Hello there, Stefanie here with a beginner’s guide to clustering.
When I was a paper scrapbooker, my layouts had to be very flat, I hated bulging albums and was so concerned that dimensional embellishments would cause damage to underlying layouts. With my digital layouts I can be as dimensional as I would like, although I still stick to ordering my layers within the cluster as I would have with real goodies. I start off with the main ingredient, this can be a flower or a journal card. Then I work a Background or foundation layer. This is usually a scatter or paint or brush layer. Lastly, I top it off with a bow, or dimensional element that also serves as a visual attachment layer, ie it contains stitching or is tied down. Something that has visual weight, appears heavier, like the acrylic buttons, something airy feels lighter and almost fluffy above the layout. I like to mix in a variety of visual weights too.
This is a really basic cluster formed when you stamp an image over a journal card. I used a very small soft edged eraser to delete the stamped heart as though the stamp had been stamped over the card. In Photoshop Elements, when you are on the layer you want to erase (stamp) choose a small soft edge round brush/eraser, click where you want the line to begin, hold down shift and then click again where the stamp ends, and you have this look. I love to finish off the cluster with a dimensional element, a fabulous layered flower like this or some shadowed string or ribbon. Just remember that the shadows need to be soft and diffused when an item is further from the page, and crisper and darker when the item is closer to the page, like the paper. I use One Little Bird’s Shadow Styles, but there are many different styles available.
For this cluster I began with the journal card, layered a scatter and paint element behind it. Then the ricrac, paper clip and tied button all act as visual attachment layers. The dimensional flower and balloons are shadowed to appear further from the background paper so these are my dimensional elements. You need to play around with different approaches until you find what you love.
When adding your clusters to your layout, make sure to have three main spots of embellishing points. They need to be big, medium and small. My big is the largest pink flower, that visually anchors my focal photo and draws attention there first. Then the second cluster, medium, sits top right containing the date. It also serves as an entry point into the layout. I have two paper layers, scatter, paint and tied button for visual attachment. The third smallest spot, is at the intersection of the two photos – I have the third pop of yellow completing that visual triangle as well anchoring the photos and beginning the scatter that follows the diagonal through to the sub-title.
All clusters and layout made with: Besties collab by Sugary Fancy and Digital Scrapbook Ingredients.