How to make good clusters?

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How to make good clusters?

I am looking back on my old scrap pages to see what I like the most on then, what I don´t like, and what I would like to make it better, so I improove my skills. And I realised I don´t like the way it looks when I cluster elements together. However, I always see peoples layouts with amazing clusterings. So, this is my question of the day: Do you have any tips about clustering for me?

Thanks in advance smiley

I don't know if I really have any great tips for you - it's something I'm working on too. But I think a good place to start is to find some clusters you love. See if you can figure out why you really like them - shadowing - layering - color combinations - etc. As you're looking through clusters also find some you don't like. See if you can figure out why you don't like them - too many different elements - too much shadowing - etc. That might give you a basis as to what things you like.

One of the things I've noticed is that I like the elements to repeat. So I try to use a the same flower a couple times, the same button a couple times and just have one of the main element I want. I make that one bigger than the others to help it stand out. I do vary the other elements in different sizes so they don't look too similar. And I guess I usually just do one element in the background to tie everything together - like one ribbon.

I don't know if that's any help to you - but I'm going to follow this thread to get some great ideas too.

Start out with a template. You don't have to stick to the exact design, but it does help with clustering. I had a problem with clusters when I started out, it didn't look clustered, but cluttered! One thing I did learn: make your embellishments smaller and use lots of them, and repeat-repeat-repeat smiley And what Stacy siad, trying to re-create clusters you like on someone else's layout, is also a great idea. I found that practice makes perfect (well, not quite perfect yet smiley)

I went to a Retreat with Scraps N Pieces and Paula from Keystone Scraps gave a class on clustering.

From my notes here are a few tips:
Choose a shape in PSE or PS (can be a moon, circle, square, rectangle etc)
Pick one or two focal point ellies and place on the shape
Add filler elements (thicker items) within the shape
Add strings or ribbons etc to place on the points of the shape
Add shadows
Delete the shape that you used as a template and save

Here is the cluster I made using Steampunk Store Collab and a "moon" shape from SNP [url=]Kit

The cluster

Here is the zipped psd file also so that if someone wants to know the layers.

That sounds like a neat tip, Janet! smiley Something I might have to try sometime.

I admit it - I'm horrible at clustering. I think it's because I think they look too "busy" and take away from the picture, and have a hard time overcoming that mindset. When I've participated in "scraps" I've often struggled with that part...

@Janet, that cluster is beautiful! What a great idea, too, to build it around a shape.

@Lizanne - I'm also not sure how I feel about clusters for my own layouts. I'm a Project Lifer at heart, and I like clean simple lines and a relatively flat (though still realistic) appearance. I've been noticing lately that I'm way more drawn to kits with flat elements like "stickers" rather than big 3-D extracted flowers and such.

That being said, here are some clustering tutorials I've come across in my wanderings that seem like they have sound advice: (scroll down pretty far to find the tutorial).

Peppermint's shadowing tutorial is also key if you've never read it:

Hope these are helpful!

great thread and tons of info! smiley

Girls, Thank you so much smiley I´m going to read everything and try to test!

@Janet, I just loved your cluster!

@Janet, that is great! Thanks for the tips. I hadn't thought about following a shape form, but that makes sense & would be a great visual aid.

I love clusters & admire them on others' layouts, and I've tried to do it a bit myself. I've recently come to admit that it's not exactly my style. I've tried a little bit, and I enjoy the challenge. But I also think I should be true to my aesthetic and keep things a little simpler.

I guess it's like window-shopping; I can admire it on others' LOs but admit it might not look quite right in my home.

@Janet & @Violet thank you guys soo much. I'm gonna need to try this and look at the links. C:

Janet, love your cluster. I have not delved into this yet but yours sure provides inspiration! Violet, thank you for the links. smiley

Wow what an awesome topic! I struggle with clusters as well. Thank you all for your tips. smiley

Love the tips. I've never tried to do a cluster. My scrapping tends to revolve around clean layouts with lots of photos. That said, I may have to try out some clusters as well (don't really know my style yet). Love the look of them!

I am passing here to say a big THANK YOU for you all - I´ve improoved a lot my custering skills with your advice. This cluster made me proud of myself:

(Of course, it wouldn´t be so cool without Tina´s fantastic paisleys - Thanks Tina smiley)

I am not deceided if I really like clusters or not. But they are useful, and, as I am doing CT work now, I need to improove on it smiley

Looks great Lorien!

Great job with the cluster!! I think clusters look better when the shadows are realistic as well. If you have one element hanging over another, the shadow is going to be a tad longer. I like to layer my shadows on their own layer and use my warp tool to pull the shadow longer in some areas and I play with the opacity as well. I use PSP. Not sure how it would be done in other programs.

This make sense Jodi! I need to try it later smiley

I love the idea of starting with a shape. I usually start with an element and try to build around it - not always very successfully!

You did a great job with your cluster, Lorien!

Janet, I can't see the image you posted. Wish I could so I could better understand the shape idea!

Thank you, Janet, for the updated links!!! smiley

Great tips... clusters can be so hard to finish for me! I never feel like they are done, you know what I'm saying?

I'm with Cindy it would be great if we could see the image to go along with Janet's notes.

Thanks everyone, this is a lot of great info to get started clustering.

@Michelle: Did you see that Janet stopped by and updated her post for y'all? smiley She even shared her psd so you could see the layers. smiley

Here is a good tutorial by Tiffany Tillman on building clusters

@Sarah: Thanks so much for sharing that tutorial! smiley

Bumping this to the front page for Angela!

Thank you Melouise, I am embarrassed to see I have already commented in this post. One of those occasions when I have read something, but not taken it in! It just shows I should read everything at least twice! Love Janet's Steampunk cluster and great advice.

Don't be embarrassed Angela, this post is almost a year old! I vaguely remembered having talked about clusters, but the content of this thread is new for me too - even though I know I have read it!

I love that you girls started talking about it again, and put the topic up smiley I am going back and reading all the tuts, because when I posted it I just learned the meaning of "cluster", and now, that I´ve tried a bit, these tuts can show me the way to improve what I learned smiley

Clustering is something I'm still practicing!

[@Janet]: Thank you for the tips! smiley
[@Angela]: Thank you for sharing the tutorial! smiley

THAT is an amazing idea and a beautiful cluster. I didn't quite understand your explanation until I saw your sample cluster, so thank you for taking the time to go the extra mile with that, it helped me a lot!

I made my very first cluster, I read all the post but forgot which forum it was in so posted it to a different one, now I found you guys again so thought I'd show you what I learned.