We all do things differently, but I thought maybe by writing down what I do, it might give some ideas to others. So, here goes...
1 Preparing for a comp. If I'm doing a page for a comp, then I'll copy down the comp guidelines - for example, if its at CSI I copy the challenge, sketch (if there is one for that week) and the smaller palette. I then open a file in Adobe Fireworks 960 x 1280 200 dpi (A4) and save it in my 'workings' directory, usually with the title of the comp so I can find it again. I am unlikely to finish a page in one sitting, so I usually go back, back, and back again. (I continually save the document throughout all the next steps).
2 Set up for a comp. Again, if its for a comp, I'll then copy and paste in the pictures related to the comp, so they are inside the working file at all times. I can still hide or unhide them as required, but I find its easier to do this, so I remember everything I have to do, and I can select the colours out of the pictures (if a palette is involved like The Color Room or CSI).
3. Pick some photos. Then I usually think about photos. What photos do I have that would meet the criteria? Do any photos come to mind that would match these colours (its ok if not - I can turn any colour photo to sepia or black and white)? Does the challenge itself remind me of any particular thing in my life. Sometimes, this process happens in an instant - but other times this is more difficult and doesn't automatically gel. I don't normally go any further until I have some idea which photo/s I will be using.
4 Think about the journalling. Usually at this point, once I've selected photos, I have a think about the journalling and title and how they will be displayed on the page (I don't actually do it at this point - I just think about it). I find this helps with freeing up my brain to just be creative in the processes and moment. Journalling is very important to me. For me, the point of scrapbooking is to tell a story; my story. If I just wanted to store photos I'd get a photo album. I like to play with a title at this point too. I try to find a unique title for my page. I really enjoy doing that. Plus, later on, after the page is done and saved, I want to be able to find it again on the computer - this is greatly helped if each page has a distinct title. I might write a title down at this point, but I may still change it as the page evolves.
5. The Stash. Now I do what all scrappers do - I burrow into my 'stash'. Like IRL scrappers I have a fair idea what is in my stash, and sometimes the comps dictate a little what will need to be found to go onto the page. If I go with a particular genre, this will also determine what goes on to the page. I might pick a vintage feel, if I have a vintage photo, for example. I like to mix in match when I scrap. I rarely use all of the one brand or kit on the one layout. I like to mix it up.I will open up and pull in several bits and pieces that I feel will go together for the page, each on its own layer. Of course, about 30% of what I bring in will vanish by the time the page is finished!
6. The Creative Flow. Then I let my creative flow take over; I play with different colours, balances, textures, patterned papers, embellies and whitespace, until I find something that is pleasing to me.
7. Title & Journalling. Once the creative process is over (or over for the first attempt), then I will create the title and add the journaling where it best suits on the page now that most elements and photos are on it. I will play with fonts until I'm happy with them. I have some favourite fonts which I use over and over - like 2Peas Fancy Free.
8 First Check. Then I double check the comp criteria. Where comps state embellies or things required, I try and do them all - even if they only ask for one or two from the list. I find this more challenging. For example, if I have missed buttons, I will then go in and get some buttons from my stash that I feel go with the page, and re-colour them accordingly.
9. Finishing Touches. Last minute changes include moving the journalling block, adding small extras like stitching or staples, and making sure no important layers have become obscured by other layers - particularly those that need to be on top! When I am finally happy with the page I save it, export it out at 640x480 and save this file into my final pages area and name it as per the title. Then I close out of Adobe Fireworks.
10. Ingredients - I have a Word document on my desktop called 'ingredients'. I open it when I finish a page, insert the page in as a picture. I adjust the Word screen so it takes up half my screen, and then open Windows Explorer in the other half and go and locate all the bits and pieces from my stash that I used on the page, and type the details into the Word file. I like to give credit to those that have created the amazing embellies and papers that I use. I save kit pictures in a special area if the file names in the stash are a little light on as to what kit they came out of. I save the Word file. I may also type in the bit about the page, the whys, and what criteria I met for the comp.
11. Upload - The exciting bit is to finally get to uploading! I upload the exported image to the website, and then copy and paste from Word the details of the page. This way I don't spend ridiculous amounts of time thinking whilst I'm online- wasting valuable online time!
12. Print - Most of my pages I also print out at A4 and put into a flip album - I usually buy a Clearview Display Book (Marbig) with 50 pockets A4. These are not refillable, but great to use to show the older relatives what I've been up to. I usually get them from Office Works.