Friday, August 5, 2011

Trapped Space - a tutorial

Today I have a little design rule for you, if you care for it. My old students who read this blog will be aware of it, but there may well be many of you who are unaware of it, so I will repeat it for you. This rule has the potential to transform your lives (not really, but maybe just your pages). I'm bringing out some really old pages to use as examples proving that simple is timeless. The girl in the first layout is almost 12 now!

The rule of trapped space involves NOT trapping any space between items on your page. When one DOES trap space the layout can look like the elements are all too separate on a page, and not working together and flowing nicely. We, as scrapbookers, subconsciously might know that it's 'not coming together' but not know why, and try to fill the spaces with more and more embellishments, trying to make it 'work'. Decent design early on, will save you a lot a time and anguish, and embellishments!Though even if you do like a less 'simple' look, you can still design the page well, then go to town with embellishments if that's your style.

For example compare the two sketches below. On each of the sketches, the same five elements have been used (consider them 3 photos, a journaling black and a heading). Which layout looks well thought out, organised, pleasing to the eye. It’s 'B' - hope you already guessed that. There are large amounts of space ‘caught’ between the items on 'A'

You can certainly have large amounts of space, but it needs to be able flow OFF the edge of the page. Pretend the blocks of space are water. You want it to be able to flow easily off the edge of the page, not create a puddles or wide rivers in the middle.

It’s a bit hard to explain on paper, but hopefully you are understanding what I am trying to say.
Have a look at these layouts below. This first layout over page titled ‘Be Silly’ uses pretty much just BAZZILL cardstock and have a look at where the blocks of space are. Top right hand corner, a bit in the lower right hand corner, and a strip of space is down the left hand side. All three of these blocks of SPACE flow off the edge of the page. All the items, (the heading, journaling and photos) are kind of grouped together. The ’space’ between the journaling and the photo is only about 2cm wide - about the widest space should be before it is considered ‘trapped’ space.

This next page below is titled ‘the life’.  Where are the blocks of space? Top right corner and bottom left corner - not trapped in the middle. For this page I just drew lines on the page in WORD, then put the journaling into text boxes and moved them around to fit where I wanted them.

There are times when rules can be successfully broken. But it always helps to know the rules before you break them! At least then you are doing it on purpose. I often ‘frame’ my page with a narrow frame or border - this doesn’t seem to create a trapped space issue. Just consider the frame the edge of the page - eg below.

You getting it? Basically, group stuff together. Free the tapped space. That’s it. Have fun.

Nicole x

PS. Scroll down and have a look at where the empty space is in the last few layouts posted, eg 'dance' by Emma, and 'Olivia' by Di.  Why do these layouts work so well? It's the lack of trapped space. My old students... I am so proud! 
(Sharon, yours is lovely too, I just didn't have the pleasure to teach you! :) Though if I had, I bet you would would have been the naughty one up the back with Di, who never stopped talking!


  1. Thanks for all this great advice Nicole! When I started scrapping this was a big factor and often I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong - I found Cathy Zielske's DYL class a big help and it certainly covered the trapped space issue along with a few other common design mistakes and how to fix them.

    Alas, I too have not ever been a student .. though, I have learnt a great deal from your discussions on the blog over the years!

  2. consider me a student via the www - when I discovered you blogging it was SO exciting (I know, I need to get a life). And I have NO idea where you get the idea that I would have been up the back with Di, talking!

    I wasn't aware that this had a name until I did DYL, its always been a natural inclination to group things together...its nice to know a bit of design theory though!

    love these old pages...

  3. Me...talking up the back...never!!!
    (Didn't think she could see me...must have been the pregnant belly )!!
    You so would have been there Sharon!!

  4. Thanks Nicole - this will be really helpful. It's interesting that I think I mainly design my pages this way but one of my pages springs to mind that I just never really liked (made earlier on) and I think this is why. So thanks for another useful tip. Will have to look into what DYL is sounds useful too.

  5. Toni, DYL is short for Design Your Life, it was an online class run at Big Picture Classes by Cathy Zielske -

    Cathy ran the class live twice and it is now a self paced class, I would highly recommend it!

  6. This is one of the most useful things I ever learnt, and I cringe now when I go back and look at some of my early pages: I can see what the problem was! Good to have it so ably demonstrated on here. :)

  7. Thanks Amy - will look into it. I'll try to stay focused on the WITL project happening at the moment - seems to be keeping me pretty busy :) Nice to know where to look in the future though. Thanks

  8. Thankyou for the clear explanation:) I read some comments about a LO recently saying that the person who made it had missed the point of white space completely and instead had trapped space. I had no idea what that meant, now I do!
    I am not a clean and simple scrapper by any means, but the theory still applies to me.

  9. I think its great to have tutorials like this, we still get to see your pages and learn some design principles. I am now remembering fondly all those good old days of being your student, and the excitement of learning how to do what I love better!

  10. I think I will now have to rethink my LO, which was going to be a circle of photos and arrows with a space (and title) in the middle. If I fill it with pp does it cease to be a space?

  11. Hi Julie,
    Yes it sounds like your space is going to be filled with a title and pp and possibly arrows. However, it is only a basic design rule and you can break the rules if you want - it's your layout, and if you like your design and think it works, you go for it!!
    Thanks for reading! Nicole

  12. Thanks for this Nicole...I've had a look back at my LOs on my Blog and seem to have been following this principal..though not purposely!
    Alison xx

  13. Great Post! I always have loved your simple pages. Creative Memories has a saying (at least I think it's from them), "Simple pages, completed albums." You are so right in your home page that it IS the story that goes WITh the picture that makes the picture wonderful. I wish we weren't so far away from each other!


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