How Do They Do That?

I am playing with Photoshop Elements 13, Gimp and Inkscape right now, for differing reasons.  In each of them, I'm trying to create one simple little graphic to replace the header on this site.  If I were doing this in Artisan 5, I would have had it done in five minutes.  I know those tools and they make sense.

But I can't do it in Artisan, because I can't make a transparent background.  Yes, I could mostly create it and then work out the details in a different piece of software, but that just doesn't sit well with me.

In the process of struggling with these other programs, which I will admit, I would not do unless I loved playing with new software, I realized that there are a multitude of cool things we can do with Artisan that I never even touch on.

Scrapbook PageSo I thought to myself, why don't I show you how to replicate what others are doing, but in our software?  There are tons of blogs about digital scrapbooking that mainly use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to make the pages.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  But I've always believed Artisan is the best tool to use specifically because it is made for digital scrapbooking.  This is its purpose.

So while I try to figure out my other issues in this other software, I'm brainstorming some fun ways to make cool pages using Artisan in new ways.  Don't get me wrong – I love templates because they make life easier.  And if you have the choice between done and fabulously creative, the best choice is done.  But if you have the inclination to learn some fun ways to use all of the amazing tools in Artisan, stay tuned!  (And now, I am not charging a membership fee for this.)

Until the first installment, Enjoy!

~ Deb

What About Backing Up Artisan Content and Projects?

Yup, the photos aren't the only thing you want to make sure you have backed up.

In my last post, I mentioned how I make sure my photos are double backed up for use with Historian.

Artisan contentBacking up content and projects for Artisan is a little bit different.  Historian is built to protect and save your photos, and has features that help make sure you get that job done.  Artisan is not geared the same way, so there are no automated features that help with backup.

It's not difficult at all to save your Artisan Projects folder to OneDrive or another cloud drive service like I mentioned in my last post.  Your Artisan Projects folder is most likely currently located in your Documents folder on your PC, because that's the default location when you set up Artisan.  Whether you've moved it or not, it's pretty simple to just drag the Artisan Projects folder from your Documents on your C: drive to the Documents folder in OneDrive.

But your projects aren't the only things you need to consider backing up.  One of the most crucial things I would recommend backing up your content and activation codes.

I've been through a lot of operating system issues in the past few years, and this past weekend I realized that I was missing some of my old content from before I upgraded my laptop two years ago.  The amazing thing is that I had the missing packages backed up, in the same place, and I was able to restore them very quickly.

If you only have a few dozen packages, maybe this isn't a huge issue.  But if that number is in the hundreds, this becomes a little more serious.  You paid some good money for these things!  Let's make sure you can use them.

What You Need To Know About Your Content Files

Most people think that you need to reinstall your Artisan content packages if you change computers or have to reinstall your software for any reason.  This is not exactly true.

The easiest and most complete way to backup your content for easy transfer is to backup the folder that Artisan installs it in when you activate it.  You'll find it under the Public User in Public Documents/Commercial Art Kits.  (If you have previously used Storybook Creator on the same computer, you may have a Creative Memories Art Kits folder in there as well.  I would recommend combining the two, and setting the Commercial Art Kits folder for backup.)

I would not recommend trying to move the Commercial Art Kits folder to OneDrive because it's just best to leave the content where Artisan wants to find it by default.  This means that you will want to setup this folder for backup with your regular backup method.  (Please tell me you have one!  You don't?!  Ok, read on …)

It's time to employ that handy dandy external hard drive that you've been using for your Historian shadow copies.  Yeah, pull that out.

There are many ways to setup backup systems using your external drive.  Most drives come with software loaded on them that will allow you to create a routine backup plan.  If you like that software, go ahead and use it.  If not, you can always use the File History (Windows 8.1/10) or Windows Backup (Windows 7) that's part of your operating system.  (Find those in your Control Panel under System and Security.)

The tricky part to this is that most of your backup programs will default to backing up the files under your personal User profile in Windows, but the content I'm suggesting that you backup is under the Public User.  You'll want to look for a link like “Advanced settings” and find a way to include that Commercial Art Kits folder in your Public Documents.  Or, if for some reason that is just not an option, at least make sure you manually backup that whole folder on a regular basis.

And please, please, please use the built in feature in Artisan to backup your activation codes!  This is super quick and easy to do, but you need to make sure that you have those codes saved in more than one place.  I have them backed up with my content on the external drive, but I also have them backed up to cloud storage (OneDrive) so that I can retrieve them later.

I hope this has helped.  Until the next time, may your photos and content stay safe, and may you have a fabulous photograph-able weekend!

~ Deb

Is It Forever? Or Panstoria? I’m Confused.

The answer is yes, and yes, and so am I.  Although it is starting to get more clear.

Before I go any further, I want to try to clarify something, if I can.  Forever purchased Panstoria about a year ago. The two companies have been operating distinctly for the past year, but that's really beginning to change, as you may have noticed.  Currently, there are actually three different entities all operating under the Forever umbrella – Panstoria (the digital store with Artisan, Historian and the digital content), the Panstoria Print Shop (where the Artisan projects are printed), and Forever, which up until now has offered mostly permanent, guaranteed digital photo storage and conversion services.

There's a plan in the works at Forever to meld the three entities into one unified site at Forever, eventually.  But it will take some time.  Right now, you can rest assured that whatever the name that shows up, the same people at Panstoria are still servicing our Artisan and Historian software. Some of the new features to Artisan 5 are awesome, and if you haven't noticed, even Historian now has some capability to make page prints that you can print directly at the Print Shop.

So, What Does Forever Offer?

When the announcement was first made that Forever had purchased Panstoria, I looked into it a bit, and then set it aside.  I didn't see the connection yet.

Fast forward a year, and the digital world has changed enough that I do SEE it now.  Forever's flagship service is permanent photo storage.  As they tell it, it's a bit like a storage unit.  But instead of renting your space on a month to month basis (which you could potentially lose if the rates go up or your can't pay one month), you buy your permanent photo storage.  Once it's paid for, the funds are kept in a trust to ensure that the storage not only stays available to you, but that the servers and even the digital format of your photos are updated for your lifetime plus 100 years so you will still be able to access your photos and use them “Forever.”

foreverI have purchased some Forever digital storage myself, and it has already given me some peace of mind.  I'm actually the keeper of all 454 photos from husband's parents and his growing up years.  Those were the first photos I uploaded to my account, because it would be nearly impossibly now to collect most of them again.

Once you have some photos uploaded to Forever, you can sort them into albums, tag them and search by date.  The price for lifetime safety may seem a little steep, but let's take a look at that.

  • For $349 you purchase 10Gb of permanent storage with the Saver package.
  • That guarantees your photo files are safe for your lifetime plus 100 years.
  • Let's just do the math with your lifetime.   I'm 42 currently, and if I live for 35 more years (I hope)

$349 divided by 35 = $9.97 per year

Hmmm … I'm pretty sure I have paid more than that for magazine subscriptions I never look at.

Ok, let's be realistic.  I do have more than 10Gb worth of photos.  However, not every photo on my hard drive needs to be kept Forever.  I'll probably upgrade to a larger service package in the future.  But to put it in perspective, I pay $99 a year for 100 Gb of online backup, and it won't even allow me to sync my memory vaults.  (I have an alternate way to do that, which I'll tell you about in another post.)

If I upgraded to 100 Gb of storage with Forever, that would be a $999 one-time payment.  Over the same 35 year period we used above, that would be:

$999 divided by 35 = $28.54 per year

For the 100 Gb of storage space I currently “rent” for backup, that would be:

$99 times 35 = $3,465.00

Yeah, I'm totally dropping the rented online storage.  :0)

What Else Can You Do With Forever?

In addition to permanent photo storage, Forever offers conversion packages and has also now added Forever Projects.  This is essentially like many of your other photo project sites where you have the ability to use your uploaded photos to create photo books, calendars and other photo gifts. They offer different template options, but the experience is not (yet) as robust as using something like Artisan. That's asking more than what most web-based software will manage.

You can view all of what Forever currently offers through my special link here:

So, the choice is really up to you.  I don't know what the entire transition plan will look like, but currently there is still a lot more creative control using Artisan and Historian for digital projects and organization.  But as our lives continue to shift towards the cloud and away from complex software applications, who knows?

One thing I do know: I'm here to help you with Artisan and Historian for the duration.  Please keep the questions coming!

Until the next time, Enjoy!

~ Deb

How To Import Outside Content Into Artisan

Hello again!  I had a quick question this morning from Stephanie about using content purchased or obtained from sites other than Panstoria.  It is absolutely  possible to use other content if you have it in .png file format, there's just a short process to “import” it into Artisan.

I shot a quick video with the details just now that you can view here:

YouTube video

Or, I will post the written details as soon as I can get them written.

Thanks for watching, and I hope you have a fabulous week!

~ Deb

How To Import Content In Artisan

I received an email from Forever/Panstoria today mentioning that they have added over 80 new Fall and Halloween related content packages today.  (I can't believe it's already the third Friday of the month!)

That reminded me that some of us haven't imported content in a while, and it's a great time for a refresher on bringing content into Artisan.  I've actually tried shooting a video to show the process, but there are so many activation codes that come up on the screen, I never managed to get video edited.

So for now, here is the rundown on how to bring Artisan/SBC packages into Artisan.  I'm using Artisan 5 in these examples, but it works the same way for Artisan 4 or Storybook Creator 4.  (For earlier versions of Storybook Creator, some of the more recent packages may not be compatible.)

Of course, you want to start with some awesome content that's worth using in your books and projects.  Today, I grabbed Autumn Breeze the Bundle, not to be confused with the earlier CM package called Autumn Breeze (which I already had).


Once you have the package downloaded, open Artisan and click on Import Content in the top ribbon on the Welcome screen.


You'll see this dialog box asking whether you are importing a Commercial Art Kit or Personal Art Kit.


Any content you purchased and downloaded in the past from Creative Memories or Panstoria should have a file extension of .sbkit, .pakit, or .package.  These are all considered Commercial Art Kits for the sake of the software, and you should select that option.

If you've downloaded digital freebies from Creative Memories in the past, or from other providers, and they are not in the form of a .sbkit, .pakit or .package file, you will import those as a Personal Art Kit and bring each piece in as a paper, embellishment or what have you.

So now, browse to find the package you just downloaded and select it.


Artisan will now verify where you want to save the art kit.  I would highly recommend that you do not mess with this default location unless you have previously told Artisan to look in that folder for all of your other content.  Just let it save the package to the default folder.




After you complete the import, Artisan will recognize that the content requires an activation code and will prompt to enter one.  Go ahead and click yes.


If you didn't copy your activation code from the download page initially, you can go back (if it's still open) and copy, or grab it from the email receipt that you should have received.  Then just paste it into the box.


If you have more than one package you are importing, even if you you haven't imported the rest of the packages into the software yet, you can paste each of the activation codes in now, one line each, to save time.  Artisan will not recognize the ones you haven't imported yet, but if you import the packages afterwards, you will not be prompted to enter an activation code and your package will be activated.


Now you'll find your fun new content available in your Content Manager, ready to use!

I hope this helps for a refresher … I have another post coming soon with some cool outside content I've been using lately and how to bring it into Artisan.

Until then, Enjoy!

~ Deb

4.5 New Tweaks In Artisan 5 That Make Things Easier

That title says 4.5 because when I first shot this video, there were most definitely 5 different improvements I showed in my video.

The problem is, I had to reshoot the video because I had no audio recorded on the first video.  I actually ended up having to rerecord the video four more times before I had something I could upload with audio that didn't have a glitch.  In the process, I may have dropped that fifth item … my mind was getting a bit numb at that point.

So, with that being said, here's my take on some of the first things I've noticed about Artisan 5 that I really like.  Please take a look and let me know if you have any comments or questions.


YouTube video