Friday, February 19, 2016

Scrapbooking, design principles and pictures

Friday night and while husband and 8 year is playing SuperMario and my 6 year old is lying next to me watching a movie while I am surfing and again I found a scrapbooking podcast - Paperclipping with Debbie Hodge and Noell Hyman. One of the topics were design principles. The first part of this article are just thoughts that comes up while I am listening to the podcast.

I have written a bit of this topic the last month but I wanted to write a little more.   In my last post I shared my creative journey

Design principles. For me math and logic is a way of linear scrapbooking and just following principles is the same, or so it feels..  I just can't to that.  I can't do straight and I do not have the patience to read books about the subject - I prefer to cheat and just look at the pictures if someone is writing/talking about design. I didn't like math in school - but I was not into art either and English was the only language I learned to master - my French and German were not good - especially my German - I was never able to learn the rules, especially the German rules.

All the things Debbie and Noell are discussing about design is something that has actually been my focus when I scrap. For me the picture is what is important, BUT when I scrap I even sometimes add a photo LAST - I just scrap everything and then go and think about which picture could work.   One design principles I have never thought about when I scrap is TRIANGLE. If you look at one of my pages I maybe have incorporated it, but I never THINK about at when I scrap.

I have never used a color wheel, I have no idea which colors are where and which colors go with what, BUT I there are a lot of colors I don't like to scrap with. Green and purple is nothing I like to scrap with.

I actually do a lot of what they discuss about adding colors later - I do that too - I start with a few colors and then add more - I also start with white cardstock.  

When I pick papers for my layers I like to add a little contrast between my layers, I don't like to have the same colors/nuance in the papers on top of each other IF I am using other colors as well.  I go for some contrast when I scrapbook. The reason I choose contrast is that then you actually notice the different layers - otherwise I think each individual paper tend doesn't show and I do scrap to show how to use the papers.

Back to pictures. I sooo wish I was a better photographer, but I don't want all my pics to be staged either and our house isn't as bright as I would like. Also, allthough I am not a traditional scrapbooker focusing mostly on the events in the pictures - I do journal some on my layouts - they are not completely storyless - I just prefer to catch a mood. I also get no inspiration from scrapping event photos. 

When I choose my pictures I look for "light" - focal point. I really want my picture to stand out and often speak of itself.  I want to express something with my page and the pictures should in a way speak for itself.


I mostly scrap using 1 photo and it's not very big. I don't like scaling up the photomat. I need enough white space (One apparant design principles) BOTH in my pictures and in my layout as a whole. I don't like filling page, for me it gets too messy.  When it comes to my everyday snapshots taken with my Iphone often lack the things that spur my creativity. The pictures are often stale and boring, quite messy, with too many olors and not very focused. With a real camera you have a little better time to take better pictures.  About pictures - I have seen so many great page designs, but with awful pictures, pictures that should have been cropped better, made lighter or just black and white. Why spend so much time (and money) scrapbookin the page and don't care about the pictures you are using. For me it's very sad. It doesn't look when you mix a lot of patterns and colors with a busy photo.   I tend to divide my pics in piles of "weak" and "strong" photos. Weak photos are photos where you can't rest your eyes; noisy in terms of lots of colors, lack of contrast, long distance, unnecessary objects in the photo. If all of this is in your pictures - go safer and choose black and white and add extra contrast and add white edges around the photo. 

Then it's the stronger photos - the ones you just HAVE to take a look at. Again, my pics are far from professional, but I know how to get you to notice my photos. It's nice to get your own photo style.

I often crop my pics in other than 4x6 shape. Others you always can tell projects by their pictures  are Wilna Furstenberg, Marinette Lesne, Jessy Christopher-Tham or Marcy Penner , for different reasons - going from very contrasty to very whitened.  

I am one of those scrapbookers who have never taken a class in art, scrapbooking.  (I know I should have....), but after scrapbooking for a long time I have made a few observations and thoughts about what works and doesn't work.  I am not bragging about not taking classes,  I have just preferred to spend my money on supplies - it's expensive enough importing everything I want from the US. I NEVER get free shipping, if I go below 30-40 USD in shipping it's a small order and I can't shop with coupons at Michaels/Hobby Lobby etc.  

The first part I just wrote while listening to the podcast, this next part is more reflections after.

I decided to look up the design principles they were discussing in the podcast test myself how I do after listening

My emphasis is on the photos. Always first, but to highlight my emphasis I use layers of colors and paper. I wrote a tutorial for a tablet magazine once showing the difference with or without my layers of colors/stenciling.  I could like a lot of more mixed media artist just go for the mixed media, I just like to work with paper too... Here I picked TWO layouts where I think I have emphazied the picture - just in two different ways. One having a really big photo and the other using a "strong" photo.  I don't use green in any way in the photo...


This is the principle that I just don't like. I don't like doing this linear. The master of this principles is as far as I can tell Laura Vegas  She has so much lines and order in her scrapbooking it's incredible.

(edit) Here are a few of my attempt at this. One is made for Bella Blvd and sketch by Kristine Davidson. It took me a loong time to make this page and I did not feel comfortable making it, still tried to cheat a little. The other one is made for Pink Paislee

This I actually do. I often add multiple pictures in a row of either the same photo, sometimes the pics are the same but cropped/tilted a little different when they are put together.  I also use a lot of the same colors in my pages, or shapes. 

Contrast is really important to me, both in how I do my layers, which colors I choose for my pics, which pictures, which papers I choose, the type of technique products I use.  
Here is one of my most recent layouts with a lot of contrast. Both using fonts, lines and shapes.. 

When it comes to balance. I often just have my photo and layers in the middle and don't have any distracting things all around the page. Again - I wrote about this higher up - I just don't like filling a page with lots of things. I do however broke this on the page shown above where I filled the entire page. I also tried to break my "principles" with one of my recent projects for Bella Blvd.  How do you think I did with the balance here since it's a very non-typical page for me to make. I hardly did any contrast either. This was a Pinterest Inspired project posted this week on the Bella Blvd blog.  

This is also something I don't really think about when I scrapbook, but again - I first want to you look at my page. Since I am on different design teams - I scrap to sell products and I want to show the products off... My layers and mixed media are just there for the transition to be smoother to avoid too harsh of a contrast towards my white cardstock background.  Since I often put my pages in the middle or slightly to the side I want you to first look there and then move outwards to the different layers. So I guess this is also a principle that is in the back of my head, I just didn't know the name of it.

Example of with or without a mixed media background (more here)

This page is one of my guest design layouts for Bella Blvd

So for you few readers out there - how are you on design principles - do you know them, use them, why or why not ?? Can you name scrapbookers who you can match strongly to the different principles ???? 


  1. Interesting read.... I try to play with the 'odds' principle and add 3, 5 etc of number of things in a cluster or area. I like the triangle idea. I find linear scrapping hard & I like to challenge myself by NOT always placing my photo in the centre of the page. I REALLY love to scrap lots of photos on a page also as a challenge, sometimes. But like you, I haven't 'done' art and was not good at it at school. Mostly I think we learn best by doing and practising....& with scrapping, there is plenty of that!!

    1. Thank you for your comment. Glad I am not the only one who can't do linear scrapbooking...

  2. Hi Christin! I have been reading your blog and have all these things I have in my head I want to say when I read what you write, I am just so busy I don't have time these days, sorry! It is my busy time at work and I home school my 8 year old twins and I have been in the middle of finishing our basement ( getting a real scrap room too ). I am not sure why but sometimes when I look at your layouts I cannot understand why they always come together so perfectly even though I look at each element and In my head I think they should not go together!! This is a big compliment to you!

    My mother is a successful watercolor artist and I do have some of her "genes" I just don't have time to scrap and craft so I just study your layouts hoping to one day figure out how you think!! I love your design techniques and amazed with how you bring everything together. As lizzy said I try to follow the odd rule always and try to make things flow when I create a page or a cards. I love to look on Pinterest and have over 12,000 followers ( I was addicted before anyone even knew about Pinterest and I think I pinned 5,000 pins one summer when we drove to Florida ( a 24 hour car trip each way with 3 year olds at the time)!). I paid for 2 of Wilnas class series but have yet to watch them :(.

    I love reading your blog, love your style, layouts, design, principals, and I thank you for the time you take to share your creativity. Although I have not used much of it ( I am a hoarder) I have bought so many stencils, sprays, Washi tape, Bella Blvd, ZVA, fancy pants, pink paislee, etc because I wish I could make some layouts like yours! One day I will send you some pictures of my stash inspired by you ( right now everything is in plastic bags in storage thanks to my husband who had enough of my hoarding, BUT, it was his decision to make my scrap room awesome in hopes I will do rather than hoard. Hoping this summer things will change with a space I can design, kids who can now craft with me and a break from work!

    On a final note, I love your photos and you certainly know how to take and use them. I totally agree that sometimes I look at a layout and think it is ruined with the choice of picture!

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to post a comment. I have been where you are, just looking and pinning (I saved hundreds maybe thousands of ideas on my computer before Pinterest) and wanted to do soo much, but couldn't really get myself to do what I wanted to. What helped was just forcing myself to sit down and practice. I still notice if I don't scrapbook for a while - I get out of practice and it feels like I forget how I do things...

      I really hope you get to scrapbook more soon !

    2. Thanks Christin 😊! I will keep you posted after my work deadline April 15th (tax day in the US). I will take your advice and just sit down and have fun. I hear you on all the time spent saving things on the computer pre Pinterest. I did the same thing, also printed tons of ideas and spent thousands on magazines ( don't even ask, I had every magazine subscription in the US including cards, scrapbooking, crafts -all the beautiful Northridge Publishing until they stopped printing).

  3. I know that you said that you didn't like the alignment style but your lo with the pink and butterflies was one of my favorites. It is so light and pretty. TFS your thoughts on design principles, it was interesting to hear how you feel about the different principles and how you use some of them intuitively when you create your pages.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I was actually a little surprised when I dived into the description of the design principles that I mostly actually follow them, I just don't think about them when I scrap. Other principles are also in my head I realized. I guess I am just lucky that way. When I worked with the pink Paislee linear layout I just wanted to try the style, but it didn't come natural to me. I am just not meticular enough to make sure everything is straight ( I am sooooo far from ocd in every way) so doing more of this would just make my work look supersloppy and not free.

  4. Just wanted to say that I think your pages are awesome!!!!! Great descriptions of how you use or ignore design principles....