Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



drop the drop shadow

In the November 2017 Project Life® App update, we introduced the ability to set your preferences. Among the settings to choose from is the ability to turn your drop shadows on and off. What exactly is a drop shadow? It is a digital effect given to the pocket on a layout to make them look 3-dimensional. It makes the pocket appear to be layered on top of your background page.

Over the years, we have had many customers experiment with the look of a solid color pocket on top of the same solid colored background to create a more traditional looking scrapbook layout. The problem? The drop shadows still gave the appearance of pockets on the layout. We listened to your feedback (because we love you, of course!) and now you have the option of turning drop shadows off and on in the Project Life App. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to memory keeping with the app.

Meagan Johnson on our Project Life App Creative Team is LOVING the ability to turn off drop shadows in her app. She is providing some great instructions and examples of pages with the drop shadow turned off. I think you will love what she (and others) have created using this feature in the Project Life App.

Hey friends! My name is Meagan Johnson. I am a member of the Project Life App Creative Team (still pinching myself). I was asked to go into depth about a change in the app that came along with the update this past November. Along with the awesome Comfort and Joy Card Collection (which I couldn’t get enough this holiday season!), we were also given the option to turn the drop shadow on and off.

The purpose of a drop shadow is to make the object appear to pop off the page so the overall design looks more real. In the app, you barely know it’s there, but maybe you noticed it when you placed a light colored card onto a light colored background. You can see the Pocket Drop Shadows (PDS from here on) in this example:

Hello December 2015 Edition, Big Shot 7, PDS on

The thin gray lines are very subtle, but you can see the definition of each pocket and the slight dimension that the PDS adds to the page.

I zoomed in on the page so you can see it around the pictures too:

So now that we can make those thin gray lines go away, what does that mean as we create our pages? Oh, so many good things!

First, here is a quick step-by-step on how to turn the PDS option on and off:

1. On the Project Life App home screen, press the question mark in the green quadrant

2. Next Select Preferences

3. Turn the Pocket Drop Shadow option on or off


You must have your selection in Preferences made BEFORE you start your new page. You can’t turn it on or off mid-page (like you can the square or rounded corner option).

So that first page I showed you? Here it is with the PDS turned off:

Hello December 2015 Edition (retired), Big Shot 7 Template, PDS off

The page elements now look more connected. Your eye doesn’t break the page up into individual pockets but sees it as a whole. Kinda cool, huh?!

Turning off the PDS opens up a new design avenue that wasn’t available in the app prior to last December. I, of course, absolutely LOVE the classic pocket system, but as a traditional scrapbooker at heart, I also love having the option to flex my creative muscles sometimes.

There are several ways to utilize this option. The most simple is to just turn your PDS off and create pages as you normally do. A page might look something like this:

Project 52 Rad Edition, Design A Template, PDS off

As opposed to when it’s on:

Project 52 Rad Edition, Design A Template, PDS on

The change is really subtle and there is no right way to create your pages. It’s a personal preference thing just like everything else you choose to do with the app!

Sometimes, however, I really don’t want those gray lines at all! I know there are several app users who have wished they would just disappear at times too. Now they can!

Here are a couple more pages to show various looks. It’s very versatile!

This page is made with blank journaling cards and the background color to match:

Cat Themed Cards, Just Add Color Overlays, Design A Template, PDS off

Another option is to play with patterned cards that can give a repeated look:

Moments Like These, Design A Template, PDS off

Everyday Adventure Edition, Design A Template, PDS off

My favorite look has come from messing around with the Squared Away templates:

Oh What Fun Winter Value Kit, Squared Away 5 Template, PDS off

Boy Themed Cards, Just Add Color Overlays, Squared Away 7 Template, PDS off

I am definitely not the only person who has dabbled in the no PDS world. Check out these pages by other app users:

This page is by Pam Dowell of Oregon City, Oregon. Isn’t it absolutely lovely?! I love her use of overlays.

Squared Away 5 Template, Currently Edition, Essential Overlays White, Neutral Cards, PDS off

Wendy Cardno from Whitley Bay, England created this page:

Cinnamon Edition, Squared Away 16 Template, PDS off

And I love this Big Shot photo from Jessica Dent (insta account @jess_jeanette) in Darwin, Australia:

Documenting Disasters Edition, Big Shot 13 Template, PDS off

And the last one is from Meghan Guilmette from Portland, Connecticut:

Seasonal Snapshot 2015 (retired), Big Shot Template 31 Template, Just Add Color Overlays, and Explore Edition Overlays, PDS off

I hope you are inspired. If you get a creative itch, try it out! A big thanks to the Project Life team for having the insight to give us this option. It adds just the variety I needed. I can’t wait to see the overall difference when I print my 2018 book!


19 Responses

  1. Teal says:

    Love Meagan’s pages!

  2. Sean says:

    Love the “Meagan Method” of turning off drop shadows. It’s a fun, different style I use with pages every so often. Great step by steps. Glad I suggested it to Wendy! ;)

  3. Christy says:

    Great blog, now I understand what PDS are!

  4. Christine H. says:

    Wow! Thanks for this post. I had NO idea you could do this in the app. Can’t wait to go experiment and see what I come up with!

  5. Marlies says:

    I love this idea. I’ll definitely want experiment with this!

  6. Debbie says:

    You rock Meagan! Such lovely pages and wow, the possibilities!

  7. disneypal says:

    Thank you for this blog post and explaining this. I kept seeing on Facebook, some pages with and without the drop shadow an honestly they looked exactly alike to me – I couldn’t figure out exactly what “drop shadow” was but with your close ups and explanation, I can see the differences now.

    Thank you.

  8. Lee says:

    In the above examples (making a splash and sweater monster eats kitty and other examples) how do you rotate the journaling card to make those designs above and below pictures. When I add the cards, they are all in the same rotation to where the designs are all at the bottom of the card. So when it repeats the design, it doesn’t look like yours. Please help?

    • TM says:

      Bring that journaling card into a 4×6 page (the top left, orange part of the circle on the home page) and then export it (saving it as a photo to your camera roll) then when you are making your scrapbook page you can go to your camera roll and insert the “photo” of the journal card. The app will let you rotate the photo. As far as I know this is the only way to do it. Hopefully I explained this ok.

    • Shanon says:

      Add those journaling cards in a “collage” option. Then import it into your layout as a photo. Then you can rotate it to get the look you want.

  9. Jan Preston says:

    This it was such an eye-opening read, thanks so much for posting it. It’s definitely giving me something to consider with future pages.

  10. Crafty Julie says:

    Like someone else posted – I love the “Meagan Method” – her layouts are gorgeous! She makes layouts look like traditional scrapbooking with pattern paper and not pocket scrapbooking. It opens up a whole world of new ideas and inspiration! Love the versatility that the Project Life App continues to provide with each new update!

  11. Karen says:

    I love these examples. I would have never thought I would want to turn the drop shadows off. I’m used to my shadows in photoshop elements, but this feature really lets you get creative and do more traditional scrapbooking! Love it!

  12. YESSSSS!!!! This is an update that I didn’t even know I was missing! I absolutely LOVE how clean it looks without the drop shadow! I can’t wait to get started on some new pages tonight! But first can I gush just a little bit? I’m a long, long, long-time scrapbooker & I had given it up completely. Life just moves so fast! Then 3 years ago, I took an amazing trip that I wanted to document so I switched over from 8.5 to 11 to 12 x 12 specifically to try the Project Life pocket pages. It worked really well for me – no more re-sizing, cutting & pasting! And then….the app came out & the heavens opened & the angels sang! It has literally changed my life! I love that I can scrapbook anytime, anywhere on my phone – Genius! I have told so many people about the system & the app! I am even finally starting to, sort of, get caught up! LOL! I watch your videos for tips & have tried a couple of different approaches, the 52 week system (2016), the monthly system (2017) & am even contemplating the recipe book idea. I am forever grateful to Becky for creating something that works so well! Please keep these fabulous updates & improvements coming! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! I’m a Project Lifer for Life!

  13. Sara says:

    I had no idea this was an option and is a total game changer! I went and turned that drop shadow off. I use a white background (always) and it drove me nuts that the white cards had the outline. Now, Becky and her team opened up so many possibilities!

  14. Lee says:

    Thank you so much TM and Shannon!!!
    I have been anxiously awaiting an answer and this just now appeared! I’m really enjoying this new look of no shadows! And oh …. the possibilities….thanks again for helping!

  15. Cinda says:

    I turned drop shadows off on an Android device and still see a white outline from an overlay… Help… I can send a saved image…

  16. Yvonne says:

    Thank you for this explanation!! Glad I finally took the time to read it. :) Your company is one of the best out there with your transparency and your desire to listen so closely to your customers. Thank you for all your hard work and making our memory keeping easy to complete!

  17. Rachel says:

    They look great. How do you get the white borders on the photos? Like on the cat page. Thanks :)