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Photoshop 101 for memory keepers: Document & workspace setup

  • Elif Sahin
  • Sep 3, 2019
sahin designs, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, photoshop basics

If you’re just venturing into digital scrapbooking or hybrid scrapbooking and you know nothing about Photoshop, you’ll love these Photoshop 101 series I’m starting on the blog!

So many settings, tools, and windows popping up from every corner of Photoshop screen that it becomes intimidating! When I first started using Photoshop, I felt dumb! Literally, it was impossible to do anything in it. Are you having the same feelings? If so, let’s get started with the first article of this series.

Before we dive deep into today’s topic, I want you to know that the most important thing when you try to learn Photoshop is to learn one trick at a time and practice the things you learn regularly until it becomes natural to do so.

Today you’ll learn how to create a document in Photoshop to make a digital scrapbook layout specifically. Then I’ll show you how you can save the document for different purposes. And lastly we’ll setup the workspace so that it’s easy to navigate and find the tools we need the most when scrapbooking. Let’s get started!

Document setup

The first thing you need to know if you want to use Photoshop is, obviously, to learn how to create a document and save it. A document is the canvas we’re going to use to create a scrapbook layout. Since we intent to print the digital scrapbook layouts at home or turn them into a photobook via services like Shutterfly, we need this document to be “print quality”. And that print quality is measured with “pixels per inch (ppi)”. Our document will be 300 ppi for this purpose.

Create a file

When you start Photoshop, if you’re using Photoshop CC you’ll have a screen where there is a “create new” button. This will create a new document.

Or you can go to top menu File > New to create a new file. Yet better, you can press Ctrl (Cmd for Mac)+N on your keyboard to open a new document.

A regular scrapbook page is 12×12 inch size or (3600 pixels). So,

  • Choose inches from measurement menu
  • Type 12 in width and height
  • Write 300 into ppi (pixels per inch) box
  • Leave the color mode as RGB
  • You can leave the background as white or you can choose transparent from “background contents”
  • From advanced options, you can choose Working RGB as color profile
  • And leave the pixel aspect ratio as “square pixels”

Before you hit create button, we can save these settings as a preset so we don’t have to type in all of these again in the future. To create the preset, click on the icon at the top, give your preset a name and  hit “save preset” button.

Whenever you need to create a scrapbook layout, when you come to new document window, click on saved tab and choose your preset from there. It’s that easy!

Save a file

Now that we created a document we need to save it so that we can access to this file later when we needed. Some digi-scrapbookers doesn’t save layered copies of their layouts but I always love to have a copy of the working layered document in case I need to change photos or journaling in it.

And it’s also a good practice to constantly save your file while you’re working on it. Photoshop is a heavy software on your computer and it sometimes crashes. On those occasions you’ll thank yourself that you were saving your file.

To save a document, all you need to do is to go File > Save As or hit Ctrl (Cmd on a Mac)+Shift+S on your keyboard.

sahin designs, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, photoshop basics

  • Choose a location on your computer to save the document in
  • Type your file name.
  • And choose a file type. This is usually Photoshop (PSD) file but you can also save as TIFF file. A TIFF file is more compressed than PSD file but has the same capabilities.
  • Hit save.

sahin designs, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, photoshop basics

When you’ve finished with your layout design, you will also save this file as JPEG. We will save this JPEG file twice. First one will be for print and the second one will be uploading on web to scrapbook galleries and social media if you like to share your layout with fellow crafters.

Saving for print

To save a JPEG for print, again click on File > Save As or hit Ctrl (Cmd on a Mac)+Shift+S on your keyboard. This time choose JPEG file extension from file types. And save.

sahin designs, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, photoshop basics

You’ll see a setting window appear. This setting will define the quality of the JPEG file. For print quality you can choose a number between 8-12. Click OK to save.

sahin designs, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, photoshop basics

Saving for web

The layout we created is too big for web. We need to decrease it in size and also in ppi value. To save for web click on File > Export > Save for Web or hit Ctrl (Cmd on a Mac)+Shift+Alt (Option on a Mac) + S on your keyboard.

sahin designs, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, photoshop basics

On the opened window,

  • Choose JPEG as the file type
  • Set the quality to “very high”
  • On the “quality” box, you can decrease down to 80. This will not decrease the quality much but it’ll help decrease the size of the file.
  • Down at the “image size” section, make sure the image ratio is locked (it has the chain icon) and type the size in pixel in the boxes. I’ll save this at 1000px size. You may go as small as 600px depending on where you’ll upload it.
  • And hit save button.

sahin designs, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, photoshop basics

Workspace setup

Photoshop workspace is like organizing your desktop in real life. Especially if your monitor is not very large, you need to be tidy with your tools and panels. Let’s start with a Photoshop workspace preset as a base and then start building it up for your needs.

Click on Window > Workspace > Essentials

sahin designs, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, photoshop basics

One of the most important panel for scrapbookers is “Layers” panel. And since we can have so many layers in a layout, this panel can get crowded in a second. That’s why I like to have this panel on its own at the right of my screen. Simply on other panel groups click left on the mouse, and drag them out of their place. Now the layers panel covers the height of our screen. I’ll leave the Channels and Paths panels on the Layers group as I’ll need these at times. And you’ll start using these panels as you advance as well. So let them stay there.

Other important panels for scrapbooking are; History, Character, Paragraph, Swatches or Library, Styles, and Actions. To keep my working space as wide as possible I’ll select a few of them to set as “open” panel and I’ll keep the rest as icon to turn on and off as I need them.

In this setting we don’t have Character, Paragraph, History, Styles and Actions panels open. So, let’s open them first. Go to Window > and select the panels I mentioned.

And close the ones that are not in our list of panels I mentioned above. To close a panel right click with your mouse on the panel and choose “Close”.

Now it’s time to assemble! You can put several panels together in a group, show them as just an icon or stick it to a side of the screen. I’ll leave my Character, Paragraph, History, Styles and Library channels open and I’ll group the rest as icons since I won’t use them as much.

This is how I arrange my workspace. Yours might change over time according how you’ll use Photoshop. But for now let’s save this workspace so that we can go back to it if we change the arrangement in the future. To save the workspace as it is right now, go to Window > Workspace > New Workspace. Give your workspace a name, select all the options to capture and save.

As you learn Photoshop and use it regularly you’ll develop your own workspace according to your most used panels&tools. So don’t be afraid to play around. You can always go back to a preset from Window > Workspace.

And that wraps up today’s topic! Next up, I’ll be talking about tools and how we use them for digital scrapbooking. So be on the look out for that.

Did you like this tutorial? If so, comment below to let me know your takeaways from this article.

As always, keep documenting because life’s worth recording.

sahin designs, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, photoshop basics

Elif Sahin

Hi there! I’m a graphic designer, memory keeper, and fond of simplicity. I love producing quality supplies that’ll make scrapbooking process easy and fun for you.

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  1. Reply

    Laura

    September 4, 2019

    Thanks for putting this together! I know a little about Photoshop and I agree with you the key is practice. I’ve learned in the past and did not practice and I’ve already forgotten most of it. I do not have full Photoshop. In spite of this, I was able to navigate with my old version of PSE to follow your tutorial. I’m glad that we can create a customized workspace. Thanks again!

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