What’s New in Digital Scrapbook Artist 2?
Although I’ve tried a lot of digital scrapbooking software, Digital Scrapbook Artist is definitely my favorite so I was quite anxious to see what new features would be present in the newest release of the product. (For details on the original version and the standard feature set of the product, see this review of Digital Scrapbook Artist.)
One of the biggest new additions in version 2 is with the Photo Lab that lets you perform basic editing on digital photos as well as apply over 70 different effects – all of which can be completely customized. Other new features include blending tools and stencils that can be used on their own or combined with other creative aspects of the software. I’ll go into more detail about these new features later in this review.
Ease of Use (5 out of 5)
If you’ve been scrapbooking with the original version of Digital Scrapbook Artist, then you should feel right at home with version 2. The interface has the same intuitive design as its predecessor, and all the tools are in the old familiar places.
If you’re a completely new user, it still shouldn’t take that long to feel comfortable with the application and get started on your first project. Even though the interface may seem a little "busy" at first with all of the different panels and toolbars, it’s actually designed in a manner so that finding tools and features is fairly straightforward. For those who need a little help getting started, Serif has a wonderful series of video tutorials on YouTube.
Photo Lab (2 out of 5)
As mentioned above, one of the major additions to Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 is the Photo Lab. The previous version of the software did have a photo adjustments tool, but it was somewhat unwieldy and limited in scope. Rather than use that feature, I generally preferred to do my photo editing in another application and bring the final images over to Digital Scrapbook Artist when I was ready to place them. With the new Photo Lab, I thought this might change.
When I first opened the Photo Lab, I was impressed with all of the potential capabilities – until I tried to apply a special watercolor effect. After a lot of processing time, the effect was applied, but when I tabbed over to another window for a moment and returned to the application, it was attempting to apply the effect again. Meanwhile, my computer’s processor started chugging away and eventually the application got hung up and crashed.
So, I tried again. The second time I was careful not to tab over to any other window while the Photo Lab was running, even though I really shouldn’t have to worry about that. I tried applying a different effect to a smaller image, and when the preview of the effect was complete, I clicked OK to actually accept the Photo Lab changes and apply them to the photo on the scrapbook page in the main interface. Again, the application hung up and crashed.
I tried several more times and received mixed results. Sometimes, the Photo Lab would work fine and others it would cause the application to crash. The problem does seem related to the size of the original image size, which makes sense. So, to use the Photo Lab effectively, I’ve had to resize my images in another application first, and this seems to defeat the entire purpose of the tool.
Learn more about the features of Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 on the next page.
Stencils (5 out of 5)
In contrast to the Photo Lab, the new Stencil tool is very nice and works quite well. When combined with different brushes, colors, and effects, you can achieve a lot of creative results with this feature.
When using a stencil, you can choose to apply the fill effect to either the inside or outside of the embellishment. The final effect can then be modified just like any other object in Digital Scrapbook Artist, offering even more possibilities.
Performance (4 out of 5)
With the exception of the troubles I had with the Photo Lab, Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 performed just as well or better than its predecessor. The new Stencil and Blending tools are great additions, and even the Photo Lab isn’t so bad when working with smaller images. But, due to the problems I encountered, I don’t think I’ll use the latter much unless an update is released to improve the issue.
Price to Value (4 out of 5)
The suggested retail price for Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 is $49.99, which is still a decent deal when you consider all of the software’s capabilities. If you don’t own a copy of the original version of the software and you’re looking for a good, solid product with tools that mimic those used in traditional scrapbooking, this is a title that you want to keep on your short list.
On the other hand, if you already own the original version, you may want to wait a bit before upgrading. Even though the Photo Lab is just one small piece of the entire program, it is a major portion of the items added to the upgrade. Then again, if most of your photos are already on the smaller side (say, around 800 x 600 pixels), then you may not even have trouble with the Photo Lab.
Overall Rating (4 out of 5)
Despite the fact that I have spent a lot of time in this review expressing my disappointment with the Photo Lab, I still prefer Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 over other digital scrapbooking software and think it’s a good investment. The tools in the software are fun, easy to use, and highly versatile – so you can spend time focusing on the creative aspect of the project and let the software take care of getting the technical details right.
If you want to get an idea of the general flow of the design process in the software, you might want to download and try the lighter, free version of Digital Scrapbook Artist. This version may not have all the bells and whistles of the full product, but it definitely includes enough features for you to find out if you like the software’s style or not.