Welcome to our Digi Crafting guide! We thought we'd walk you through the (not so) scary and (not so) mind boggling world of Digital Crafting - so you can learn how easy and fun can be. The queen of digi crafting - Michelle Jackson-Mogford has been kind enough to give you the low down, a short and sweet, dip your toe guide into this amazing, creative world!
What is digi crafting you ask?
Digital Crafting is using your computer to access images to create craft projects. From cards to scrapbook pages, soft furnishings to home décor and anything else you can imagine and print. If you have ever used your computer to create a word processing document, sent an email or downloaded photos you can digi craft! It’s as easy as that!
Digi crafting can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. Forget the technical sounding label of ‘digital’ this is just a word to describe using your computer as a craft tool to enhance your hobby even more. A lot of people worry that they are not ‘technical’ enough but if you have ever printed an image from a craft CD rom, printed an image from the internet or written a sentiment for a card and printed it to use as an insert you have done digi crafting!
Is digi scrapping the same thing?
Digital scrapbooking is absolutely the same as digi crafting, it just uses photos, like it would in the physical world, to tell a story. If you’ve always wanted to do more with your photos than simply putting them in an album, or creating another slide show on your computer, but feel a little intimidated to start scrap booking (as well as not wanting to invest in more stash to fill up your craft room) then digi scrapping is a perfect alternative.
That 12 x 12 page doesn’t look so daunting on a computer screen, you can’t ruin anything you’ve spent money on and there is always the delete key if you’re not happy with what you have done!
As in the physical world ‘crafting is crafting’, we manipulate paper, card and images to create projects and it is no different in the digital world whether its called digi crafting or digi scrapping.
What is a digi kit?
A digi kit is the content we use to craft with. A digi kit is just like a paper crafting kit but in digital form, meaning it can be used on your computer.
In a digi kit you will find things like papers, embellishments, ribbons, tags, alphabets, journal blocks, sentiments and frames just as you would in a paper kit, however, unlike a paper kit, each one of the elements can be any size you want, colour and orientation. The other great thing about a digi kit is that the supplies never run out!
The elements in a digi kit commonly come in 2 file formats;
JPEG (Joint Photographic Export Group) - which is like a photograph and will be the solid image elements, like the papers.
PNG (portable network graphic) - which is basically an image without a background and will be the elements like the embellishments, frames etc.
You don’t really need to know what they mean or how they work to use them, this information is just to help you feel informed and to demystify what sounds so technical.
What is a digi stamp?
Some digi kits will include digi stamps. Digi stamps are gathering in popularity and in some cases they are the first introduction into digi crafting. Once you have a digi stamp you can print it off and colour it in as you would do a traditional stamp but unlike traditional stamps these digis can be the size you want them to be and even be mirrored or flipped to fit your project. With a digi stamp you get a perfect ‘stamp’ every time without having to worry about smudging your image or missing bits when you stamp. You can print digis directly onto patterned paper to do paper piecing or on to different mediums to colour in like printing on vellum or acetate as well as cards and papers.
A quick note on printing and colouring digi stamps or ‘digis’
Print onto a decent weight paper/card like printable light card or Neenah classic white card, water colour card works really well if you want to use watercolour pencils or paints too.
As the outline is printed with computer ink (unless you print on a laser jet printer) you need to make sure you don’t make it run or smudge if you are using a wet medium such as marker pens, here are some ideas to avoid this;
If you want a black outline to your image try spraying with a fixative (cheap hairspray works well) and make sure the ink is dry before colouring.
If it is a simple image, use a clear embossing pen to trace the outline and heat emboss with clear embossing powder.
If you don’t need the black outline line and you can do it with the programme you are using, recolour the image to a pale grey or a similar colour to your image, for example if it’s a poppy make it a pale red line.
If I’m printing digi stamps and colouring them in, is that hybrid crafting?
It is hybrid crafting as we are now mixing digital images with real world craft.
DIGI CRAFTING DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY ON THE COMPUTER!
Just because you digi craft it doesn’t mean you have to give up your scissors and glue! Hybrid crafting is a huge story in craft today and you’re right on trend taking the plunge into digi crafting.
Hybrid crafting means things are created and designed on the computer then printed, cut, glued etc. If you love crafting this just expands the type of crafting you can do. With so many printable mediums on the market, it means that the card design you created and love can become the front of a bag by printing the image onto printable fabric, that you can then stitch into and add beads to. Or you can use the paper that you love to print onto tissue paper, to decorate candles, personalising them with text too - these make the perfect gifts.
Using your computer to craft with is just adding another tool to you crafting tool box to enhance your hobby even more, allowing your imagination to run riot. As a papercrafter you are not going over to the ‘dark side’ by exploring digital crafting, you are actually expanding your crafting options and capabilities to create exciting new projects.
What do I need to get started?
Now we’ve thrown some light on digi crafting, you'll want to get started. So what do you need? Well, all you need is a computer, a printer and a programme to access the images in your digi kit.
Most people nowadays have some form of home computer or laptop, as long as it runs the programme you choose to access the digi kits then you’re good to go!
The printer you have at home is probably fine! You don’t need anything expensive or fancy. The secret is in the printable medium and the quality of the images you are printing. Most digi kits will have good quality images and I highly recommend the Crafter’s Companion printable mediums for printing. If you want to print 12 x 12 pages or anything larger than A4 you will need an A3 printer - (although for 12 x 12 pages you can split papers down to print in two sections and rejoin once printed - covering the join with embellishments if needs be!) Or you can put your larger projects onto a USB memory stick and take them to your local print shop.
This is the computer programme that you will use to access and manipulate the images in your digi kits. There are quite a few options out there depending on what you want to do with a digi kit and how much you want to spend, if anything!
There are lots of tutorials online so check these out before making a decision to see which one is right for you. A lot of programmes also have a free version to download, sometimes the trial time is limited or some features are disabled, but it is well worth trying before you buy.
There is also a wealth of video tutorials online to show you how to use certain features, and some great Facebook groups for help, support and idea sharing.
So you have the machinery and you’ve chosen your engine … what next?
PLAY! Look at the tutorials online for your chosen software but don’t get hung up on trying to learn it all immediately, just fire up your computer, arm yourself with some digi kit content and play! Press buttons and open tabs, it’s the quickest way you will learn, you can’t break anything or mess anything up - it’s digital, remember! Take the plunge, you can always start afresh!
Digital crafting can be addictive, it opens up all sorts of possibilities and once you have that light bulb moment where you 'get it’ you will only be limited by your imagination as you step through the door into a whole new craft world.
What are the benefits of taking the plunge into the world of digital crafting?
It’s tidy! - No mess - unless you print and craft of course to do some hybrid crafting, but that’s what crafting is all about, right?
You can use the stash in your digi kits over and over and never run out of that favourite paper or that alphabet letter again!
You can have the digital images any size you want, any orientation and any colour by customising your digi elements, everything will always co-ordinate and fit your project exactly.
You can design your projects digitally to print out as a design sheet to craft with knowing everything is exactly the right size so there is no waste.
You don’t waste anything when you create digitally, nothing gets spoilt and you always have the undo or delete key to change your mind or start again.
You can personalise your projects with text and or photos to make them completely unique.
You can have a whole shops worth of crafting stash in your craft space without the need for storage.
If you have a laptop you can take your craft room with you wherever you go!
You can share your projects around the world digitally via email and by using social media.
You can design a project once but recreate it several times.
You can print onto a whole host of mediums, from acetate and vellum to canvas and cotton taking your digital designs into everyday hybrid crafting, wearable art and home furnishings.
You don’t have to give up your scissors and glue – combine your pixels and paper and get hybrid crafting!
Whether you keep it as simple as printing images to craft with, via a design sheet created in a word processing document, or create digital masterpieces within your chosen software, digi crafting can take your hobby to the next level.
Michelle is presenting on Hochanda, Thursday 3rd May, and if you want to explore the current Michelle Jackson-Mogford products, including papers, embellishments, CD's and DVD's from the range click here to shop!