Top 3 Design tips for Digiscrapping

by Niki P Posted on November 24, 2009

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Why we love Digital Scrapbooking

If you have sat in wonder, flipping through the beautiful pages of fellow Shutterfly members thinking “Wow!  How do they create these gorgeous layouts?”, you are probably looking at a digital scrapbook.  Digital scrapbooks are visually appealing because the creator’s personality shows crystal clear through the pages.  Digiscrappers have the ability, through different software programs, to create layouts exactly how they want to.  The main programs used are Photoshop Elements or Photoshop.

Learning PhotoShop software and controlling digital elements are incredibly rewarding experiences in themselves; but how do we make these elements work together? How do we combine the pieces into a stunningly beautiful scrapbook page? The answer is design.

Three Design techniques

I have put together these top 3 design tricks to make any layout look as if it just came out of the latest digital scrapbook magazine. What makes these movie star layouts is careful placement of all elements to stealthily guide the viewers’ eye from photo to photo. The first thing to consider is dominance. What does the viewer see first? The second trick is balance. Does the layout feel even to you? And the third trick is to utilize repetition. How do I visually show the viewer where to look next? With these three tricks, you will have your designs on the cover of the latest Digital Scrapbooking Magazine.  Or at least you will grow more and more satisfied with your layouts!

Dominance is used to create visual interest. You can create dominance with the colors in your photographs. If you have a picture of your niece in a hot pink raincoat, you can use this photo to dominate your layout while the rest of the pictures for this layout can be the dull and gray ones of the rainy day. Your background and extra elements can also be dull and gray so this one photo really pops off of the page. Use size to create dominance as well. A layout with one main photo and a few smaller photos is much more attractive than a layout with four pictures that are exactly the same size.

This example shows how your eye is drawn to one layout more than the other, due to the fact that one is using the trick of dominance.

Balance is used to create a visually appealing layout. Balance does not necessarily mean using two photos on the left page and using two photos on the right page. You must create the illusion of balance using different elements of design, including line, shape, size and color. Visually imagine a big fluffy feather pillow on a scale next to a small metal weight of the same weight of the pillow. They are different sizes and different materials but the balance is even.

This is our goal for visual balance. These examples show how one large shape on the left side of the axis can be balanced out by 3 smaller shapes on the right side of the axis.  It also shows how a big, light object close to the center axis can be balanced out by a small dark shape near the center of the axis.

Repetition is used to make digital layouts more dynamic also. Consider using variations in your repetition to make it more dynamic. In this example, you can see that 4 repeating circles is not as visually interesting as 4 repeating circles that gradually increase in size and break through the border of the frame at the end.

Be creative with repetition and you will find that it is a very powerful tool to lead the eye through your layout. Be careful not to fall into the trap of monotonous repetition. The eye becomes accustomed to certain patterns and no longer views them as visually stimulating. Keep it fresh and keep it interesting!

So, with these three tricks under your belt, you should be ready to create that dynamic layout that you are always striving for. With dominance, balance and repetition, you will be on your way to breath-taking layouts!  Can’t wait to see those incredible layouts in the Shutterfly Photo Book Gallery!

Also, be sure to check out our Celebrations Blog, your place for creative inspiration around digital design. See beautiful digiscrap kits from top digital designers, find digiscrapping advice, and get digiscrap freebies!


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Where's my photo?
  1. Tiffany M Says:

    Awesome design outline and great sketches! I’ll rethink a few of my layouts in the future. I love the pretty bride page! :o)

  2. AnnAbbott Says:

    These are some great tips for making a great scrap book page. I also use the rule of three with colors. Your drawings explaining each rule is a great way for the eye to see what you described.

  3. rsheedy Says:

    Excellent tips and beautiful examples. You do amazing work!

  4. BarbaraJ Says:

    I am so new at scrapbooking and I am having so much fun and I can use all the help I can get. Thank you for these ideas. BarbaraJ

  5. Joey Says:

    I’m a fan of your work Niki and this article is great. Its clear and easy to understand. Now if i can just get my butt in gear and create one – maybe someday.
    I enjoyed your article and tips.

  6. scrapsage Says:

    Love your clear, thorough explanation Niki. And your drawings make it so easy to see just exactly what you mean. Really well done! Even those of us who have been doing digital for years need to be reminded of these basic guidelines to a better looking page! Thanks for that reminder :-)

  7. conniee4 Says:

    What a super article! I know who to email when I have a question or need help!!! YOU! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!!

more about Niki P

After studying design in Chile for more than two years, I returned to the U.S. with the dream to mix culture with design. Combining a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design with five years of experience, I started my own design firm. When I got married in 2007 I discovered Digital Scrapbooking. It was a natural transition and I have been hooked ever since. I just can't get enough of working with my photos and documenting all of the stories and memories that I share with my friends and family. When I am not making digital scrapbooks... I am reading, cooking, swimming and baking!

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