Ok, so you've made some progress on a page and you want to save your work. But there's so many kinds of files! Which ones do you pick?
Good news: you really only need to know about 4 kinds of files right now (and two of those are just as FYI.) First the FYI's:
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) -- GIFs are commonly used for graphics on the web. GIF is the image format that support transparencies -- so when you have an element like a circle with the white and gray checkered grid behind it, it's probably a GIF. (see example at right.) Don't save photos as GIF, the quality will be crap. [PNG's (Portable Network Graphics) are an alternative to GIFs you may occasionally see.]
TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) -- TIFFs are good photo formats, especially for outputting to other programs. They can be read by many programs and systems. They're flexible and retain quality, but require large file sizes to save.
Now the options you will be using in computer generated (digital) scrapbooking:
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) -- JPEGs are the most common file type for printing pictures (and are often the ONLY file type accepted for printing.) Most of the time you will be saving your pictures and your pages to print or share as JPEGs. Different abbreviations used for JPEGs are .jpg, .jpe., or .jpeg . To save as a JPEG in Photoshop if that's not the default type that comes up in the "Save As" box, you need to select JPEG from the drop-down "Format" box underneath "File Name."
Ok, now about the Photoshop format (.PSD or .PDD). Saving as the Photoshop format takes up a lot of space, but it saves a layered, workable file that you can make changes to. Once you've flattened a scrapbook page down to a JPEG, you can't go back in and change the text if you find a typo or make any other changes -- you can only do that if you save it in Photoshop format. (I can't tell you how many times I've thought a layout was DONE, only to realize later that I'd missed a typo or wished I could add a ribbon.) By saving a fully layered Photoshop file of each layout, you leave open the possibility for quick changes later. Always save a copy in Photoshop format of every computer generated scrapbook page you make. I'm pretty sure that if you have more than one layer in a file, Photoshop format will be the default file type in the drop-down "Format" box underneath "File Name."
Also? A page you've already designed can be a GREAT template for a gift for friends and family. THEY don't care if you have practically the same page in your album! If you have the file saved, it's easy to open it, make a few changes, and have a new completed page! You can see a page I did this with for my friend Priscilla by clicking here. (And I lifted the text straight from a blog entry! More on how blogging and digi-scrappin' go hand in hand here.)
Bear in mind, the Photoshop format files are VERY large, so you might want to invest in an External Hard Drive to store them.
Saving pictures and layouts for printing:
For good print quality, try to save JPEGs at 300 ppi (pixels per inch), high quality (when the JPEG options box comes up, make sure Quality is 10 to 12). The 300 ppi size determination for a scrapbook layout needs to be made as you are creating the blank canvas for your layout at the beginning of the page making process.
When taking pictures with a digital camera, it's best to have your photos coming in at 300 ppi (230 is also ok.) Check your camera's manual if you don't know how to set it on higher resolution. Yes, you can squeeze more pictures on one memory card if you use lower resolution, but you would rather have 100 great photos you can use, or 500 so-so photos that aren't flexible? If you're worried about quantity, spend another $50 on another memory card. Don't sacrifice quality.)
When you're saving an image for posting on the internet, resize it down anywhere from 72 to 100 ppi. Layout postings at TwoPeas have to be 72 ppi, with the largest side 600 pixels or less. To check the size of an image or to resize it, go to "Image" in the file menu, and "Image Size."
The Saving Process:
When you go to save ANY file, get yourself in the habit of being very DELIBERATE. You don't want to accidentally over-write a file and lose that information forever.
I would strongly recommend that you do NOT use shortcuts to save. If the action of hitting "control" + "S" while in Photoshop isn't on your radar, you're less likely to accidentally shortcut to save when you don't mean to. If you HAVE accidentally saved over an original but haven't closed the file yet, you may be able to retrieve the desired original with "Edit > Undo" or the History Palette and save the original back to its file name.
Create a standard routine for yourself of distinguishing file names for variations of an image, then a routine of where to file the saved images. For example: If I crop an image or alter it, I keep the original as is -- I don't save over it. Instead, when I "File > Save As," I put a "_2" at the end of the original file name. This lets me know that it's a variation of the original. (You never know what you might want to do with that original someday, and having just the variation may limit you.) A sized-down version of a layout for posting on TwoPeas or my blog will end with "_Two" or "_Blog." Then after posting the file to TwoPeas and my blog, I delete those versions (why do I need them? They're on the internet, and worse comes to worse, I can resize them again from the saved originals.)
When I save a Photoshop format file of a computer generated scrapbook page, I may use the layout's name, or the subject + underscore ("_") the date. (Underscore is REALLY nifty for file names.) When I save a JPEG of this file for printing, I put "_Print" at the end of the file name. Then I file it in a folder I have just for layouts to be printed (at ScrapbookPictures.com). Once I've ordered the pages and they have been printed, I move them to a sub-folder in my "ToPrint" folder, where they're saved for future reference or use (see image at right. Some images say "Copy" instead of "_Print" because that's what Photoshop will by default name a copy of a file when you change formats, and I didn't have my naming system down yet.) ;o)
Ok, so here are the steps *I* take when I complete a computer generated scrapbook page:
Ok, we're using this page as an example. I'll tell you in blue what the file name would be for this file, bolding the variations.
1. Save the layout in Photoshop format. SweetSmile.psd
2. Save the layout as a JPEG. SweetSmile_Print.jpg
3. Proof the JPEG by minimizing Photoshop and double clicking on the file to view it in Windows Picture Viewer
4. If I see any mistakes, fix them and repeat steps 1 through 3.
5. Using "Image > Image Size," change image to 100 ppi, 7 inches in height if posting on my blog. (This is the size I prefer and that I think looks best for the picture when it pops-up from my blog.) SweetSmile_Blog.jpg
6. Change image size again, this time to 72 ppi and the largest side to 600 pixels, for posting at TwoPeas. (If it's a 2 pages LO, I save the entire LO first, then using the crop tool, crop the 1st page, change the size, save it with a "_1" after it, then step backward until I get back to my original. Then I crop the 2nd page, change the size, and save it with a "_2" after it, then step backward again until I get to my original. I'm very careful not to over-write my original file with the sized-down one!!!) SweetSmile_Two.jpg
7. After uploading to blog and TwoPeas, I delete those two files (being careful to delete the right files!) I drop SweetSmile_Print.jpg into my "ToPrint" folder, and the SweetSmile.psd file in the "MyWork" file within the DigitalScrappin folder in my External Hard Drive.
Clear as mud?
One more note: when I close any element or picture, I'm VERY careful when the dialog box asks me if I want to save the changes. I almost always will choose NO, but I ALWAYS stop and think about and I make sure NO is really selected before I hit enter. If I make a change to an element and I want to keep it, I'll very deliberately save it through "File > Save as" with a "_2" behind the file name. If I accidentally hit "yes" I could be losing the original information, and since the file's on its way to being closed, there's no way to retrieve it.
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Wait, one or two more notes! (Sometimes I think up more things to tell you after an entry is finished!!!)
If you've altered an element you're working with and you want to save it with the rest of the kit (like if I made a ribbon from a kit a deeper shade of red to add contrast to my page), then you need to save as a ".png" -- when saving, be sure to CHANGE THE FILE NAME so you're not saving OVER the original element. A .png file will preserve transparancy (which is needed with a lot of elements.)
AND, I’ve noticed that some layouts with type (you know, titles, journaling, etc.) don’t size down well in the Photoshop format. (By "size down," I mean like changing a 12x12, 300 ppi layout to a 6x6 100ppi image.) Type seems to better maintain cleanness (structural integrity?) if you save the full-sized layout as a JPEG, then close everything, and re-open up the JPEG file – THEN make your size adjustments from that (like when you’re sizing down to post in a gallery on the internet or on your blog.) So size down from the JPEG files and not the layered Photoshop file.