Working with Templates and Grids
The programs that are specifically dedicated to scrapbooking, such as American Greetings Scrapbooks & More or Art Explosion Scrapbook Factory Deluxe, come with dozens of premade templates, complete with backgrounds, and some designer's ideas as to which decorations are appropriate and where the pictures are to be placed. You can use these to get started, but sooner or later you will stop being satisfied with somebody else's ideas and want to make your own.
If you have a more robust graphics program, such as Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop Elements, making your own templates is very easy. In Paint Shop Pro, for example, you can simply drag Guides from the rulers onto the page, and then use those guidelines as a basis for your layouts. If you are consistent with regard to color, type styles, and picture placement, your pages are pretty much guaranteed to work well together. This absolutely does not mean that you must use exactly the same layout template for each page in your scrapbook. Just make sure that some element of the page designbe it colors, type, or photo placementis consistent from one page to the next.
The easy way for Paint Shop Pro users to achieve consistency is to draw a layout template using guidelines. Guides or guidelines are lines that you place by dragging them from the rulers onto the page. To draw a page template in Paint Shop Pro, you need to make the rulers visible, and then drag the lines from the top down, and from the left side across the page. This also works in Photoshop, but not in Photoshop Elements. If you are using Photoshop Elements, the easiest way to create a template is to add a layer and draw lines on it.
You can also use a grid, which is a pattern of crossed lines, like graph paper, that you turn on and off from a menu. In Photoshop Elements, you can show or hide the grid by choosing View[Right Arrow]Grid. You can customize the size of the grid by clicking on Edit, clicking on Preferences and selecting Grid, and then entering the measurements you prefer. Grids can be single or double page, and they don't print with the rest of the page, so you can place them wherever you think they'll help you keep things aligned, and not have to worry that they'll show up in the final page. Figure 5.5 shows an example of a basic layout template, drawn in Paint Shop Pro.
Figure 5.5 I've placed this grid to divide the page into thirds both horizontally and vertically.
After you open the Preferences dialog box in Photoshop Elements, choose Grid. You'll see a window something like the one shown in Figure 5.6. I suggest that you set the Grid lines to inches and the division to quarter inches, unless the metric system is used where you live.
The Photoshop Elements Preferences dialog box lives on the Edit menu in Windows and Mac OS 9. If you use Mac OS X, it's under the Photoshop Elements menu.
Figure 5.6 The pop-up menus open when you click the arrows.
You can even adjust the color of the gridlines so they show up against a colored background. If they get in the way, turn them on and off in the View menu.
If you like placing pictures at an angle, use the grid anyway, to help you keep the photos from bumping into each other or running off the page.