Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Devil's in the Details - 5 Simple Ways to Take Your Scrapping to New Levels

Having recently perused some of my old layouts (rather than cleaning the basement, LOL), I am reminded that it's a good thing to improve one's skills. Most of the development has been in the finishing details that really make a difference in the quality of my layouts.  And because I am still avoiding putting away the Christmas decorations, I'm going to take a moment to share some of them with you.

1.  Do the Twist.

One of the beauties of digital scrapbooking is that we can use an element sixty-billion times if we want to.

Or five.

Either way, take a second when you add that flower for the second (or fifty-nine billionth) time - turn it a little bit.  If it is exactly the same direction as the others on your page, your mind is going to register that they are identical, and pay more attention to that than your focal point.

Let's face it.  Nowhere in nature will you find two flowers that are exactly the same, with the same shadow pattern and the same bent petal.  So, fool us into thinking you have five similar-but-not-the-same flowers on your page.

Don't get carried away, you still have to pay attention to the direction of the light on the element, but you can generally get away with a fifteen-twenty degree turn in either direction without getting into too much trouble.  And of course it goes without saying not to turn them all the same way, right? 

 (Also applies to buttons.  And bows, which can also be flipped horizontally for some variation)

2. Avoid Black Holes.  This isn't Star Trek.

This makes me sad.  I will see an absolutely lovely layout, but the photos are dark and indistinct and disappointing.  As a result, I'm not drawn into the story of the layout, because I can't see it!

Now I am NOT a photographer.  My pictures range from averagely bad to averagely adequate.  I don't think you have to have a professional quality photo to scrap.  I think you should make the most of what you DO have, though!

Here are a couple of super easy quick fixes that will help make your photos be the star they should be:

Brighten Underexposed Photos

Fix Underexposed Photos

3. One of These Things Is Not Like the Other.

Shadows really do matter.  I know not every one cares as obsessively as I do about shadows looking realistic and natural and touchable, but the truth is, if you don't make some sort of difference between the shadow of a thin piece of metal and a big fluffy flower on your page, then the viewer's mental process will be trying to decode what isn't quite right in the back of their mind, instead of oohing and ahhing over that photo you just dressed up (see #2).

So.  Repeat after me.

Things that are close to the background paper have narrower (and darker) shadows. Items that are further from the background have wider, softer, less distinct shadows.

I don't insist that you separate every shadow onto its own layer and warp and smudge and blur.  Just get a good set of shadow styles (freebies listed below) or settings in PSP.  It's a detail that will catapult your layouts into a new stratosphere :)

The Daily Digi - Shadow Layer Styles 

Megan Turnidge Shadow Styles

Krystal Hartley's Shadow Styles

Flergs Shadow Styles

PSP Shadows

4. Color Clash.

If there's anything I fuss over more than shadows, it's color.  It pains me a little to see a photo in a layout where the overall tone of the photo is completely different than the colors used to scrap it.  There are ways around this.

Probably the easiest is to make the photo black and white.  This works very well for photos of people.  Maybe not so well for that gorgeous blue ocean or dazzling sunset photo.

You can make some subtle shifts with a saturation/hue adjustment layer that will make all the difference (and not just to the photo - subtle shifts in papers and elements might be the answer!).  Here are a couple of guides for working with colors and photos.

Make your photos black and white

Adjust Color

Recoloring an element

A related issue is the visual weight of your photo - I find it hard to scrap with pastels, because to me they aren't a good fit with the deeper colors of most of my photos.  This is an instance where converting the photo to black and white is useful.

Or just skip the pastels.

Oh wait, did I say that out loud?  Nevermind.  I admit that it bugs me to see a photo with Olive Green grass scrapped with mint green cardstock.  I'm obsessive.  I get that this might be abnormal. But do take overall color into consideration when you look at the whole page.

For me.  Mwah.

5. En-TITLE-d.

No doubt this is very subjective, but in looking at my own work, I find that pages that have a title are much more interesting than those that don't.

Maybe it's a phase I'm going through.  I dunno.  However, since titles have been a part of scrapbook layout design forEVER, odds are there's a good reason for that ;)  It's like the title draws me in and gives me a clue that guides me to the rest of the layout.  Sets the expectation.  And if the title is particularly clever it adds a new layer of enjoyment.

Take a look through your favorite gallery, and see if you agree with me.  Or take a good look at that layout you finished but just don't love.  Maybe a title will make a difference. I've actually gone back and added titles to a couple of pages I wasn't happy with, and it made all the difference.  To me.

Title Approaches

There you have it.  Five easy details that will help you elevate your scrapping to new levels with a minimum of fuss and no pain.

Now, who wants to come help me finish cleaning the basement?


LBickford said...

Fantastic points here, I love it! Very true, especially the slightly different twist for buttons, flowers, etc. Such an easy thing to do, to make a big difference.

Jenni said...

Thank you! I am always interested in improving my shadows and have hundreds of styles , an addiction for sure