Design Tips for Cardmakers – Rule of Thirds

Your comments tell me you’re liking the design tips I’ve been posting, so today I’m going to show you the Rule of Thirds.

Today’s design tips are for this sweet and lovely all-occasions card using the Bordering Blooms stamp set from Stampin’ Up!’s 2014 Annual Catalog.  This handmade card is very feminine, but the layout can be used with other stamps and embellishments for a more masculine or gender-neutral card.


This design evolved pretty organically.  I needed a fall birthday card for a good friend, and knew she’d love the image from Bordering Blooms.  I didn’t have a layout in mind when I started it, which is often the case when I create a new card.  I usually start with an image I want to play with and see where it takes me.

I created the rectangular panel first, then looked around for something to put with it.  The circular pattern from Everything Eleanor coordinates well, and it just happens to fit perfectly in our 2-3/8″ Scalloped Circle Punch.  The Crumb Cake background looked way too plain so I stamped the same Bordering Blooms image tone-on-tone to give it some texture.  I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out, sort of like some old-time wallpaper.  That suggested the vintage-looking embellishments.

After I finished the card, I realized it’s a good example of a design concept you’ll see in a lot of my cards:  The Rule of Thirds.  Here’s a video I created a few years ago that will tell you all about it:

As you can see in the video, the points where thirds lines cross are sweet spots in designs.  If you make use of those spots when you position the elements of a card, your designs will feel harmonious.  Not all of your designs need to use this concept, of course.  But when you look at cards you like as you’re cruising the internet, you might want to notice if they make use of the Rule of Thirds.

Here’s what this card looks like with my vellum grid on top.  Look at how the elements line up with the lines.


The Bordering Blooms image is along the thirds line on the left, and the Crochet Trim is on the line on the right.  The Vintage Button is right on a cross point, as is the center of the scalloped circle.

Make a vellum grid, as shown in the video, then use it to see which of your cards use the Rule of Thirds.  Not all harmonious designs will fit with the grid as exactly as the Bordering Blooms card.  Often it is the edges of an element or an image that fit in the grid.  Many designs won’t fit it at all, but can still be pleasing, as this is not the only design concept that works!

There are also cards with elements that are centered, like this medallion card, that may surprise you when you look at it through the grid.


See how it has elements on some of the lines and sweet spots?


Leave a comment and let me know if these design tips are helpful.  As Trish said in a comment on an earlier design tip post:  “The goal is not to CASE a great card, but to learn principles to use in whatever papercrafting project I might create.”  You can see more design tips in these previous posts:

I think you’ll find that the Rule of Thirds is a valuable design tip to use in your handmade cards!

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6 Responses to Design Tips for Cardmakers – Rule of Thirds

  1. Claudia S. November 4, 2014 at 7:15 am #

    Very informative. Thanks.

    • Sage November 4, 2014 at 11:30 am #

      You’re welcome, and thanks for the feedback.

  2. jeri chase ferris November 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Thanks, Sage. I know what “looks” right, but now I understand why!

    • Sage November 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback, Jeri. I think understanding why things work and others don’t can really help us design better cards.

  3. Brenda December 24, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    Very interesting and informative indeed. Thanks so much! Can’t wait for Sale-A-Bration!!!

    • Sage January 2, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

      Glad you find it helpful. Yes, Sale-a-Bration rocks!

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