Scrapbook Layout Colour Schemes

In my previous article How to Choose Colour Schemes, we took a look at the colour wheel and reviewed the different characteristics of the colours that we work with on our scrapbook layouts.

Today we’ll take a look at some scrapbook layouts and see how they fit into the four major colour scheme categories.

The Monochromatic Colour Scheme

my-kind-of-town.jpgThis colour scheme uses a single colour selection in different shades. It is probably the easiest colour scheme to work with and if you’re nervous or unsure in your colour selections then it’s a good idea to start creating your scrapbook layouts using monochromatic colour schemes.

The My Kind Of Town layout is an example of how you can still achieve variety and texture in your scrapbook layouts even though you just use tones of a single colour.

I’ve used a mixture of elements from Valeri Brumfield and from Thao Cosgrove for this layout, and of course one of the advantages of the Monochromatic Colour Scheme is that it is very easy to mix and match elements from different sources without needing to modify their colour.

It’s also easy to bring in a slight tonal accent colour without detracting from the overall mood of the monochrome colour scheme.

The Complementary Colour Scheme.

In this colour scheme the colours used are selected from the opposite sides of the colour wheel.

The Complementary Colour Scheme looks best when you put a warm colour against a cool colour, forgelati-days1.jpg example the pink and green of the Gelati Days layout created with the beautiful Renew Kit from Shalae Tippett.

In this layout shades of pink are the predominant colour value. This is complemented by the green background on the photo together with the green accents on the flowers. You’ll notice that the balance of colour is about 70:30. You should not try to give each colour in your colour scheme an equal weight.

The use of beige for the frame doesn’t bring any conflict to the colour scheme as you can see. Being neutral it can readily fit into the layout.Complementary colours provide a contrast with each other that is pleasing to the eye. And by adding different shades of the colours there is still plenty of visual variety.

The pink has been used as the predominant colour here with the green in the role of backgound and supporting colour.

The complementary scheme is intrinsically high-contrast for maximum visual impact.

The Triadic Colour Scheme.

The Triadic Colour Schesantorini-snow.jpgme selects three colours of the same tonal value. This means they must all be soft, bold, muted, light or dark. The colours will lie equidistant from each other on the colour wheel.

I created the Santorini Snow layout using the Jeans Extravaganza Kit from Digital Arts Cafe. The blues in the background and matt are accented by the yellows of the title and embellishments and the strong red of my top. Each colour is used in diminishing proportions compared to the previous one. Red, blue and yellow are the Primary Colours and sit equidistant from each other on the colour wheel.

As you can see The Triadic Colour Scheme offers strong visual contrast while retaining balance, and color richness. This colour scheme is not as contrasting as the complementary scheme, but it looks more balanced and harmonious.

The Split Complementary Colour Scheme.

This Colour Scheme utilises one colour from your photo and one or more complementary colours.

You would usually seek to use colours tdon-quixote.jpghat sit on either side of your complementary colour on the colour wheel.

In the Don Quixote layout, the vibrant red in the photo is complemented by the teal and olive green shades of the Bella Collection background paper by Thao Cosgrove. Both these colours sit on each side of Green which is opposite to Red on the colour wheel. This has then been further reflected in the colours chosen for the matts behind the photo.

This provides high contrast without the strong tension of the complementary scheme.

The Split Complementary Colour Scheme can offer more nuances than the Complementary Colour Scheme whilst still keeping strong visual contrasts. On the other hand, it is harder to balance than the Monochromatic or Analogous Colour Schemes.

The Analogous Colour Scheme

There’s actually one more colour scheme we should consider here. The Analogous Colour Scheme uses colours that are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. One colour is used as a dominant colour while others are used to enrich the scheme.

living-in-the-selfish-years.jpgThe analogous scheme is similar to the monochromatic one, but offers more nuances and can look richer. However it does tend to lack contrast so it’s not a vibrant as the Complementary Colour Scheme.

A couple of things to remember when using this colour scheme is to avoid using too many hues as this can spoil the harmony. And it’s inadvisable to mix warm and cool colours (see How to Choose a Colour Scheme).

Living in the Selfish Years is an example of an Analogous colour scheme with the green and blue-green colours from the Waiting for Summer Kit by Andilynn Designs sitting adjacent to each other on the colour wheel.

The Non-Conformist Colour Scheme

So you can see how giving a little thought to how different colours relate to each other can make a big difference to the overall affect of your scrapbook layout. But what if you want to go your own way? What if you don’t want to conform to the ‘standard’ approach to colour scheme selection?

Sometimes you want to pick colours that don’t fit into any of the above parameters. And you know what? That’s OK too. After all you’re creating your scrapbook layouts to please you, first and foremost.

However it’s probably a good idea to have a good understanding of the ‘colour rules’ so that when you decide to break them, you’ll still be happy with the result.

The third part of this series will take a look at on-line tools to help you choose colour schemes.

Other Articles you might enjoy:

How to Choose Colour Schemes
Free Tools for Color Schemes
Learn How to Digital Scrapbook

8 Responses to Scrapbook Layout Colour Schemes

  1. Hannah December 4, 2007 at 8:14 pm #

    Another great article, thanks Karen!

  2. karooch December 5, 2007 at 11:38 pm #

    Thanks for that Hannah. Glad you’re enjoying the series.

  3. Olga December 11, 2007 at 8:41 am #

    Fantastic article and tutorial about the use of colour in layouts. :D It’s really good and it’s a very useful tutorial for anyone scrapping both newbies or more experience scrappers. :)

    Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial and best wishes. :O)

  4. karooch December 11, 2007 at 9:38 pm #

    Thanks Olga. The third one in the series is coming up later this week.

  5. B. Steed April 30, 2009 at 11:47 am #

    I know this is an older article, but there’s a new color scheme tool online called Scrap by Color ( that helps you find the perfect color scheme for your scrapbook layouts. Color schemes for your layout are automatically recommended to you using the colors in your photos.

  6. Gee July 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    that’s so cute.. I like it..


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