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Creating a Layout: Basic Techniques

By: Natasha Reed - Updated: 13 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Photos Scrapbooking Layout Page Crafts

Scrapbooking is a wonderfully creative pastime and an enjoyable way of preserving memories. Once you have learnt the basics of creating your first page (or layout) you can start to be as imaginative as you like.


The first step is choosing pictures for your layout and the trick is not to use too many. There is no limit to how many or how few photos you have on a page but between one to three is best – a main shot and two others works well. Alternatively you could arrange your design around one central picture.

Size & Shape

The key to a good scrapbook page is that it is interesting. The aim is not just to take the photos and put them in an album – that was the old way of keep them! If you use photos that are the same size on a page then it will look dull and plain. With a layout you can play around with the size and shape of each photo you use. Think about circles, ovals, squares or rounded corners. But never cut a precious photo – always make a copy and use this instead. Copies of photos can also be used to plan a layout. Make a simple photocopy of a photo to practise cropping and cutting into shapes. A photocopier can also be used to enlarge or decrease an image quickly before getting it professionally done or digitally printing it at home.

cutting the imageYou can use templates to cut photos in to any shape at all and some people even use cookie cutters as templates for even more shapes. This is great for a kids' page where fun shapes like clouds would be suitable, but don’t get carried away and always let the photos take prominence. 20px break

Top Tip

The leftover parts of photos from cropping can also be used in the layout – why not use punches to make a border.

Once you have chosen your images, pick a colour scheme and theme.


mounting the image on cardNow you need to start creating a layered backdrop to mount your photographs on. This is known as matting. It is up to you whether you create a single mat or double mat. The purpose of this is to make your photographs stand out from the rest of the page, so when you choose which card stock to mount them on, make sure the colour makes the picture show up and not disappear. There should be an element of contrast – for example if the picture is quite bright, choose one of your darker shades and vice versa. Your eye will tell you if you've made the right decision. It is best to use plain card for matting. 20px break

Top Tip

To make your pages look as neat as possible it is essential to have a decent cutting tool, such as a paper trimmer or guillotine.


embellishing the mattingFinish off your page with your choice of embellishments. There are endless items available from scrapbooking suppliers, from buttons, fibres and stickers to beads, charms and wire. But don't forget it is also nice to include items that you have collected that might relate to the event in the photographs. For instance, tram tickets or even spare foreign currency are very evocative on a holiday layout. 20px breakIt is a good idea to roughly lay all the photos, journaling and embellishments on the page before securing them in place. This way you can allow for a change of mind – and there is nothing wrong in changing your mind! Sometimes when everything has been gathered together you might find an embellishment looks great next to a photo but then you have to drop a photo from a page. This is a decision you have to make but it is all part of the creative process. If you are part of a crop then why not ask your fellow scrappers what they think if you are really not sure or just starting out.

Do take care not to crowd your page with embellishments. By leaving a space on your page you can draw attention to a photo or journaling entry– remember embellishments should be there to enhance your design, not take it over!

Top Tip

When it comes to albums and papers the choice is yours but remember the importance of ensuring everything that comes in contact with your photographs is acid and lignin free to help with their preservation.

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