Heritage Scrapbooking: The Making of a Layout

Making a Heritage Scrapbook Layout

There is a method to the madness of creating a heritage scrapbook layout. But, what's great is that the madness is not difficult to learn. The first step is to identify your challenges and then work through achieving that goal. Let's walk through my recent layout that's part of my 80s theme scrapbook about myself.

In case you missed the previous installment, you can how I created the Elementary in the 80s layout.

The Challenge: 

  • Feature my aunt's trip to San Antonio with poorly cut photos without those images becoming a distraction.
  • Do it quickly because I'm a busy family historian
  • Choose a color scheme that compliments the photos, even if it's not a 'traditional' 80's color palette.

Step One: Selecting a Layout

When I'm Power Scrapbooking, I will select the photos that I want for a story I want to tell. Then I'll write the story about or related to those photos. When I have an idea of how many photos I have to work with and how long the text space needs to be, I look for a template that has those elements.

On my hard drive, I have a number of templates that I have created or purchased for Photoshop Elements. I search for a template that will accommodate my photos, in this case, 10.

10 Photo Two Page Scrapbook layout

Having a number of templates can be a great way to generate ideas and achieve the goal of speed. I thought this 10 photo arrangement could serve me well. So, I started arranging my photos on the page.

Remember the challenge, arranging poorly cut photos onto the page without making them an eye-sore? I couldn't convert these photos to I could snap the photos onto the template and force them into square shapes. However, these odd-shaped former collage images do not snap play nicely when forced into a square or rectangle. They like ovals and circles even less.

Despite that challenge, I was never truly inspired to take this page to completion. Something wasn't working for me. It took a while for me to finally figure out what it was.

The photos were not properly arranged to tell a story. I just put them in a position where they could fit and not fight with the other photos. But, the story was hiding. What if I could lead your eye through the photos and have you travel San Antonio, Texas with me as a small child cherishing the attention of my beloved Aunt?

Could how I arranged the photos help portray the story I was going to tell with words?   

There was no template for this arrangement. I simply grouped the three River Walk photos together. In the upper left corner. Then I placed the photo of me sleeping on my aunt in the back of our van in the lower right corner.

With those items in place, I remembered a design principle from college classes that talked about creating a "Z" shape on the page. I also remembered the power of white space. White space is the blank space on a page that gives your eye a place to rest. Additionally, sometimes you can break the rules a bit and have an abstract arrangement if you know what you're doing.

Finally, I learned at My Corner Online's Digital Scrapbooking Tutorials about the need to ground your elements. Simply stated, the photos need to be connected to each other (by touching or by touching something that touches the edges of the paper).

So, I compiled all of these techniques into the above layout. Notice how your eyes start in the upper left corner go to the middle, go down the text section to the little photo of my aunt. Then the photos lead up diagonally halfway up the right side of the paper (abstract Z). And then the last photo is set off in the lower right corner to bring you down there. There are gray blocks in the upper left and lower right and a clear strip of paper behind the text. This also helps to connect the elements together by having it touch something that touches something else that touches the edges of the paper.

If you're confused on the grounding techniques, check out My Corner Online's Tutorial.

San Antonio River Walk Layout Idea

With the photos in place, I still struggled. What color combination will I use? I wanted something that didn't fight with the photos but let these early 80s photos become stars despite their less than ideal color processing.

I joined a Facebook Group called "Learning Digital Scrapbooking (and challenges)." This great group is focused on learning. You can post a layout you're stuck on and others will try to help you get over the hurdle (just like posting a genealogy query online). One member recommended pulling out the red from my shorts and from the parts of the River Walk boat.

In the Malaysia Embossed Papers Kit, I found a paper that I liked. I should mention that I tweaked the red a bit to match the shorts and boat. Once I found that paper, I had several additional colored papers to choose from. I opted not to use a green because red + green = Christmas. Instead, I chose tan so that a splash of color coupled with a neutral background keeps the emphasis on the story and photos.

I could stop there, but I want a touch of "Wow" on my layouts. My Corner Online's tutorial "Lines for Balance" was enough for me.

How to Make a Scrapbook Layout

Those dotted green lines were so fun to make and really pack a punch. I re-colored the ScrapSimple Zippered Flower templates with the paper from Marissa's kit using the lighten layer filter. Awesome!!!!

So, did I meet the challenge of this layout? Did I downplay the poorly cut photos and focus on the story of my Aunt visiting Texas in the 80s? Let me know what you think in the comments below.


  1. You did a wonderful job!!! Impressive! It looks great :)

  2. I agree your revised layout does a better job of downplaying the poorly cropped photos. Do you ever re-crop them into nice squares and rectangles? I looked at yours and see a couple could be done that way while some would lose too much. Just curious.

    1. Wendy,

      If I can crop them and not loose too much detail, yes, I'll re-crop them. Otherwise, I roll with it. It is history after all!

  3. The first layout (where you used a template) seems 'busy' and unfocussed; I'm not sure where I'm supposed to look.

    The second layout (with green background) is better in an adequate way.

    I like the third layout with the addition of the red paper and think you've got it!

    But, the fourth layout with its dotted lines and the little flowers, knocks it out of the park :)

    Well done and thanks for another inspiring layout!

    1. Yvonne,

      Yes! The first one was so unfocused. That's the word I was looking for.

      Thank you for walking with me through the process. I love the time you spent writing your reactions. I feel like you're looking over my shoulder as I got to the great layout.

      If ya'll like posts like these, I can do more. I think process posts are fun. Let me know.

    2. I'd liked seeing your progress with your layouts and reading how you processed your work style, Devon, so, certainly show more examples :)

  4. Thanks for sharing! It is really cool to see your process of changing the layout and your thoughts so that others can learn too.


Powered by Blogger.