Basic Design with Debbie – Repetition

To date we’ve covered four of six basic design principles:Emphasis,Contrast, Balance, and Alignment. Today’s lesson is on a fifth: Repetition. In August, we will look at Flow.

The principle of repetition advises repeating some aspect of your page elements throughout the entire layout as you work toward making a piece with unity.


Unity refers to how the parts of a design come together as a whole. If the elements on a scrapbook page look like they belong together (as opposed to having been collected and placed randomly) you have unity. In the quest for a design with unity, the WHOLE design is more important than any element or grouping in it.

Repetition is a useful tool for creating unity on a scrapbook page—or in any work of art. Consider music and the repetitions that are present in popular and classical songs. Great literature includes repetitions in image and word. Think about all the repetitions of careless driving in The Great Gatsby. Politicians work repetitions into their speeches.

Repetitions work because they create a pattern that draws attention.


The caveat: Too much repetition can be dull. THUS, the key to using repetitions in your designs is to use repetitions with variety.

How do you do that? Here are a few ideas:

· repeat an image or shape in different colors.

· repeat an image or shape in different sizes.

· repeat a color in different elements (i.e., alphas, ribbon, mats).

· use a variety of tones of the same color

· repeat a motif in different styles

In “Cherish Forever,” slurpeegirl13 repeats “not-really-square” squares (I’ll call them that since they have a couple of angles that aren’t 90 degrees). They’re arranged in a sequence horizontally AND there are progressively smaller shapes stacked at each point in the series. She’s included lots of flowers and butterflies and hearts– but in differing colors and sizes. Note though that while the sizes of these shapes vary, they are all small relative to the canvas. Thus, slurpeegirl has included repetitions with variety as well as incorporating some nice contrast.

CherishForeverCherish Forever by slurpeegirl13


Color is the easiest and most frequent way I work repetitions into my page. I could have three different embellishments (like a button, a heart and a ribbon tie) but if they’re all the same color and tone, they create a pattern.

Three colors are repeated in different amounts on “Sleeping Angel” by kaleandkiara. The yellows and the blue stitching are both in subdued tones, while the three red spots are bright and bold. Those strongly contrasting points draw the eye through the page and give it “punch” it wouldn’t otherwise have.

SleepingAngel Sleeping Angel by kaleandkiara

“Stay Late” has lots of oranges and yellows and even some green, but the repetitions of blue (ocean button, journaling tag, title) are what create a visual triangle that draws the eye around the page and connects the many elements on this bold and busy layout.

StayLate Stay Late by Debbie Hodge


Circles, squares, hearts, brackets . . . each of these has a shape all its own—and you kind find plenty of scrapbook page embellishments with these shapes.

In making “Put Your Right Foot In,” readstoomuch used several repetitions of circles. Three series of orange, green, and blue circles intersect at the focal point photo–which has, itself, been cropped to a circle. What’s more the dotted background is a pattern of tiny circles. Thus, there are circles in three sizes. And just for fun (and variety!), Mollie included a button in place of one of the many medium-sized circles—and she made it yellow. It’s the only yellow on the page except for a bit of light in the photo.

YourRightFoot Put Your Right Foot In by readstoomuch

JALong repeated the shape of an arrow a whole bunch of times on “Photographer.” The arrows are in varying colors and each holds a numbered bit of journaling. Note that the numbers are on brads, thus there are lots of small circles on this page in addition to the large stitched circles on the background. Finally, eight journaling labels along the bottom repeat yet another shape, but all in orange and arranged in a more orderly fashion to contrast with wild circle above it.

Photographer Photographer by JALong


Ulla-may’s “Go Your Own Way” includes repetitions of both horizontal and vertical lines in the grid foundation behind the photo. However, when we look to the foreground elements, it’s the vertical lines that are emphasized and repeated. The vertically-striped patterned paper and the very straight stems on the flower and leaves are fabulous repetitions of the vertical lines in the grid.

What’s especially interesting is that the arrow, the title and the sequence of photos run horizontally—thus presenting the subject of the page going in a direction that’s away from the norm. These repetitions in line are a great support to the page subject.


Go You Own Way by ulla-may


Sometimes your repetitions will be around a concept—for example when you’re making a themed page, you might find yourself collecting different images or word embellishments that are related by subject.

On her 4th of July page, “Starry,” emmasmom incorporated images of a flag and stars in the blue and red colors we associate with patriotism in the United States. Notice the different forms, colors and sizes of the many repeated stars.


Starry by emmasmom

Good Dog Cooper by carey-bridges includes several repetitions of the dog theme, starting with the photos and including a pawprint button, a bone button, and paper and journaler bearing words associated with dogs.


Good Dog Copper by carey-bridges


Combining images of the same thing but in different styles and formats is a great idea for getting repetitions with variety onto your scrapbook pages—and creating unity along the way.

“Awesome Sight” is a page about my Dad, who loves the outdoors but who can no longer move freely to enjoy it. He does, though, love his birdfeeders and looking at his birds! There’s a little sticker bird, a larger die-cut bird, a collaged bird, and a bird on a newsprint cutout.


Awesome Sight by Debbie Hodge

The story on “Getting A Leg Up” is of a teacher lending his leg as a step to kids who wanted to climb a tree. It’s also a metaphorical representation of what great teachers do. I’ve repeated the tree motif in my photos, on my stamped background and with a smaller tree sticker at bottom right.


“Getting a Leg Up” by Debbie Hodge


Texture is yet another aspect of the elements on a scrapbook page that can be repeated. Think about how you could repeat felts, metals, acrylics, brushwork or the other materials your embellishments are made of on the page.

While there are several kinds of repetitions on Kayleigh’s “Can You Just Say Dada?” the ones I want to draw your eye to right now is the repetition of epoxy. The epoxy alphas for “dada,” dog, star, and flower all have dimension and shine the other elements do not have. They are placed in a visual triangle relative to one another.


Can You Just Say “Dada?” by Kayleigh


You don’t have to use just one kind of repetition; i.e., of shape or of color. The repetitions on “Create” by shhbabymine are a great examples of how you can use several different repetitions and create a page that works as a fabulous whole.

There are lots of colors here: yellows, reds, oranges, blues, greens, and pinks. Huh? How is that repetition that makes sense when there are so many different colors? What they all have in common is a pale and subdued tone.

Sarah has also repeated shape with the rectangular frames for her papers and photos 10 times. She’s varied their orientation, their position in the “stack” of layers here, how they’re attached to the page, and what they hold.

Buttons, butterflies and flowers are the primary repeated motifs—all rendered in the pastels of the page.

There’s a whole lot going on here, with the repetitions in tone and shape (rectangular frames) giving the page a foundation that succeeds.


Create by shhbabymine


Debbie Hodge shares scrapbook pages ideas, resources, and tutorials almost daily at her website Get It Scrapped! Her passion is showing you how to organize your memories and photos to make great-looking scrapbook pages that tell awesome (and meaningful) stories. She’s got an MBA with a concentration in operations management and has studied and practiced creative writing for two decades—even publishing a few short stories before publishing LOTS of scrapbook pages, articles, and even a book called Get It Scrapped!