TIps for Patterned Paper Selection

by Valerie Mangan | 11 years ago

Hi! Valerie Mangan here and I’m excited to be guest blogging at Big Picture Classes. Today I’d like to share a few tips for mixing pattern and will use the two layouts below to illustrate my process. I love to mix patterns. I work by day as an interior designer so this is a subject near and dear to me. I find that the same principles that apply to mixing patterns for interiors also apply to mixing patterns on paper.

I approach pattern selection for most scrapbooking projects with these 3 things in mind:

  1. Color/color intensity – the most important aspect for me. I actually look more at the intensity of the color than the actual shade. Intensity, aka saturation, refers to the brightness or strength of a color.
  2. Pattern type: Floral/organic, geometric (hexagons, trellis, triangles, etc.), lined/striped – I try to grab a little of each!
  3. Scale: The size of the patterns – extremely important for pattern mixing.

For the layout below I took advantage of the ‘use one product line’ approach. (Pulling papers from one product line is a great way to simplify the process of pattern mixing.) I chose a variety of patterns from Pebbles, Inc. that echoed the colors in my photo. While I don’t have an exact color match, I am pretty close on the intensity of the colors. If you hit the intensity correctly, you can add in ‘extra’ colors like I did with that little pop of orange (which does not even exist in the photos) or the blues that are similar but not exactly the same.

TIps for patterned paper selection

I mixed 3 types of patterned paper for this page, plus 2 patterns on the washi, plus the lined journal paper, plus the texture on the white cardstock. Even though it’s not a color, I consider the embossed paper a pattern too. (Those little white dots form a pattern, right?) I also consider that little game ticket a pattern. Although the color is lighter, the black type has the correct intensity and it also picks up the dark values in the photo. Here’s a close up of the pattern layers:

TIps for patterned paper selection


There are a lot of patterns on this page and there are few reasons it all works. Scale and intensity are key but quantity also factors in. The largest pattern used in the biggest quantity (on the background) is fairly neutral – making for an almost-solid base. Because it is somewhat neutral I was able to leave a large amount of it showing. The smaller, more intense patterns are layered under the photo and journaling area and much smaller amounts of them are visible. Any more visibility on those bright colors and the photo would have been overwhelmed. The small amounts visible frame and enhance the photo instead of overpowering it.

Big Tip:
I’d like to note here that a great solution for finding smaller scaled prints for mixing is to use the 6 x 6 versions of patterned papers. Many manufacturers are adding them to their lines now, including Pebbles, Inc. The patterns are the same as the 12 x 12’s only a smaller scale. I loved that little floral with the white background but the full scale version would have overwhelmed the other layers.

In small doses, you can really have fun. Anchored by the white base, I used a mix of similar scaled patterns (dots, checks, scallops and tiny flowers) for the border on this layout. The colors vary & contrast but their scale and intensity are about the same:

TIps for patterned paper selection

Because these are narrow strips of pattern, scale was critical here. A big pattern would have been lost in the skinny border strips. So here, scale and intensity were the keys to success.

Patterned paper is my favorite scrapbooking supply. I marvel at the variety we have to choose from with each new release. I know the prospect of mixing it all together can be overwhelming. Make it easy on yourself by starting with one product line (some lines like Pebbles, Inc. even coordinates their colors across releases). Or try a kit where the patterns are mixed for you. Notice the color intensity and scales of the patterns you see. You will get the hang of it in no time!

Still stumped on how to proceed? Find inspiration in interior design. I find looking at home décor pattern combos on Pinterest or in magazines really helps. (House Beautiful magazine has a great feature each month on the subject of pattern mixing).



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