4 Tips for Using Scrapbook Page Sketches

by Tami Taylor

Napoleon Bonaparte had it right when he said, “A good sketch is better than a long speech.”


When it comes to managing the time in our life, our scrapbooking time often comes up short.  Even if you manage to secure some of that elusive time, it doesn’t always mean you’ll get a lot accomplished.  Remembering all those rules of design takes some time and energy.  Maybe you’re like me and would rather concentrate on embellishing and having fun with all your goodies than worry about designing the layout.  Perhaps you need to speed scrap for a project or quickly catch up with your growing stack of photos.  Whatever your situation, I challenge you to use a good sketch.

What is a good sketch?

A good sketch is one that appeals to your eye and accommodates the number of photos you want to get on that scrapbook page.  Yes, it’s that easy.

Let’s use this sketch for a reference point as we discuss sketches.


Treat sketches as your inner child would treat a coloring book.

Option 1: Grab your crayons and color inside the lines.

In other words: follow the sketch in size and layout, but go crazy with the possible color combinations and photos you can choose.  You will have a great page.  It’s ok to just use the sketch. You don’t need to try to be creative and change the sketch.  Sketches are starting points and meant to inspire you to get scrapbooking, not to stress you.  Some of my favorite layouts are literal translations of sketches.

Option 2: Grab your crayons, but use the lines as a guide only.

Remember that just because a sketch has 4 blank spots doesn’t mean you have to have four pictures.  You can have fewer pictures and use pieces of coordinating paper or embellishments to fill any spots.  Divide larger areas into smaller areas to incorporate more photos.  Merge areas to feature larger photos.

I divided a larger block (top left) into four smaller blocks to accommodate my photos.

I divided a larger block (top left) into four smaller blocks to accommodate my photos.

Option 3: Grab your crayons and a friend.

When I would color with a friend as a child, we would lie on the floor face-to-face and color the same page.  One of us would be viewing the page upside down, trying rotating your sketch.  This is especially helpful if you are doing an album project. It allows you to use the same sketch several times without it being apparent.  Mirroring the sketch is fun when you are doing a two-page layout with a one-page sketch.  Sharing sketches with friends is the most fun when you share the finished product.  You’ll be surprised how unique the layouts look with different pictures, papers, and perspective.

Option 4: Grab your crayons and a sheet of paper.

Use the sketch as inspiration to design your own layout.  Perhaps it’s the grid that inspires you or maybe your eye flows to one area first. Use that morsel to start your page.  Add your own finishing touches. Just because there isn’t a big pretty flower on the bottom left corner of the sketch doesn’t mean you can’t add one.

Michelle was inspired by the grid design of the sketch so she used that to build her page.

Michelle was inspired by the grid design of the sketch so she used that to build her page.

The most important thing to remember is a sketch is what you want it to be.  So go find a good sketch and lean towards the literal side like me or abuse it like Michelle did (her words not mine).  I give you permission to use the sketch any way you want.  If anyone gives you grief for how you used a good sketch, send them my way and I’ll give them a long speech.


Tami Taylor writes for Get It Scrapped!, teaches at Masterful Scrapbook Design and previously owned Creative Passion Classes.com. To learn more about Tami check out her blog, The Taylor Life.


4 Responses to 4 Tips for Using Scrapbook Page Sketches

  1. Linda January 11, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    Tami, that was said so perfectly. I especially liked that you said we could use the sketch without feeling we had to make it something different or create it differently. I love using the structure of a good sketch and then making my own creative page with different embellishments.

  2. Heather Crawford January 12, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    How do you merge two or more spaces?

  3. Tami January 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    I’d just combine the areas to fit a larger photo. For instance the bottom left corner of the sketch shows two areas for photos a 2.5 x 4.5 and a 1.5 x 4.5. If I needed/wanted to put a larger photo there I could combine the spaces into one area. Estimating there is about a 1/4″ space between spaces I would then have a space that’s 4.25 x 4.5 (I only need to add in the space that was between the photos as I’d still want the 1/4″ above it)

    Another example is this sketch by Katrina Kennedy http://www.debbiehodge.com/gisforum/index.php?showtopic=3405
    You could easily merge the middle spot that has two spaces into another large block. Then you could place three photos of the same size in a row.

    One trick when merging spaces is to mat photos.. so if you merge spaces and it gives you a 6 x 8 space to put a photo, you can mat a 5×7 photo to place there. By matting the photo you don’t have to reconfigure the rest of the layout’s measurements :)

  4. Christine Rickert January 17, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    WOW TAMI…Thanks so much. This is perfect and I loved the way you told it using the analogy of coloring with a friend as a child…Remember how much fun that was?!!and soothing. Guess that was the precursor for our scraptime with friends now….
    Will try this now. Printing it so I can keep this for a reference.

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