Friday, July 25, 2014

Six Tips for Layout Design

Have you ever had the sense that your layout designs felt a little "off"?

I stick with the following six principles when creating our monthly layout cards and pre-assembled page designs.

1. Focal Images
Think of your page as a theater production. Select the best photos to be the "leading characters." Those images will be featured on the full 4x6 single or double mattes. In our July Layout Sketch (included each month with your membership), there are two double-matted spots for focal images and two additional co-stars with single mattes.

2. Groups
Compliment focal images with groups of smaller items. These are the "supporting characters" of your theater production. This sketch has several sets of sub groups. The smaller spots can also be an ideal location for journaling or non-photo embellishments.

3. Anchoring Strips
This is the "backstage crew" of your production! Anchor elements on the layout with 12" strips to prevent that uncomfortable "floating" feeling. Anchors can vary in width and be created with strips of paper, ribbons or even a row of stamped images. I like to alternate with horizontal and vertical anchoring strips.
4. Anchoring Blocks
In addition to strips, another helpful grounding tool is a block of solid or printed paper beneath a group of items. I frequently use complete sheets of 8.5x11 paper as an anchoring block. It also subdivides the page into smaller areas and can make the space seem less overwhelming.

5. Spacing
I like to separate elements on the page with equal spacing within groups. Notice how all of the elements on the double page spread have a perimeter of roughly the same distance. This helps create a cohesive feeling within the group. Avoid trying to distribute the pieces to the top, bottom and outside edges.

Note the difference in the page below with the lack of anchoring, grouping, and spacing principles.

6. Tangents
A tangent simply indicates that two things are touching. And not in a good way. Avoid a tangent created by two corners/edges touching or aligning with one another. The first illustration below shows ideal placement of corners.

Study the differences in the layout below to discover the newly-formed tangents. The vertical anchoring strip is aligned with the edge of the anchor block, and the photo matte in the lower right corner forms a tangent with the right edge of the page. The other newly-formed corner tangents are not as problematic, but the above layout is a better arrangement.

Here is a real-life layout using July's Oopsie Daisy Layout Sketch with papers from the collection:

It translates quite well, doesn't it? Adapting the layout sketch is easy once you know the basic principles. I was able to preserve the tall water tower image by adding it to the grouping on the bottom half of the left page. The anchoring strip was also a terrific place for my page title.

Members, don't forget to download your layout sketches every month for instant inspiration and complete paper trimming instructions.

Have fun and design well!


  1. Nicely explained Tricia.


  2. Great lesson. I would love to redo some of my first LO's before I was introduced to ALSB...

  3. Love the explanation - definitely going to keep these rules in the back of my mind going forward!


  4. Your knowledge of design principles, and more importantly, HOW to apply those ideas to our layouts continues to amaze me Tricia, even after all these years! Wowsers....awesome info!

  5. Tricia, these tips are great! I always wonder the method behind your design / layout techniques.

  6. You are an inspirations, thanks you for explaining these principles. Could you explain some more layouts in the future so we all get practice seeing how you put them into actions? Cheersw

  7. Great directions as always, Tricia. Seeing the design examples really enlightened and inspired me and then to see it used in Julie's layout was the icing on the cake. You and your crew are soooo talented. Thanks for sharing your creative ideas!

  8. I took you class today at the Scrapbook Expo. The tips you gave on setting up my page layout were great. Thanks again


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