Right after Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 was released ($49), I wrote a note to the maker, Serif, asking to review it. I’d been hearing that this photo editing and scrapbooking software was a strong rival to Photoshop Elements (but easier to use).
I really wanted to check it out, to see if DSA2 would be a great product to recommend the beginner digital scrapbooker who doesn’t love the learning curve of Adobe products. This initial review reflects my honest experience testing out the product.
I installed DSA2 on my Windows XP laptop without any trouble. It did take a little longer than I expected (perhaps 5 minutes), but I suspect this is because of copying the pre-loading digi elements. Upon starting the program for the first time, I was prompted to download and install an upgrade. This process did not require me to reboot (for which I was thankful).
The opening screen, like in many programs, asks if I want to start with a pre-loaded theme or from a blank page.Â Overall, the user interface reminds me a lot of Scrapblog and ScrapHD. Easy-to-recognize tools, like scissors, are present in the toolbar and corrals for supplies exist on the left of the screen. I really like that I can load a set of supplies to this holding area, leaving them all ready to drag into place.
DSA’s “PhotoLab” is very reminiscent of the Adobe Camera Raw interface within PSE (and to a certain extent, Lightroom), complete with a large array of sliders. I had some trouble using the sliders with my laptop’s trackpad, but I expect it would have worked fine with a mouse. I also wasn’t able to open a Digital Negative (.dng) file with it but I don’t consider this a deal-breaker by any means.
I found the non-destructive, advanced (including curves and noise reduction) photo editing a major plus of this software. A user can complete simple or more complex edits with sliders and adjustment tools without harming the original inage. This is incredibly helpful for beginners who may not think to duplicate a .jpg before editing it.
I have to be honest here. I wasn’t impressed with the digital products included with DSA 2 or those for sale at Daisy Trail. To me, the designs (especially the free ones) seemed dated and not in line with modern trends in scrapbooking. Style preferences vary, so maybe they just weren’t my taste.
A Basic Layout
I was very pleased that I could quickly create a simple scrapbook page without much familiarity with the program. My example below used only free items included with the software with my own photo and font. The page took me about 10 minutes, including journaling.
One important difference between DSA 2 and other, perhaps more simplistic tools, is the use of layers. This makes the experience more familiar to me as a PSE user, but would perhaps be a hurdle for a true beginner. Having a true layers panel is actually far easier to manipulate, however, than a system of moving things backward or forward (i.e. invisible layers).
I only scratched the surface in this review. There are many features of DSA 2 just waiting to be explored, including masking, extraction and many special effects. I see a lot of opportunities for creating art journal style pages as well.
I know there are many of you out there that are sort of waiting to get started with scrapbooking. If software has been the major hurdle for you, then Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 just might be your solution.
Over the next few days, I’m going to dig into Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 a little more. I am eager to test it out using .png templates and kits from my stash, to see if I can mirror the looks achieved with PSE.
Want to know more?
I have a copy of Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 to give away. So here’s what we’ll do:
Leave a question about the features/functionality of DSA 2 in the comments below by 11:59pm on Wednesday. Later this week I’ll answer a selection of your questions and pick a winner from the submissions.Â I’ll also update you on my progress using the program with a layered template and an outside kit.
Have you tried Digital Scrapbook Artist (either version)?