Introduction to Real Scrappy – A Step By Step Guide to Digital Scrapbooking From Start to Finish

Who I Am:

My name is Megan Rees. I'm just a normal working mom. I am married to a wonderful man, Trevor, and have a young daughter, Afton, who is the most beautiful kid you ever saw. I am a licensed business teacher, and teach junior high—mainly 7th grade. On a daily basis, I teach kids how to use software. In the six years I've taught, I've gotten pretty good at knowing how break down a program in small bites so kids of varying degrees of knowledge and ability can learn it.

In about 2004, I came across the program Photoshop 7. I loved it. I never actually took a class—I just messed around with it. I loved manipulating pictures. It was strictly for photography at the time. I have been scrapbooking the old way since 1993. By 2004, digital scrapbooking was alive and well, but I knew little about it. I didn't really get how to apply the skills I already had in Photoshop to Digital Scrapbooking. My sister got into it, and she helped me along. And slowly, I was pulled into this new world. I still remember the day I bought my last supplies for the old-school scrapbooking. I wanted to finish up my last book, and then start on digital. How freeing it was to know I wouldn't have to go through the hoopla of buying papers and elements, stickers and di-cuts ever again.

My first digital book was completed in 2006, the year I got married. I wrote a whole book about my love story. Trevor and I wrote it together. I knew little about digital scrapbooking then and the books were very simple, but I still love that book. It doesn't matter that it wasn't fancy—it still looks great. My second book was my first year of marriage, complete with a lot of wedding photos. I love that book too. And so it goes—I do one every year now, and I just completed a book for my baby's first year. I also did one for my Dad, showing his work as a cabinet maker. The possibilities are truly endless!

Now here's the thing. Although my own knowledge in Photoshop is probably better than your average user, I am by no means an expert. I bow to the knowledge of those designers out there who create digital scrapbooking kits and actions. I am not in their class. But what I DO know, is how to break it down in small pieces for the beginner. After all—I teach 12-year olds every day. I know that through demonstration and breaking down into small chunks, this overwhelming program CAN be conquered!

What This Blog IS:

  • A great place to find resources for everything from kits to printing to tutorials.
  • A step by step simple guide for the beginner, progressing to more advanced
  • A way to share my knowledge and spread the word—FOR FREE.

What This Blog is NOT:

  • I do not create kits or give freebies of kits, though I will provide resources for both.

  • A place for expert Photoshop users to learn new skills – again, this is for beginners

  • This is not about photography—if you want to learn how to enhance your photos, I will give a few tips, but it's not my focus.

My Goals:

As I work on this blog, I would like to fulfill the following goals:

  • Update twice a week with new lessons/suggestions/thoughts
  • Include screenshots and even video tutorials on the program
  • Read comments and try to provide lessons on things YOU want to know

Why Go Digital?

Scrapbooking is always coming out with new and bigger and cooler (and expensive) tools. New cutter machines, punches, ribbons, slicers, and I don't know what else. Buying all these tools can be quite expensive. What if you could find a tool that would do it ALL? Cut it, crop it, punch it, stamp it—and let you GO BACK if you did it wrong? Well, that's why you go digital. Photoshop can do all of that. Is the program expensive? Sure. But not near as expensive as all those ridiculous tools, and it's certainly a lot more diverse. (Though I admit I am still yearning for the Cricut machine!!!)

Why go digital? Why? Because this isn't 1994 anymore people!! One of my biggest regrets was that I started Scrapbooking in the early 90's—before digital pictures. I cut everything up into stupid shapes and slapped di-cuts and stickers on, and although I had some unease in cutting up originals, I was 15. And everyone was telling me that one day I'd be so glad I did it.

Couldn't regret it more.

All my precious copies of high school pictures—cut up and ruined. Gone forever. I wasn't wise enough to keep the negatives, unfortunately. I love digital, because I'm not touching the originals. I don't have to bother getting them printed at all. They are all right there on my computer. I don't have to set up a massive table full of fancy tools and cutters and whatever, then clean it all up when I'm finished. I don't need an expensive "scrapbooking room" full of crap that I may or not use, but will most definitely take up a lot of space. All I need is a computer. That's it. My wording is crisp and clean, and any color I want. I don't have to figure out how to get my lettering by making di-cuts or buying stickers. And if I don't want something, I don't have to throw it away. I just delete it. And when I buy digital scrapbooking supplies like paper and elements, they don't get used up. They are there forever, to be used over and over again until I choose to delete it.

On the left you will see three of my old-school scrapbooks, and on top, three of my new ones. See the difference in thickness? And believe it or not, the three on top have WAY more pages and pictures in them than the three on bottom. The one on the very bottom is from my year and half in Africa. Awesome book. Beautiful. No one ever looks at it. Because the thing is so stinkin' huge no one wants to bother! And yes, I know the back insert is gone. It's floating around my house somewhere. My baby attacked it and pulled it off. Another reason I don't like the old scrapbooks! Now I have thin, sleek books that are easy to carry and store, and I'm amazed how people will take the time to really look through it and read it.

I'm not ever going back.

My Digital Scrapbooking Philosophy:

One thing I've found frustrating as I have looked at other websites on digital scrapbooking, is the impracticality of the pages people create. Why is it so popular to do a huge 12 x 12 page with ONE picture on it and a million froo-froo elements? Why? Do people have so much money that they can afford to print a book with only one picture per page? You'll find my own style is quite different. I don't want to print any more pages than I have to. I try to fill up the page with text and pictures as best I can. I also believe in heavy journaling—TELL THE STORY. Explain what was happening. Don't just slap the picture on—WRITE IT.

For myself, I use a company called CherishBound to print my books. I've written more about them in Lesson 12. But in order to use this company, I gave up the 12x12 pages and started on 8 ½ x 11. I found I barely noticed the difference. Here is a picture of my 2009 yearbook. Each year I create a book for the year. I have also made other books for various reasons. As you can see, it's a thin book, easy to carry.

This is not the only company or the only way to print your digital scrapbooks. We'll talk more about printing in Lesson 11.


In short, I hope this blog will be helpful to you. PLEASE comment! That is how I know if anyone is listening to me, or if I'm throwing my hard-earned knowledge into the internet abyss. I want to teach you want YOU want to know. Please, give me feedback! Thank you for visiting Realscrappy! I hope that my tutorials and resources help you!


  1. I lOVE this blog Megan!! I actually feel like maybe now I could finally be brave enough to give it a shot! Thanks for doing this, it seems like a ton of work for you, I'm gonna post it on my blog to spread the word!

  2. This is just the kind of resource I have been looking for! Thank you!

  3. I am an old school scrapbooker, started in about 1992ish. I've only completed a year and a half of my first child's life (shes' 26 and has 2 of her own now - oy). So, I'm a little scared but I want to learn how to do this!!