March 4, 2011

Left, Right, Center...whats the big deal about alignement?

Hi everyone Casey here with another post in the design principles series.  This week we are on A.  A in the ECBARF acronym stands for alignment.  We all know what this means probably.  We use it when we type a letter, position trinkets on a shelf, or stack towels in our linen closets.  Do we want to align things on the left, right, center or justified?  Oh the possibilities.  Well in scrapbooking the principles are pretty much the same.  Let's dig a little deeper...

Alignment has two primary purposes in scrapbooking:  to create order and to create visual connections between elements.  When I first read this over at I was rather confused.  I wondered how alignment choices could create any of these things.  I had always thought that alignment was something that only came into play when typing journaling...not placing elements or photos.  But after considering the rest of the article it made much more sense.  

When thinking about alignment it is helpful to establish a 'hard line'.  A 'hard line' is one that is emphasized strongly via your placement of photos, elements, journaling, etc.  In my Moments in the Car layout notice that the strongest or most defined line is the one to the left of the large photo. Almost every piece of my layout is matched to that line.   While it is the 'strongest' it is not the only alignment line present.  Notice how each of the paper blocks are aligned in a grid pattern and how I left aligned my text to correspond with the initial 'hard' line.

OK so establishing a conscious line that you want to emphasize is important when setting up your alignment scheme...but how does alignment create visual connections and order?  Here is where we get a little deep.  Alignment helps define whitespace.  Whitespace is the area or areas of our layouts that are not occupied by photos or elements.  So in my layout there is quite a bit of just happens to be white this time;)  Now look at the second graphic with the alignment lines shown...see how they almost mark off the whitespace regions...almost like margins on a piece of notebook paper.  Thus alignment can help provide structure or order to your design.  A neat way to help you get started on this new path toward alignment is to use ruler guides.  In PSE you can click on the left or upper ruler and drag guides down...these guides are excellent tools to help you build aligned layouts.

Now how to create visual connections between elements?  When elements are arranged with alignment in mind they seem to flow better.  In other words the eye follows a path to each piece of the layout.  Notice how ScrappinDuck used alignment to unify her layout...although the layout is fun and has a free/scattered look if you look closely you can see the alignment lines...your eye follows left to right first and then settles on the center...the adorable photo.  So visual connections were made that pulled you through her design.  

There are lots of different alignment types you can use centered, horizontal, vertical, and various combinations.  Remember that you can start anywhere on your layout...don't be tempted to always start in the center.  Below are a few more examples of layouts that use alignment to create gorgeous unified layouts.  Oh and by the way they also use Sugar Pie Scraps' products;)

Scrapper:  beckyroy

Sugar Pie Scraps' Product:  My Love Kit


Scrapper:  Kristi8004
Layout: Sledding
Sugar Pie Scraps' Product:  Snow Sledding & Sweets Kit

Scrapper:  vwesley
Layout:  Waiting for Christmas
Sugar Pie Scraps' Product:  Glittery Christmas Kit
Scrapper:  tomosia
Layout:  Loyal
Sugar Pie Scraps' Product:  My Love Kit

One caution though...don't be so caught up in trying to use alignment that your design becomes too rigid.  It is OK to break alignment when you long as it pleases the eye and makes you happy!  Remember that at the end of the day technical designs theory is a good foundation but our main purpose as scrappers is to capture don't let alignment stress you.  Keep scrapping and all these fun things will time and with practice.  Here is some homework...browse galleries look at how other scrappers are using alignment and maybe scrap-lift a layout.  You might find that incorporating this design principle is easier than you think.  For a more in depth discussion of alignment be sure to check out Debbie Hodge's great article over at the

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