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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Tutorial: Using Digital Papers

Welcome, friends! It's time for another Tuesday Tutorial. Today's topic is Digital Papers. After our last tutorial, where Lori shared her gorgeous craft fair gift card set, we received quite a few questions on this topic. Digital papers are included in many of our digi sets, and we want to make sure you are fully comfortable using them. So let's get started! :-)

Please note that this tutorial does assume some basic understanding of digis. If you are brand new to using digis, please visit our Digi Stamps 101 page  for directions to get you started. Also, for this tutorial, I'll be using Microsoft Word 2010. If you'd like to follow along with my directions for resizing and printing digital papers using Word 2010, but don't currently have this program installed on your computer, you can download a free 60-day-use trial of Microsoft Office 2010 HERE (Microsoft Word is included in the Office suite of programs).

A. What are Digital Papers?
"Digital papers" are just another type of digi. At Clear Dollar Stamps, our digital papers are full-color, patterned images. They are like any other pre-colored digi that we offer, only larger. We include digital papers with many of our colored digi sets, and also have several "just paper" packs available for purchase. Digital papers come pre-sized, but are resizable to meet your crafting needs.

Digital papers can be used in your digital creations (i.e. digital scrapbooking). Alternately -- and this is how most of our designers use them -- they can be printed and used in your craft projects in place of traditional patterned papers. Think of a pad of scrapbooking paper you might buy at a craft store. Each of our digital papers is like one sheet in that pad. The advantage of digital papers, however, is that if you like a particular pattern, you can print it as many times as you want, without having to buy a whole new pad!

B. Do I Need Special Software to Use Digital Papers?
As with our other digis, some basic software is required to use digital papers. You will need to use a zip utility to download and unzip the files after you purchase them. You will also need to have a program on your computer that will allow you to resize and print images.  If you have been using our digis successfully, then you already have what is needed on your computer to use digital papers. However, if you are new to using digis, or need links to some basic software you can use, please read our Digis 101 page to learn more.

C. What Kind of Printer is Required to Print Digital Papers?
To print digital papers, you need to have a color printer. Remember, our digital papers are full-color, so they will not look right if printed in black-and-white! The higher the quality of your printer, the better the digital papers will look when printed.

D. What Kind of Paper is Needed to Print Digital Papers?
No special type of paper is required to print digital papers. However, smooth-surfaced, low absorbency cardstock/paper, such as Neenah cardstock, will likely give you the best results. (Papers and cardstocks that are highly absorbent may suck up the colored ink, and not give you the printing results that you like.) Also, keep in mind that digital papers are fully-colored, so if you print them on colored paper instead of plain white, you may get unwanted results.

I highly recommend that you test the paper you choose with your printer in advance to make sure it will feed through properly. Printers can be a bit prickly at times! :-)

E. How Do I Resize and Print Digital Papers?
The process for resizing and printing digital papers is exactly the same as for any of our other digis. You need to use a program that allows you to resize and print images to do this. There are many different computer programs that you can use, but as I've said many times before, I find Microsoft Word to be the easiest to use for these basic functions.

Here are directions for resizing and printing digital papers using Word 2010. If this feels like a review of the Digis 101 tutorial, that's because, again, the process is exactly the same! :-)

Placing the Digital Paper in a Word Document
  1. Open a new, blank document in Word.
  2. With your mouse, click on Insert on the menu bar at the top of the Word window, and select Photo from the pull-down menu.

  3. A second menu will appear to the side. From this menu, select Picture from File.
  4. The "Choose a Picture" window will appear on-screen. In this window, navigate to the digital paper you wish to open, and then click on the Insert button at the bottom right corner of the window.

  5. The digital paper you selected will be placed on your blank Word document, and will have a blue rectangle around it. This indicates that it is selected and able to be edited.

Making the Digital Paper Moveable within the Word Document

By default, because Word is a "word processing" program, the digital paper will be set to appear behind any text you might also type into this document. In order to be able to move the digital paper around on the document and place it where you want it, you will need to adjust this setting.
  1. If the digital paper is not already selected in the document window (blue rectangle appearing around it), click on it with your mouse to select it.
  2. With the digi selected, locate the Wrap Text button on the toolbar above the document window. Click on this button.

  3. A pull-down menu will appear on the screen. From this menu, select Tight.
  4. The digital paper can now be moved to wherever you wish to place it on the document. To move the image, left-click the image with your mouse and, while holding down the left mouse button, drag the image to where you want it in the document.
Resizing the Digital Paper
Once you have made your digital paper moveable within the document window, you may want to then resize it to fit your crafting needs. Something to keep in mind when resizing is that shrinking or enlarging it will proportionally shrink or enlarge the pattern of the paper. So if you want to use the pattern at its full size, you will need to print it at full size. Please note that resizing a digital paper in Word only affects how the image appears in and prints from the current Word document -- it will not change the actual file that is stored on your computer. To resize the digital paper in the Word document:
  1. If the digital paper is not already selected in the document window (blue rectangle appearing around it), click on it with your mouse to select it.
  2. With the digital paper selected, locate the "Size" setting boxes at the top right on the toolbar above the document window. You will see two text boxes, indicating the "Height" and "Width" of the image.

  3. IMPORTANT:  To the center right of the Height and Width boxes is a small checkbox -- the "Lock Aspect Ratio" box. Before making any changes to the Height or Width of the digital paper, be sure that a check-mark appears in this box. This will keep the image proportional as you resize it.
  4. To change the size of the digital paper, click inside either the Height or Width text box and, holding down the left mouse button, drag the mouse to highlight the current number.
  5. Type in the number you wish to change this measurement to, and then press the Return/Enter key on your keyboard. You need only change one number -- either Height or Width -- and the other will change proportionally. The image will instantly resize according to the new setting. 
Positioning the Digital Paper on the Page
Once you've sized the digital paper to your liking, you can move it to wherever you like on the page. To move the digital paper, simply click on it in the Word window and, while holding down the left mouse button, drag it around on the page. Be sure to keep the margin settings of the Word document in mind when choosing where to place the digital paper.

If you want to conserve cardstock, you could fill the rest of the page with digis or more digital papers before printing.

Printing the Digital Paper
Once you have your digital paper set up in the Word document to your liking, you are ready to print:
  1. Load the paper on to which you wish to print your digital paper into your printer's paper tray.
  2. In the Word window, click on File on the toolbar at the top left of the screen.

  3. A pull-down menu will appear on the screen. From this menu, select Print.
  4. Follow the prompts specific to your printer to complete the printing process.
F. Post-printing Tips
Be sure to let your digital papers dry before using them. Also, if you use a Laser printer, you may want to heat-set the ink before handling the paper. Finally, as with all paper products, we suggest keeping your printed digital papers away from liquids, as this may cause paper to disintegrate and the ink to run.

    G. A Free Digital Paper for You to Try
    If you'd like to give digital papers a try before deciding to purchase some, Clear Dollar Stamps has one that you may download for free from the store HERE. Because of how the store works, you will need to add the item to your shopping cart and check out as if making a paid purchase, but you will not be charged for this item.

    That's all there is to it! Digital papers are fun and easy to use, and we hope that this tutorial has you feeling more confident about using them. Of course, if you do have questions, please leave us a comment or contact Lori directly through the store. Be sure to include your email address so that we can respond. :-)


    Austin Stevenson Owens said...

    AWESOME tutorial!!! I love having a link for my blog with such great instructions!

    Linda Carson said...

    I was always afraid to try digi papers. Thanks for this step by step tutorial!