Digital Paper 101

I've taken a year off from the website to fill up my Etsy shop with designs! Chevron, quatrefoil, and polka dots and more to be exact! I get many inquiries about how to use digital paper, so I decided to write an informational post to explain how digital papers work, show a few examples of some things that can be done with the digital paper (though the possibilities are really endless), and some different options for typing on digital paper or adding other elements.

In my shop, I sell digital paper packs of coordinating prints, patterns, or colors. Digital papers are basically images, like pictures. Most of my inventory of digital papers are JPEG format, which is the most common file format for images or pictures. Most any computer can open and view a JPG format image. It is the most common image format used by digital cameras.  Any pictures you load into your computer from your SD or XD card from your digital camera....those pictures are most likely jpegs. You will notice a ".jpg" at the end of each picture file name. Any program you use to load your digital camera pictures should also be able to load digital paper jpegs.  Any programs you may use to edit your pictures from your digital camera should also be able to load jpeg digital papers. 

Want to try one out? We've uploaded one of our digital papers to box.com that's from our Nautical Sampler pack that's for sale. No better way to see how to use it than to try one! Download that digital paper HERE

There are so many things that can be done with digital papers.  I definitely won't be able to name all of the things that can be done with them, but I will give it a shot!  
1--Backgrounds: Use digital papers for backgrounds! Any kind of background...from web backgrounds to desktop backgrounds, to photography backgrounds! Are you a digital scrapbooker? Use digital papers in your digital scrapbook for a background for your pictures. 
2--Banners or Headers: I used one of my digital papers to create my Etsy shop banner that has my shop name on it.  
3--Print and Frame:  Digital papers can be printed out and framed just like your photos from your digital camera. Yes, most of the digital papers come sized at 12x12, and your printer prints onto 8.5x11 computer paper.  Use your print settings to decide which portion of the 12x12 image will be cropped into the 8.5x11 printout. See sizing question below for more info about cropping and printing.
4--Invitations:  Digital papers can be typed on and printed out to make your own invitations! Don't have Photoshop, Illustrator, or any other expensive design program? I have a favorite website called PicMonkey that acts just like a fancy design program, but it's all on a website (no downloading programs) and it has tons of free options that don't cost you anything.  Just load your digital paper image onto PicMonkey website, and from there you can crop the digital paper to the invitation size of your choice with PicMonkey's cropping option and pre-set sizing options (or choose your own size), and then choose a font to type your party info directly onto the digital paper.  Or use the shapes option to add a white rectangle to the center of the digital paper, and type onto the white rectange so that the font might show up better.  You will have created your own border with the digital paper.  If you play around with the website, you'll find that there's many different things you can do.
This invite was created on PicMonkey using pink damask digital paper from our Pink Boutique Digital Paper Pack.  It's kind of a quick rough draft, but just to show you what you can make, and it doesn't take hours! I just loaded the digital paper onto the website, cropped it to the size I wanted, added a white rectangle, then added text on top of the white rectangle! It created a neat border effect from the digital paper. So simple using PicMonkey website!
5--Have digital paper printed through sites such as Shutterfly: Websites such as Shutterfly have many different options as to what you can have your photos printed on. Digital papers work the same way as photos...so you can order prints from the digital papers (you decide the size) or even have a canvas printed for your wall. You can have the image printed onto a mug or other things! They've got tons of options on Shutterfly. Anything you can do with your photo, you can do with a digital paper.  Just keep in mind that the digital paper image is 12 inches by 12 inches, so it's not recommended to order a huge poster using the digital paper.  Keep it 12x12 and under to make sure that you don't lose the high resolution. Stretching an image out larger can lead to distortion. See sizing below for more info.
6--Create art for a nursery wall: Here's an example of something I just whipped up in just a few minutes on PicMonkey using a 12x12 digital paper from our Nautical Sampler Digital Paper Pack...
I just loaded my 12x12 gray polka dot image on PicMonkey, used their cropping function to crop the image to 8x10, added a pink circle (under the overlays section--see the butterfly icon--then geometric shapes), then added a smaller white circle on top of the pink circle, then under the Text section I picked a font and added an "a". It literally took under five minutes to make! I saved it to my computer, and it's all ready to print and frame! 

Being only four months pregnant, I don't know yet what I'm having... But once I find out, I can change the pink color if needed, and the initial, and I will be printing it out for the nursery! It would also make a great shower gift, printed out and framed.  Don't have the best quality printer? Local office supply stores are extremely inexpensive for getting prints like these, and you can choose your type of paper you want it printed on, such as cardstock or glossy.  I use Office Max fairly often to print out some of my designs.

It doesn't take a graphic design degree to create some adorable prints, especially using PicMonkey website! In case you're wondering by now, I have no affiliation with PicMonkey...I just love to use it! Sometimes it's just simpler and less time consuming than some of my actual design programs.

Many scrapbook papers and scrapbooks that you will find at craft supply stores are 12x12 inch square. They either fit directly into the scrapbook album sleeves or maybe you're using the scrapbook paper for something different, so you will cut it to the exact size you need.  You can do the same with digital papers. Instead of cutting paper, you'll be "cropping" the image. Making the digital papers 12x12 gives crafters the option to crop it to the size they need for their project.  Maybe they need 8.5x11, maybe they need 8x10, or even 5x7.  Since the digital paper is larger than those sizes, it can be cropped to either of those smaller sizes without losing resolution. It's when you try to make an image larger than it already is that you may create distortion and lose some of the resolution (causing blurriness).  If your digital paper is 12x12, it can still be printed on your home computer onto 8.5x11 sized computer paper.  You can either crop the image ahead of time, or check out your print settings when you're getting ready to print.  All printers are different, but for mine, it shows the print box area and allows you to move the image around until you get the portion of it into the print box area that you want printed. You can center it in a way, and choose which 8.5x11 sized section of your 12x12 image gets printed. When re-sizing a 12x12 image to make it smaller...you either need to crop out a part of the image, or you can shrink the whole image.  But when shrinking the image, be sure to keep the proportions of the image the same so that quality and resolution is not lost.  Basically that means to keep the image a perfect square when you shrink it. Online albums such as Photobucket allow you to re-size your images, or use PicMonkey website (mentioned above in #4 invitations).  
So the answer to the question "can I still print 12x12 on my home printer that prints 8.5x11" is yes, whether you physically re-size it ahead of time or not.  But the best way to figure out how it works is to try it out! Download our example digital paper to try out. Whether you want to play around with re-sizing, or whether you want to use it to check out your own printer's settings to see how it's going to come out once printed, you can try it ahead of time. In a nutshell, the larger 12x12 image allows crafters and digital scrapbookers to crop the image down to the size they need (that is smaller than 12x12). 

Many of my customers in my Etsy shop have been able to use their Paint program to type on the images.  The Paint program automatically comes on most computers. I do have a few packs of 8.5x11 bordered sheets (like teachers use for letters to send home) that customers have been able to load into the Paint program and type their information onto the center of the digital paper.

Or, instead of a fancy design program, try out PicMonkey website. It's one of my favorites and I use it frequently! It's a lot like a fancy design program, but it's a website! That means you don't have to download any program onto your computer, and it doesn't require any registration or anything! They have many options you can use for free. They DO have some options that you have to upgrade to use which is for a fee.  But they have many FREE options also, and to upgrade is reasonably priced in my opinion.  If you think you would get lots of use out of it, it would be worth it. It is not hard to get the hang of, it's fairly simple.  There's so much you can do with it!

For our standard JPG digital papers, there is one program that does not like JPG format.  That program is Adobe Reader.  If you are wanting to use your JPG format digital paper in Reader, it does not like JPG format files. It only likes PDF format files. That is the ONE program that we have found so far.  Want to try a JPG image in your program of choice? Download our example digital paper and give it a try with your favorite program! Download HERE.

We do have several digital paper packs that are PNG format instead of JPG format.  It will always say what format it is in the title of the pack in our shop, so that way you will know which format it is before purchase. For those PNG format digital papers, they do require a special program to use.  These digital papers are layered instead of flat (JPG images are flat).  You need a special program to work with layers, such as Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. So for those packs that are PNG format, you need a special program.  For the JPG format, you do not.

Sure thing! The best way to know whether something is going to work, or how, is to try it out!  Download our example JPG digital paper HERE. It comes straight from one of our digital paper packs for sale, Nautical Sampler Digital Paper Pack of five.
Try it out in your favorite program, try it out with your print settings, etc! It's always nice to try before you buy!

In our shop, digital papers come in packs.  What you're purchasing is a set of images, most are in the format of a jpg file.  Each pack has a sample collage you can view in the listing that shows a part of every image included in the pack.  These sample collages are usually in low resolution, so don't panic if you zoom in on the sample collage picture and notice blurriness. The images you actually receive after purchase are high resolution.  

All of our purchases are classified by Etsy as "instant download", which means that after your payment is confirmed, you'll have access to them on an Etsy downloads page.  After Etsy confirms your payment (within minutes with a standard Paypal payment, but with an electronic check payment through Paypal it can take up to five business days--so it's best to stick with standard Paypal payment) you will have access to your very own Etsy downloads page.  Etsy will guide you in how to find that, and they also send you an email when your downloads are ready on your download page. 

Our packs of five digital papers will be five separate JPG files for you to download on your Etsy downloads page.  For our packs larger than five, the files are condensed into zip folders.  You will download the zip folders from your Etsy downloads page and your image files will be inside the zip folders. Remember that those files need to be "unzipped" prior to use, which is easy to do! Just drag the files out of the "zip folder" and into a new folder that you've created, or you can even drag them onto your desktop. That automatically "unzips" the files and they're ready for use!  

The images are now on your computer, and you can begin using your digital papers for any crafty project! Note that our standard method for you to receive your files is for you to download them through Etsy on your downloads page.  The files have been previously attached to each of our listings.  
So if you're waiting for an email from us containing your files, it will not come unless you have requested to have the files emailed directly to you. We can do that for special circumstances, but prefer for you to download them through Etsy's download page. The reason for this is because many of the files are large, and they don't all fit into an email! Our larger packs could take up to five emails to get the files to you, which is a time-consuming lengthy process. Or, you could just download files right from your downloads page.  They'll be available to you right after your payment is confirmed (within minutes when using standard Paypal payment...just stay away from the e-check payment method in Paypal if you want the files within minutes.  E-checks take up to five business days to clear! That means you'll be waiting up to five business days until Etsy tells you that your files are available). 

Be sure to read our details inside each listing, that also specify how the download process goes, and provide a link to a helpful Etsy article that also explains how to download files from an Etsy downloads page.

If you've arrived to this page from our Etsy shop, you can return to the shop by clicking HERE.

Are you a fan or user of digital paper? We would love for you to leave a comment to share with readers what you use digital paper to create! There's so many things you can do with it, using it either digitally or printed! 

Feel free to stop by our Etsy shop and check out all of our different digital paper packs! Lots of different patterns and colors to choose from, even textured packs like our most popular Linen Chevron Digital Paper Pack.
textured digital paper

If you're looking for a certain color or pattern, type it into our search box under our Etsy shop banner at the top!

Stay tuned for some upcoming tutorials on projects that you can make using digital paper from our shop!