Category Archives: Design Principle

Top 5 Tips to Achieve Perfect Cluster Groups

Cluster groups are a scrapbook technique that baffles many scrappers.  Cluster groups are a great way to use some of the gorgeous embellishments included in kits and collections while improving the look of a scrapbook page layout.

Here are five key components to consider to achieve beautiful cluster groups.

  1. Repeat elements:  embellishments, papers, shapes, and colors.
  2. Odd numbers work best.  Three or five items always look better than two or four.
  3. Triangular arrangements work great in cluster groups and layout design.
  4. Place elements under, between and above photos and papers.
  5. Use clusters to move your eye around the page.

If you find it difficult to arrange clusters, try finding layouts or pre-made clusters that you like and study how the key components are applied.  Practice replicating the look in your own layouts.

First add several elements to use on a layout.  Then try multiplying, resizing, rearranging, and relayering to get the desired effect.  After all that if something just doesn’t seem to work, delete it.  As with anything new, it takes practice.  Since everything is digital it makes it super easy to practice.

Let’s explore a pre-made cluster.  A member of KimericKreations CT made this cluster using Kim’s Rustic Autumn kit.

cluster example

  1. The triangular shape is still apparent even in a more vertical design.
  2. Flower clusters-3 blue, 3 gold & 3 maroon flowers grouped and repeated 3 times.
  3. Blue leaves repeated 3 times.
  4. Banner flags-3 maroon flags, 3 plaid flags, 3 grey flags.
  5. Gold color repeated in heart & paint splatters at the top and middle, word art in the middle & circles at the bottom which also repeats the circular shape at the top and the clock in the middle.

When planning a cluster group it helps to copy/paste a minimum of three of each of the main items you plan to include.  Place them over to the side to start.  Then rotate and group some of them and place them in the general areas to make a triangle.  Some items, such as a single flair & single clock, work because the circular shape is repeated.

Now let’s look at a layout.  Instead of one cluster group, three groups create flow.

Slim vertical photo layout

Notice the general layout is triangular.  The cluster group on the top left, the butterfly on the top right and the clustering at the bottom use the five key components to move the eye around the layout.  Each cluster has an odd number of elements, three on the left, one on the right and five at the bottom.  The blue ribbon on each side of the photo ties in the blue umbrella.

If you are having trouble achieving beautiful cluster groups, try these five tips and see if they help.

How to Use the Rule of Thirds in Scrapbooking and Photography

The rule of thirds is a design principle that applies in all areas of creativity.  I wrote a post about using the rule of thirds in scrapbook design over two years ago.  You can find that post and some layouts using this rule here.  It actually comes quite naturally because it’s so aesthetically pleasing to our senses.

 

Today I found an article about using the rule of thirds in photography.  Photography is another creative area that most scrappers are compulsive about.  Read that article here.

 

We all know rules are made to be broken, right?  Yes, it’s easier to apply this rule when designing a scrapbook layout than in photography sometimes.  But do keep this in mind in your scrapping and photography endeavors.  Learn how to use the rule of thirds, practice it and watch your layouts and photography skills improve.  There’s a good reason rules are rules because they work!

Complementary Colors Pop

Creating contrast using complementary colors is a wonderful tool seen in many areas of design. Scrappers are also avid photographers.  As a photographer, you will appreciate this article about adding contrast to your images using complementary colors.  You can find the article here.

 

Get more in-depth information about color theory here.   You may already use color theory to enhance your photos and scrapbook layouts without even knowing it.  These color contrasts are all around us in nature and become intuitive.

 

If you’re not already using complementary colors in your designs you should start doing it now. This is one “secret” that will make your work stand out.  It’s the added pop you’ve been looking for.

Color Theory in Design

Color theory is a large part of many, if not all, areas of our creative lives.  Whether you’re an artist, photographer, fashion designer, interior designer, florist or scrapbooker, the colors you choose have a major impact on your composition.

I love color!  I love combining colors that will complement a layout or design.  That works out great since we have an almost endless supply of color choices.  There are tens of millions of colors in our wonderful world but they all start from three root colors.  The three primary colors when mixing paint are red, yellow and blue.  These are the root colors that can be combined to create every other imaginable color.

When you combine any two of the primary colors the resulting colors are referred to as secondary colors.  Most people know you combine red + yellow to get orange, yellow + blue produces green and blue + red equals purple.  These are the secondary colors-orange, green and purple.

Combining a primary color with it’s closest secondary color produces six tertiary.  Think of it like a family tree.  The primary colors are the parents, their children the secondaries and the tertiary are grandchildren.  The tree just keeps expanding to produce an endless array.

 

 

Light passing through a prism mixes a little differently.  The transmitted primary colors are the color of the light source itself and are red, green and blue.  The mixing of these colors of light is how television mixes light to get colors.

Keep in mind it’s not necessary to understand everything there is to know about the two types of primaries because the end result is that using different colors in relation to one another is the same regardless of the set of primaries.

How you combine colors in your layout is where the magic begins. Some colors just seem to work better together to achieve a pleasing design.  A color wheel is a great reference tool to easily learn which combinations work best.  Use color theory to take you scrapbook layouts to a new level.

Top 5 Shadowing Don'ts

While I consider shadowing a must, there are a few things you don’t want to do.  There are many different type of objects that can be used on a page.  Obviously, I can’t cover every possibility for shadowing but these are some important reminders for the most frequently used items that call for a shadow.

1. DON’T leave things hovering over your page.  Hummingbirds and butterflies may hover but most elements should not.  Doesn’t this row of dots look a bit odd?  Too much of a shadow makes elements look like they’re floating above your page.

floating

2. DON’T leave them off the page either.  A layout without shadows will appear flat and lack dimension but the right amount will enhance your page.

Flat

3. DON’T shadow text, splatters or imprints since they’re not usually ‘thick’ enough to cast a shadow.  These things look all wrong when shadows are added, you may even think you’re having double vision!

Double Vision

4. DON’T forget where your ‘light source’ is coming from.  When I’m working on a layout my lamp is over my left shoulder.  This helps me remember where my ‘light source’ is.  it’s a confusing mess when shadows go every which a way!

Every Which Way

 

5. DON’T forget you are trying to make your layout look as realistic as a traditional page.  It’s even better than a traditional layout.  It looks great but lies flat when printed and you don’t have all the mess to clean up when you’re done.  Have fun!

 

Top 5 Shadowing Do's

Shadowing is very important on your digital scrapbook layout to achieve a more realistic look.  Shadows add depth and dimension to an otherwise flat design.  If you’re making a traditional paper layout, shadows are ‘built in’.  Since the elements are truly dimensional they automatically cast shadows.  That makes sense, right?  When creating digital layouts you should try to add realistic looking shadows.

Here is my list of the top 5 DO’s when adding shadows to your digital designs.

1. DO consider how ‘thick’ an element is & how much shadow it would cast if it were ‘real’.  Paper & card stock don’t cast the same shadow as ribbon, buttons or flowers.  The photo below demonstrates how shadows are cast naturally for items of various thicknesses.

Various Depth Items

2. DO think about your ‘light source’ and cast the shadow away from it.  If light is coming from above & to the left the shadow will fall below & to the right.  The photo above is a perfect example of this.

3. DO match the shadow direction for all elements on the layout.  Tip: If you’re using a pre-made, pre-shadowed cluster try to match the shadowing on any other elements you add. In the photos below I used a pre-made pre-shadowed cluster.  Most people tend to shadow to the right & below but the cluster was pre-shadowed to the left & below.  The shadow for the frame looks much better on the right example.  The frame shadow is slightly darker because it is closer to the page than the cluster.

Wrong vs Right

4. DO remember the thicker the element, the lower the opacity should be.  A lower opacity makes shadows more transparent.  Notice in the above example you can see the splatter below the cluster, through the shadow, because the lower opacity makes it transparent.

5. DO raise the blur setting for ‘thicker’ elements.  This will create a lighter, less defined shadow.  Thinner elements shadow will be darker and more defined.

I hope these top 5 shadowing do’s are helpful.  Stay tuned for some shadowing dont’s I’ll be posting in a couple of days.  What do you think?  Do you agree?  Your comments are welcome.

 

 

Take Your Scrapping Skills to a Whole New Level with Art Journaling!

I LOVE art journaling, it is so creative and looks amazing!  It will take you scrapping skills to a whole new level.  In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about I’ve included some examples below of some awesome art journaling techniques.

art journaling

I’ve been looking for a tutorial for quite a while and now I’m so happy to have found a class “The Art of Journaling”.  As you can tell, from the examples above, this is not your everyday, run of the mill journaling.  This is art in and of itself.  So let me tell you more about the class.

art journaling class

Click this link Art of Journaling by Amanda Taylor to register.  This workshop starts March 3. It is actually three classes using Photoshop Elements 10+ or Photoshop CS4+.  It is skill level beginner to intermediate so you don’t need to be an expert in the software but you do need to be familiar with the product.  The workshop starts in 10 days so hurry on over and sign up.  I think it will be a lot of fun and it will definitely be an asset to your scrapbooking layout designs.  If you want to learn journaling as an art form click here.