Quality Control Guidelines

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Quality Control Guidelines

Follow the included links for tutorials and more information.


  1. All papers should be 12x12 inches at 300 DPI.
  2. Patterns should be smooth and sharp with no jagged edges, blurriness or gaps in the pattern. Be careful when recoloring your pattern as this is commonly when jagged edges appear.
  3. Be sure that patterns and colors go all the way to the edges of the paper.
  4. Texture is optional. Most digi scrappers prefer some (or a lot!) of texture. However, for printing and hybrid purposes no texture can be preferred.
  5. If you are using texture, be extra careful when applying it to black and white areas, as the texture can disappear or appear different than on the rest of your colored areas. See a tutorial for keeping texture in white areas here.
  6. Final colors should be mostly in gamut.


  1. All elements should be 300 DPI.
  2. Elements should be sized to resemble their size in real life. Making things slightly larger is always preferable to making them too small.
  3. All elements should be trimmed of extra space.
  4. Elements should have smooth and sharp edges. Watch out for jagged edges. See here for more details on this problem.
  5. Check for stray pixels and missing pixels in your elements.
  6. External shadows should not be included with your element. Sometimes internal shadows are needed, but you should always remove the external shadows so people can add their own shadowing.
  7. Texture is optional. Most digi scrappers prefer some (or a lot!) of texture. However, for printing and hybrid purposes no texture can be preferred.
  8. If you are using texture, be extra careful when applying it to black and white areas, as the texture can disappear or appear different than on the rest of your colored areas.
  9. Final colors should be mostly in gamut.

This list is a work in progress. I'm planning to add in some more tutorials and information. In the meantime, I'd like your feedback on if these are good guidelines. What did I miss? What is unclear? Etc.

Is there a preference for file type on things like Journal cards, being either JPEG or PNG when there is no need for transparency?

@Sunny I prefer png if the corners are rounded...and its easier for me to just make all png, so i don't accidentally miss a file.

@Marisa these are awesome, especially for some new to the game like me smiley


Sunny, you always want to use JPG where possible, as a PNG of the same square-cornered card will virtually always be at least 30% larger in file size, and possibly almost twice the size. Obviously, you NEED to use PNG if you're doing something with any transparency at all, even rounded corners...

Gina, some pocket scrappers prefer square corners. I usually just make square-cornered cards and let them use a clipping mask if they want round corners. That way I'm not wasting website bandwidth, wasting their hard drive space, or excluding the people who want square-cornered cards, and it's just the 5-10 seconds of adding a clipping mask if someone really wants round corners.

It all seems clear and easy to follow smiley

4. Elements should have smooth and sharp edges. Be careful with recoloring your layers, and when using removing parts of a layer as this is when jagged edges appear.

In number 4, I understand what you mean by both smooth and sharp but that could be confusing for the non-native english speakers. With that being said, I have no idea how else to word it. Smooth as in no jagged edges but sharp as in not blurry or smudged looking. Hmm...
Also the word "using" could be taken out of the latter sentence.

As for things missed, it may be redundant but textures (if included) should go to all edges of elements as well. I've had a handful of downloads where textures are accidentally stretched only over 95% of an element - typically flat pieces like labels or journal cards. I also tend to check for things being centered (if that's the intent) when I QC - circle labels I check to make sure the inside design is centered.

Word art could have a section of its own as well. Spelling errors, reasonable size, sharpness, stray pixels with respect to the font, shadowless, etc.

Alphas, I check to make sure they're all -roughly- the same size and 300dpi. I'll also spend a bit of extra time on the punctuation pieces if they exist as those tend to be the ones that get jagged in my experience, especially if styles are used.

Previews should be included and perhaps more importantly, properly titled - I've made this mistake a few times smiley

So far, I think you're off to a great, clear start!

Great list...

@Holly...i never knew there was such a size difference between the jpg and png files!!! thanks. i am corner cropper myself and so do it almost without even thinking about it..but i am also not a pocket scrapper! ...thing to keep in mind as i delve into the world of designing a bit more! so much to learn smiley

Holly, that IS a very important thing to know when designing, good that you mentioned it!

I'm sure there are many other "must know" things but my brain is too sluggish and otherwise occupied right now to form any cohesive ideas on this topic.

Happy September and Fall y'all...I'm away for awhile.

In all the stores I worked in texture is required on ALL items paper and elements (excluding epoxy looking stickers). Texture also needs to be on white and black papers which usually requires a little extra effort to achieve.

Also, when making a kit, all items of the same color should be the same color. Sometimes adding textures to an item changes the color making it darker or lighter. These need to be adjusted to match. Have you seen previews where one items looks really dark compared to the rest of the kit?

Has anyone ever found a way of checking whether your items are in gamut - for those of us who don't have the full version of Photoshop? I know that in PS, you change from RGB to CMYK and back again, but that option isn't available in PSE 15, which is what I use.

There isn't a way to check gamut in PSE. I usually ask a friend to check. It takes but a minute or two and they usually don't mind doing it for me.

Sorry, LilyAnn, I did already know that you can't gamut check in PSE, but I should have made my meaning clearer! What I actually meant was, has anyone heard of a cheap or free program that will allow you to check gamut?

Thank you so much for replying, though! smiley

See, I knew there were/are other important need-to-knows out there. smiley

LilyAnn, thank you for making the good point on the adjustment of your colors after applying any effects;sometimes the results actually drift quite a bit from the color in the palette. I usually QC my designs for this too by creating a top layer with swatches (squares) of the palette colors and compare it to the finished design, if off, I then adjust the graphic (only the graphic layer) using the 'hue/saturation' adjustment tool, all the wile keeping the swatch visible for comparison, sliding the hue, saturation and lightness adjustments sliders until I get the color correct (best if this done with 'gamut warning' on to prevent over correcting one problem only to create another).

Thanks for all the thoughts ladies! I made two polls about the pocket cards, to get a little feedback from people. I pretty much always save my pocket cards as PNG because they are usually untextured and I figure that way they will be saved with the sharpest lines and colors. When there's no texture I worry that a JPG will end up saving in some blurriness that I don't want.

As for rounded corners, I personally think it's better to not round them first. There are too many people who probably want square corners (including myself, I don't use rounded corners in my pocket scrapping) and also they may prefer a different radius to their rounded corner than the one you're including. And if someone wants to print the cards I imagine it's easiest to print first and then round yourself if you want to.

Great comments.
Wording possibility "Elements should have smooth and (crisp or clean) edges?

Robyn, Check out Inkscape for out of gamut checking. I use it as I create, and it has a way of warning with a color that you set if out of gamut. But not remembering if I've never had anything show up as out of gamut, so can't verify that it works.

Rose that's how I keep my colors in check too but I do it as I make each element. Less work in the end. I also place each element on my preview as I work so it is easier to see if colors seem "off" or to see what elements I may need to complete the kit.

Gayle, the wording that designers usually use is "no jagged edges", and "No missing or stray pixels."

"Rose that's how I keep my colors in check too but I do it as I make each element. Less work in the end."

I do in the same way too. Just place a square on top of my element or paper after adding texture. Then delete it when it´s ok.

There is something else about textures: If you apply them to something that has more than one color, it should show equally on all colors. It can´t apear faint on some and sharp/visible on others... did you get what I meant?

Yes, when applying texture on top of a multicolored paper for example, the texture should appear the same on all the colors. Many times with lighter colors, I'd have to apply a second copy just on the lighter layer to make the texture the same on all the papers, sometimes having to mess with blending modes or highlights to get it to match too.

Hi Marisa,
as a Level 1 designer or in general, do I have the opportunity to read and possibly correct my reported quality problems to graphics from others somewhere?
I need to copy my texts back and forth with the Google translator and while I was evaluating 4 files today, I crashed the PS page 2 times. Why don't I know, but it happens sometimes.
I don't want to irritate the others.

Arite, if you go to your profile, there's a Quality Control link there which shows all reported quality problems. You can edit the graphic to remove the file with problems and replace it with a corrected one. (Don't remove the entire graphic listing, just remove the file and re-upload an improved version.)

Hi Holly,
yes, this I already found out smiley
That is not my problem. When I upload the corrected graphic, I also write to the person who posted the graphic issues. I would like to control these texts and possibly revise them, because I often write "crap" from the Google translator and do not immediately notice.
It would also be helpful for people who did not write nice answers. So you would have the chance to revise that and the one who posted the bugs of the graphic would not even read the unfriendly words.
Do not you agree?
This, in turn, would mean you had to hold back the posts for a while. That's probably not possible. Or?

Oh, Holly, please don't think I wrote something unfriendly. I didn't do that. I wouldn't, either.
But I think I wrote a text in response, which was actually referring to the previously corrected file.

Can there be a note mentioned about Alphas as well as word art?

I mentioned to someone about their word art having jagged edges and the response I got was actually very upsetting as a long time designer. I was told that because fonts are not always clean from jagged edges, that I should not care (basically) if the word art has jagged edges. If the font being used is supposed to have jagged edges, I get it, but this was a handlettering font which is supposed to have smooth curves and not jagged edges. This is so far from the truth and not something a designer should ever think is acceptable. We want to provide quality items to our customers - and this should go for everything.


Item 2 under elements, states:

Elements should be sized to resemble their size in real life. Making things slightly larger is always preferable to making them too small.

I think this topic of sizing should be explained more fully as it relates to scrapbooking (especially since there are some designers here who have stated that they don't or haven't ever done any scrapbooking themselves. It should be made clear that rather than "sized to resemble their size in real life", they should be sized in proportion to the 12 inch square canvas/background. I have just completed a QC review of an element by a level 1 designer and although you state above, "Making things slightly larger is always preferable to making them too small.", this element was so large (12.4 x 11.94 inches) that it filled the entire canvas (not very useful as an embellishment - and needlessly increasing the file storage size).

I know I wrote those rules, but I'm not sure I agree with them exactly smiley The only time I'm really concerned about size is when I've textured an element. If it's not textured, I often oversize things because you never really know what someone wants to do with something and who am I to limit them to real-life. However, if the item is textured, then you will lose that detail with a drastic resize. Anyone have thoughts?


Yes, I don't worry too much about size either, the only things I set at exact sizes are of course background papers, journal card sizes, and any kind of border/ribbon that I'd like to be the full width of the background paper.

Other than that, as far as I'm concerned, anything goes !

With regards to sizing elements or alphas, what I always do is open one of my background papers (I usually make those first) and then try out the elements on the paper to see how the size looks in comparison to the paper size.

I always make my elements to the size that I want first, test them on the paper background, make adjustments until its the size that I think looks good against the paper... and then I go ahead and do all my colouring, texturing, adding layers, bits and pieces, etc etc. I find if you get it to the size you want first and then add all your textures etc, then you don't have to worry about losing details because you'll be texturing and adding layers and bits according to the size you're working with, rather than resizing the whole thing at the very end and ending up something that might be pixel-y and blurry when you zoom in to 100%.

I tend to err on the side of making elements a little larger than they need to be, to give people the option of using it in various different ways that I might not have thought of.

In my opinion, bigger is better.... just so long as you don't go overboard and make everything gargantuan that people will need to drastically size back down (thus losing details).

I don't believe that I have accurately made the point that I was trying to make....yes, I agree that, for elements, its better to err on the larger size rather than too small, but, one needs to consider how the element may be used on a 12x12 inch canvas. Let's use a button as an example.....although buttons are often used like a fastener/anchor, they can, I realize, be used solely for decorative purposes; however, how useful, really, would it be to a scrapper, if the button is the same size as the canvas?! There is no reason to make a file larger than necessary for it's use.


Exactly Rose, what if someone wants a canvas sized button. Maybe they want to print it on a billboard! I do usually shrink my scanned items to be more realistic sizes, but I always wonder if that's a bad move...