Layout Critique Success

By Marisa Lerin Thu, 03/07/2013 - 23:02

Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you all know what a success our first layout critique was! Everyone left some really great advice and I was just left to try and figure out what to implement. I didn't want to influence anyone with my own opinions on the layout before, but I'll share them now:

What I Liked

  • I loved the photo. Despite (or more likely because of) the weird angle, you can feel the emotion from this shot.
  • I liked the crops of different parts of the photo highlighting different things.
  • I liked the idea of a bold, vivid color scheme which I think complements the feeling of the photo.

What I Could Improve

  • Like on all my old layouts, the shadowing could really use an update. Also, some sort of indication of where, when, what.
  • The colors in the original photo are great. I'm not sure why I made them all black and white.
  • What's going on with the background? It wasn't until I opened up the old .PSD file that I realized I had overlayed the photo in the background as well. But you can't tell and it just looks a little weird.
  • I'm not sure about those swirls.

Old New

I found the original photo, tweaked it in Lightroom and determined that the whole photo should be emphasized in the new layout. Some people mentioned the white background of the collage being distracting, and eating up the photos, and I agree. In the original layout you can't even tell that the whole photo is there (top left corner of the collage). I pulled the photos out of the collage and tweaked the b&W version to be the same (that's how I changed the color of my shirt in the original, just by playing with the slider in the B&W conversion). I made the background black to be simple and help the photos pop and added a little color behind the photos. The swirls were overwhelming on the black background so I tucked them up in the corners to frame everything. Finally I wanted to add a some sort of text to the layout, but anything I could think of seemed to kind of tip the emotive picture into extreme cheesy. So in the end I just put a little location and date and then ran the lyrics from a song in the background, so you aren't overwhelmed with emotion ;).

I think I'm pretty happy with how the layout turned out. I wonder if perhaps it's a little minimal, but that may just be my inner pack-rat demanding more stuff. Since the photos are the thing, I wanted them more or less to stand on their own.

This process was pretty exciting for me. It was great to see everyone's comments, so much so that I was inspired into redoing a layout that I wouldn't have thought twice about before. It was great to take the focus off of getting a layout done and really stop and think about why I was doing something and what I wanted to make happen. Perhaps not a method for all the time, but definitely an exercise I would like to repeat.

All that being said I would strongly recommend you to submit a layout for critique. You don't have to commit to a redo like I did, but I think you will be pleased with whatever comes out of the process. Jordan and I are thinking about making this critique process a more permanent part of the site somehow, but for now we have to prove that other people besides me are interested in it. Please submit your layout to


I Made a Layout!

By Marisa Lerin Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:18

I used to read about designers who would lament about never making layouts and I always thought that was really dumb. However, what goes around come around, and I'm finding myself in the same situation! I'm doing a lot of reworking and uploading of older projects, and also I'm working on kits that aren't necessary applicable to my own photos, so I'm in a bit of a layout desert. I am trying to take more photos this month to have something to work with...and I'm pondering my Egypt photos, but I don't think the time is quite right for them yet.

Anyway, yesterday I suddenly realized it was March and back in January I had determined to do a review layout every month. So I quick made my list for February. Despite forgetting my promise to do this, I think it will really be great to look back at these monthly pages. The list format is short enough that it doesn't take a ton of time, but it still captures those special moments you're likely to forget.

Feb Layout

Here's the list so you don't have to squint:

1. Valentine's Date: Saw the new Die Hard Movie.
2. Rereading Mary Russell Series.
3. Won tickets to Cirque de Glace.
4. Song of the month: "Fell on You" by Francis and the Lights.
5. Enjoyed the school play "Peter Pan."
6. Movie of the Month: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
7. Also enjoyed movies "Argo" and "Robot & Frank."
8. Buying sweaters at the special table at the Friday Market.
9. Oscar Party! I had the most correct predictions, 15!
10. Spring arrived before the month was over!

The template is up too if you want to make your own list. The kit I used is one that will be coming sometime...


Designer Spotlight: Harper Finch

By Marisa Lerin Tue, 03/05/2013 - 22:03

Designer Spotlight
I've got a special feature for you today! Perhaps you've seen her designs and great freebies floating around the web, but I would like to introduce you to Harper Finch. Can you believe she's only been designing for 6 months?

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live? Who’s in your family? What do you do in the average day?
A: My roots and my heart belong to Oklahoma, south Tulsa to be specific. I grew up here and have found my way back after finding myself in Des Moines and Austin. I'm a bit of a free spirit, very open-minded, endlessly curious and believe in the power of humanity. I am infinitely fascinated in people, which led to my studies in Psychology (which I loved!). I am a sassy, single goofball who holds my parents, two sister and brother-in-law (to be) closest to my heart. Though in our family, our Dauchsaund/Beagle mix, Reeces is the Queen Bee and seemingly my constant companion. There's nothing funnier than seeing Reeces with her ears blowing in the wind, hanging out a window of my Tahoe - trust me!

Map It Out Add On Map It Out Journal Cards

Q: How did you start digital scrapbooking? When did you start designing?
A: I was in Grad School when I found digital scrapbooking and it became an incredible creative outlet which I definitely needed. So I decided to teach myself Photoshop and just fell in love with the endless possibilites which exist with platforms such a Photoshop and Illustrator. I began to experiment with design 6 months ago, doing things like creating birthday cards for family, designing the invitation for my sister's engagement party, etc. and just loved it. So I decided to start my own blog in December, which has been of the best decisions I've ever made!

Q: What tools do you use to design?
A: I primarily use Photoshop but occassionally dabble in Illustator. My Bamboo tablet is a God-send and I love the extension of my creativity which it allows.

Snow Day Alpha Valentine Journal Cards

Q: What are a couple of your favorite designs you’ve created?
A: I think my favorite collections as yet have been "Map it Out," "My Classic Valentine," both of which are available in my Etsy shop, and "Ready, Set, Go," a MASSIVE collection available FREE on my blog!

Map It Out Valentine
Game Night

Q: What are some designs that inspire you?
A: Typography and color palettes are the source of all of my inspiration. I come up with a swatch that I love and then decide upon a theme and plan for using it to create a scrapbook kit. Designers who infinitely amaze and inspire me are Miss Tiina, Just Jaimee, Mommyish and Kate Hadfield, to name a few!

Q: Do you have any advice for designers?
A: Design what you love and don't restrict yourself with a theme that you feel like you have to do. The process should be organic or so I believe, and I do my best work in that vein.

Freebie Freebie

Besides all the wonderful freebies that you can find on her blog, Harper has also given us this exclusive coupon that you can use in her store. Be sure to stop by and visit her and say hi!


Harper Finch Coupon

If you are a budding designer or know of one, and would like to be featured here at the Pixel Scrapper blog, send me an email at

Pixel Scrapper Survey - March 2013

By Marisa Lerin Tue, 03/05/2013 - 05:20

Update: this survey is now closed. Thanks to everyone who responded!

We're trying really hard to improve Pixel Scrapper, and we need your help! Please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey. Your responses will affect our decisions towards site improvements, so be honest and thoughtful! As a thank you for your time, at the end of the survey you will receive a little mini kit thank you.


Layout Critique #1

By Marisa Lerin Mon, 03/04/2013 - 21:27

This is one of my earlier layouts, so there are lots of things on it I would like to update, and I'm excited to hear what you have to say. The photo is a special one for me, from my honeymoon.

Please follow the directions carefully. Be specific and make a "good feeling sandwich" (something you like, something you'd improve, something you like). Comments that do not follow the guidelines may be deleted.


I'm hoping to make this a regular feature on the blog. If you'd like to submit a layout for critique please email it to me at