Most people think that scanners can only scan paper. Not true! While sheet-fed scanners can only scan paper, flatbed scanners open up a whole world of interesting textures, colors, and other artistic elements waiting to be used in your scrapbooks. Even paper looks more like a 3D object if it's layered with other items. You could scan an old letter and layer it on top of an interesting piece of jewelry to make a 3D collage for a memory album. Or commemorate your trip to the beach with scans of seashells and driftwood.
Scanning items for scrapbooks is also an excellent way to ensure that the contents of your book are going to stand the test of time. Most newspaper clippings, for example, will not only degrade, but might also damage photos that are touching them. A scan of the clipping, printed with archival paper and ink, keeps your memories safe. And if you want to include an item that's too bulky to use in a scrapbook, scanning will flatten it out for you.
You can create unique textures for your scrapbooks by scanning household objects like plastic bottles or wooden spoons. Or head outside for leaves, twigs, flowers, feathers, and plants to create natural images with real depth. The results can be truly artistic, especially when you use objects that you might not ordinarily consider beautiful.
Crumpled aluminum foil, book bindings, rubber bands, paper clips, plastic toys -- almost anything can add flair to your scrapbook pages. Just be sure to put a transparency sheet on the scanner glass to protect it from sharp or scratchy objects. Use these scans to create unique, personalized backgrounds, borders, and stand-alone page elements like stickers.
Fabrics make great background textures for scrapbook pages. But if you want to incorporate the design of a fabric without the bulk, you can scan it and print it on paper. Scanning fabric is also a great way to incorporate memorable items -- e.g., doll clothes, old lace, baby blankets, a favorite T-shirt, bandanas -- into your scrapbook.
If you're making more than one copy of a scrapbook, a scanner is a valuable tool. You don't have to decide who gets grandmother's handkerchief -- everyone can have a memento when you scan and bring it into your page layout.
Once you've scanned a memento, you can print it directly onto fabric to create unusual textures for your scrapbook pages. Or you can scan your favorite fabric to print it in a different color. Discover many of the creative possibilities of printing on fabric. Just remember that if you scan a fabric, the design is copyrighted. It's fine to scan it for your personal use, but if you sell something that includes a fabric scan, you could be breaking the law. (Copyright information is usually included in the selvage of the fabric.)
Consider just a few of the scrapbook projects you could make with scanned objects:
• A baby's first-year scrapbook that includes 3D objects like a favorite toy, a bib, a pacifier, a birth certificate, an ID bracelet, and so on.
• An anniversary scrapbook with collaged images of a wedding certificate, an engagement ring, pressed flowers, wedding bands, and a bridal veil.
• School days scrapbooks that show photos, erasers, pencils, rulers, art projects, and report cards.
• Family albums with old photos, letters, and heirlooms -- even old maps and postcards can become part of the picture.
• Scrapbooks of everyday moments -- a dance-recital page (ballet slippers and programs), a soccer page (practice schedules and a grass-stained jersey), or baking day with grandma (cookies and a wooden spoon).
• A book of vacation memories with menus, maps, travel brochures, postcards, and other "evidence" of the journey.
A new dimension
By scanning and printing important items, you can cut and paste them without fear of ruining the original with a slip of the scissors.
When you scan a 3D object, choose your subject with care. Whatever part of the object touches the glass will appear detailed and well lit. But as the parts of the object move away from the glass, the intensity of light decreases dramatically. If you take this into account when choosing objects, these flaws can become benefits, producing a unique look. An ordinary ball of yarn, for example, can become a mysterious, shadowy sphere.
Here's an idea to get you started: scan a real flower and use it in your next scrapbook. The colors will be so lifelike, you could expect a bee to arrive on the scene! Don't get discouraged if your first scan looks too dark or shadowy. If you prop the lid of your scanner open, the background will be pretty dark. For a lighter effect, drop a white cloth behind the flower, or try a piece of chiffon, some folded cardboard, or another textured fabric.
Tips for scanning objects
Here are some additional tips for scanning objects for your scrapbooks:
• Experiment with the settings. To get a perfect scan, you may need to adjust the brightness, contrast, resolution, or other settings. Check your user's manual for details.
• If the bulk of the item you're scanning doesn't let the lid close all the way, cover the scanner with a piece of fabric to keep extra light from interfering with the scan.
Remember, scanning mastery can only happen with practice. So look around and think of all the things you can scan. Experiment with settings and controls to get the look you're after. Scanning objects can help you discover a whole new world of creativity at your fingertips.