How to Use Embellishments to Balance Your Layouts – Paperclipping 167

XOXO (iPhone Google Searches)

Do you sometimes struggle to make your asymmetrical layouts feel balanced? What if you knew some tried and true tricks? And what if those tricks also told you some great spots and ways to use embellishments?

I love asymmetrical layouts. They fit my personality much more than symmetrical ones. But many people find it very difficult to make them feel balanced. You will know how to balance your own asymmetrical pages if you have a good understanding of visual weight.

Visual Weight

Visual weight is about perception, not actual measured weight. We perceive certain things to be heavier and lighter, even if their actual real weight is exactly the same.

  • Black is heavier than white.
  • Dark colors are heavier than light colors

If you have a big area of papers and photos on the lower right, for example, and your page looks like everything is heavy where all your layered items are, you can balance your page by placing a relatively smaller dark embellishment on the other side.

Black to white and dark to light are just two of the many ways to distribute visual weight around your pages. I shared seven more ways in this week’s Paperclipping Video Tutorial, all revolving around how you can use the principles with embellishments.

Not only will these design tools help you create a sense of balance in your pages, they’ll also help you to —

  • identify what embellishments will be great to use on your page
  • know the optimum places to put them

XOXO closeup

If you’re not a Paperclipping Member, start with the two principles of weight that I listed above and practice with those. You can also watch the trailer to the Member’s episode by clicking play on the video below.

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If you like what you see and want to see more, please visit the Membership Information Page. Paperclipping Members now have 167 video tutorials like this one and get two new ones every single month! I think you’ll love being a Paperclipping Member!

If you’re already a part of our group, you can either watch your tutorial from iTunes or by logging in to the Member’s Area at the top right corner of the site.

Layout Examples

Above and below are scrapbook pages that are examples of how I’ve chosen and placed my embellishments for the specific purpose of balancing my asymmetrical layouts.

Please excuse the glare on the next two layouts — it makes my kids’ faces look grainy and spotty.

Am I There Yet?

12×12 layout
Am I there Yet?

Journaling reads:

It started this school year. You could see that you were growing fast and getting closer and closer to my height. So every few days, all year long, you’ve been doing it.

Right before leaving to school you run up to me to see if you’re as tall as me yet. And every time you say, “Dang it!”



8.5×11 layout

Journaing reads:

I love this word that you made up by accident . . . “ish”

Is it raining? “Ish.”
Are you hungry? “Ish.”
Was dance hard today? “Ish.”

FYI – English is a living language. Why not turn a suffix into its own word?

I knew exactly what you meant the first time you used it. It works!

Slides & Swingsets

6×12 + 12×12 layout
Swings & Slides

Journaling reads:

Aiden saw the top picture of me on the slide and said, “That’s what your slide was like? You wouldn’t be able to go very fast on that. You would stick going down.”

I don’t know if he’s correct about the speed, but I do know that where we lived in Arizona, I wouldn’t have been able to play on my metal swing set and slide from May to October because they would burn with heat. And if you swung too high a leg of the entire set came way up off the ground, causing the entire unstable contraption to tilt forward or backward.

To this day, though, these striped metal swing sets are what I picture whenever I conjure up the idea of a set. I don’t picture the new plastic and wood ones we have now.

I realize as I write this that I’m saying, “new,” but in reality these wood and plastic sets have been around for over 13 years and maybe much much longer. I don’t know when it all changed.

Last I knew, all swing sets look just like my childhood one. I grew up and swing sets exited my life until I had my first child. It was when he was a toddler that I discovered these modern, safe, static-hair-inducing play areas, and that they had completely replaced what I had always known to be a swing set.

XOXO – iPhone Google Searches

12×12 layout

XOXO (iPhone Google Searches)

Journaling reads:

The things Izzy has googled
on his phone
over the last six months,
often while he + I were out for the evening,
questioning each others’ “facts,”
or wondering about the world
and asking lots of question —
how, what, and why.

Some tell the stories
of activities we participate in,
the food we eat,
and the places we like to go.

Others tell you about the
music we’re listening to,
the shows we’re watching,
and the entertainment we enjoy.

Embossed Multi-toned Background
This background is one of my favorites. I demonstrated how I made it in Paperclipping Episode 146 – Easy Altered Backgrounds.

What Do You Think?

Like the video? Wish you could watch the video? You can get it and all the others now for a price that is too low (and that I expect to go up) for so many tutorials! Please read about how you can get your own Paperclipping Membership here.

  • GREAT EPISODE!!! Love it :)

    This kind of explanations make things so much easier, specially when we are blocked.


  • carla

    love this episode.. you make everything so clear… and I have so many “aha!” moments while watching… hey, is that green piece part of some packaging? love it!

  • Thank you (and to Mariangeles, too!)!

    Yes — that green piece is from Prima packaging. I save it and toss it into
    my stash of scraps.

  • Iceteeeeee

    Great episode! I have been getting a better feel for design ever since I joined Paperclipping. Thank you for making it so much fun and easier to understand the ‘whys’ of placement. You rock!

  • Mmdeignan

    This was a terrific lesson. Very clear explanation and examples. The video really helps to make the points more memorable. I’m so glad I joined Paperclipping!

  • Me, too! ;)

    Thanks so much!

  • Wanted to say how much I enjoyed this episode of paperclipping – really helped me with my latest layout and I’d love it if you’d have a look. (I’m doing Shimelle’s Beyond blogging for scrapbookers class and although my blog is in it’s infancy I know I wouldn’t have been able to do one of her assignments without your episode). Thanks :-) (p.s. sooo looking forward to your design course when it comes out… no pressure you understand!)

  • Hey, Tanya — I tried to leave a comment but found that readers have to have
    wordpress accounts to leave a comment. I do use wordpress for my blog, as
    well, but I don’t actually have a wordpress account, so I couldn’t comment.
    Since you’re taking Shimelle’s class, I’m assuming you want to grow your
    blog — you should change the settings so that anyone can comment!

    Anyway, I’ll leave my response here! I love the 3×3 size that you chose for
    the photos! You were able to have so much fun with the details and the
    patterns because of them! Also, your embellishment placement was SUPERB!
    They did exactly what you would they should — bring the eye to the
    important items while still adding lots of character to the page. The
    balance was perfect. And your proximity was great too. You grouped things
    together well using space. Plus, it’s a busy page, but the important things
    still stand out b/c of their empty space around them (again, proximity).

    I’m pasting a direct link to the specific blog post here so others can check
    it out if they want:

    BTW, I love it when members share their project responses to the tutorials.
    Anyone can feel free to share them when they put them on their blogs!

    Thanks, Tanya!