Creating a Cluster

Fall color in our area is supposed to be at its best this weekend. So I will be outside with my camera tomorrow afternoon, hoping today’s wind will diminish. In the meantime, today I played with a photo of a neighbor’s beautiful fall display that I captured a year ago. I began by placing frames from Artsy Layered Template No. 236 on a new blank document. Next I clipped copies of my photo to the two masks and duplicated one mask to create a set of three. I then started building a background for the frames with an art stroke and Artsy Transfers Hinterland. At that point, I grouped elements to create clusters to act as a visual triangle to not only direct the eye around my page but also balance the weight on the right side.

Clusters take different shapes. The acorn cluster on the right side follows the horizontal line of the frame. File 1 from MultiMedia Pumpkins No. 2, a more rounded shape, provided a ready made cluster over the frame and background transfer below. Note, I added a branch and stitching just below the flower in the psd file for more dimension. However, all of the clusters on this page have three components: a foundation, dimensional elements and an anchor.


I might have kept the left side of my page blank, but I thought my page wasn’t quite balanced without something on that side. If anyone else has ever struggled grouping elements to create clusters, I though I would share my thinking about grouping elements on this page to form clusters. Based on my page design, I decided to create a vertical shaped cluster to repeat the shape of the frames.


First, every cluster needs a foundation or a background. I placed overlay 2 from ArtPlay Palette Hinterland to create the foundation for my cluster of elements. I reduced the size of the overlay about 15%.


Next I positioned a button next to the leaves on the overlay. That button serves as my anchor for all the other elements that I used to create the cluster. I gave the button a shadow. I placed a transfer from another multimedia pumpkin file just below the button to build more depth on my foundation.


Then I added the set of leaves from ArtPlay Palette Hinterland below the button but above the overlay and transfer for more dimension. I gave the leaves a shadow.


To extend the vertical shape, I added the twig (psd file that included a shadow) below the button and set of leaves, but above the overlay and transfer. I placed a button thread from ButtonThreads No. 2 below the button to make it look like I had tied down the elements.


I think that the left cluster not only moves the eye across my page, but it also helps balance my page, despite the fact that it isn’t as large or heavy as the two clusters on the right side of my asymmetrical page design. I encourage you to experiment by creating a cluster with a foundation, dimensional elements and an anchor.



Combining Templates


Blending Multiple Photos


  1. Pat

    I LOVE your work and find your posts very helpful. I keep the all and refer back often. This one is right on the mark for me as the finishing of a page takes me the longest of all.
    I do have a question….I’m doing a layflat book with double page spreads so what would you do with the left side cluster if this were the right side of a dbl page? Hope the question make sense to you.

    • Linda

      Thank you Pat!!! Yes, your question about clusters across the gutter on a two page spread for a lay flat book makes sense to me. Last year, I did arrange elements across two pages, but it was difficult getting the pages to match up. That is the reason that this year I am working with 24×12 inch layouts that I split to create my two 12×12 pages for a book. It is far easier to find the balance of elements and/or visual triangles across the two pages when you view them together. It will look different to you on a 24×12 page. Sometimes, I place photos across the gutter with an unimportant part in the middle. Other times, I put transfers, elements or overlays across the gutter. You can see what I’m talking about in several posts, i.e. Two Page Design or Simple Template Changes. The first step is to find the balance across both pages together. There are more examples of elements placed across the gutter in my 2015 book. You will find a link to that book on my about page if you’d like to see it. I’m going to keep your question in mind as I write future posts; there are a lot of possibilities. Thank you for asking!!!!

      • Pat

        I was so hoping you would think about a post on this topic but didn’t want to be too pushy….love that you are thinking about a post. Now just have to get this to work on my pages. I have reviewed your 2015 book AGAIN. I have yours open on my laptop and mine open on my monitor and find NO comparison. Amazing and it seems so easy when you do it and type it but not so easy in practice.

        Your grand daughter is beyond photogenic and your eye for what photos to take and how to show case them are way beyond me. AND how on earth do you get her dressed in all the right colors for all the right occasions etc. This is rhetorical, bringing all the moving parts together is a skill set I know I don’t have.
        Just keep all the information coming and eventually something will “stick” I hope.

        • Linda

          Thank you Pat!! I’ve been learning photography right along with the scrapbooking, that’s made a difference for me. Try the formula, it will get easier with practice

  2. Adryane

    Beautiful clusters. It’s nice to have a formula to try out … effective clustering can be challenging.

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