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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Using Design Principles to plan your Layout or Card - by Annie Zorzo

Today, I thought I'd take us all back to the basics of how we go about designing our scrap layout or card.  I know we get a wide variety of readers to our blog and thought it might be a good time to introduce some basic principles so that someone new to scrapbooking or card making can try their hand at it.  As I'm typically a scrapbooker, I'll write this for the scrapbooker and show some LO's as examples...but the same principles apply to cardmaking.

To get started, all you need are a few basic tools, papers and embellishments (which you can pick up at the Scrap N Craft with T shop) such as:

Now to plan your layout...I find my best layouts are the ones I have planned first.  Layouts where I have no clear direction I usually spend days on because I'm just faffing about and can't make a decision!  When planning your layout, I generally think of three things, but I don't apply all of them to the one layout (two maybe but not three!).  I find as long as I've used just one of these design principles, I'm happy with the end result.  The design principles I'm talking about are:
1.  The Rule of Thirds
2.  The visual Triangle
3.  Leading the Eye - the 'Z' flow

I'm not going to go into great detail about these as there are a number of books regarding art, photography and scrapbooking that can cover it.  You could also do a search on the internet and countless pages will come up wanting to explain it.  Here, I want to introduce you to them so you can get down to it and plan your page.  I'd rather be busy creating than reading and I'm sure you're the same.

The rule of thirds is a very basic design principle commonly practiced by photographers and artists alike, whereby they create points of interest along the vertical and horizontal lines.  Firstly this can be done in isolation with three horizontal sections to your page or three vertical sections to your page.  By placing elements along these lines, it will create more visual interest.

For photographers (and scrapbookers) this can be taken a step further by creating 2 vertical lines and 2 horizontal lines on the one page, breaking up your page into nine equal parts.  By placing the eye-line of the subject in a photo, or a cluster of embellishments, at the intersection of these vertical and horizontal lines, you'll create a point that will attract the eye (a crash point) and direct it back into the rest of your layout.  It's important to note that you don't need to place elements or embellishments at all four intersection points, as your eye needs at least one point to rest on.

In my 'Eumundi Markets' example above, I've captured the eye line of my daughter both on the left vertical line and the bottom horizontal line, making the photographs the key focal point.  The upper left intersection point takes in my layered flowers and title and the wooden laser cut butterfly is on the bottom horizontal line making the eye drawn to the left side.  The relatively design free right hand side allows the eye some visual relief.

Within this 'Guitar Sessions' example, it's looks pretty busy.  But when broken down, I've position both my photos at intersection points diagonally opposite each other with eye-lines of both of the subjects caught on the vertical lines.  My title is positioned at yet another intersection point.  To place another key element on the last intersection point would make my layout to structured, so the last intersection point is clear of any major embellishments.  

Now I'm not intending to insult you here, but a triangle has three points.  By designing your layout and placing three elements or embellishments at these points, you will capture the eye of the viewer.  The viewers eye will then be held within the lines that connect these three points.  The viewers eye will bounce around these points taking them in and everything else within the space between them.

The two larger pinwheels in my 'Cupcake Surprise' example form two points of my triangle.  As my layout is all about eating, the mouth of my daughter in the main photo becomes the third point in the triangle.  The space between these three points captures the eye to take in the title, a sequential series of photos and my journalling.

In this next example, my two pink edged journalling spots make up two points of the triangle.  The embellishment cluster to the bottom left of my layout makes up the third point.  The eye is then captured on the photo of my girls 'Sitting on Santa's knee' last Christmas and the journalling of the day.

Lastly we're going to take the eye on a viewing journey, a journey very similar to how your reading right now.  When you read you naturally go from left to right, then move back to the left again to start the next line, finishing back up on the right again - thus forming a 'Z'.  If you've ever done a stock take in a shop, that's generally the direction you do your counting around the shop...it's natural!  So when your planning a layout, to make sure your viewer takes in all your main elements, by placing them along the path of the 'Z', you will be leading their eye to what you want them to see.

But lets not stop there.  While it's not the way we naturally read, you can also reverse the 'Z' to become an 'S', rotate it counter-clockwise for an 'N' or rotate clockwise (sorry there's no letter in the alphabet for this one!) for yet another version of the 'Z'.  The viewers eye will continue to travel the line as long as there is a zig-zag pattern in the positioning of your elements.    

In my 'Mask' example above, I've used the 'Z' flow, taking the eye across the title, over the photo and embellishment and then back across my pleated paper that also holds my journalling.

My last example, 'Sad Face', has used an 'N' flow.  This takes the viewers eye up over the photo to the title and then back down and across to the embellishment cluster, across the journalling, and then back up the small cluster of embellishments in the top right hand corner.

So there you have three design principles that you can apply to your creative pursuits.  I hope you've found this helpful and if you're beginner in either scrapbooking or cardmaking, or just prefer to scraplift (very flattering!), you now have the tools and can feel confident to try your hand at planning your own.

Good luck and happy scrapping.

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