Art Journaling with Design Principles

This post discusses basic design principles and how they can help the scrapbooker who is new to art journaling.

I wouldn't normally associate design principles with art journaling because the process of art journaling is normally so free-form (and sometimes random), but I've come to realise that they do come into play somewhat and can especially help you if you are trying to make that transition from scrapbooking to art journaling but are struggling with the 'no rules' approach and are feeling a little lost in structuring the layout of your page.

My creative approach is normally to just jump in and start my page before considering any actual design principles at the start but I guess those principles come to me instinctively as I'm building my page because I've been digital scrapbooking and art journaling for some time, so I know from practice what makes good page design.

I've never thought too deeply before about associating design principles and art journaling together but I know that some of you are struggling with a starting point, or getting over that hurdle of creating in a free-form way because you're not used to tackling a regular scrapbook layout with such freedom.

This post is by no means comprehensive in terms of design principles, and this is not the only way to make an art journal page, nor is it the only way to make one that 'works', there are many creative processes to achieve the end result of an artsy page but I'm putting this out there because I know it will help some of you. 

So we know that an art journal page has it's own voice, it's playful, it's free-form it's maybe even random but how to get there from a blank canvas? Could you approach a free-form and artful page with some structure and rules of good design? I think so!

I'm just going to focus on a few principles today that I think will help you creating artsy pages, Balance, Repetition and Flow. To be visually pleasing to the eye I feel that an artsy page has to have flow and feel balanced somehow. There are several things in regular scrapbooking that you might have already heard of or might already be doing instinctively to achieve this, such as having a focal point, working with the rule of thirds, creating a visual triangle and using repetition. 

I'm going to give you some examples of these design principles from my own layouts so you can see how this all interlinks.

The Rule of thirds is the process of creating balance by using the guideline of a 3x3 grid. The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. I don't follow this down to the letter but it does help to create visually appealing pages.

Searching for my wings by Captivated Visions - the main part of the design is inside the upper two thirds of the grid, I create like this a lot, either using the upper two thirds, or the lower two thirds, notice how my design spills into the first third in the bottom right hand corner to help with the flow of the page. The flow of the page moves from left to right.

Searching for my wings Digital Art Journaling by Captivated Visions

Brighter side of life by Captivated Visions - a focal point placed on the intersections of the furthest most vertical line.

Brighter side of life digital art journaling by Captivated Visions

Creating a Visual Triangle on your page creates a sense of balance. The invisible triangle can be in any proportion, just as long as there are three points. There is something about working in odd numbers that creates balance, it breaks the space up nicely . Anything can be used on the points of your invisible triangle, collaged elements, stamps, focal points, experimient and see what works for your page. 

What holds me back by Captivated Visions - an invisible visual triangle which is formed from paint and stamps and guides the eye over the page. The way I have laid out my stamps etc. creates a sense of balance because it's an odd number and it works for this style of page.

What holds me back digital art journaling by captivated Visions

Repetition accross your page is another thing that works great with art journaling that helps to create flow and movment. You could also double up the visual triangle idea by placing repeated pieces in the spots of your invisible triangle points.

Here are some examples by the Captivating Sistas using repetition to create movement and flow:

Les Papillons by Anja - butterflies repeated drawing your eye from left to right

Les Papillons by Anja

I believe I can fly by LiLi - Butterflies and circles creating great sense of movement.

I believe I can fly by Lili

Give + Forgive by Loni - circles creating again a great sense of movement.

give and forgive by loni

I took a look at some of my painted pages in my journal to study the similarities . . .

Found by Captivated Visions - whilst I didn't follow the rule of thirds 'by the book' you can see that the more intense colours of my page and focal point falls in the middle sections, I also used repetition with the repeated chevons, and scattered word transfers.

Found by Captivated Visions Art Journal

Oberservations by Captivated Visions - another example of me using the lower two thirds for my core design, notice how I kept the top left corner with white space so that the flow of the page was from top right to bottom left and again I used repetition with scattering of word transfers.

Observations by captivated Visions Art Journal

I hope this article encourages you to experiment and helps you through those creative blocks, don't hesitate to leave a question or comment!