Using Color Palettes to Inspire Your Layouts (Part 1)

If you spend any amount of time on Pinterest (…like I do…) you will most likely have seen a variety of color palettes in your feed.  Beyond the obvious eye candy, color palettes can be a very helpful tool for scrapbookers and paper crafters. Not only can they provide a wealth of inspiration, they can also help you formulate design decisions.

Starting today, I am bringing you a three-part series all about using color palettes in your scrapbooking and paper crafting. In this first installment, we’re going to look at how a color palette can inspire your product selections using the gallon/quart/pint theory. In part two, I’m going to show how different palettes can inspire design decisions and in part three, we’ll look at how color palettes can help solve paper crafting dilemmas.

How color palettes can help with product selection

I have always been inspired by color and love coming up with cool combinations to set off my scrapbook pages. Back when I was still using a lot of plain cardstock on my layouts, I often used the color wheel to help me find cool combinations. As scrapbooking products evolved and manufacturers added more pattern papers in coordinating colors, I let the pattern papers guide my color decisions and left the color wheel behind.

But I’m starting to sense that there is another personal evolution starting. I want to be more involved in the process again. After seeing so many inspiring color palettes online, I challenged myself to come up with some fun ways to make them part of my process.

For my layout today, I had these two photos:

photos for palette

Green is the dominant color, though the shades vary between the two photos. The other major color is that peachy red flowers. Rather than going to my stash of products to randomly search for something that might work, I went to my favorite color palette site to search for some inspiration.

I knew I wanted to bring in the peachy red color so I found a color palette with a similar color. The other colors didn’t fit, so using the “see similar color” feature to the right of the palette, I clicked on the color I wanted and additional palettes with different combinations came up.


Image courtesy of Design Seeds

This is the palette I eventually decided on. It includes a neutral tone that could serve as my background color and a blue that would be a great contrast to the green and peach. Using it for inspiration, I started hunting through my supplies to find papers in these colors that would work with my photos.

spring-picking papers1

I looked through my stack of subtle, tone on tone prints. I found my darkest color first. I liked the varying shades of peachy pink and red. It brings out the color in the flowers and does not clash with the other photo.

spring-picking papers2

The greens in the photos are different, but this green polka dot works with both.

spring-picking papers3

I found my blue shade next. When picking subtle prints like these, I try to find different patterns that can work together. I avoid having two different striped papers or two different dot papers. I liked this lacy random scroll as it is very different from the other two prints.

Lastly, I hoped I could find one sheet of pattern paper that could pull together all three colors and was rewarded when I went through my Fancy Pants papers.

spring-picking papers4

This floral from the Hopscotch collection is perfect. It incorporates all three colors and coordinates with the neutral wood grain pattern I’d be using as the background paper.

Gallon/Quart/Pint theory

As I put my page together, I kept the gallon/quart/pint theory mind with my accent colors of peachy red, green and blue. The thought is, you add a gallon of one color, a quart of a second color and a pint of the third. These ratios will help keep the colors in balance and not overwhelm your layout.

spring-in-floridaSupplies: Basic Grey Hey Boy Woodgrain, Crate Paper Story Teller Tomorrow, Fancy Pants Hopscotch Strolling and Sidewalk, Studio Calico Mint Julep Mister Huey, American Crafts Fantastic thickers and cream jute, Jillibean Soup Kraft alphabeans stickers, Gathered Twigs Distress Ink, Fiskars medium scallop circle squeeze punch, We R Memory keepers Favorite Memories journaling spot, Prima flowers, generic doily.

My gallon color is the peachy red. I added it as two strips to set off the floral pattern paper from the background. As the darkest color on the layout, it helps ground the center piece to the background and has the most visual weight on the page, therefore taking on the gallon proportion.

My quart color is the green. Green is the dominant color in the photos so I did not need to add a lot of the pattern paper. I used the green polka dot paper in the banner, colored some white thickers with green ink to bring green into the title and I also added green paint splatters from the top left to the bottom right to help emphasize the diagonal flow of the page.

My pint color is the blue. Besides having only small touches of blue in the floral pattern paper, I added blue in three places, keeping the quantity small. It’s only one of the scallop circle banners, one small strip in the title block and as the smallest flower embellishment.

A challenge

Still not convinced you could allow a color palette to lead the your design process? Think about it this way: have you been in a creative rut recently? Feeling like all of your pages are stale and looking similar? Sometimes all we need to get out of a rut is a little challenge.

Try starting with a color palette instead of the photos or the products.

Choose your products to match the color palette instead of looking for products that coordinate with each other. You’ll start to see your paper collections in a new light and to use products that have been hiding in your stash for too long.  And if you find a palette that includes a color that you don’t normally use, it gives you the chance to push yourself out of your comfort zone. And to get right out of that rut, too!

Next week, we’ll take a look at how palettes and the accompanying photo can help you make design decisions.

11 Responses to Using Color Palettes to Inspire Your Layouts (Part 1)

  1. kathyhpy May 7, 2013 at 6:11 am #

    Great idea, especially for jump starting a sluggish mojo! Thanks for the tips, Tammy, your layout is very pretty:)

  2. Patter Cross May 7, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    Beautiful page! And I always match photos to paper but definitely use color inspiration for afghans, etc. 🙂

  3. Lisa Swift May 7, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    You always have the best tips, Tammy. I love seeing how you process ideas for choosing color. Thank you! Such a beautiful page too!

  4. mary pat May 7, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    what an awesome page- love those photos

  5. smithdesigns May 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    Great page! Thanks for the insight into using the color palette’s 🙂

  6. Classygirl May 8, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    This layout is simply gorgeous. I love how your shared the process. Although, I don’t actually find color palettes I do allow the photos to dictate the colors I will use to create my pages.

  7. KimberlyMarie May 8, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Beautiful design! and I too enjoyed the insight to the colour palette’s 🙂

  8. Gab May 12, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    What a great article. And really pretty LO too

  9. Margot/NZ May 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    This is a great tutorial – thanks! I’m off to read the next one…

  10. RuthG June 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Getting caught up after the May(hem) of the end of the school year…
    I love how you started with your pictures and walked through your process! The LO is wonderful and it incorporates so many wonderful patterned papers (which I love) and handmade embellishments (which I also love) this truly is a stash-tastic way to scrapbook! Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. Barb in AK June 9, 2013 at 12:25 am #

    I really learned so much from your tutorial. I have a long way to go before being comfortable with choosing papers around a color palette. I must give it a try. Thanks for the great idea and beautiful layout.

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