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Create a focal point on your project!

August 18, 2015

When working on scrapbook pages and cards, I think about where I want the focus to be. Is it the title, a certain photo, a beautiful accent? Deciding that allows me to arrange the project’s items so the focus is in the correct place. One of the easiest ways for me to ensure I have a design that flows and places the focus in the right place is the rule of thirds. So let’s talk about what the rule of thirds is and how to use it when designing.

The rule of thirds takes your project and divides it into nine equal parts. Basically, you’re “drawing” a tic-tac-toe grid on your project (not literally, but in your mind). This grid defines where the thirds are on your project so you can place items either on a line for one of the thirds or where two lines intersect. The great thing about the rule of thirds is it applies to anything – layouts, cards, home decor, and more. Once you start looking for it, you’ll see the rule of thirds applied everywhere. Seeing the rule of thirds in action will help you identify it and know how to use it.


To make it easier to see, I’ve drawn lines over a few projects to identify the rule of thirds. In this first project by Katie Pertiet using her School Days collection, you can see that she placed the two photos on the right side so that they were along the right grid line. The photos aren’t exactly in the center of the line, but you can see that they are in the general area.


Without the lines, notice how your eye is drawn to the right side of the layout – because that’s where the focus or weight of the layout is placed. Cool, huh?


In this layout using the Summer Fun by Katie Pertiet collection, you can see that the top two photos are placed in the area where the lines intersect. Also, the center of each photo is located along one of the lines, even the bottom photo that is sitting in the center of the lines. Knowing where the rule of thirds lines are definitely helps place your main items when creating.


In this last example, I’m using a messenger bag design as an example to show that the design doesn’t need to be square to use the rule of thirds. The messenger bag is wider than it is tall so the thirds are rectangle in shape instead of square. The thing that caught my eye with this design is the dog’s face and it is positioned perfectly for the right line! What an impact positioning can make.

Now you can test your skills with a few designs that don’t have lines drawn to show you where the thirds are.

Patriotic scrap page

This first one is pretty easy because it uses a grid system for the actual design. This is a quick and easy way to create a layout and you know that things will be positioned in a pleasing way. Even with a design like this, you can still apply the rule of thirds to each individual square. For example, look at the middle square on the top row. If you were to draw a grid, you’d find that the flags are positioned on the right grid line.

Adventure Time album cover

What do you see in regards to the rule of thirds for this storybook cover? Here’s what I spotted. The cover has two distinct patterns with the first one ending at the left grid line. Also, the cluster containing the photo and accents is lined up on the right line, but more importantly, the little girl is positioned where the grid lines intersect for optimal impact.

Take a minute today and look at your designs and see if you are using the rule of thirds when creating your projects. If you aren’t, think about adding it to your arsenal of creativity tools and pull it out the next time you are struggling with where to place things.

Have fun creating!