Today’s blog post comes from our friend and calligraphy expert, Melissa Esplin! Melissa has been teaching calligraphy for nearly a decade and is a recognized industry expert. In today’s post, Melissa will tell you all about our new collaborative how-to program: Penmanship with Melissa Esplin!
Hey friends! It’s Melissa Esplin, from MelissaEsplin.com and Calligraphy.org. I’m so excited for the launch of my new collaboration program with Close To My Heart! As an introduction, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself: I am a calligrapher and artist, and I’ve been teaching calligraphy since 2010. I love empowering people with the ability to write beautifully, all while embracing the nuances that make their penmanship unique.
The Penmanship with Melissa Esplin program is meant to get you excited about hand lettering and to help you build confidence in your own penmanship. No matter what it looks like, your penmanship is a beautiful and unique part of who you are, and far too many people are afraid to use their own handwriting in projects. This program provides exercises and instruction to help you get more comfortable with your own penmanship, and to educate you on how to use your own handwriting in specific projects. With instruction in both upper and lowercase print as well as upper and lowercase cursive, the Penmanship with Melissa Esplin program helps you learn not only how to embrace your own unique handwriting, but also when to use specific lettering styles to complement each project.
This program doesn’t follow traditional penmanship methods. It isn’t conventional calligraphy either. By pulling bits and pieces from various methodologies, the program will guide you in increasing legibility, gracefulness, and consistency of your work, all while staying true to your own penmanship style. You’ll also learn more about the construction of each letter, which helps you to be aware of your personal preferences as you continue to develop your own style.
In addition to the how-to book, I’ve been working with Close To My Heart on a variety of materials to help support your own creativity! We have designed 4 stamp sets for journaling, scrapbooking, and cardmaking.
While they are intended for traditional stamping, they can also be used as a great way to get more practice in. The sentiments can be stamped with a light pigment ink on practice paper and then traced using tracing paper. No matter how you use these stamps, I know you’re going to love them!
We also have a set of multicolor small brush pens to accompany the Penmanship with Melissa Esplin how-to book. Each color in this set is designed to work well with the exclusive Close To My Heart color palette, and the tips are constructed to support both thin, light strokes, and strong, thick ones.
The ink in these pens is water soluble and can be blended and mixed to create new colors as well. The Multicolor Small Brush Pen Set comes with 7 colors and 3 black pens.
I’m thrilled to have partnered with Close To My Heart to help inspire you to record your stories with confidence. Happy lettering, friends!
As part of our National Stamping Month celebration, we have two exclusive stamp sets that are only available through the end of the month, the My Acrylix® A Dash of Joy and My Acrylix® Giving Thanks. Both have over 30 individual stamps each. They are super cute, on trend, and just right for the upcoming fall and Christmas seasons. You may have noticed that most of the individual stamps within each set are also really small.
To get us all thinking outside of a one-inch square that most of these loveable little icons and sentiments were designed to fit into, we have a few simple ideas that showcase just how versatile a small stamp can be by also effectively being used in much bigger spaces.
First, let’s talk about backgrounds. This one seems to be a pretty common idea that we tend to easily forget. Take a look at how we used our small stamps to create the following three pieces of artwork:
On this So Thankful page we wanted to create a partial background. You can do this with sentiments, like we did here, or with clusters of small icons down the center, off-center, down one side of the page, or even just in a corner.
This card is an example of how to use small sentiments to create a full background. Turn the sentiment at an angle and stamp it over and over again until your background is completely covered. The trick is to start by stamping partially off your base to achieve the cutoff look.
Another way to use small icons in large spaces is in borders.
Combining three of the leaf stamps from the Giving Thanks set with two green stamp pads we were able to create this beautiful fall scene for the memories on this page.
This last idea, one of our favorites that really gets you thinking outside the norm, is to create your own shapes out of smaller ones.
The gorgeous wreath on this page was created using several of the small stamps from the A Dash of Joy set and nothing else.
We kept it simple by making a circle to illustrate the idea, but the truth is you can create many other shapes and designs using small stamps—a tree, a snowman, a pumpkin, a star, a house—whatever you dare try.
With the right combination of stamps and inks, the possibilities are endless.
We really do love these little sentiments and icons and want everyone to have a chance to create with them, too. In the next 24 hours, we will be giving away 5 Share the Seasons Stamp Set Bundles, which include one My Acrylix® A Dash of Joy stamp set and one My Acrylix® Giving Thanks stamp set. If you want to be entered in the drawing, make sure you are subscribed to this blog and leave us a comment below sharing with us how you use small stamps in big ways. Winners will be chosen by 1 p.m. tomorrow (Sept. 18, MST) and will be notified via email, so keep your eyes on your inboxes friends!
Can’t wait to hear from you!
***THIS DRAWING IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED! <3 ***
It is officially National Stamping Month! Is anyone else as pumped about this time of year as we are? A little bit of history, for our friends who haven’t been with us for very long, Close To My Heart was originally called D.O.T.S. (Dozens of Terrific Stamps). Our first love was, and continues to be, stamps! We’ve come a long way since 1984 and wood mounted rubber stamp sets, and yet there are still some things that will never change.
Today we are going back to the basics of stamping, showing a few different ways we can use stamps in our projects. If you are new to stamping, this is a great place to start and learn just how versatile these creative tools can be. If you are a “pro,” then follow along anyway and remind yourself why you, too, love stamping and the versatility behind each design.
First, let’s talk about stamping on photos.
This is such an easy way to create personalized cards or add some additional touches to your scrapbook pages.
Stamping directly on a photo might seem a little scary at first, but we promise, it will be okay! For this project, we used the Archival Black Exclusive Inks™ stamp pad to stamp our sentiment. We opted for this ink choice because we used a matte photo. If you’re stamping on a glossy photo, consider using Black StazOn™ ink. StazOn™ ink is specifically formulated for use on non-porous surfaces, allowing you to confidently stamp on any photo.
Next, let’s revisit an oldie, but a goodie, technique—generational stamping. Generational stamping is a fairly simple stamping technique. Think of it as the “double-dip” action (or in this case, the “triple-dip”) of the stamping world. With generational stamping, you don’t re-ink your stamp before stamping the image or sentiment again. This leaves you with a slightly faded image that is otherwise identical to the first one.
For this example, we used the Candy Apple Exclusive Inks™ stamp pad to create a fun generational stamping effect. First, you thoroughly saturate your stamp with ink, and then press down firmly to transfer the image onto your paper. Then, without re-inking the stamp, press it to the paper again to create a second-generation stamped image or, like in this case, sentiment. In this example, we went a step farther and created a third-generation sentiment, which was accomplished the same way.
You can clearly see the second and third generational stamps. This effect, combined with the fun patterns in the Every Little Thing paper packet, makes for a beautiful card with a unique flair.
Another fun way to use your stamps is to fussy cut! Fussy cutting simply means that you cut out your stamped image by hand rather than using a metal die or a paper cutting machine. This lets you cut right down to the edges of the image for a crisp, clean cut. When you don’t have just the right sticker or are looking for a quick way to add dimension, fussy cut your stamped image or sentiment and attach it with some foam tape!
In our next example, we’ve got several different ideas that neatly come together in one beautiful 6″ x 8″ layout.
First, take a close look at the peach portion of the layout, in the lower right-hand corner of the left page. That’s not pattern paper—the pattern you see is achieved by continuous, random stamping. Stamps give you the ability to create your own unique patterns, adding a personal element to all of your projects.
Next, let’s talk about how to stamp white on black. For this, we’ll be breaking out our heat tool and embossing powder!
As you can see, this particular element has a dimensional appearance. Well, that’s thanks to the use of embossing powder!
The images in this example are stamped with VersaMark™ ink and heat embossed with white embossing powder. Stamp with VersaMark™ ink, add embossing powder, melt and seal together with a heat tool.
Did you know that you can also heat emboss with our pigment inks of our exclusive colors? All you need is the pigment ink in the color of your choice and clear embossing powder. Heat and seal like you would with the VersaMark™ ink, and that’s it!
If you want to heat emboss on vellum, there are a few small tricks to consider.
For this technique, allow your heat tool to heat up before you use it. Once it’s hot, blow on the ink intermittently from behind the paper (which means you would need to do this step before attaching a piece like this to your project). If you blow directly onto the ink and vellum without pulling the heater away, the ink will move and the paper will warp. Another approach, if from behind is too difficult, is to move the heat tool in slow circles over the stamped area.
The last three examples of artwork we have showcase how to add color to your stamped images.
In a recent blog post, we discussed different types of black ink and which ones work best with certain types of projects. For this card, we used the Intense Black Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad to stamp the pumpkins so that we could add color with our new TriBlend™ markers.
Once you’ve got your image stamped, take your TriBlend™ Marker and color around the outer edges of the stamped image using one of the darker shades. Then, color in the center with one of the lighter shades.
Using TriBlend™ Markers to color in your stamped images allows you to color with confidence, since the shades are already matched for you, and as you can see, they deliver beautiful results!
For this card, you’ll want to grab your watercolor pencils. To avoid getting harsh lines in your project, move your pencil in gentle, circular strokes, or use a lighter hand as you color; think of it as light shading as opposed to coloring in your stamp.
Once you’ve got your stamped image colored in, you can leave it as is for a slightly more rustic, rough feel, like in our example, or blend with a waterbrush.
Our last example is a bit deceptive, and it looks a bit more complicated than it actually is.
To create the beautiful, multicolored effect happening in the leaves of this page, we used a technique is called rock & roll.
First, you thoroughly ink your stamp in the base color of your choice. Then, gently rock and roll the edges of your stamp in your secondary color. It’s that easy. Your stamp is ready to leave a gorgeous impression!
No matter how you use them, you can’t go wrong with great stamps! Happy stamping!
With the launch of two new Close To My Heart catalogs this week, does anyone else feel like a kid on Christmas morning? Since September 1, hundreds of new Close To My Heart products, including stamp sets, patterned papers, embellishments, and much, much more, have been readily available at our fingertips!
In case you missed the exciting announcement after our North American Convention, we have moved to a new catalog release schedule. Close To My Heart will no longer only publish three catalogs a year, but SEVEN—an annual Core Products catalog and six, bi-monthly, supplemental catalogs. The goal is to get fresh designs and up-to-the-minute products into your hands when you need them and want them most!
Let’s take a closer look at some of the new goodies in our Core and September–October catalogs. (It may be time to make some room in your craft room—your stash may be getting a bit bigger! 🙂 )
Paper Packet + Sticker Sheets
Each of our supplement catalogs will feature two paper suites. Within each suite you will have the choice between two paper packet options, one including a new 12″ x 12″ sticker sheet, and one without. The new sticker sheet will come with titles, accents, and more, that coordinate perfectly with the designs of its accompanying paper packet. Both paper packets will come with six sheets of three double-sided designs of patterned paper, rather than the 12 we’ve done in the recent past, so you only purchase what you need and avoid having too much left over!
Custom Cardstock Packs
When you visit our cardstock menu on our website, you will find two very exciting additions. As a continuation of the theme of getting you just what you need, we now offer custom cardstock packs! Choose between a 12-sheet or 24-sheet pack and then decide which of our current exclusive colors you want in it. We’ll package up your selection and send your customized pack along with the rest of your order. It’s that simple!
Scrapbooking Workshop Kits
Our scrapbooking workshops got a makeover! Each workshop continues to come with easy-to-follow instructions to make six complete pages however only some are paired into layouts. Both, the Every Little Thing and Hawthorn scrapbooking workshops make two individual pages and two two-page layouts.
Even more exciting, we’ve trimmed a lot of the paper cutting right out of the workshops! Each new kit includes large, exclusive die-cut sheets and accessories that coordinate effortlessly with a handful of additional products for fast and seriously gorgeous pages. In the page above, the only thing you’ll cut when you make your own are the two photo mats. <3 <3 <3 !
Everyday Life™ Albums
Our Everyday Life™ album line just got bigger…and smaller! Providing the greatest versatility in size (and color options), these are now available in 6″ x 6″, 6″ x 8″, 8½” x 11″, and 12″ x 12″. Perfect for preserving vacations, weddings, highlights from the football season, or backyard adventures, the Everyday Life™ line is designed to accommodate any occasion or memory!
Heat Transfer Vinyl & Digital Art
You already take pride in filling your scrapbooks with beautiful artwork on the inside, so why not add some flair to their outsides? With our new line of heat transfer vinyl and digital SVG files designed specifically with album covers in mind, you can easily do just that!
After downloading the digital images, cut them out of the heat transfer vinyl using your favorite cutting machine, and then apply them to your album. For a complete list of available heat transfer vinyl colors and digital art designs, click here.
Penmanship with Melissa Esplin
Renowned calligraphy and lettering expert Melissa Esplin joined forces with Close To My Heart to create an easy, step-by-step penmanship program. Penmanship with Melissa Esplin introduces stroke sequences, letter forms, and techniques to improve and develop your personal, individual style. Equipped with exercise worksheets and practice pages, as you see can see above, this program provides the necessary tools to share your stories through your own creative handwriting!
Get ready to pour your hearts out with our gorgeous new Close To My Heart journaling pens!
These journaling pens are available in Black and Pewter inks and in .05, .03, and .01 tips. Easily take your handwriting up a notch by simply using the right tool!
Color and blend like and expert with our new markers! Inside every TriBlend™ marker is a perfect gradation of colors, from light to dark, delivered through three separate fine bullet nibs. The alcohol-based ink blends seamlessly for mixing or layering colors.
Stickles™ Glitter Gel
Another newcomer to the Close To My Heart line-up are the Stickle™ glitter gels! Available in the ten colors you see here, use these fun gels to add dimension and a bit of sparkle to your projects.
This spongy soft, reusable sheet is just what you need for lint-free stamp cleaning. Just add water and watch the ink come right off your My Acrylix® stamps as you wipe them with a Stamp Shammy. Yes, the photo above is staged to look pretty, but we really did just wipe that stamp clean with the wet Stamp Shammy to the right of it. And, because you can’t really have too much of a good thing, these come in a two-pack. J
We’ve added several new colors to our exclusive color palate this week! Our favorite, and Color of the Year, is this beautiful trendy green hue, Julep! Keep a sharp eye out for it throughout the coming year, and you’ll find hints of Julep in a wide variety of our new products. (To see what other fun new colors we have in store, talk to your Consultant or take a look at our exclusive color palette in our Core Products catalog.)
Cricut® Complete Creativity Collection
Our newest Cricut® collection, Complete Creativity, provides you with all the pieces you need to create complete cards and scrapbook pages for a variety of themes and occasions.
This remarkable new collection is available for purchase on Cricut.com, through a special link you can get from your Close To My Heart Consultant. Ask your Consultant for more details about our extensive collection of Cricut® designs!
Rather than unwrapping all of the new goodies here for you this Christmas-like morning, take some time to carefully peruse both of our new catalogs on your own. The few items that we covered today are only just a sampling of the hundreds of new products available now!
With so many different black ink pads at our disposal, deciding which is the best option for a project can get a little confusing. Let’s shed some light into this black situation by examining each one of these inks individually and identify what their strengths and purposes are so you’ll never have to second-guess yourself again.
Before getting started, let’s identify all of the players.
All of the black Exclusive Inks™ stamp and pigment pads come in a sleek patented case. The innovative case features an in-lid stamp pad, keeping the ink at the surface and ready to use, as well as a convenient magnetic closure. The raised pads are approximately 3¾” x 2½”, making them larger than average and more versatile.
Although they are very similar in appearance, and are all technically black, each ink is formulated from scratch to produce unique stamping results. We discussed these inks and how to use them with our very talented Art Studio and came up with the following:
1. BLACK EXCLUSIVE INKS™ STAMP PAD
The Black Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad is a water-based dye ink. Our artists like using it for stamping sentiments and other images that will not be colored over with markers or watercolor. It is ideal for cardmaking, tags, and other everyday uses.
2. ARCHIVAL BLACK EXCLUSIVE INKS™ STAMP PAD
The Archival Black Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad has the deepest black ink out of all our black inks. It is a solvent-based permanent ink. Waterproof, lightfast, fade-proof, and archival. We recommend using this ink for scrapbook pages and for stamping on vellum. Archival Black is ideal for stamping images and sentiments with staying power.
3. INTENSE BLACK EXCLUSIVE INKS™ STAMP PAD
The Intense Black Exclusive Inks™ Stamp Pad is intense not because of its color but because it is a non-smearing, fast-drying, solvent-based permanent ink. Like its Archival Black counterpart, the Intense Black ink is also waterproof and archival. If you want to add color with watercolor or alcohol markers, however, Intense Black is the way to go.
4. BLACK EXCLUSIVE INKS™ PIGMENT PAD
Next, there’s the Black Exclusive Inks™ Pigment Pad. The major difference between this ink and the others is that it is a pigment-based ink. Pigment inks dry permanently on porous surfaces after heat-setting. It takes a little more work to use a pigment ink, but the results are definitely worth it! We recommend adding clear embossing powder to your stamped images, and heat setting them with a Heat Tool, to create beautiful glossy raised images and sentiments.
5. BLACK STAYZON™ INK PAD
Last, and certainly not least, is the Black StazOn™ Ink Pad. This pad offers a fast-drying solvent-based ink designed specifically for use on plastic, metal, glass, ceramic, laminated paper, coated paper, leather, and other non-porous surfaces. Even though this ink is technically “fast-drying,” it can be wiped off a truly non-porous surface within minutes after it is applied, using a Stamp Shammy and StazOn™ Cleaner. This is great to keep in mind because the majority of non-porous surfaces tend to be slippery and can be difficult to stamp with accuracy. Once the ink completely sets, however, it will yield permanent results. (So, make sure to keep that Stamp Shammy nearby! 😉 )
We want you to be able to take all of this information with you wherever your stamping takes you, so we’ve created the following chart, including photos of our artwork examples, for you to download and print.
With this quick and simple breakdown, we hope you will make all of your future black ink decisions with clarity and confidence! Please let us know in the comments below if you found this blog post helpful today. Happy stamping! <3
Hello, friends! This week, we’re going to take a closer look at the Attach tool in Cricut Design Space™ and how it relates to other tools on the app. This feature is a fairly basic one, but once you get comfortable with it, you’ll be able to increase your creative possibilities ten-fold! We’ve covered certain aspects of Attach in a previous post, which showed many of the awesome features the Attach tool has to offer. In this post, we will focus more on Attach versus Slice. These tools have a lot of similarities and, while they’re both great, there are some differences between them; having this knowledge will help you decide which tool is right for you and your project.
In our example card above, we kept it simple by attaching a single elongated hexagon shape, pulled from the Cricut® Artistry collection. This collection has a wide variety of options to lend a bit of polish to each project. Be sure to check it out to boost your creativity!
As you follow along with this post, please keep in mind that the steps below show you how to use Design Space on a laptop or a desktop computer. If you are using the Design Space app on a mobile device, the tools and buttons will be in slightly different places on your screen. Most of these basic features are available on any device.
Attach v. Slice
As we mentioned in our earlier post, the Attach tool not only allows you to cut text or shapes, but it allows you to position them yourself. To save space in each cut, Design Space may automatically shuffle your cuts to use as little paper as possible. This is commonly seen when using the Slice tool.
While this is a handy feature in some instances, there are going to be times where you’ll want to keep your cut aligned the same way you laid it out on your Design Space canvas. By using Attach, your cut won’t be altered or shuffled around on the paper.
Another great feature of the Attach tool is the single cut. When you use the Slice tool, it will often cut your shape multiple times. This not only uses up more paper, but it may also mess up your project with unnecessary cuts. There are some projects where you may want multiple cuts of the same shape, but for instances where only one cut is necessary, Attach is a much simpler way to get the single cut you want.
In these examples, you can see the single cut of the Attach tool in the photo on the top, and the multiple cuts made by using the Slice tool in the photo on the bottom.
Once you’re familiar with how Attach works and how it relates to other features in Design Space, you’re ready to start using it yourself. The Attach tool is located at the bottom of the Layers panel, next to the Slice and Weld tools.
To use this tool, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got all the shapes and other components of your project displayed on your Design Space canvas. It’s a lot easier to use Attach if you’ve already inserted all the shapes and text you want to use.
Once you have all your project pieces in place, you’ll need to group the pieces that you want to attach. You can do this by clicking, holding, and dragging your mouse over the pieces you want to group. You’ll see a grey box appear behind your cursor when you do so. The pieces you intend to group should be inside this box.
When you let the mouse go, right-click your mouse in the same spot and select the “Group” option from your right-click menu. To make sure that you’ve grouped your images, click on one of the images and try moving it around on your Design Space canvas. If the images you wanted to group move together, you’ve got your group!
Once your images are grouped, use the Attach tool to cut your shapes or text. You won’t be able to move the attached shape as long as it’s still attached and grouped, but it will still cut when you click “Make It.”
If you want to change the placement of your text or shape, or if you even want to scrap that part of your project and use a different shape instead, you can Detach your shape to be able to move or alter various parts of your project. To Detach your shapes, go back to the same place where you found the Attach button. It should say Detach if you have any shapes that are grouped and attached. By clicking this button, you will basically undo the Attach action.
Put It Together
Follow the steps below to recreate the adorable llama card we showed you today!
1) Search for image #M369896 and insert it on your Design Space canvas. Unlock and resize it to 4″ x 5.25″ (W x H).
Tip: All measurements in this post are W x H.
2) Search for image #M41340E from the [insert collection name here] and insert it on your canvas. Leaving the image locked, resize the height to 2.75″.
3) Ungroup shape #M41340E and hide the overlay cut, leaving the solid background.
4) Position shape #M4130E over your 4″ x 5.25″ rectangle and group the images together.
5) Select Attach from the tools at the bottom of the Layers panel and click “Make It” to cut your new card overlay.
6) Cut this card overlay out of Carolina stripe patterned paper from the Craft On Paper Packet.
7) Cut a 4″ x 1″ rectangle out of Bluebird cardstock and draw a border around the edges with a journaling pen.
8) Using the My Acrylix® Wild & Punny Stamp + Thin Cuts set, stamp and cut a llama on White Daisy cardstock with Intense Black ink.
Tip: Whenever you are using watercolor pencils or a waterbrush over a stamped image or sentiment, make sure you allow the ink to dry fully.
9) Color your llama as shown with watercolor pencils and a small round waterbrush and set it to the side.
10) Carefully position the Carolina stripe card overlay over a plain White Daisy card base and attach it using an adhesive runner. Do the same with your prepared Bluebird cardstock rectangle, as shown.
11) Using the My Acrylix® Wild & Punny stamp set, stamp “Llama just say you ROCK!” with Intense Black Ink in the center of the card overlay cutout. Paint a color swash over the sentiment and color in “ROCK” with watercolor pencils and a small round waterbrush.
12) Attach your llama to the card using thin 3-D foam tape, as shown.
13) Embellish with sequins and white ribbon.
Whether you’re making an awesome card or a gorgeous scrapbook layout, the Attach feature is a great way to tailor your project to your creative vision. What have you created using Attach? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment below to spread the word!
Do you want to be a better memory keeper but struggle with taking “good” photos? If your answer is yes, then today’s message is for you! Photography is both an art form and a skill. As a form of self-expression, sometimes we’re not quite sure how to express what we really want to—at least not in a pretty way. Luckily, the skill part of capturing a great photo can be taught! Today we are reviewing a few basic rules of photography composition so that you can capture all of those picture-perfect moments life throws your way in photos you will be proud to scrapbook!
1. The Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a fairly standard rule most photographers try to follow. Imagine that your shot has a 3 x 3 grid over it, then line up the main focus of your photograph at one of the intersection points on the grid. In these photos, the photographer has applied the Rule of Thirds by placing the cat’s nose and the people’s heads in the right-middle square of this imaginary grid. This way, the main focus of the photo isn’t dead center in the middle of the shot, which helps to visually expand the space.
2. Leading Lines
When you line up your shot, you may want to look for a leading line. Leading lines are visual lines that lead to the main subject of an image. Leading lines can extend through your photo and create depth. In these examples, you can see how the photographer used the pathway and trail to direct attention from the edges of the photographs to their main subject.
3. Natural Framing
Framing doesn’t have to be something that happens only after your pictures have been developed or printed. Finding a natural frame and positioning your subject inside it is a great way to draw the shot together and add a more professional feel to your photography. Here, you can see how the woman’s hands and the wall provide a frame for the most important parts of the photos.
Photography is largely about perspective. Slight changes in perspective can make or break a photo. If you aren’t happy with the way your photo is looking, try switching up your position to alter the perspective of the shot. Whether you shoot your photo from above or below, as you can see in these examples, switching up your angle to get a different perspective can help you take your photography to all new heights.
Exposure is a vital part of any photograph. If a photo is over-exposed, everything will be washed out in bright light, making the subject nearly invisible. On the other hand, if a photo is under-exposed, everything in your shot will appear shadowy and dark. By finding a good balance, you can highlight your subject while preserving the beauty of your background. For this tip, we’ve provided an example of bad exposure with excess light to show you what you don’t want to happen. We’ve also provided a good example with a balance of light and shadow. Finding this balance may take some practice, but it’s definitely worth it to add greater polish to your photos.
6. Check Your Background!
From telephone poles, wires, and cars, to animals, and stealthy photobombers, nothing is more distracting than something you don’t want in the background of your photo. Since many cameras nowadays allow us to look back at our shots instantly, it’s easier than ever to deal with this, but it’s always a good idea to double and triple-check the background of each photo to make sure you haven’t accidentally captured a distraction.
7. Symmetry and Patterns
Most people have a thing for symmetry and patterns. Sometimes, we can’t quite put our finger on why we prefer certain photos to others, but chances are, symmetry and patterns (or the lack thereof) have something to do with it. Even if we aren’t aware of it consciously, we still notice. If you’re able to find a pattern or some beautiful symmetry in your shot, take advantage of it! In these shots, the photographer utilized the symmetry in the architecture of the cathedral and the natural pattern created by the flowering trees to appeal to that sub-conscious love of regularity we all share.
When you have a clear subject in your photograph, it may seem counterintuitive to focus on anything but that subject in your photo. However, if you are able to create some interest in the foreground of your shot, you’ll be able to create the illusion of additional depth. In these examples, the cup of coffee and the look-out binoculars serve as additional interest points, which also create depth in both photos.
This “rule” is related to the patterns and symmetry guideline. If you look closely, you can find triangles in nearly everything you see. If you can integrate triangles into the background, foreground, or leading lines of your photo, it will instantly enhance the quality of your photo. These triangles don’t necessarily need to be overt or obvious. Basically, you just need to be able to draw a triangle using points in the photograph. Whether the triangles are created by an architectural element or by people’s arms, they will add greatly to the aesthetic value of your photos.
10. Rules Are Made to Be Broken!
Once you have a good grasp of the first nine photography rules we just shared, you will be ready to explore your creativity and learn when and how to break them. If you want to achieve an effect that follows one rule while breaking another, go for it! Don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment on your own terms to find your niche.
Do you guys have any tricks or techniques that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to scrapbook that stack of photos that you keep meaning to get to, then you’ve come to the right place! We are going to be making 10 6″ x 8″ two-page layouts using a super speedy scrapbooking technique known as the 3-2-1 Formula.
As the name implies, this is a formulaic project. That means that you will follow a simple formula to cut all of your patterned paper and then assemble your layouts. As you will see, you will continue to have a lot of creative freedom to add your own flair to each of your pages. No two albums will look the same, unless you make them that way intentionally.
Here’s what you’ll need:
5 sheets of patterned paper* (in a variety of coordinating patterns)
4 cardstock sheets* in coordinating colors (coordinate with your patterned paper)
10 White Daisy cardstock sheets*
*For those of you not familiar with Close To My Heart products, all of our cardstock and patterned papers come in a 12″ x 12″ format, and that is what we will be using to make this project.
Step 1: Creating Base Pages. The very first thing we cut are your base pages from the White Daisy cardstock. From 10 sheets, you should be able to get 20 6″ x 8″ pieces.
Step 2: Cutting Patterned Paper. Before measuring and cutting anything, trim all the zip strips from each of the patterned paper sheets. The zip strip is the extra ½” accent paper along the top of each Close To My Heart patterned paper sheet. Cut each of these in half and set them aside. Next, cut the remaining 12″ x 12″ paper in half, to 6″ x 12″. Here’s where the 3-2-1 comes into play. Cut these two half sheets of patterned paper into strips of 3″ x 6″, 2″ x 6″, and 1″ x 6″.
(Half of this example paper is showing what the pattern is on the back side of this sheet. Each one of our patterned papers has a double-sided coordinating design, for additional creative flexibility.)
Step 3: Creating Photo Mats from Cardstock. For a more polished look, we like to add photo mats behind most, if not all, of our photos. That is what we will be making with the 4 sheets of coordinating cardstock.
Cut each cardstock sheet into 6 6″ x 4″ rectangles. You should have a total of 24 when you are done. If you’d like to have a few 3″ x 4″ mats, simply cut these in half. Please note that the photos you will be mounting on these mats will have to be trimmed down a ¼” in both height and width to fit.
Step 4: Putting It All Together. You’re going to need a bit of space for this, so make sure to clear your table or a place on your living room rug or somewhere else you can keep your project safe. We are going to lay out all 20 White Daisy cardstock base pages. Next, let’s distribute the strips of patterned paper and cardstock mats. Each page should get one 4″ x 6″ photo mat, or two 3″ x 4″ mats, and one strip of each size, 3″, 2″, and 1″. If you’d like for the pages that will be facing each other in your album to match, keep that in mind as you distribute your papers. Lastly, decide how you want to attach these pieces to your pages and get to it! Move the components around until you are happy with your pages. Experiment with different arrangements and consider whether you want 3″ x 4″ or 4″ x 6″ photo mats on the layouts, or a combination of both.
Step 5: Embellish! Using coordinating embellishments add your finishing touches!
Here’s an album that we came up with using this method:
(Click on the individual images to enlarge.)
If you like our finished album and would like to recreate it using our same papers and embellishments, we’ve put together the Craft On Everyday Life™ Album Workshop Kit to help you do just that. If you don’t, that’s okay, too! The beauty of the 3-2-1 technique is that it can be applied using any coordinating papers you like!
Your pages and layouts can look very differently depending on how you choose to mix and match the various components on your pages. Have fun creating pages using the combinations that you love and that best suit your photos and memories!
Our most interesting and compelling stories often involve some kind of connection, where what we have experienced is compared and contrasted with another person, place, or time. This type of story is what our storytelling and memory keeping friend, Stacy Julian, calls a Connected Story.
When a grandmother’s love of theater manifests in her grandson’s ability to light up the stage or a young girl’s delight in animals stems from her grandpa’s life work as a veterinarian, you have the makings of a connected story.
Connected Stories don’t have to be about significant generational influence or interests steeped in tradition. The best stories stem from your own experience and celebrate simple things, like the love of watermelon, hiking, jigsaw puzzles or violin music. When we back up and look at the past through the lens of one particular thing, it will reveal unique aspects of our lives, things we certainly want to document in our scrapbooks!
Learn more about the Connected Story process from Stacy Julian herself as she shares one of her personal favorites, below:
When you’re scrapbooking, how often do you find yourself running out of room because you have more photos and words than easily fit in one or two 12″ × 12″ pages? In short, you have more story to tell!
Stacy scrapbooked her watermelon Connected Story in a stack of multiple styles and sizes of Memory Protectors™. The result invites us on a journey where details unfold as we turn each page of the story.
The idea is to design a multi-layer layout, starting with a 12″ × 12″ base, that coordinates visually so that you can document a bigger experience or theme. This takes a little bit of planning, but the great thing is that no two layouts of this sort have to be arranged the same. The number of layers and styles of protectors will depend on the story you have to tell.
For additional storytelling tools and examples of this kind, make sure to check out our Story by Stacy™ how-to book, Storyteller.
Remember, the most compelling stories come from your own experience of ordinary life—from the things with which you already have an emotional connection. When you recount something that’s happened to you, you’ll recall not just the events but also the feelings associated with them. Those feelings and sensory details color your stories and bring them to life so they can be experienced again and again—retold by the people you love and the people who will someday want to know you.