Friday, March 12, 2010

What the heck is "Clustering"???

Here is a GREAT tip from guest blogger Jessica Jay Johnson ~ Jess has a great blog with lots of great info: ScrapDigitally - Check out her blog and show her some love!  Thanks Jessica for letting me share your great tutorial on the blog!

What the heck is "clustering" my elements mean and why should I use it!

I have wanted to learn this technique for about a year now. It's tougher than it looks but creates a great look. Practice makes perfect. So what is "clustering"? I have read a lot of ideas on clustering and basically they all were saying that clustering is layering embellishments on top of each other to create one large embellishment or focal point on your digital/traditional scrapbooking page. I'm going to mostly approach this technique from a digital scrappers point of view but keep in mind this is NOT limited to digital. Let's read a few tips and then we'll look at doing some pages using clustering. Tips

Layout - You can use a cluster to draw attention to a certain part of your layout. For example, if you have a layout of four photos, but one is more sentimental or has more meaning than the others, use the cluster around that photo to draw your eye there first. Just be careful to not cover up your special photo. A scrapbook is in essence all about the photos (the actual memory) and the rest, although very important, is not the main reason why we look at a scrapbook! It's OK for embellishments to be under the photo, half hidden. Plus, embellishments don't always have to be used the way they were intended to be used! Here, I clustered stars, a ribbon mat, bracket, and stitching to create this page. My attempt was to draw attention to the bottom left picture first as I love how my daughters expression shows complete and utter satisfaction.

Shadows - Not all your embellishments are going to have the same kind of shadow! One tip I read said to use "real life" shadows. Embellishments on top will have more of a shadow than those on the bottom. Play around with the shadows and use what looks most natural. Most find it best to add shadows after the cluster is assembled. I used My Memories Suite version 2 to do these pages. One really neat feature in My Memories Suite V2 is that you can move your shadow around on the x & y axis. This way you can create a shadow as if the light was coming from any direction! It's hard to tell with shadows, and I'm still practicing using them, but below I added shadows to my cluster.

Angles - Again go with what looks best. Some people like to use different angles for their embellishment cluster to add character. You can create white space, which is pleasing to the eye, by spreading the cluster out. I have a harder time doing this as I seem to like things in a conformity. It's something I'm trying to overcome! Photos - You can create a cluster out of your photos as well. You're not limited to just embellishments for this technique! Choose a photo that will be your focal point for the page. Then add the other photos under and around yet keeping the one photo the focal point. I think we do this more often than we think about it. The above page is a good example of a cluster without realizing you are doing it. My intent was to make the bottom left picture the focal point of my cluster. My husband commented that the first picture he saw was the top left, mostly because it was a close up of our daughters eyes. To fix this, I added a shadow to the bottom left photo, decreased the size in the picture that drew my husbands eyes, and make all but my focal point picture black & white.

Kits- It's easier to use embellishments that you find all in a kit, and this is a great way to practice the technique. This way you have a great idea on what is available and you don't spend hours just picking out embellishments you might use. Then once you feel you have a feel for what "clustering" does for your page, use several kits to draw from.

Let's practice!!

Start small. Just choose a few embellishments that you want to use. Put them all on your page. It's easier to imagine the end product when it's all sitting right in front of you. Look at what you have on your page and decide what looks bulky and what looks flat. Put flat embellishments on the bottom and bulkier on the top. Play around. The nice thing about digital scrapbooking is that if you don't like it, delete it! If you decide you did like it, add it back!!

Here are the steps I used to create my first ever attempt to cluster thanks to Scrapping Sarah's Scribblings.
  1. Pick your photos. Sarah suggests getting your background first, but I have a hard time seeing a background without the pictures on the page first.
  2. Add/move your picture to the bottom right.
  3. Add a frame on top of the picture
  4. On the bottom of the frame add a ribbon. A curly of wavy ribbon works well.
  5. Next add an swirly embellishment on the lower right hand corner of the frame – This could be a stamp or a glittery swirl. Make sure it will overlay the frame corner on bottom and the right hand side.
  6. Add greenery on top of the swirl. This will be the base for a flower or flowers.
  7. Select a flower or flowers and layer it on top of the greenery.
  8. Add a title, journaling and a date.

I didn't follow these instructions exactly, but it gave my a guideline to follow.

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