By Doris Sander

If you’ve read Debbie Hodge’s recent article, “Tap the Power of ‘3’ for Your Scrapbook Designs,” you know that three unifying elements can make a powerful statement on a scrapbook page.

Take a look at the layouts here as I share thoughts and ideas  for using the three points in the visual triangle to bring balance to your scrapbook page designs.

the visual triangle


If you’re unfamiliar with the visual triangle, imagine placing a transparency over a layout then finding three cohesive points on it that could be connected with a dry erase marker to form a triangle.  You may not have been aware of it, but your eye will subconsciously look for this completion in design.  Learning how to use this tool effectively in your own projects will make them more visually appealing to your viewers.


In Stephanie Howell’s layout, “Before,” the visual triangle formed by her three custom flowers is hard to miss as it frames the sweet photo of her girls.

“Before” by Stephanie Howell for Studio Calico


On my layout, “Sea Gifts,” the visual triangle formed by the three chipboard buttons is slightly more subtle, but no less powerful in its unifying role.  In both these first layouts, the visual triangle is an obvious one with three points that are immediately noticeable and I think somewhat expected.  Next, I would like to share with you four less obvious, but very effective ways to form the visual triangle.  These are through color, text, shape, and dimension.
“Sea Gifts” by Doris Sander for JBS Mercantile


1. the visual triangle made with color


I am a self-professed color triangle junkie.  I love to throw a wide variety of colors on my layouts and the color triangle is how I get them all to mesh and balance.

I chose my layout, “Happy Times,” to illustrate this point because it has several readily apparent color triangles.  See:

  • the red one with the title, button, and flower;
  • the blue one with the title, button, and photo;
  • the yellow one with the sticker tab, button, and flower; and
  • the green one with the photo mat, butterflies, and flower leaves.

I love creating this type of fun multi-colored layout.  It’s like all the elements are doing the happy dance across my page.

“Happy Times” by Doris Sander for JBS Mercantile


Of course, the visual triangle with color can be much more subdued.  Here Ranjini has created a lovely almost monochromatic layout with just a soft hint of color.  The pale rose triangle she’s created around her daughter dramatically pulls the eye in to her stunning photo.


2. the visual triangle made with text


My next favorite visual triangle is the one involving text.  On “Depth of Field,” I’ve let my handwriting seemingly drift aimlessly down the page. In reality it is in three specific spots to provide harmony to a page that might otherwise feel disjointed.

“Depth of Field” by Doris Sander for JBS Mercantile


A text triangle doesn’t necessarily have to use the same type at each spot.  Jill created a triangle with a typed journaling box on the top right, a line of number stickers down the left hand side, and a title font on the bottom right.
“Lumpia” by Jill Sprott for JBS Mercantile


3. the visual triangle made with shapes

Basic shapes can also work nicely in a visual triangle.  On “Star,” Dina placed a triangle of three buttons around her photo–and then she’s made an opposite-facing triangle created with the three yellow stars in her collage.  While these two triangles add stability to the design, they also serve the dual purpose of adding a bit of tension with the extra yellow strip at the top of the layout.

“Star” by Dina Wakley for JBS Mercantile


Celeste incorporated a brilliant display of the visual triangle using simple circles on this layout.  The vintage ice cream lid, tag hole, and button visually ground the layout. The one large and two small circles show that a range of sizes can form an unexpected but visually stimulating visual triangle.
“Cutlips Delicious Ice Cream” by Celeste Smith for JBS Mercantile


4. the visual triangle made with dimension

The last visual triangle I’m showing is probably the least obvious, but perhaps the most critical.  When a layout seems “off” I will always check to see if I have at least three dimensional items on my page.  My layout “Americana” felt off in just this way until I added the blue buttons onto the title to balance my little flag and prize ribbon embellishments.
“Americana” by Doris Sander for JBS Mercantile


Similarly, Betsy made just a slight adjustment on her layout by popdotting her title on the upper right which then perfectly balanced the two metal emballishments she had already placed on the left.
“My Mount Everest” by Betsy Sammarco for JBS Mercantile


Be on the lookout for visual triangles on your pages and I guarantee you will love the results (and become addicted) once you start adding a few.