Your first step in starting a digital scrapbook page is opening up a blank workspace to drag and drop elements to. First you have to decide which kind of page you are making -- square (12x12 or 8x8), or rectangle (8.5x11). A lot of people who are making 8x8 go ahead and create it at 12x12 because (1) theoretically if you wanted to make a 12x12 someday you could, and (2) most digital papers come at 12x12 so you won't have to re-size everything. But that's your call.
~ Remember, all pictures in these posts will enlarge if you click on them. ~
Ok, so open your Photoshop program: you will probably see something that looks like this. (See right.) There are some palettes such as the Toolbox (long one on left), Navigator, Color, History, and Layers (right) that are probably open (these are the default palettes. You can close the Navigator and Color ones if you want -- I personally don't use those much. You will always want the Layers palette available. Palettes can be re-sized by dragging a corner, or moved around by dragging from the blue bar at the top of each. If you close a palette and need to open it again, they are accessed through "Windows" in the file menu.) The rest of your screen is just an empty, gray space.
Makes you think "Hmm . . . now what?!!!"
We want to open a space to work with. Go to "File" and "New" to create a new image (space to start from.) In the "New" box you can set the size, resolution, and background you want for your new space. First, size: If I were making a 8.5x11 layout (vertical, not landscape), next to width, I would type "8.5" and make sure the drop-down size measurement said "inches" (as opposed to pixels or centimeters or whatever.) Next to "height" I would type "11" and make sure "inches" was selected.
For resolution, there is debate whether 200 or 300 ppi (pixels per inch -- "pixels/inch") is best. I use 300. Most of your elements you've downloaded will be at 300, so you will have to re-size more if you use 200. But I've heard that at 200, Photoshop runs a little faster and the end result print quality is still fine. That's your call. Type in "200" or "300."
The Mode should be default at RGB color. Leave it.
"Contents" at the bottom determines what the base layer of your space will look like. You can choose either "white" or "transparent." (I used to always choose transparent, until I realized I was just going to cover the entire space up with a patterned paper anyway -- and sometimes I want to make the paper lighter by adjusting the opacity, and having white underneath to show through helps lighten it up. I would just have to create a new white layer to put underneath anyway.) But again, your call.
Now that you understand this process, I'll tell you a shortcut: instead of going to File and New, you can hold down "control" and "N" to open a New File.