out at 470kb, which is quite acceptable for sending. If you’ve created more pages and photos, that size will of course increase.
Alternatively, you can save your book as .jpg with every page resulting in a separate image file. The images are small as well, 760x586px and roughly 130-200kb in file size. With this export option, you can send separate pages to people or print them out for proofing.
The last export option is quite impressive. It’s a PDF export and it’s huge. It doesn’t compress anything, so my three pages with 5 photos and all the ScrapPad decoration came out at 41MB. At first glance, that seems unnecessarily big but the benefit is the dimension of each page: 117x90cm or 46×35.4 inches. As long as your photos are high resolution images, you can literally print posters from your scrapbook or have it printed on a smaller scale, but very sharp and detailed.
ScrapPad has impressed me with its ease of use; even as someone who hasn’t used an app similar to this before I could start right away with creating my books. And it’s surprisingly much fun to use. The export options are ideal for easy sharing and professional printing alike.
What is your take on (digital) scrapbooking? Will you take it up or do you prefer other methods of preserving memories?