Artistically arranging pictures and other memorabilia into books is an appealing idea in our digital age.
As well as being a lot of fun, the process of making a scrapbook is a great way to commemorate an event and organise treasured memories. Scrapbook Factory Deluxe 4 is a digital scrapbooking tool. This takes some of the fun out of the scissors-and-glue approach, but you can always print out your pages before adding extra items such as ticket stubs. Furthermore, a digital scrapbook can be emailed to friends or posted on a website.
This software does much more than scrapbook pages. Options include greetings cards, personalised envelopes, calendars, posters and family trees. A huge range of templates is provided for each category. Although some of these betray the software’s US origins – with Little League, Groundhog Day and Fourth of July pages, for example – there’s still something for almost every occasion. There’s a handy search function, too, so you don’t have to trawl through all the thumbnails.
Once you’ve chosen your template, you can drop in photos by double-clicking on the spaces provided. It’s compatible with JPEG, TIFF, BMP and PNG image files, plus there’s a basic photo-editing tool.
You can further personalise the design by adding other elements. The massive clip art library is full of the homely craft-like bits and bobs you’d expect. A wide range of picture frames is also included. These aren’t as clever as we’d have liked, with no built-in formatting information for placing pictures within them. Instead, you have to crop and resize your images to fit by hand. One amusing feature is the comprehensive list of sentiments provided – handy if you’re stuck for words for that Passover greetings card.
Children will be well-served by the templates, but many of them were far too garish for our liking, so we tried working from scratch. It’s all fairly simple, but the interface isn’t that great, and a step-by-step wizard would have been handy. This is essentially a simple desktop publishing package and it does give you plenty of control, but we can’t see younger children managing anything from scratch without parental assistance.
Once your masterpiece is ready, you can publish it in numerous ways. It can be exported as a JPEG or PDF file with a choice of quality settings. Printing is the most obvious option, and there’s help for printing double-sided projects such as cards, and a mailmerge function for adding addresses from Outlook to envelopes. A separate program is provided for burning your scrapbook creations as a CD or DVD photo album. Alternatively, you can output scrapbook pages as HTML for easy web publishing.
Scrapbook Factory Deluxe 4 is suitable for a wide range of creative projects, and all you need is a few photos to personalise things. Some more modern-looking clip art would help widen its appeal, and it could do with some easy-to-use tools to bridge the gap between template and scratch-built pages. Still, if you’re happy with the clip art’s homely Americana, there’s plenty here to satisfy your scrapbooking urges.