When you start a layout, you start with a blank canvas — how you fill that canvas is completely up to you.
Many times, it depends on what you select as the focal point of your scrapbook page. For example, if a single photo is the primary focus of your layout, almost everything you add to your page – your embellishments, title, and journaling – are used to accent and highlight that photo. Because your canvas is the base that holds all those different elements together, it is one of the most important parts of your layout.
I wanted to begin scrapbooking years before I finally pulled out my photos and started. There were a few roadblocks that prevented me from moving forward. It may sound crazy, but one of my primary issues was my canvas: What size should I scrap? Should I use cardstock as my base? Or should I use patterned paper? What color should I start with?
In this post, I am going to address that first question…
What Size Canvas Should You Use?
(…By the way, if you are not sure whether to use paper or cardstock as your base, check out this post)
When it comes to scrapbooking, there’s not a one size fits all approach. From pint-sized pages to giant two page spreads (and everything in between), you have options. Here are the three most popular sizes:
- 12×12 layouts: Scrapbook.com has a huge gallery of layouts, uploaded over the years by the visitors to their site. By far, the largest subcategory is the 12×12 category. As of this writing, they have almost 90,000 12×12 scrapbook pages in their gallery! Care to guess which size is the second most popular?
- 8.5×11: If you guessed 8.5×11 (or its landscape twin 11×8.5), you are right! Scrapbook.com has almost 10,000 8.5×11 layouts in their gallery. Even though this size is in second place, note that there are nine times more in the 12×12 category.
- 8×8: Third in line are 8×8 layouts. Nearly 8,000 layouts have been uploaded to date and are available for viewing in the Scrapbook.com gallery.
For your first layout, I would recommend starting with one of these three sizes. If you’re not sure which one, then I have a suggestion. Make three copies of the same photo, and make three different layouts — one in each size. This is a surefire way to get a feel for what works for you.
To help you get started, I have taken one of my 12×12 sketches and modified it:
12×12 Scrapbook Layout
The 12×12 layout is the most popular canvas size among scrapbookers, and personally, it’s the size that I use for a lot of my pages. In fact, I prepared an entire book of 12×12 sketches that I use for my projects – you can find out more about it here.
There’s several reasons I love this size. For one, you can pack a lot of pictures on a single page. This sketch only uses one, but you could add more photos without overwhelming the layout. This size also provides enough room for all the other elements that you want to add to the page – as you can see from the above example, there’s plenty of room to embellish and add journaling. Finally, because it’s a square, it’s very easy to create a page that incorporates the elements of design. I am not going to talk too much about design elements right now (this post would get way too lengthy!), but I have a future post in the works on that very topic, so check back soon! Moving on…
8.5×11 Scrapbook Layout
This has a little less square footage than the 12×12 layout, but there’s still a lot of space available. If you don’t like to handle large photo albums but mini albums do not give you enough room to journal and embellish, the 8.5×11 size offers a nice compromise.
8×8 Scrapbook Layout
Last but not least, we have the 8×8 layout. This is a popular size for mini albums, which are great for memory books of special events (such as trips) and occasions (retirement or birthday parties). As you can see, you can only use one full-size photo on the page. If you want to use more than one, you will need to reduce your photo sizes or skip the journaling and embellishments (but that’s no fun!). My vote is to just use one photo (like the sketch above) or print off smaller sized prints.