Layout Fix #2: Element Placement

I was going to talk a little more about Catherine's layout from last week, but she made such a nice redo herself, I thought we could let it rest.


As soon as I saw this layout from Tiffany I was intrigued. She is clearly a girl after my own heart following the desire to put as many elements on a page as is possible (or in this case perhaps a bit beyond possible :) ).

lil sis

I feel like immediately upon looking at this, anyone would give the advice to take away lots of the elements, it's just too cluttered. But Tiffany is too smart for us, and already tried that.

lil sis-simple

There is less clutter on the page, but it's still missing whatever magic that makes a layout feel finished. So I decided to challenge myself to figure out how to use ALL the elements on one layout.

It turns out the answer to this challenge is not difficult, in theory (execution of course, is a different thing). It's even a current scrapping trend, although it's such a basic design principle that I'm not sure it can be considered trendy. I'm talking about clustering.

Of course when you say clustering in the scrapbooking world, it brings up images of what I've done here. Layouts covered in intricately layered elements. This may not be your cup of tea, but the basic idea of clustering is what elevates a page of stuff to a designed layout. It's the art of grouping that's going to bring flow and interest to the page. Without it, it's just going to be a bunch of stuff.

I'm not sure that I've done justice to this idea in the layout, it still feels a bit cluttered, but I think even with my undeveloped clustering skills the importance of placement has been illustrated.


Making groups isn't the end of the story. In order to get that "finished magic" you need to look at what the groups are doing. In her original layout, Tiffany has several very nice clusters. However, they're placed around the page without a sense of flow. There's no clear place to start looking, and no way to know to stop looking. Did I see everything? I don't know. When placing things on the page you want to think about where you want people to look and how they'll get there.


And don't forget that breathing space (white space) is always important, even in a layout that's going for a cluttered, collage feel. The white space works with the clusters to guide your eye along.

What do you think? How did I do?

If you have a layout you'd like me to "fix" please email it to [email protected]. You'll likely need to zip the file and use a file sharing service (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc) to share such a large file. I will reply to your email to let you know I've received it. If you haven't heard from me after a day or two, try sending it again.


Recent Comments

Jiovanna Aceves
Jiovanna Aceves Wed, 10/02/2013 - 07:48

What a beautiful layouts!! ^_^

Skye Leoner
Skye Leoner Thu, 09/26/2013 - 12:43

I think Catherine's re-do here is awesome! Although I liked the final layout in last week's re-do, I just wasnt sure with the pink/purple paper. It made the girls' skin dark pink/purplish, practically matching the paper's color itself. Now with a lighter background, I can now focus on the smiles instead of the background color.

On Tiffany's layout, I like the final re-do. It still has a lot of elements, yet it doesn't distract from the pictures.

I'm a big fan of featuring at least on picture on a layout and I must admit that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the baby's blue eyes. I think the photo on the right would be a great focal point on a layout by placing it in the middle.

I'd make it slightly larger and use the smaller pictures on either side of the larger one. I would keep the clustering like it is on the last re-do layout, except I would place it lower on the page and use it like a border. I like the original background layout that Tiffany did (minus the lace). I think I would switch the middle elements with the ribbon flags so that the flags are still under the main picture.

Well, at least the layout looks good in my mind's eye, lol!

Nadia Slegers
Nadia Slegers Tue, 09/24/2013 - 08:44

Nice fix! Marisa's layout made it so dynamic that I was thinking about this was just a detail of a bigger work. I was wondering where the rest of those cute pictures are ;-) I like the originals both, maybe the first one is a bit cluttered indeed. And I always like matching colors of the pictures together with papers and elements.

Glenda Mulac
Glenda Mulac Tue, 09/24/2013 - 07:06

Great redo! I love how the photos pop now - although they are so amazing they could stand alone! I like the white space and clusters guiding the eyes along... I need to work on that. Thanks!

Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross Mon, 09/23/2013 - 13:54

I like how you broke up the photos a bit. I did like several of her clusters and miss the lace at the top and bottom. I liked how you put the ladybug next to the flowers in your first attempt. I really like your fix. Very nice :)

Kimmie Fido
Kimmie Fido Sun, 09/22/2013 - 17:47

l like that you kept the ribbon flags on the large picture - that is my favorite part and then I love the stitching on the edge of the picture instead of over the ribbon. Nice job!

Kimberlee Gerstmann
Kimberlee Gerstmann Fri, 09/20/2013 - 15:04

Love that. :)

Amberlee Peace
Amberlee Peace Fri, 09/20/2013 - 14:15

I love me some madras :)
My slow-logic brain had a hard time reading "lil sis" I had to go over each letter to make sure I had it and then put it together. Part of it is I have a hard time reading the alpha-elements. But I think maybe I had a hard time because the pink letters are so close to the pink background. Maybe instead, up near the doily?

Kay Myers
Kay Myers Thu, 09/19/2013 - 21:18

I like them all. The one layout with "everything AND the kitchen sink" does kinda give me a bit of eye strain but it is so cute I forgive. I must admit the fixes are improvements but they are all adorable!!!

Tiffany Johnstone
Tiffany Johnstone Thu, 09/19/2013 - 18:11

Hello, my name is Tiffany, and I am a stuff-o-holic. Great job using all the STUFF Marisa! I just thought it was too cute not to use it all! I definitely think the redo is much more dynamic. Non-symmetrical... good call.

Laura Wellinghoff
Laura Wellinghoff Thu, 09/19/2013 - 15:08

First to comment...
I like the way you varied the sizing of the cut-out mats. I think it helps the eye continue in it's movement.
Thanks Tiffany for letting us use your layout. As I was looking at the photos - ADORABLE!!! - I also think I like how Marisa framed them. Like when she divided the plaid paper, she's using rule of don't always want to place the focus point, those eyes! in the middle, either at 1/3 or 2/3rds can really help. One of the things I like about GIMP is it gives you an option to put guides on your photo when cropping.
Excited to see comments and more discussion. :)