I have a huge collection of stamps and I love using stamped images on my cards. However, sometimes I do not have just the right image and sentiment for the card I am trying to create.  When this happens, I look to the Internet to find images (try searching on “digital stamps” in your favorite search engine). There are many blogs and online businesses that offer digital images for free or inexpensively.

Downloading and Storing

The first step to using digital images is downloading and storing them. Some websites will provide a link or instructions for downloading. If there are no instructions provided, click on the image to view it as large as possible on your screen and then save this largest version. If you use Windows, right click on the image and choose the “save image” option. I suggest saving them as .jpg images on your hard drive, although you can also save them on CDs or memory sticks. If you save a lot of images, you may want to organize them into directories by theme or source. (If you plan to publish creations made with these images, you will need to know where you got the image to give them appropriate credit.)

Printing

There are three things you need to think about when you are printing digital stamps: the printer you will use, the type of paper, and the editing/printing software. Chances are you only have one printer available to you, so that will limit your choices. If you have more than one printer, I suggest using one that supports photo printing and using your best quality ink. This is especially important if you plan to color your image because you don’t want your color to bleed your ink.

The other issue that affects bleeding is the paper. Good quality cardstock will be less likely to bleed than a thinner paper. I use smooth Bazzill cardstock and a high quality photo printer and have not had any problems with bleeding. The choice between smooth and textured cardstock is based on personal preference. If you are going to color your image with a wet media (such as markers or watercolors), then you need to be concerned about bleeding.  You should experiment with the various types of paper and coloring in your stash before starting on your project. If you are not planning to color your image, then you will have more flexibility in paper choices. It is also possible to print your digital stamp image onto a simple patterned paper with nice results.

There are many types of software that can be used to print your image. Most photo-editing programs or presentation programs like PowerPoint will suffice. You will want to make sure your printing software gives you ability to print the image in the size you need. In addition, it is a useful option to have the ability to add text to your image so that you can print the image and the sentiment at the same time. 

Coloring and Cutting

Once you have your digital stamps colored and cut, you can just make it into a card using your scrapbooking products and normal techniques. The decision of whether to cut or color first is a personal one. If I am cutting the image into an interesting shape such on this birthday card, then I prefer to cut first. I use a manual die-cutter to cut these shapes. For better precision, I recommend using a little bit of tape to hold the die in place so the image comes out where you want it. If I am cutting the image into a rectangle, then I prefer to color first and then use my trimmer to get the desired size of rectangle.

The digital stamps in this article are all from Digital Two for Tuesday(http://digitaltuesday.blogspot.com/); images were colored with Copic markers.