Scrapbooking Design Principles – Rule of Thirds & Z Movement

Pulling together a design for a scrapbook layout can sometimes be quite challenging. Working out how to combine all the elements on your page to create the best effect doesn’t always come naturally to me and perhaps some of you struggle with it too sometimes.

So I thought I’d take a moment today to return to basics and talk about a couple of key design principles in scrapbook layout design: the Rule of Thirds and ‘Z’ Movement.

The Rule of Thirds

This is a technique that has been used by artists for centuries. I don’t have the answer as to why it works but it just does. I figure who am I to ignore a technique that worked for Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo. Basically you mentally divide your page into three horizontal panels and three vertical ones. Imagine a tic-tac-toe board overlaid on it.

To create the most visually effective scrapbook layout place key elements along the lines and especially at the intersections. If possible place the eyes in your focal photo at one of these intersections for the most impact. You can see what I mean in the layout on the right. Seona’s eyes are lined up along the top horizontal line of the ‘imaginary’ grid, close to the intersection of vertical line. The bottom of the photo lines up with the bottom line and the accent on the corner is once again sitting on the intersection. You might also notice that the Title and the flower clusters form a visual triangle to help lead the eye around the layout.

Overall this technique helps you to create balance on your scrapbook layout. Once you start applying it, you’ll find that it starts to come naturally and you won’t need to concentrate on thinking about your imaginary grid.

Z Movement

A close relation of the Rule of Thirds Principle is ‘Z’ Movement. This refers to the placement of elements to form an imaginary Z shape that guides the eye through the design.

The ‘Tuppence a Bag’ layout on the left demonstrates what I mean. If you can provide a sequence for the eye to follow then the layout will have more appeal as its story enfolds to the viewer.

Now this isn’t rocket science, but if you combine these two techniques in your scrapbook layout design you will have a really powerful framework to build your layout on. And your elements will almost seem to place themselves quite naturally.

When I am struggling to find inspiration for the design of my layouts (especially my paper scrapping ones) I find these two techniques are an absolute boon and really help me out of that design block hole.

Other related posts:

Scrapbooking Tips & Techniques – The Visual Triangle
Scrapbooking Tips & Techniques – Make Coordinating Flowers
Scrapbooking Tips & Techniques – Photomerge: electronic versions of your paper scrapbook layouts.


11 Responses to Scrapbooking Design Principles – Rule of Thirds & Z Movement

  1. Seona August 9, 2007 at 8:56 pm #

    Yay for the picture of me with no teeth!

  2. Harmonia August 10, 2007 at 12:50 am #

    Awesome layouts you have here!

  3. Olga August 10, 2007 at 10:49 am #

    Thanks so much for the tutorial making reference to the two techniques and also for linking the tutorial to related posts. It’s very interesting. :)

    Best wishes.:O)

  4. karooch August 10, 2007 at 1:02 pm #

    Thanks you Olga and Harmonia. Glad you liked the article.

    Well that picture had to appear sometime Seona. Might as well be now.

  5. Kelly August 13, 2007 at 9:34 am #

    The Rule of Thirds is a great one to remember if nothing else! It might be the only one I tend to remember to do – or maybe even do without thinking about it these days. woudl do love to have the concepts of design come to me without too much thinking….!! lol1

  6. karooch August 14, 2007 at 10:25 am #

    I must admit that the Rule of Thirds and the Visual Triangle are my favourite design principles Kelly. Between the two of them they really improve my layout designs.

  7. corina August 16, 2007 at 5:26 pm #

    I just used this rule in my bathroom “layout”. Thank you!

  8. karooch August 16, 2007 at 5:42 pm #

    Great Corina. look forward to seeing a picture.


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