Secrets to Using Patterned Paper as Backgrounds: Part One

How often do you use patterned papers as your background?

A few months ago, I would have had to answer “not often.”  In recent months, however, I have grown to love using patterned papers as backgrounds on my layouts.  Using patterned papers as your backgrounds is not an easy thing to pull off, though.  There are some definite secrets that make using patterned papers easier, and more appealing to the eye.  Over the next few days, I’ll share with you the secrets I have uncovered and will have you creating beautiful layouts with patterned paper backgrounds in no time!

Secret No.1 : You’ve got to choose the right paper

I know, it sounds silly and basic, but the first thing I’ve learned about using patterned papers is that some are great for backgrounds, and some just aren’t.  It’s important to make sure you are picking the right paper, so that you can work the rest of the layout around it.  When you are picking your patterned paper for your background, there are three things you really need to consider:

  1. Size of the Pattern – Generally, patterned papers can be put into two categories based on their size…either small or big.  Either size CAN work for a background, however, it’s more likely that a paper with a small pattern will be easier to work with.  When you work with a smaller pattern, it’s less likely that the pattern of the paper will overpower the other elements of the layout.  Large patterns can work, and be stunning when they do, but it means that the rest of the layout really needs to be simple.
  2. Color – I’m not talking about picking between red and blue, but instead checking how the colors work on the layout.  Pattern papers can come in two forms: full color, using more than one color or tone on tone, which is different shades of one color.  Personally, I love using tone on tone pattern papers as solids.  With these, I am able to get a pattern on the background, but the colors are not competing with the other elements of the layout.
  3. Harmony with Your Photo – It’s important when you’re picking a paper to consider the photo you are planning on using.  In most cases, you want to make sure that the photo stays the star of the layout.  It’s very easy to overpower your photos with your paper choice, so I often pull the options I have for backgrounds onto the layout with the picture, and start comparing them until I decide which one I like best.

Each of these tips are great separately, but it’s when you start combining them that the magic in paper choice happens.  Let’s look at some examples I have put together recently and see why I chose what I chose.

In “Fall in Love” you can see I chose a patterned paper with a larger scale pattern, but because the paper is a tone on tone paper, the size of the pattern does not overwhelm the rest of the layout.

In “Summer Girl” I chose a paper that uses more than one color, but because the pattern is on the smaller side, it creates a nice backdrop for the rest of the layout.

In “Ray of Light” I actually have two patterned papers as backgrounds, but as you can see, they are both pretty simple and light, so they don’t take away from the photo.  I really wanted to highlight the photo here, so when I was putting together the layout, I actually placed the picture first, and then tried the background papers around it until I found the combination I liked.

I hope these tips help you work with patterned papers as backgrounds.  I’ll be back tomorrow with the second secret I have learned for using patterned papers as backgrounds!


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4 Responses to Secrets to Using Patterned Paper as Backgrounds: Part One

  1. Demetria says:

    Love the tips in the tutorial… I’ll be reading more on this and the next tip. Could I offer one suggestion… linking the layout to a gallery for credits or posting layout credits under the layout… totally great layouts..

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Secrets to Using Patterned Paper as Backgrounds: Part One | Sir Scrapalot Designs --

  3. Pingback: The Secrets Behind Using Patterned Paper as Your Background | SirScrapalot

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