Monday, February 23, 2009


Sorry this week's post is a day late. We spent all of yesterday trying to fit a tutorial about simplicity and layout composition into one blog post, and it simply won't work! So, this morning we'll set the stage for a discussion about assembling meaningful and attractive scrapbook pages, and then we'll keep the conversation going with two or three more posts over the next couple of days.

Let's talk about simplicity. The famous English poet, William Wordsworth, said, "How many (people) undervalue the power of simplicity! It is the real key to the heart."

We live in a crazy, busy world, and it's easy for all the noise and distractions to crowd out what really matters in life. Usually, the things that do matter - like family and friends, favorite places, and beloved memories - end up on the pages of our scrapbooks! So, when scrapbooking any of life's simple pleasures, the last thing we want is for the busy-ness of the scrapbook page to crowd out the simple beauty of the subject.

These days, gorgeous paper is an important part of just about every scrapbook layout. Also, embellishments provide a fun and sometimes funky way to attach images to a page, spell out our thoughts, and add a creative touch to memory keepsakes. The trick to using these resources in scrapbooking is finding the right balance between enhancing your layouts, and overwhelming them. Albert Einstein said it best, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

The pictures below present two example layouts showcasing the same photo. Layout 1 has a lot of potential, but it's what we're going to use as our example of a cluttered, overwhelmed layout. Most of the techniques used on Layout 1 look great on their own, or in combination with one or two other techniques. Together, though, the techniques are so busy it's easy to miss the picture right in the center of it all.

Layout 1

Layout 2 is our example of a simpler, more memorable layout.

Layout 2

Here, then, is the first of three guidelines we'll be sharing over the next few days, for using simple composition to complement the content of your scrapbook projects.

1. The grid is your friend.

The "grid" simply refers to an underlying structure of any piece of artwork or graphic material.

The grid, in scrapbooking terms, is the set of implied horizontal, vertical, and circular lines that guide where page elements are laid out. You cannot see it directly. But you can tell where the lines are by how photos, labels, and pieces of paper line up across the page. In layouts where you want to convey faithfulness, honesty, warmth, comfort, strength, and happiness, a page divided into four sections (vertically, horizontally, or both) is the way to go. We used a four by four grid for Layout 2. For layouts that feature adventure, spontaneity, fun times, play time, love, variety, and family, dividing the page into thirds works really well.

Below, you'll see both Layouts 1 and 2 with an overlay of the grid lines on each. Is the grid for Layout 2 more pleasing to your eye? Why? Because the human eye loves pattern and repetition. It's perfectly fine to alter that pattern, and breaking out of the grid with one or two page elements usually creates visual interest. But the mish-mashed grid in Layout 1 leaves your eye confused on where to focus, on what's important (click the image below to enlarge for detail).

Basically, think of an attractive grid like it's the Yellow Brick Road of your layout. Your layout can have a straight forward grid that leads you right where you want to go, or the grid can wind it's way through the layout, with visual adventures along the way, inviting you to turn the next page. The main goal in setting up a simple grid is to lead your eyes to a brilliant memory at the end of the road.

More to come! Check back tomorrow for the second guideline to simple, beautiful composition!


{pam} said...

thanx for this awesome tutorial on a straight-forward way to make layouts simple. can't wait to see what else you have in store for us!

Karen C said...

This was great! I can't wait for more. This was very interesting.


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