Clustering Like an Expert: A Lesson from an Expert

I figured one of the best ways to learn clustering for your layouts, is to learn from the best.  I am so lucky to have Laura, emmasmommy in most of the forums, as my CT Leader.  Not only is she a great CT member and Leader, but she’s also a master at clustering.  Today, I asked Laura to talk you through her process as she works on a layout.  Read about Laura’s process after the jump.

Hi guys, it’s Laura! I’m a layerer.  I can honestly say I’ve always scrapped that way.  I like to use every element in the kit and I try to do just that.  Aaron asked me if I’d write up a post for him about the ‘technique’ I use when I scrap a page, so here ya go!  I’ll try to keep the meaningless jibber jabber down to a minimum and let you in on all my ‘secrets.’

For this layout, I am going to be using:

Let’s get started!

I’m starting with a template.  I always place my photos first and then I delete the majority of the elements and paper pieces, like this…

After I have gotten my background papers and paper pieces placed I can begin to start layering elements and adding text, titles, and word art.  So, as of right now, this is what my layout looks like…

My biggest piece of advice for someone who struggles with layering is to not look at elements as their given purpose.  For example, I use a lot of things the way they aren’t originally intended to be used.  I use journal mats as a layering tool more often than I use them as a journaling tool.  Hearts and flowers are often mostly hidden, but they serve an asthetic purpose.

I generally start by making sure my layout is balanced.   Don’t be afraid to shrink or make elements bigger to fit your purpose.  I try to follow the rule of 3’s quite often so if I add one ribbon, I need to add 2 more to make it appear balanced.    You’ll notice, 3 ribbons behind the photos, and 3 hearts as well…


Another thing that I do a lot is erase parts of elements so that they appear to be tucked underneath other elements, such as this heart…

At this time, my layout is pretty much blues and brown so I want to add a pop of color.  I added the bright blue/pink/white flower as a sort of circular element under each of the photo/frames, again, keeping with the whole ‘3’ theme.

Now comes the fun part.  Layering up all the ribbons, bows, flowers, and various other elements.  I personally don’t shadow until the end of my layout, but some people find it easier to shadow as they go along.

As you can see, I added my title work.  Misty has some gorgeous word art in the kit I decided to use and I incorporated that into my title work.

There’s also some great date elements in this kit so I’m going to just use those to date my page.  I don’t always like to spread my elements all over the page unless it goes with the design.  This layout is pretty layered and is based along the photos and ribbons so I put the date right in there with the rest of the elements.

Now to add elements on top of the photos.  I pick one element at a time and add them to my discretion.  It does take practice to figure out what you like, and I often move things around a lot once they’ve been placed.  This pink flower I just added got shrunk and I duplicated it four times to get this look

One of the navy blue flowers I added got added on top of a photo but another got added underneath one that was already there.  It’s all personal preference, but I like my pages to look as realistic as possible.  I try to layer things as they would be on a paper layout, and this makes sense to me.  I scour a lot of paper galleries to see how this is done.

Basically what I’ve done with the light blue flower is make your eye follow the flow of the photos.

The last few flowers I added are the darker light blue ones.  They balance the colors to me.  I didn’t want it to be to bright, but I also didn’t want it to be too muted.  The darker light blue flowers seem to do that for me.

Last but not least, I’m adding some word art.  If you’re using a kit that doesn’t have word art, you could add date tags, journal tags, even paper pieces.  Like I said, I feel like I need to fill in every space that is available.

Now I’ll shadow my layout and call her done!  I won’t add a blurb of journaling on this one just because, well, it’s pretty self-explanatory!

Here’s my finished product

Hope I’ve helped you out some!

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9 Responses to Clustering Like an Expert: A Lesson from an Expert

  1. Alyssa says:

    Wonderful tutorial! Thanks.

  2. Scrappinaly says:

    wonderful tut! WIll apply it today!

  3. Trista says:

    thanks for sharing the tips!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Laura pretty much rocks…I know.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hope they’re helpful!

  6. Ava-J says:

    Hi SirScrapalot! Im so glad iv found your blog (via simple scrapper)…i’ve been learning so many things and you’re now up on my favorites list. And thanks to Laura for the clustering tutorial. I always want to try to cluster, but somehow in the middle of muddling around, i just give up in frustration. maybe il be braver in my next LO with the tips you’ve shared. Thanks a bunch y’all! – (LifeAsDinkers.blogspot.com)

    • Anonymous says:

      Well thanks for putting us on your favorites! When you get the hang of clustering it’s a ton of fun to do…hope you learn more as you look around.

  7. suze says:

    gotta love Laura’s layering!! great tutorial

  8. Anonymous says:

    Great tutorial! Thank you 🙂

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