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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

C is for CROPPING & CUTTING TOOLS - @AprilA2Z #A-ZBlogChallenge

Hello and welcome to day three of the A-Z Blog Challenge!

There's a few biggie topics when it comes to Scrapbooking, and today’s letter is a major staple – C is for Cropping.

The cropping of photos is necessary for both digital and traditional scrapbooking, but in different ways.

As with all aspects of digital, the cropping is done using the computer, however it’s helpful to follow the guidelines used by professional photographers when taking and cropping your photos.

For Digital Scrapbooking, here are a few cropping tips to keep in mind:

-         Blurry - Make sure the subject of your photo is in focus. Fuzzy or accidental shots don’t honor the moment you’re working hard to showcase.

-         Exposure – Check that the lighting is adequate for your pics. Dark or indistinguishable photos, unless purposely silhouetted, don’t do your page justice.

-         Keep a good 1/8 inch distance above the subject’s head and body. Unless it’s a fun, up-close shot, you want to leave a border of visual space where your subject can “nest”.

-         If you do need to cut down a picture (i.e. amputate a subject), try to do so at mid-sections and joints: After ear, under shoulders, mid-chest, waist, wrists, elbows, knees, shins, ankles etc. This will create a shift in focus as if you are looking at your subject at an angle, not slicing them to pieces.

Back in the beginning I promised there would be no knife wielding - I lied. (Sorry!)

Digital is pretty straight-forward, and what’s nice is that the same spatial tips apply to photo prints. The differences that come into play are the same as with album selection – just as Traditional books are more hands-on, so is traditional cropping.

First, let me throw out the disclaimer that the purpose of this blog sprint is to introduce you to Scrapbooking in all of its forms, and to help you find creative ways to experiment with paper craft.

I’m not here to sell anything, and the recommendations I make are strictly from my experience using the tools listed. I will note how often I use the equipment mentioned in order to provide constructive feedback. Equipment-wise, I’m only touching on the bare essentials in this post, and if I've left anything out, please leave a comment with your recommendations.

All hobbies are an investment, but I know they come second to primary needs (shelter, food, etc.). The craft store budget needn’t break the bank. J

That said – a few standard cropping tools are helpful when creating a traditional scrapbook.  
Most simple scrapbook layouts keep the photos rectangular or square. With this technique, all you need is a small paper trimmer, and a corner edger (optional). Another, non-cost option is pining a clear, plastic guide to your photo, and cropping with scissors.

Paper trimmers are pretty inexpensive and can be bought on sale or with a coupon. If you Scrapbook at least once a month, I’d advise investing in a small paper trimmer, at minimum. 

If you work with 12x12 paper, I would suggest a larger trimmer, preferably one with an extender arm. This allows you customize larger sheets, and the scraps can be used for other projects. If you scrapbook once a week, this size trimmer is essential.

Now, if you are an advanced scrapper, or if you want a step-up from boxy cropping, there are ways to cut photos into shapes, such as oval, circle, etc.

The no-frills way to do this would be to trace the shape using a clear, plastic guide, and then scissor cutting it out. The disadvantages of this style is that you may not cut evenly, and the trace marks may still be visible on your cropped result.

An alternate to this would involve the use of cropping tools. It’s nice that scrapbooking has evolved to the point where there are options out there as far as tools and price.
The cropping system that I’ve used for years is by Creative Memories:

Sold separately, or as a set, the cutting tools include a cutting mat (to protect your work surface), plastic cropping frames, and small cutting blades.

The cutting blades have two small prongs that fit into the track of the cropping frames, and each blade cuts a certain distance from the track (red – closest, green – midway, and blue is farthest).

You place the photo on the mat, line up the shape on top of the image, and insert the prongs into the track.
This is a good example of a Digital "don't" Blurry Photo.

Apply pressure and push/cut the blade to crop the photo. Selection of blades allows you to control how large or small the “halo” cut is around your image.

The system works for paper cutting as well.

The blades work on the inner track of the cropping frame – the blue (outermost blade), cutting closer to the center. You can utilize both sides/tracks and create borders and frames around your photos.  

The Creative Memories system has been most effective for me, but there are other options as well. Self-contained circle crop tools from EK Tools are available, as well as magnetic, “punch” boxes that crop rectangles in one step.

Or, as mentioned earlier, you can trim using a straight-edge or paper trimmer.

One additional basic tool that’s good to have in your scrapbooking arsenal is a corner edger. These had a rounded edge to your paper, frames, and photos. Most edgers come in the form of a punch, where you insert and “clip” the edge.

I used that type of edger for years until I recently came across a super-cool replacement. An import (a 3-week wait for it to arrive, but so worth it), I found this 3-size edger on Amazon for under $10.  

It offers small, medium, and large edge sizes, which adapts nicely to the scale of the paper I’m using, and contains all of the clippings in a collection bin at the bottom. I’ve been pleased with the results, and it’s one of my most-used cropping tools.
It proves that cropping tools don’t have to be fancy to work well.
And so this ends day three of my A-Z Scrapbooking Blog Challenge. I appreciate you sticking with me for today’s intense letter!
We’ll be shifting back to the fun stuff tomorrow, so please stop back by to catch –
D is for Die Cuts.

See you then!

-         SNG J


  1. I haven't scrapbooked in a decade. What a fun walk down memory lane. Makes me miss it! I still have a paper cutter I purchased for scrapbooking and still use it for odd and end stuff all the time!



    Filled to Empty

    1. Hi Nancy! Thank you for checking out my post. It's so nice to meet a fellow scrapbooker. Glad it brought back fond memories. It is a lot of work, but so therapeutic. :)

  2. I have some of these you show and my favourite is the 2nd last one where we soften the edges of the picture. I have a small cutting tool but also a large one with a light. I need this since i am always crooked with something. I am talking about film which is my other love but hopefully you get to see some of my cards I posted about last month

    1. Hi Birgit - Thanks for the comment. Oh wow, a cutting tool with a light? That is hi-tech and so awesome. That makes sense - yeah, I've done that, too. Usually when the rest of the page is perfect. It's as if there has to be ONE flaw. lol. I will definitely check out your page - cards are new to me but so eager to try them.