Sunday, September 25, 2016

Feeling My Way toward Balance

Balance used to be quite the buzzword, as was minimalism. Not sure what the popular buzzwords are today. I lost the bubble on buzzwords.

For us stampers, balance refers to design, and it can be a tricky thing to accomplish. Today's post shows how feeling your way to balance in a design can work.

How the Idea Got Started:

I wanted to do a word collage using Winnie and Walter's The Big, the Bold, and the Merry, but in the process of laying it out, I realized using words that are all the same font and size wouldn't make a pleasing design, so I decided to take three words and, after much fretting and searching through my stash, three snowflakes.

First Effort:

Here's the first--extremely disappointing--effort.


The joy stamp was first, and then I worked my way up the card. The problems with placement include that the largest snowflake is too close to the loop of the j; the medium snowflake is too far from christmas; and the small snowflake is both too low and too close to merry. There's an ugly white hole (same as a black hole, only white!) in the middle between christmas and the medium snowflake. Ugh.

Balanced Design:

Here's the balanced version, which began with stamping joy lower and progressed by leaving more space around each element and shifting things around a bit.


A few points to notice. First, the merry and christmas now have about half the vertical space between them as christmas and joy, if you discount the dot over the j. This follows the rule of thirds and creates an irregular triangle between the words. In the first version, there's about equal spacing, and the symmetry doesn't work so well, creating a crowded, awkward feel.

Second, horizontally, there's slightly more overlap of the beginning of merry, the end of Christmas, and the beginning of joy. The imaginary line down the middle in the first design disappears in the second, and this encourages smoother eye movement around the design.

Third, there are two triangles overlapping here: a triangle of words and a triangle of snowflakes. Both triangles are irregular (and thus more pleasing to the eye than equilateral triangles) and  make the whole design feel more organic and random. Though, of course, we know there's nothing random about random designs.

Third, giving those snowflakes room to fall makes a world of difference! The whole card evokes the feel of snow falling, that wonderful winter image that calls to mind both chilly snowballs and warm cups of cocoa.

Or coffee, if you prefer.

The balanced version was bling-worthy, and the bling adds just the right detail.

If you make a card that feels unbalanced to you, consider shifting the elements around a bit, thinking about the rule of thirds (which often helps, but not always) and how each element relates to the other. Feel your way to a good design.

It's extremely satisfying!

stamps: Winnie and Walter The Big, the Bold, and the Merry; Papertrey Ink (large snowflake), Clearly Besotted (medium and small snowflakes)
ink: Archival vermilion and leaf green; Delicata silvery shimmer
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones


  1. Oh, Susan, I wish I understood design elements the way you do. To my untrained eye, both cards are beautiful, although I do like the second more. I couldn't begin to say why, but I'm sure your explanation of balance is the reason. I love the lessons you give us. And I love the cards you make.

  2. Thanks for another interesting lesson on design. Your cards also show there's nothing 'simple' about a creating a clean and simple card.

  3. I second Sheila!...I have made cards for years (and years :D) and CAS style is a nebulous concept which is difficult to define. My 'Mind' wants rules and steps to follow. I am so glad to have found 'you' because you are filling in information-gaps and helping shape my understanding of clean and simple. Why is CAS so hard? (rhetorical) I actually think it is one of the hardest styles to accomplish!..and therein lies the sweet challenge to conquer! :) I appreciate your analysis of your own design 'flaws' and subsequent successes! I am trying to absorb all your lessons, too! Thank you so very, very much for sharing!!! I love your work! :)

  4. lol - i actually love both cards but .....the second is more pleasing but i wouldnt have known why ! But i would send both but do more of the second .cant wait for the next posting x

  5. Agree with you, I prefer the second balanced one!

  6. Wow, this is a perfectly balanced card, just lovely, plain and simple☺

  7. I so appreciate you sharing "the whys and wherefores" of your design. You are a blessing.

  8. I found this so interesting and informative. I have thus set and would love to CASE it using different words for a DT card, would this be o.k and if so I would give you credit and link it to this post?

  9. I love the lessons you give us. I try to absorb them but not to take them as gospel. I took a color theory class once and couldn't color for weeks afterwards, afraid I'd do it wrong or not how it should be. So I read your lessons and have to remind myself they are guideposts, tips, information, and not hard and fast rules to get all fuddled up with.

  10. What a great post this is! The extra airiness really helps. Kind of ironic that in trying to keep things nice and tight and related in the first card, you actually had that white (black) hole--proving once again that nothing in life is easy, and random designs take a lot of thought. :) But the final result is beautiful!


Thank you so much for taking time to comment!