Written by Waffle Flower product designer JJ Bolton
Welcome back for another installment of card design tips and tricks! Today we’re talking about composition! Composition is a term used to describe the way elements are arranged and combined in a piece or frame. Artists, architects, and photographers often follow composition rules to help them achieve results that are pleasing to the eye but still interesting. Without getting into the math of it all (yes, there’s math involved!), these guidelines work because the human eye is naturally attracted to certain proportions and find certain configurations aesthetically pleasing. Here’s just a few of many “rules” that you can use for cardmaking too!
Rule of Thirds
The first principle we’re going to talk about is the Rule of Thirds. For this rule, you start with breaking up your space into a 3-by-3 grid. The resulting gridlines and intersections points can then be used to position elements. With this technique, subjects are placed on an intersection point or along a gridline inside the grid.
In Galina’s card below, you can see that the lovely flower (from the Daffodil set) is positioned right on the lower left intersection point and the scalloped die cut (from the Designer Template 1 set) is placed along the lower gridline. The result is a gorgeous card with balance and flow!
Here’s another example from Galina using one of the On the Edge dies. The envelope edge die cut runs along the upper gridline and the sentiments are placed near the top right intersection point.
If you want to bump it up a notch from the Rule of Thirds, you can also try a Phi Grid. The Phi Grid is very similar to the Rule of Thirds grid but it uses slightly different proportions that are based upon the Golden Ratio (I told you math was involved). In very basic terms, the Golden Ratio (1.618) defines the proportions for the most visually pleasing rectangle. Even if we do not understand the math, our eyes seem to understand the beauty!
In Galina’s card below, the edge die cut and the sentiment are positioned along the long gridlines of the Phi Grid. Just like the Rule of Thirds, this creates a card that is balanced but still has movement and interest.
The Golden Spiral is related to the Golden Ratio (again, math!) and is a spiral that gets wider by a factor of 1.618 every quarter turn it makes. You don’t have to do all the math to recognize the beautiful design of the spiral! Just like the grids, this spiral can be used to position elements in your frame.
In Dilay’s card below, you can see that here card elements fall along the spiral path. The spiral keeps your eye moving across the card to the focal point of those beautiful die cut flowers!
Do you use these tools in your cardmaking? There’s lots more to learn about composition, but remember, these are just tools to get your mojo going! There’s no right or wrong in cardmaking. Hope you’re having fun with our card design discussions and hope you get some crafty time soon!