Cover Design and Pre-made Albums

While not specifically a photo-less layout I’m throwing in a few pointers for album covers and the like for this last week of photo-less inspiration because they tend to follow similar principles. Covers are the other end of text based and story first photo-less layouts in that the design of these is the major focus. You want to share your album concept thorough you choice of design ideas rather than other imagery or words. There are plenty of pre-designed album choices out there that allow you to put your own spin on how you want them to look so they’re in keeping with the contents of your album. Most have some element of minimal design to make them attractive enough for you to want to purchase, but a lot pretty much leave the rest up to your own aesthetic and purposes.20150525_1CoverDesign Some albums like American Crafts D-Ring Albums, Simple Stories Sn@p Albums, Bo Bunny Bare Naked, and K & Company Smashbooks (which also have a little bit of embossed detail) have a coloured cloth spine which you can use as a starting point for your own colour choices and cover ideas. Prima, Ranger, Graphic 45, Kaisercraft, Basic Grey, Clear Scraps and Doodlebug just to name a a few offer many choices for Diecut Albums and Mini Albums. These come in a range of shapes, styles and sizes to suit many projects and are most commonly made from bare chipboard or acrylic. Be it a colour choice, a style choice or a shape choice the common element in these and any other type of pre-made album is that they give you a starting point to begin crafting your album. In the case of shaped albums your design is dictated by the contours already given by the album itself. For example these Clear Scraps albums found at have many with a very defined theme, your design has to fit the parameters and theme already set out by the manufacturer or in the case of Kasiercraft’s beyond the page word albums your design is dictated by the available space given by that letter and it’s place within the album. In part you already have a set of dimensions to work with and your own choice of paper or media have to fit within that. The size of your papers, the scale of patterns, imagery and dimensional elements all need to fit within the framework of the already established shape or design of the album. All of these things narrow down the decision making process of crafting your cover and indeed making your contents . In the case of the Kasiercraft album it may mean omitting one altogether. It just depends what parameters you want to place on crafting you album as there are advantages and disadvantages for using a pre-made album.20150525_2CoverDesign  More open ended choices for design abound with a square of rectangular shaped mini album as they are traditionally the shapes we scrappers work in. As is the case with Sn@p Albums and Smashbooks you can also find options that include some element of predesigned pages incorporated in the album for you. Most of the covers I design for my own albums are in that square or rectangular format. The cover shown here is an American Crafts 8.5×11 D-Ring Album which I’ve used to house my One Little Word for the last three years. As this is a reoccurring project that I participate in I decided to keep a few years worth in the same album. The have a defined beginning and ending so I know how much content I will have each year and just for ease of access it makes sense to keep them together. For this reason my cover design has been left intentionally non-specific. Title Pages for each years word separate the content as does the chosen colour scheme. Unintentionally one colour that seems to be showing up every year is a touch of blue so I’ve also chosen to include that in my albums cover design. 20150525_3CoverDesignBecause this album sits on a shelf with a bunch of other items I have also left the cover intentionally flatter than I would for say a mini album that may be set out on display. In my experience the practise of One Little Word has unlocked so many hidden opportunities and revelations about who I am and what I’m capable of. It has also been such a transformative experience so for me it’s all about change and becoming more of who I’m meant to be. The aim of my cover is to simply hint at the contents so for me the key and butterfly images represent that metaphor of change and metamorphosis. When crafting covers it is worth considering the end location of the album before getting too heavy handed with dimension or complex layers. Do you want your album to slot into a shelf, to be stored in a basket or bin, to be displayed somewhere in your home or the home of the recipient, or frequently thumbed through by them? Will it bother you if it gets covered in a layer of dust or falls apart from being handled multiple times or damaged in anyway? Not only does the end location dictate some of your design choices but the materials you use to put your cover together need to be considered in the equation. Strong adhesives are needed for attaching items to covers, likewise you are better off using a heavier weight cardstock or paper for you cover to increase it’s durability and considering whether items will ‘snag’ and rip off in handling the album.20150525_4CoverDesign The beauty of cover design is that you can use traditional paper products for crafting your albums or you can break out other media and supplies to give them a really unique one-of-a-kind look. Mixed Media artistry has the benefits of adding wonderful depth and texture to your cover design, not to mention colour, without some of the pitfalls of creating with paper media and wondering about their durability. And who ever said that traditional leather or cloth bound albums were exempt from a little dressing up like this cover by Ashli Oliver from Purple Mailbox. I prefer to work in paper mostly but have crafted album covers from fabric and even wrapping paper like my 2010 December Daily, which uses both. I used the same fabric as the Christmas Stockings I made for my family that year and the wrapping paper from the lovely gift my hubby gave me so not only do they serve well as product for cover design but it meant that I added in a bit of memorabilia too. Your personal aesthetic and quirks will determine what you can stand as far as usage, storage and what you’d prefer to craft your album cover with.20150525_5CoverDesign In my next post I’ll continue on this theme of cover design, but for albums that you craft yourself, which add another layer of considerations to your design process.

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