Formula to Fabulous {series article #2}

Bite-sized Article #2 of series on

Do you feel like there’s a large divide between your paper crafting projects and the lovely pictures you see of others’ creations? Sometimes following the rules can be boring, but sometimes it’s just what you need to launch your crafts into the major league. Follow this series of bite-sized articles and share in the comments what you’ve learned so we can all improve together!

Rule #2: Think in Thirds

Have you ever heard of the Rule of Thirds? It’s a design principle that guides art and photography composition, and it’s changed my paper crafting life (for the better). Let me explain how the rule works. Imagine a grid placed over a project, like a tic-tac-toe board. That will divide the canvas into thirds horizontally and vertically. The rule states that our eyes are naturally drawn to a point on a canvas where the lines intersect, like so:

Photo: Rule of thirds grid with highlighted intersections

How does that translate into paper crafting projects? In short, this rule will guide you in placing a focal point (typically a sentiment if you’re making a card, or a photograph on a scrapbook page) on your project. The goal is to draw attention toward one focal point. So, for a visually appealing project, pick an intersection and work to draw attention toward that point using horizontal, vertical, or diagonal flow.

The lines and grid boxes are helpful as well when designing for maximum visual appeal. As you’re planning placement of layers, embellishments, or even stamped images and focal points, think “along the lines” or “between the lines”. These areas can be “hot spots” for visual appeal as well, and they shouldn’t be forgotten. Anything that is centered in a row, column, or box, or along a line, will bring order to a project and therefore make the most visual sense. Our brains appreciate order, oftentimes trying to interject order into chaos, such as constellations from a sky full of stars. I figure my brain has enough to worry about, so I try to design with some sort of order in mind :o)

Photo: grid over blank canvas with grid lines highlighted Photo: Canvas with grid lines, highlight down the center row and circle in center grid box






Now let’s put things together with some examples!

Photo: grid over canvas with elements along lower third line and focal point on lower right intersection

As you can see, the sentiment (focal point) is centered over the lower right intersection, with a large circle helping draw even more attention to the focal point. Additionally, I added a flag centered along the lower horizontal grid line to add an element of horizontal flow toward the sentiment. All together, this card layout has good flow and visual appeal, all because of the Rule of Thirds.

Are you feeling comfortable with using the Rule of Thirds? Now I’m going to give you an example where the layout may not make immediate sense in terms of our new rule. Can you see how the Rule of Thirds works in this layout?

Photo: card layout without grid

Just in case it’s not jumping out at you, here’s the layout with the grid lines added. I’m here to help you, not make your brain hurt!

Photo: card layout with grid lines

I’m sure you are dying to apply the rule of Thirds to your own projects! As a start, the card layout above will be the “Monthly Challenge” in my August newsletter. Lucky for you, my blog readers are getting the chance for a little jump-start on creating. I would love to see what creative things my readers do with this unique layout, and if you do design with it, please take a pic and post it to my Social Stamper Facebook Page. Let me know in the comments here when you’ve done that and I’ll put your name into a drawing for a prize! Yippee!! The drawing will take place on August 20th so you (and my newsletter subscribers) have a chance to get creative with it.

Let me leave you with a few real-life examples: my This & That journal and a card I made, both layered with the Rule of Thirds grid lines.

Photo: grid over my This & That journal

Remember: the Rule of Thirds is a guideline, and real-life creating will rarely yield perfect examples. But, do you see how the Epic Day Washi Tape is centered in the left column, how the tickets and hexagon embellishments give good diagonal flow toward the sentiment, and how the sentiment is centered in the middle row as well as along the right vertical line?

Photo: card with grid lines

In this card example, the sentiment comes very close to being centered along the right vertical line and inside the middle row. Stamped images offer good horizontal flow, with additional embellishments behind the focal point drawing extra attention to that area.


If you missed the other articles in this series, I will keep this list updated for easy navigation:

Rule #1: Have a Plan

I hope you’ve been inspired to create even better paper crafts as you read the Formula to Fabulous article series. Remember to share with your friends!

Happy stamping,

Shop Now Signature Becky Gifford The Social Stamper

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One Response to Formula to Fabulous {series article #2}

  1. […] won’t be a challenge this week (but have you checked out the sketch challenge on my recent Formula to Fabulous article, a sneak peek at my August newsletter challenge?). New PPA challenges are released the 1st-4th […]

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