6 Techniques to Create Stunning Layouts

These six techniques will teach you how to create stunning layouts.  These design principles are the same techniques used by photographers, artists, florists, architects, interior designers, scrapbookers and other creatives.  They are simple yet powerful techniques that will transform your layout into an interesting and dynamic composition.  

Focal Point

The focal point in a layout is the element that has the most visual weight.  It is the element that you want to emphasize. Visual weight is created by using such things as size, shape, color, and value.  It draws the viewer’s eye to the starting point.  In the layout below, the sunrise photo is the focal point. The photo strip frame, large cluster, and complementary colors work together to establish the emphasis.  Note: Complementary colors are colors that are opposites on the color wheel, such as blue and orange or red and green.  These dynamic duos are both techniques used in this layout.






After the focal point has been established good flow management moves the eye around the page.  As we view the layout, we subconsciously do a quick scan and look for elements that stand out.  In this layout, there are three areas that stand out and create a visual triangle.  Visuals triangles are based on an odd number, three, which is another rule used to make a layout more dynamic.


technique-triangle flow



Rules of Odds

The Rule of Odds is a powerful composition technique that states that combining elements in odd numbers create a more visually appealing layout.  Notice the large frame cluster combines nine elements.  It’s a time-tested principle that never fails and one of my favorite techniques.






In addition to using odd numbers, repetition adds unity.  While the smaller cluster combines five elements there is something else to notice.  Elements from one cluster are included in the other.  You can repeat colors, shapes, textures, and patterns.  The challenge is to keep it similar but not exactly the same.





Balance – Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the main “rules” in photography and art composition.  It is essential to improve the composition and balance of a layout.  In the rule of thirds, the image is divided into thirds with two imaginary lines vertically and two horizontally.  Elements and leading lines are then placed on or near the imaginary lines or where the lines intersect. This is more of a recommendation than a rule but you’ll find layouts are much more appealing and balanced using it.






Contrast adds spice to your layout.  A layout where everything is the same size, shape or color will be very bland.  Using dark and light colors against each other is an easy way to add contrast.  Using a variety of sizes and shapes also add contrast.  Contrast is defined as being strikingly different, so think of items that are different but work together as a whole.  The title on this layout is another example of contrast.  The title consists of two very different fonts situated on the small, neutral newsprint background with a half-tone filter applied to “New Beginning” using contrasting colors.  This is another one of my favorite techniques!





Summary of Design Principles and Techniques

You may already be using some of the design principles and techniques discussed here.  Some people are very intuitive, they just know what feels right! If you don’t feel you’re that intuitive, not to worry, these techniques will help. In the beginning, it will take some deliberate thought.  The more you practice the more intuitive you will become.  As you put your layout together review this checklist to be sure you’re incorporating the techniques.



Bonus for Photoshop Elements 15 Users

This is not one of the six techniques mentioned in the title, it’s just an FYI in case you didn’t know about this new program feature.

It’s not unusual for a layout to have many, many layers.  The layout above has 35 layers.  Some layouts may have a lot more.  It can be mind-boggling. But do not despair, now it’s possible to put layers in groups.





Layer Groups

Photoshop Elements 15 introduced layer grouping.  It can really simplify the Layers Panel as seen in the image below.  Thirty-five layers have been reduced to seven.  You can group in whatever manner seems logical to you.  Group adjacent layers by selecting the first layer, hold the Shift key and select the last layer you want in the group then right-click> Group from Layers or use Ctrl+G.  For non-adjacent layers hold the Ctrl key while selecting.

Note: Ctrl+G used to create a clipping mask but that changed in Version 15.  Now Ctrl+Alt+G is used to create a clipping mask.




The Magic of Beginnings Giveaway


On to the next installment of the Scrapaneers December Giveaway – The Magic of Beginnings.


A big THANK YOU to all the amazing designers who contributed to this Mega Collection. The Magic of Beginnings is perfect for your holiday and December sequential projects, but it is about so much more than that. Think about plans and goals for the new year, starting a new stage of life, new relationships or simply the start of exciting new adventures. This collection is so big we could not fit it all into one preview, so here is glimpse at the collection in two parts (we couldn’t fit everything in the preview so know there’s MORE!):


Magic of Beginnings Collection


Magic of Beginnings Collection


Magic of Beginnings download links are no longer available.

Don’t forget to check back on Friday, December 23 for the next set of downloads, and some amazing story-telling techniques from Michele.


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  • Squirrely Smith December 21, 2016   Reply →

    Wonderful tutorial, just about everything drummed into my head (thankfully) in art school. Thanks so much – AND for the goodies as well. I’m just in love with this giant kit!!

  • RB December 21, 2016   Reply →

    Thank You SO Much For The Time & Effort Put Into This Project & The FAB. MEGGA Kit By The Amazing Design Team SO Generous & Wonderful.Very Much Appreciated Happy Christmas & New Year To You ALL!:)xXx

  • JeannieK December 21, 2016   Reply →

    Wonderful tutorial. Thank you. I do apply many of the techniques but it never hurts to touch base with them again. Too often we do things automatically w/o thinking about why… Thank you to the designers for todays and previous minis! Lovely!

  • Jacque Hebebrand December 21, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you so much for the wonderful gifts! I will try to remember and apply the lessons learned in the tutorials!!

  • Sandy_in_MD December 21, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you for the tutorial, especially the layer grouping info for PSE 15. Thanks to the designers for the lovely freebies, too.

  • Priscilla December 21, 2016   Reply →

    Beautiful kits and great tutorials. Thank you!

  • Mary Merrifield December 21, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you again for the kits, coupons and best of all the tutorials.

  • nj December 22, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you for everything. I wish a happy and peaceful festive season to the team.

  • Vivian Krigline December 22, 2016   Reply →

    I followed a link from Urban Fairy on FB to your site. Wow…thank you for the tutorials and the mini kits.

  • Blackthorne December 22, 2016   Reply →

    Gorgeous – Gorgeous ! TYSM !

  • R December 22, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you 🙂

  • Su Hall December 23, 2016   Reply →

    Not only are these goodies really nice, but, the tips and information in each of the posts are wonderful!
    Thank you so very much!


  • Johanna December 23, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you very much!! Gorgeous kits!!

  • Lis December 27, 2016   Reply →

    Gorgeous kits!! Thank you so much!!

  • Jennifer Moore December 27, 2016   Reply →

    Beautiful layout! Thanks for the tips. Thanks for the pretty minis.

  • Libby Wiers December 31, 2016   Reply →

    Thanks for it all – and especially the PSE15 tip. I got that for Christmas and still need to install…

  • Shirley Kimbrough January 8, 2017   Reply →

    Amber’s whimsical design is so attractive together with the urban Fairy’s artsy mix. Love that clock and airiness of Amber’s mini along with the fabulous blending and color mix from the Urban Fairy. Two perfect downloads. Hugs, 🙂

  • Jara January 13, 2017   Reply →

    The Urban Fairy kit is not responding. can you check it out pls. thanks.

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