Debbi asked the CSI:Color, Stories, Inspiration team members to write an article about their design process. I thought I would post my article here too. It refers particularly to the CSI challenges and creating layouts, but quite a lot of the thoughts below apply to my stamping and cardmaking process too. I used my first CSI layout as an example, since I am not at home at the moment, I wasn't able to take step by step photos. Here's the article :
Creative chaos: my design process
When Debbi asked me to write something about my design process for the January CSI Lab, I was planning to keep it short, but I have a bad habit of writing too much, so I hope the text below won’t bore you!
My scrapbooking process differs a lot from layout to layout, making it hard to describe. It is also pretty unstructured and often takes unexpected turns. A layout rarely turns out the way it was initially planned, since new ideas keep appearing, almost as if a project gets its own life. The text below makes the process seem much more organised than it really is.
The case file
First, I look at the inspiration photo, colour combo, and the evidence and story prompts, to see what ideas I might get. I usually let it rest for a while and think about it while doing other things. I think of the mood of the photo, the feeling of the colour combo, different details, story ideas etc. All ideas are jotted down on a piece of paper: techniques, stories, details etc. Many of the ideas never make it onto the layout, but all of them help moving the creative process forward.
Step two is to decide what story to tell. Sometimes I immediately know which photos to use, but most of the time, I look through a pile of photos and one, or a series of them, will catch my attention. This method helps me come up with unexpected stories. I don’t print photos at home; instead I have a whole bunched printed at a time and keep a pile on my desk within easy reach. When deciding which photos to use, I also think about whether they fit the colour combo and case file inspiration.
I often think of the colours in terms of ink, because I love my inks and know them very well. Even so, I always pick out the colours of the combo in cardstock sheets, as a frame of reference. Most of the time, the actual sheets aren’t used, but they help me visualize the colours and find other items that fit. The photos, story and mood I want to create help decide which colours should be the dominant ones and which to use as accent colours.
Stamps, papers and embellishments
I use stamps on basically every layout, so the next step is to take out a bunch of stamps. After that, I look for patterned papers and embellishments, putting it all in a pile. All of this is guided by the case file and the evidence elements in particular help me to pick out products faster. I try to use products that will help me tell my story.
I love to try different techniques, so I almost always do one or more techniques on a layout, often stamping related. The case file might give instant design and technique ideas, for example, after seeing the first inspiration photo, I knew I wanted to do a grungy tone-on-tone background with repeat stamping, using both paint and ink for variation and texture. One technique might form the main element on the layout – on my first two CSI layouts this happened to be the background. The rest of the layout is built around that one main element (and the photo/s of course).
I like to include little details that you can discover and might not notice at first glance. I try to keep the details as meaningful as possible, so that they help tell the story. Alphabet stamps are great for adding little words and I also like to cut out words and sentences out of old books. There are a lot of leftover bits and pieces on my desk, and these often find their way onto a layout. Having them close at hand helps. I also like to use scraps and keep them relatively well organized, so they are easy to find.
I move things around a lot before deciding where to place everything and never stick anything down until I am happy with the entire design. The design depends on each layout – the number of photos, the size of the photos, the background, the journaling, and all the other elements. I try to make sure that people (and animals) face into the layout and not out of it (see the photo placement on the completed layout below). If they face out of the layout, the eye is led off the layout instead of into it. I also often create visual triangles using stamps, embellishments and papers (on the layout below, its the three red elements).
Journaling ideas are jotted down from the start. Sometimes I write the journaling first and get ideas for the layout through the process of writing. At other times, it is written in the middle or end of the design process. I often write lengthy pieces of journaling and use hidden journaling simply because there won’t be space for all that text. If it is several pages, the journaling is tucked behind the layout. One of my favourite methods is to print the journaling on tags or pieces of cardstock and tuck them behind a photo or in a pocket, within reach from the top, so that you don’t have to take the layout out of the page protector to access the journaling.
I always make sure to write the date of the photos and the date of the journaling somewhere on the layout and sign every layout at the back, also including the date of completing the layout.
Thank you for reading this long text!