Saturday, April 5, 2008

Design Focus: Rule of Thirds (Birthday Card-with measurements)

Early in my cardmaking experience, I got some great constructive criticism from my cousin Shea, who said "Try spending more time on how your cards are laid out." (Don't you feel so grateful for the people in your life who will be honest!?!) :0) Anyhow, I still struggle with that a lot. I focus on technique & can get so layout-lazy. So, I thought I'd share my ways of trying to improve on design. I'll be blogging more about design principles & posting cards that include layout measurements--in case you want to use them.

The card above uses a basic layout that follows the rule of thirds (a simplified version of the golden section.) The basic premise of the rule of thirds is this: divide your page (in your mind's eye) into thirds. Then use the intersection(s) of those areas to place your elements.

Consider horizontal thirds:

And vertical thirds:

And, most interestingly, where they intersect:

Here are some great links about the rule of thirds/design principles:

Card Supplies:

Cardstock & Measurements:

  • Soft Sky standard card: (4 2/8" w x 5 4/8" h)
  • Basic Grey: (2" x 4 2/8”)
  • Vellum: (3" x 4 2/8”)
  • Black strip: (5/8" x 4 2/8”)
  • Scraps: Vellum, Soft Sky, White, Basic Grey.

Inks: Basic Grey (new 2008 neutral), White Craft, Black Stazon

Accessories: Double-stitched in-colour ribbon (Soft Sky), vintage brads (black) Signo gel pen, Demo bulk Rub-ons (or So Many Scallops set), Crystal Stickles

Punches: Word Window, Scallop, 1” circle, Key tag

Stamp Sets: Kind Thoughts: flower, Stitched background,S.U.Incentive stamp: Cupcake, One of a Kind "for you," So Many Scallops (saleabration '08) set: alternative for Scallop.

Card Instructions:

Main card:
  • Stamp Kind Thoughts flowers onto card (in basic grey ink)
  • Distress edges of card with a black marker
  • Use template to punch out word window (great for when you’re making a few cards)
  • Add details with a white Signo gel pen (set aside to dry)

Top Basic Gray piece:

  • Stamp Whisper white Stitched background onto basic gray piece (set aside to dry)

To make scallop circle:

  • Add scallop rub-on to vellum scrap & Punch it with scallop punch
  • Stamp cupcake onto Soft Sky scrap with stazon,
  • Colour it with Turquoise ink wash & White signo gel pen; add Crystal Stickles.
  • Punch its middle with 1/8” handheld punch
  • Punch out center with 1”circle
  • Adhere circle to vellum scallop with black brad (check positioning)
  • Anchor with glue-dot
  • Adhere the white scallop behind the rub-on one with Dimensionals

(NOTE: Dimensionals hidden behind the circle)

Sentiment from One of a Kind:

  • Stamp “For You” in Stazon onto Basic Gray
  • Punch with Key Hole punch (closer to bottom than top)
  • Use Dotto (repositionable adhesive) to adhere to word window section
  • Secure it (and hide it) with a rectangle of soft sky on inside of card

Matting the Basic Gray piece with Vellum:

  • Distress Basic Gray edges with a black marker
  • Put a good deal of adhesive on the back of the basic gray piece
  • Distress vellum edges (with the distressing tool)
  • Attach vellum to basic grey piece
  • Add black strip to the front of the grey piece

Ribbon Detail:

  • Remove white thread from double-stitched in-colour ribbon
  • Adhere it over the black strip


  • Turn the Basic Gray piece over & put adhesive on the back of the vellum (where it’ll be hidden)
  • Adhere it to the card
  • Adhere scallop to card with 2 Dimensionals

(Turning it upside-down makes evenness easier: right-brain thingy)

Thanks so much for reading, :0)


Lori said...

Pretty! Thanks for sharing the design tips, too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip too.
I'll think about them when I do my cards. I usually just eyeball them and plop whatever feels good at that time :D

Maria said...

Hi Mel,

I love your card! The color combo is fabulous and the scallop circle really tops everything off so nicely.

I use the rule of thirds on my cards all the time. I use it for scrapbooking too!

There are other rules such a grouping and balancing with the "visual" triangle" that I also use such as grouping 3 like embellishments, balancing the image and sentiments on the card and limiting the color combo to 3 or less colors, etc.

It's so strange that card making and scrapbooking actually have rules in design but I read that it's used in interior design and art work in general for ages.

I love how you give instructions to your cards! I know how much work it is to provide all the information and you do it so wonderfully!!


Allison Rankin said...

I awarded you with this:


Michelle Pearson said...

very pretty! I like the touch of color on the background stamp...subtle but it adds so much!

Coqueta Bonita Creation said...

Hi! I hope you dont mind, I liked your rule of 3rds on my blog!!! You have some really cool ideas and your an inspiration. Your blog is really cute too. Here is a link that has a link to your blog.