Why I Don’t Use Digital Templates
I’m definitely not opposed to templates. I’m sure I’ll eventually use one some day — I’ve seen some by Cathy Zielske that appealed to me. But counter to popular opinion — as I often tend to be — it seems faster and easier to me to devise my own pages than to search for templates and then try to match the numbers and sizes of photos to it.
I have a simple method that has to do with…
- identifying my individual stories within the larger story
- knowing which photos I want with each story
- knowing the basic design principle of dominance
It’s the simplest thing, especially with small page sizes. So here’s how I formed my pages for this 6×6 album just by looking at my photos (instead of using a template):
1) Decide which photos I want to use for each individual story.
- Story = topic for each page.
The story is the photo(s) + what you have to say.
Some stories get one side and some get the whole two-page spread. For example, these pages are two different stories.
The story on the left: Tuesdays were show production days. At the time we recorded the Roundtable, the Digi Show, and Paperclipping Live! all in one crazy hectic day.
The story on the right: The funny homemade pop-up card that Aiden made for Izzy and me for our wedding anniversary.
Most of my stories have 1-3 photos, but there are a couple of exceptions, which I’ll share below.
Okay, let’s move on to how you can easily decide on your own how to format your pages (’cause I’m all about independent scrapbooking, yo).
2) For single photo stories: decide on square vs. rectangular photos.
If it’s rectangular, you can keep its 4×6 ratio and size. The rest of the page will be paper.
Each of the pages on this two-page spread has its own single-photo story:
If you want it square, crop the photo to 6×6 and it’ll be the entire page.
When it’s time to add journaling, decide whether there is a solid spot on the photo itself for journaling. If so, add it there. If not, add it to the paper part of the page or on a journal block that you’ll place on the facing side of the two-page spread.
See how easy it is? You’re just deciding on the needs of your photos.
- Some photos crop well to squares. Others don’t.
- Some have solid areas for journaling. Others don’t.
That’s how to determine your page design. It’s so much easier than trying to make your photos work with a template!
(IMHO — of course!)
3) For 2-photo stories: decide on an up-and-down format or side-by side.
Side-by-side can mean on one single page for vertical pics, or two separate pages for square or horizontal ones.
Is there a dominant photo? Make it slightly larger than the other one if you want them both on the same page.
Or make one photo square and keep the other rectangular if you want them on two separate pages.
4) For 3 or 4 photo stories: decide on photo dominance and hierarchy.
Is there a dominant photo that should be the focal point? You can keep its 4×6 ratio and size, and then re-size two supporting photos to 2×3 to place underneath.
Journaling can go on the opposite page.
If you have 4 photos, you’ll want a dominant photo, a secondary photo, and 2 supporting photos.
Place the secondary photo with its original 4×6 ratio on the opposite page. Journaling can fit in a solid area on a photo or in the remaining paper area on the page of the secondary photo.
For lots of photos: make a grid.
You can fit nine 2×2 pics into a 6×6 grid. Add any remaining photos in 2×2 size to the opposite side.
To keep the spread from being overwhelming, you’ll want contrast and a breathing space. So your opposite page should be mostly white space. If I’d had 2 remaining photos instead of 3, I probably would have designed it the same except with 2 photos in a row instead of 3.
If you do that, don’t stretch your journaling across the whole page. Make your journaling the same width of the two photos, or fit it into a third box where the picture would have been.
You could also keep the center square on the left empty and add an embellishment to that space.
Once you’ve gotten all of your photos onto their spreads, you can go back and add lines the way I showed you how to do in Paperclipping episode 164.
When it’s time for embellishing, add your elements…
- alongside lines
- on top of lines
- in corners between lines and page edges
- as frames around a picture
- one-third the way in from an edge of the page
Look at my pages above for examples of each type of embellishment placement.
Tutorials on Concepts You Should Know for This Post
For help on all of the concepts and techniques in this post you can watch the following tutorials:
- The Dominance Principle and Photo Groupings – Paperclipping 155
- Task Batch Minibooking – Paperclipping 150
- Digital Word Art – Paperclipping 101
- Customize Your Overlays in Photoshop – 65
- How to Re-size photos and collage them into a grid in: Paperclipping 108 – How to Make a Frame with Rounded Corners in Photoshop Elements
- How to Add Lines in Photoshop Elements – Paperclipping 164
- Four Ways to Embellish a Collage Template – Paperclipping 148
- Scared to Embellish? – Paperclipping 67
- A Collage Formula Paperclipping 100
You must be a Paperclipping Member to watch these.
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Like I said — I don’t see anything wrong with using templates. I just don’t think they’re easier than simply looking at your story needs and your photos. Give it a shot!
You have what it takes to tell the stories of your life. Hopefully with all the concepts we share at Paperclipping you’re finding yourself to be more and more self-reliant as a scrapbooker!