Friday, January 4, 2013

my process for printing individual layouts and my project life book

By far, the number one question I get asked is about how I print my Project Life weekly layouts, but also my individual layouts. 

When I was new to digi scrapbooking I wondered the same thing! That was 9 years ago now! Wow, has it really been that long...yup, it was December 2004 when I created my first digital layout!! I thought the idea of creating layouts on my computer was amazing, but I had concerns about how I was going to get those layouts into an album! At that time, digital scrapbooking was still very new and there weren't many places that printed 12x12, not like now!!

 (this is my girls looking at my 2011 photo-a-day book)

where do I print? 

I have printed at many places before finally finding somewhere I really like and one that will ship to Canada without charging me more for shipping than my entire order!! 

I print my individual pages through Persnickety Prints. I started printing with them years ago! My first order was in October 2010. Since then, I haven't printed anywhere else! I love them and now so does everyone else!

Then I print my photo books/project life layouts as bound books through, although they now have a Canadian site too! Yay!!

printing individual layouts 

I don't just do Project Life. I think that is another common question people have for me. I do still have individual albums for my two girls, plus I still maintain a family album for us! I The layouts that go in the family album are few and far between these days, but I do like the fact that if I create a random layout that I have a place to put it! 

I was a paper scrapbooker for years before going digital, so for me having physical albums is a must. I use the We R Memory Keeper 3-ring binder albums. The great thing about having physical albums is that I can include a paper layout if I want or I can incorporate Project Life pages, like Design E, which I use to insert the girls artwork in. 

My albums are organized chronologically, even though I don't create layouts that way I have a running list of layouts I "would like" to include in our albums and work from that whenever I have a creative team layout to create or am in the mood to create something other than a weekly project life layout! I don't follow this list to the letter, but I do like having it there to help me when I am in a creative rut and I am not sure what story I want to document. 

 I have a folder on my computer called "layouts to print". This is where I put all my layouts when I am finished and I want to print them. Another thing you should know...I don't print every layout I create!! Sometimes I create layouts that are merely for a creative team assignment and I know that it's not something I want to print. I keep putting layouts in that folder until Persnickety Prints has a sale! This usually happens a couple times a year. I buy the print credits and then print when I get a chance! It's great!! 

When my beautiful 12x12 layouts arrive in the mail, I insert them into page protectors in the appropriate album. 

Another great thing about digital is that if I create a layout about a certain event, like Christmas. I can then print that layout twice and include it in each of my girl's albums!! Love this!! 

printing my project life weekly layouts 

The first time I did photo-a-day/project life was in 2009. When I started, I had no idea how I was going to put everything together. I knew I wanted it to be a book, but I wasn't sure where I would print it. After some research and recommendations from others I decided on I had printed a small photo book with them to see the quality beforehand. I also read lots of reviews and had a close friend who printed her photo-a-day book through them and was very happy. 

I printed my 2009 and 2011 photo-a-day books there. I also printed my 2010 blog posts as books through Blurb. That is how I originally came across them, because I was looking to print my blog as a book They have a cool way to slurp all your blog posts and put them into a book format!! 

I won't go into details about how to download their Booksmart software or how to use it, as they cover all that on their website! What I will tell you is what I do to my layouts before I upload them, how my book is organized and some tips to help you. 

what size of book, type of paper and file format I use 

I print my weekly layouts in a 12x12 (large square) hardcover book with a dust jacket on standard paper. I have printed two books this way and I love them!

As for file format that I upload, I have always uploaded a high resolution JPG file. When I say high resolution, this means that in Photoshop Elements when I am saving my layout as a JPG, I get a dialog box that asks me what size I want to save as, I always select the maximum size of 12. I have had no issues uploading just a JPG. Blurb allows you to upload other files types too, but for me, this has always worked and I have always been happy with the final printed result. 

what I do to my layouts before I upload 

If you read my post the other day about how I create my weekly layouts, you might remember me mentioning that I rescale my weekly layouts to give me a nice 1/2 inch to inch border around my content. 

When printing individual pages through Persnickety Prints, I don't worry a whole lot about this. I do ensure I keep important content, like text away from the edges, but I don't rescale my layouts. 

But when printing through Blurb, you will quickly come to realize that they have crop and bleed marks, which you can turn on and off. I leave them turned on at all times so that I can quickly see if any of my photos or text is in jeopardy of being cut off. 

If you're using Becky Higgins Project Life templates and don't change anything about them, when you go to upload them to Blurb, you'll see that your images are very close to the crop line and potentially might be cut off when printed! I don't want to take that risk! 

Here's an example of what I am talking about. 

Do you see how close my photos are to the crop line? I have background paper behind my images and if I leave it like this, you won't even see it in the final printed book. I personally don't like having my images that close to the edge!!!

To avoid this, I rescale my layers before I create my final jpg file for printing. 

Rescaling and resizing are two different things, so don't get confused by the terms! 

My image size is still 12x12 inches, that does not change! With other online book printing companies, people have been known to create a smaller image size to upload...for Blurb, you don't want to do this! You still want to have a true 12x12 inch image to upload! 

Also, rescaling your layout does not affect the look of it in any way! I have always done this for my layouts and I have successfully printed two books with over 130 layouts each and have never had an issue. The key is to rescale everything on the page except your background! 

To rescale your layers in Photoshop Elements: 

  1. In your Layers palette, select all the layers EXCEPT the background. 
  2. A bounding box appears around your layers that has little squares on each corner. 
  3. Click on one of those square boxes. The Rescale toolbar appears.
  4. Ensure there is a check mark beside Constrain Proportions.
  5. You will see a box for width (W) and one for height (H).In either the W or H box type 95% and then click the green check mark to complete the action. I found 95% to be the best amount to rescale by, but you can adjust as needed. 
  6. Save your layout however you normally do. For me, I save a PSD version and a final JPG version when I know it's complete and ready for printing. 
Here's a visual that might help...

You will notice that all your content, excluding your background moved in proportionally the same amount on each side. This will not only ensure your photos don't get cropped when printed, but it also means that whatever background paper you have will be more visible! 

So now when I upload that same layout to Blurb, notice the difference? You can now see my background paper and my photos aren't so close to that crop line!

Now you're probably wondering why I don't just rescale the templates first before I create my layout. I have often thought about doing that, but what I have found is that if I do that, I spend more time resizing my photos and journaling cards to fit the smaller layers within the template. I would much rather build the layout as is, because all my journaling cards and photos are already the right size and then rescale my layers after I am done. 

 the layout of my project life book 

I view my book as just that, a book. So I have a title page, a dedication/personal message page and monthly dividing pages, along with my weekly layouts. That is how I've always done it and I like it and it works for me.  

So in the Booksmart software that Blurb uses, I set up my book knowing that I'll eventually have all those pages. The page layout design that I select is Photo - Full Bleed. Then when I upload my layouts, I drag them to the correct spot! It's pretty simple! 

In the past, I use to wait until the end to put my book together, but now I upload layouts throughout the year, so that at the end, it's not as much work to finish it. Although, I still wait until Blurb has a discount coupon to use before I send it for print!! 

I don't create my title page at the beginning of the year, I create it at the end when I am close to printing my book. I've said before the reason I do this is because I include the photos from our family photo shoot, which I do every October. This year, I didn't create my monthly dividing pages throughout the year either, I am still creating them now! Part of that is because I wasn't sure what look I wanted for them. Sometimes, the final look of the book doesn't come together for me until I am close to finishing. I am okay with this. 

Here's a screen shot of how my book looks right now in the Booksmart software....

I am still finishing up my December weekly layouts and of course putting together my monthly dividing pages. I also need to write my personal message the beginning of the book. This is usually a letter to my family. I am getting so close! I am not in that big a rush yet, because as far as I know, Blurb doesn't have a discount code right now I must wait for one of those!! 

I hope this helps answers some of your questions about how I print. If you have further questions, please post a comment and I'll do my best to answer.


  1. Thanks for leaving me a link on 2Peas to your directions for this! I appreciate it.

    My other question is storage; how do you store all of your digital files (photos, layouts, and scrapbooking items)? Do you have an external hard drive? Do you use an online backup service (like Carbonite or something)? I'm afraid my poor computer will run out of room one of these days! Thanks!! All I've done so far is backed up all of my completed layouts and all of my photos onto an external hard drive.

    1. Amy, I am so glad I could help you out :)

      As for my back-up's very lacking right now as our external hard drive died over the Christmas holidays!! I am thankful that I still had everything on our computer. We have two large hard drives in our computer, so right now, all my digi supplies and pictures are on here, which I love!! But we'll be looking to replace our external very soon! I would also like to do what fibiscrap suggested and have something online!

  2. Thank you so much for adressing the print issue : this was a very helpful post, expecially for someone who, like me, has never printed any of her digi layouts ever :/

    @Amy: I'm not Sheri but I'll share what I do regarding storage anyway :)
    I have an external HD of 1Tb where I keep my photos, my digital supplies and my layouts (psd and flattened jpgs).
    I also have a second HD of 1Tb that I use as a backup of that first drive. My backup (using cobian - my compputer runs on windows 7) is scheduled on a weekly basis (incremential backup) and once a month a full backup is done. The key to having things scheduled is that I never forget to backup my files, the computer does it on its own.
    I also use an online backup service (crashplan) because I want at least one of my backups to be offsite (in case of a burglery, a fire or whatever).
    Hope this helps.

    1. Thanks for jumping in to help answer Amy's question. I am so glad you did, because you actually helped me, as we're looking for something online for a back-up system!

      Good luck printing some layouts! :)

  3. Our scrapping processes are very similar. I can really relate to how you work! Thanks so much for sharing the rescaling steps for the PL spreads. I'm preparing to print my first year of digital PL through Blurb, and I would not have known to do this!

    1. Kirsten, I am glad I could help. I hope it works and you enjoy your PL book!

  4. I found my way over from the 2Peas site and wanted to thank you for sharing your printing process. I'm doing a physical PL album this year but want to go back and create digital albums for the past few years so I'm thankful for your post! I've only printed one small book with Blurb so far (which I was very happy with), so knowing how easy it was for you to create the 12x12 after rescaling has given me more confidence.

    Thanks again!

    1. Maggie, welcome :) Good luck printing your book!

  5. Hi Sheri,
    I've been trying out the rescaling. :) Before, I was changing the canvas size to 13x13, which left a nice border around my design, then resizing the image back to 12x12 before finally inserting my background paper. That worked great, but I was concerned about loss of image quality with the resizing, so I was excited to try the rescaling method instead. I'm having trouble, though... How do you get your design to stay centered on the page? When I select everything except the background paper, the bounding box is bigger than what's showing because I've used clipping masks, and of course, some of the photos are really bigger than what you see in the design. I think you may have the same issue, because in the tutorial photo, I can see that your rescaling box extends beyond the edge of the template areas. I've tried merging those layers, but the box is still bigger, so when I try to center it with the background, it ends up not actually in the middle of the page. Also, do you know how to center something on the background and keep the background from moving? Does that make sense? When I select both layers and then click align>horizontal centers (or vertical centers), BOTH layers move to meet each other. I've been trying to figure out that one for a while. Anyway, I hope that makes sense. Sorry it was so long! :) Thanks so much for any advice you can share.

    1. Hi Jenny!
      That's a very good question! I have only run into this problem once before and I honestly forgot about it and don't remember what I did, but I will look into it further and hopefully have an answer soon!

      Like you said, I do merge papers and some photos to my layers to help prevent the issue from happening and most of the time it works. Even though my bounding box in the example is off my page, it still rescaled fine. If I had to take a guess, I think I just did the rescaling and then took note of where the layers were on the opposite page and moved everything over by that much. I know that's not the best solution, but if you're having trouble and need a quick fix, that's what I would do.

      I will look into this further and get back to you!

    2. Thanks, Sheri! I appreciate it! :)

    3. Hi Sheri, I just figured out how to center layers without both of them moving, and I had to come back over here to tell you (in case anyone else reading had the same issue). :)

      You have to select the layer that you want to stay put (Ctrl+click on the layer thumbnail so you get the marching ants around it), and then choose the layers you want to align in the layers palette and align as usual. Whichever layer has the marching ants around it will not move! I did a little happy dance when I figured this out. :)

  6. I think it makes a big difference to work with a professional printer. I tried to handle my own printing but I was not pleased with the quality or response. I also do commercial photography so the presentation really matters.

  7. HI! I love this post as I am trying my hand at printing my digital project life through blurb this year. I use photoshop elements 11 and have been trying to follow your directions to rescale my layouts before adding them to the book...the problem is that after I select all the layers except the background and the bounding box appears, nothing happens when I click on a square...the green arrow and red button just appear to confirm "changes or not". Any idea how to get the box to appear in elements 11 to rescale? Any help would be so appreciate as I am learning this for the first time! Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Really inspiring one for today. Practicing designing and printing from the childhood is the best to be polished and give you more mature look.

  9. Hi! Have you ever paid attention, has your writting level improved lately?

  10. You can call me old school, but I am still compiling our family photos traditionally. I print the photos individually, put them in photo albums and insert little strips of papers where the captions are printed. But after reading your post and seeing how easy it is to accomplish, I can almost see our next family album printed so beautifully like this. Thank you so much! Shelley Dade

  11. This page is very informative and fun to read. I appreciated what you have done here. I enjoyed every little bit part of it. I am always searching for informative information like this. Thanks for sharing with us.
    Software to Resize Image

  12. This is some pretty impressive work. I am a design student and in my last semester I had to do layout for an entire book. It was time consuming work, but I loved every minute of it. It is very satisfying to see the ending product. I'd like to do more layout in the future for sure.

  13. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain the Blurb rescaling. I've been finding my PL albums are going into the 130+ pages (and Shutterfly only goes to 110). So I've always wanted to try Blurb, but gave up because the bleed/trimming cut offs were so confusing. I'm going to try this way for my next album. Now I don't have to worry it I have too many layouts done for the year. :) Yea! Thank you so much. :)

  14. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain the Blurb rescaling. I've been finding my PL albums are going into the 130+ pages (and Shutterfly only goes to 110). So I've always wanted to try Blurb, but gave up because the bleed/trimming cut offs were so confusing. I'm going to try this way for my next album. Now I don't have to worry it I have too many layouts done for the year. :) Yea! Thank you so much. :)


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