Ever had one of those aha moments?
For years I taught English and grammar in middle school and high school, and there was nothing like that moment—the moment teachers work for—when a student’s eyes light up upon finally “getting it.” The same goes for paper crafting. Sometimes, when the time is right we all experience our lightbulb moments.
I had my first crafty aha moment back in 2003 when I signed up to take classes at my local scrapbook store in Fort Wayne, Indiana. For one glorious week, I attended Scrapbook Design University (SDU) classes sponsored by EK Success (now known as Spotted Canary School) and learned all about composition and balance in design (among other things).
Up until then, I had been making scrapbook pages by feel, not really knowing WHY things looked right or wrong as I designed or what it “needed.” But through those classes, I gained the words and the knowledge for what made a layout look right. Terms like line, rule of thirds, focal point, and balance became clear to me, and I had a blueprint for what could make my creations look best. TOTAL affirmation. Aha!
Card Design Handbook is just the tool that can give you aha moments of your own!
This 164-page bookazine is crammed full of inspiring cards (as always), but where this issue really gets its teeth is the lessons in design that pepper the pages outlining what the rules are and how the projects exemplify the rules.
At the back of the issue, you’ll find a handy resource called the Glossary of Design. Contributor Lorena Cantó Lavería said when she received the original draft of the document, “Whether I get anything picked or not for [publication in] this issue, I’m learning tons just by reading the [Glossary of Design]. What an amazing compendium of knowledge!” We’re pretty sure you’ll love this “amazing compendium of knowledge” so we are providing it here as a free download just for you!
Alrighty! Now that you have your “textbook” handy, let’s have our first lesson of the week, class! It’s time to learn about…
Ultimately, card design begins and ends with composition. Composition can be defined as “the arrangements of elements” or the “intentional ordering of elements for a visually pleasing and emotional reaction resulting in unity and consistency”. The four main parts of composition are as follows:
- Rule of Thirds: The division of your card into nine equal parts by two-equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. One third of your design might be patterned paper while the other is cardstock.
Take a look at the composition of the card below (by yours truly)…
Conjure up those imaginary lines on my card, and you’ll see that the bird, bow, and stick pin all fall on the vertical line of thirds. There are other threes present here, too – bird/rose/sentiment and two patterned papers and lace. Three and odd numbers in general end up being very pleasing to the eye. The Golden Thank You Card also follows the focal point rule.
- Focal Point: The focal point of a card is the main area where the embellishment or image stamp is placed. In regards to composition, it typically works best if there is only one focal point.
Notice it’s focal POINT, not focal POINTS. The eye gets confused if there are too many places to look. Gather it all in one place like I did above and Paper Crafts Go-to Gal Julie Campbell did on the card below:
Julie gathers a sad-eyed puppy, her sentiment, a wooden asterisk, the bow, and the scalloped border all in one neat and tidy focal point. And see how the terrier’s eyes hit on that line of thirds? Perfect placement. But Julie’s card goes even further as she places her focal point in what is called the “sweet spot.”
- Sweet Spot: To create a “sweet spot” on a card, place important compositional elements like a focal point or a sentiment at the imaginary intersections created in the rule of thirds.
Take a look at this graphic. Julie’s focal point lands in the sweet spot in the top right of the card. The sweet spot can be moved around to any of the intersections of the thirds. Go ahead and try it! It just feels right.
You’ll see that Laura O’Donnell utilizes the sweet spot in her card above as well, just in a different position. The bike and the middle of the sunburst both hit the sweet spot in her energetic wedding card. And guess where that energy comes from? Her use of the final rule of composition—Movement/Flow.
- Movement/Flow: The arrangement of the elements on a card can create a sense of movement or flow by using lines, shapes, forms, and textures that cause the eye to move over the design.
Let’s study what Laura did. As you look at her card, notice how your eye begins at the sentiment, and then the hearts take you on a journey to the tandem bicycle that appears to be scooting off the right side of the card. It’s like a mini bike ride across her card.
So there you have the basics of composition. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what you’ll learn in this issue. There are 24 pages of fantastic examples of composition (because I just KNOW you are a visual learner).
Stay tuned this week as we learn a whole lot more about design—from balance to color to style and lots of great tips along the way!
Need another reason to buy this issue? Here’s what Melissa Schabel (an eager reader who already ran out and bought the issue) said on our Facebook page, “Love the . . . simple definitions of the design elements. I had a lot of “aha” moments when reading it, and now I understand how to better put all my goodies together to make GREAT cards. ”
Or MAYBE you could win the issue here! Now wouldn’t that be super cool? Leave a comment telling us which of these rules of composition gave you an aha moment. We’ll give away three copies to three different people who leave a comment on this post! Leave a comment by Wednesday, August 22nd at 5 pm MDT for your chance to win!
For more inspiration and information about focal points and a chance at more prizes, make sure you check out the focal point challenge over at the Moxie Fab World!
Class dismissed! See you tomorrow for more lessons in design!
P.S. My first aha moment came as a result of taking a paper-crafting class. Creating Keepsakes Events are a great place to craft and learn. There are still seven opportunities in 2012 to enjoy one of these events in your neighborhood (Nashville, Jacksonville, San Marcos, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Chicago, and Seattle). And the calendar for 2013 is posted as well! Check it out here!