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Three’s A Charm: A Photoshop Tutorial

Happy New Year!  Tamara here, back from a MUCH needed rest and I am ready to get 2012 rockin’ and rollin’!!! We have been very busy around our house with Christmas and the holidays and I am glad to be back home and in front of my computer again!  I am predicting that 2012 will be full of new adventures, new tutorials and new GORGEOUS kits from Mye!

One of the top questions that I always get..aside from the constant  “how did you learn to shadow?” “How do you know where to start?” I really had to think long and hard about that question, and I finally came up with an answer. So today, thought I would share it with YOU, my favorite readers!

Back in the day (I’m talking elementary school times) my mother, seeing that she had an art minded child with what she often referred to as a “God given talent that shouldn’t be wasted”, saw fit to enroll me in a number of art classes.  I LOVED those art classes. I felt at home with the other students, I felt challenged and for the first time, I was learning about REAL art..not just coloring in my color books! I got to use watercolors and pastels and acrylics! I was in art heaven!

Included in all the classes I took was a wonderful lesson in “The Rule Of Thirds”.  If you have never heard of the “Rule of Thirds” you 1)haven’t been scrapping very long or 2)you are not an art student/photographer!  Most people  can equate “the rule” to their photography, but it is also VERY useful in creating a layout. So today, I thought I would give you a little lesson on “The Rule” and how we use it to create composition in our layouts.

Many of you know that I love to cluster. You could say I am somewhat obsessed by it. As much as I would love to create a nice, clean layout with lots of white space it will never happen. I have tried..oh, how I have tried, but the layout always looks naked to me.  So I go back to what makes me feel happy..and that is clustering. When you cluster, however, you can’t just throw something on the page and be done with it! It really involves understanding what is pleasing to the eye. You want to show off that photo, not lose it! That is where the “Rule of Thirds” comes in. Let me explain.

First, let me define “The Rule” for you so that you understand what I am talking about.   The quick and easy definition of the rule basically says that you should imagine your layout (or photo) chopped up into nine equal parts and align your important pieces along those intersecting lines.  I use this rule mainly when I decide how I want to set up my layout.  For instance, I might have the clustering all along the top of the imaginary line, or maybe I will align it with the left side of the imaginary line. This rule helps me in deciding the composition as a WHOLE!

Let’s take a look at some examples of  the “Rule of Thirds”

Here, I broke the layout down and added a little visual ruler so that you can imagine your layout broken down this way when you go to start your page. The blue lines show the nine equal parts of the layout. The darkened in sections show you the intersecting lines that I chose to scrap along. We learned, by studying the “rule”, that if you scrap along any of these intersecting lines, your eye, that works on a grid system itself,  will follow those lines first. So all the important things that you want people to notice first should be scrapped along these intersecting lines. You can see I placed my four photos along the top and then my single photo at the bottom, along the left side line.

Here are a few more examples of the Rule Of Thirds:(images are linked for credits)


In each of these examples,  if you imagine the nine equal squares that I drew out for you in the first layout, you will see that all my photos are lined up along those intersecting lines to make for a more appealing layout. This can be achieved in many ways! The possibilities are endless!

So, the “rule” is the first place I start. If I do a layout without a template, I start with the “rule”. If I do a layout WITH a template..I use it only if it follows the “rule”. Plain and simple! I am a rule kinda gal I guess!

After I decide where to place my photo’s, the next thing to consider is what I call ” the Triangle” rule.  For those of you who hate rules…sorry, this lesson is probably really hard for you!! It’s a rule for a reason though…cause it works!

When I am creating a layout, this is the rule that helps me to decide WHERE to start placing my elements.  We used the “rule of Thirds” to place our pictures and determine composition, now we will use the “triangle” rule to determine placement of elements, what color elements and even what SIZE elements to use!   Imagine (again) a triangle surrounding your pictures. You can make a large encompass ALL your photos, OR you can do little triangles around each  photo OR you can do BOTH!  When I create a layout, I use the triangle rule as it pertains to elements and colors, meaning that I may create my layout with a blue flower at the top, but on the left side it would be a blue paper and the right side it would be a blue heart.  I am using the color blue as my triangle. However, on another layout, I might use the exact same flower in my three triangle spots. The point is that our eyes and our brains work together to decide if a layout, or a picture or a even a great Masterpiece is beautiful! Our eyes carry signals to our brains and our brains then form images based on pattern recognition. So when we form a pattern using the triangle rule, our eyes send a signal to our brains, our brains detect the pattern we have created and since we already know the brain finds pleasure in patterns, it is no surprise that it sends out a warm fuzzy feeling letting us know we “like” what we see!

Let’s look at some examples of the “Triangle” rule: (images are linked for credits)

Here you can see the triangle that I created using the same colored element behind the photo.  My composition is right (according to the Rule of Thirds) , so my eye heads straight to that left corner, but now, my eye catches that top flower and is pulled around the photo to each consecutive, like flower.  I also created another triangle using the yellow sun, yellow flower and the yellow swirl. Instead of using the element as the Triangle, I used the color! Either way, we just made the eye focus on what was most important to us..that photo!

Here are a few more examples… see if you can pick out the Triangle formation in each layout!


 Now let’s check your answers!

In the first layout, I used the yellow flower as my triangle. In the second layout,  and this one is a little tricky, but I used the hot pink color in the flowers and the paper. In the last layout, I used the three matching frames. Did you get them all right? Can you see the triangles forming now? I hope so!

Once you figure out your composition, place your photos, and add your beginning elements in a triangle surrounding your photo the only thing left is to start adding those elements you want to use as filler! I almost always place my greenery first because it gives me a base to start tucking flowers in and under. I tend to group things by threes..because, as you probably have already figured out, three is the number that our brain’s love the most! Three, six, nine..all of those are beautiful numbers!  I would love to give you some formula for placing your elements, but there is none.  I just add what I feel looks right. I move things around A LOT. I tuck them under and then bring them forward, I cut the layer on and then cut the layer off, but I don’t ever move my three triangle items! Once I get my greenery set, I start adding buttons and hearts and all the fun little elements that make your layout special. Finally, when I have finished adding elements, I add my title and journaling. I do both of these last because I like to get the feel of the elements and pictures together. It seems to help me create an my title as well.

Well, that’s it!  I hope you enjoyed your tutorial this week, and more than that, I hope you understood it all! Composition and Rules are not always easy to understand! In the end though, just remember that rules are made to be broken! Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. After all, Picasso wasn’t considered a master artist in his own time! It wasn’t until well after he died that his paintings became so valuable!

I am looking forward to a FANTASTIC 2012 and I hope you all join me each week as we sort through the world of digiscrapping!

Happy New Year,






































comments +

  1. kelly says:

    Thank you so much Tamara for explaining these rules! I had heard of both but never really understood them. You provided fantastic examples and i love it that you used more than just flowers for your triangle points. You are a fantastic scrapper! Your clusters and pages are totally awesome…….i actually scan Mye’s new releases to see what you’ve done with her new kits – funny hey?!!Happy New Year!!!! xx kel

    • Tamara says:

      aww. Thank you Kelly! I am so glad you liked the tutorial and I really appreciate your kind words! You made my day!

  2. Meg P says:

    Fantastic article. I “knew” those rules but sometimes a refresher to remind me why I should use them is good. Thanks!

  3. […] Then, have an overview of what kind of look you want to achieve. You can follow a set of rules or choose to just go with whatever you want. For this lesson, I followed the Triangle Rule. […]

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I'm Mye De Leon

I'm a mom with a desire to give the best for her family and turned a lettering hobby into a multi6-figure business. These days, I eat strategy for breakfast and turn other businesses into successful empires.

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I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.

I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.