French artist Henri Matisse said, “Drawing is putting a line around an idea.” And as gorgeous as sketched or hand-drawn elements can be, oftentimes as scrapbookers, it’s the line that can trip us up.
Welcome to the second post in a series of SugarBabe Sundays where we examine the digital scrapbooking elements that we struggle to use, the ones that frustrate us, and ask the Shoppe’s creative team for ideas. Last month, we looked at four ways feathers can be used on a layout. This month, I asked what you wanted us to cover, and one topic clearly came out on top.
“I struggle with using doodled/hand-drawn elements,” said Steph, “and also with knowing how to combine them with more realistic elements. I see darling layouts with these kinds of doodley elements, but get intimidated quickly when trying to use them myself.”
Jo wrote, “Doodles – LOVE them but have a hard time putting them into my layout. I feel like when I try (unless it’s part of the background paper) it looks untethered or something. Like a sticker sneeze.”
Kellie said, “I really love hand drawn elements, but I don’t know how to use them on my own pages.”
And Rebecca wrote, “The doodles are hard for me, too! I always want to use them, but struggle to make it look right.”
So I reached out to the SugarBabes and asked them to share their layouts with doodles and hand-drawn elements. I learned so much by studying their pages, and I’m excited to share my findings with you! It turns out they use doodles in four distinct ways:
- on their background paper,
- behind a cluster,
- within a journaling block,
- or within a cluster.
We’ll dig deeper into each of these in a moment, but first, let’s talk about realism.
Making your doodles look real
When scrapbookers talk about making an element “look right” on their layout, what they’re really referring to is how real it looks. The key to getting a realistic look with a doodle lies in giving thought to how you’d apply that same doodle to a paper layout. If you’re trying to give your layout a paper-realistic look, remember that doodles do not float. They need to be drawn on something.
It might be with pen or marker directly onto the background paper. In that case, the doodle element will sit behind all your other elements and layers, and won’t have a drop shadow – like this layout from Eve:
It might be a stamp dipped in ink or paint. In that case, think about what you’re stamping it on – your paper or cardstock, maybe across an element or another layer – and depending on the thickness of the paint, it might have a slight bevel and drop shadow, like gesso. See this layout by Mary, and pay close attention to the doodled arrow on the left pointing to the little girl:
The third way to realistically apply a doodle to a layout is by “drawing” it on a piece of paper or cardstock and cutting it out digitally. You’ve essentially turned the doodle into a sticker. This new element can then be shadowed with as much depth as you like. Check out those stars on this layout by designer Laura Wilkerson:
That’s how to make sure your doodles look realistic; don’t let them float! Give thought to what they’re doodled on and how, and let that drive your shadows:
- with pen or ink directly on paper – no shadow
- with thicker paint directly on a surface – a bevel and slight shadow
- drawn on a piece of paper and cut out – shadowed like a sticker, piece of cardstock, or anything you like
Now, let’s take a closer look at how the SugarBabes use those realistic-looking doodles on their layouts.
Doodle Use #1: On the background
SugarBabes Wendy and Kim use doodles to add texture to their background paper:
Doodles can also be used as a background motif to reinforce a page’s theme, as shown in these examples:
So when doodles show up on the background of a layout, they are there to add texture, as a frame or border, or as a motif to reinforce the page’s theme.
Doodle Use #2: Behind a cluster
A number of the SugarBabes use doodles behind their page’s focal point cluster. The doodles are the first layer, usually applied to the background paper, and provide additional depth. Check out these examples:
So doodles can be used behind a cluster as a base layer to add texture and depth.
Doodle Use #3: Within a journaling block
SugarBabe Jacinda uses doodles for markup in journaling, sometimes to add emphasis to her writing, and other times to direct the eye.
Doodles also pop up in the SugarBabes’ journaling blocks as borders or corner embellishments.
Doodles are a natural fit for journaling blocks – whether to mark up the text, direct the eye, or embellish their corners or borders.
Doodle Use #4: In a cluster
The fourth use I found for doodles in the SugarBabe’s layouts was within the layers of a cluster. In these examples, the doodle is always applied to another surface – usually a piece of paper – which essentially turns it into a hand-drawn sticker. Therefore, I’ll be including examples of hand-drawn elements in this section as well.
The SugarBabes use doodles of flowers or leaves in clusters just like they’d use the real thing. Sometimes the entire cluster is made of hand-drawn elements; other times, they’ll mix hand-drawn with realistic flowers. Take a look:
Hand-drawn elements – or doodles turned into hand-drawn elements or stickers – also show up on SugarBabe layouts tucked into and layered within element clusters.
So when it comes to hand-drawn elements and doodles turned into stickers, they work beautifully in clusters, either in place of realistic flowers and leaves or tucked in between layers.
A final thought
Perhaps the very best advice came from the Queen of Doodles, SugarBabe Dalis: “I feel this way too,” she said about struggling to make doodle elements look right, “and you know what? Every once in a while I just throw those doodle elements in there with my clusters and try not to judge. And guess what? The next day when I am not all judgy I LOVE MY PAGE!”
Sometimes we are our own worst critics, and the longer we stare at a layout, the harder it can be to see it with an objective perspective. The next time you pick up a kit with doodles, do like Dalis! Use those elements and don’t judge yourself. Think about the different ways we’ve talked about using doodles, and just do it. Then walk away and let the layout sit overnight. You might be surprised how you feel about it when you come back with a fresh set of eyes the next morning.
So what are you waiting for? Get to playing with those doodles, and remember to post your finished layouts in the Gallery so we can all leave you some feedback and love. I can’t wait to see what you create!