Make Good Scrapbook Layouts Great with Symbols

Ever look at a scrapbook layout you love and wonder how the scrapbooker chose which products to use? How do masterful designers decide which colors, shapes, and composition would best reflect the feeling of their layouts? It’s about more than just pretty paper that matches their photos or the latest trends. If you look more carefully, you’ll see that there are subtle (and not so subtle) reflections of the story in the design.

Hi, this is Rachel Kaufman from Scrapbooking from the Inside Out, and I’m going to show you how our designers have tied the visual design of their scrapbook layouts to the story they’re trying to tell.

Using Symbolism in Scrapbooking

A horizontal strip of paper can represent forward motion, layers can evoke complexity, clusters of embellishments can create warmth and comfort. Sometimes symbolism is more direct–a lotus flower speaks of peace and serenity, a butterfly illustrates freedom and transformation, and closed flower buds embody the potential for growth and opening. This visual amplification of the words and photos in a layout is what makes it go from good to great—from a nice page to a moving piece of expressive art.

Utilizing wonderful symbolism included in our new kit, and their own artistic imagination, our design team created some beautiful layouts on the subject of contentment.

Examples of Symbols in Scrapbook Layouts

Design Team Coordinator Melissa Elsner used woodgrain and a cozy grouping of flowers, a clock, and a wire heart-shaped hanger to help tell the story of the memory of the ease and contentment of childhood.

Jen Matott creates a vision of a far away place with her use of lotuses, her central image floating on the page and a rising and setting sun with her paper. A great image of a content moment.

Nicole Martel uses a title that blends into her background and a sprinkling of paint to express the aphorism “to see the rainbow you’ve got to experience the rain.”

Bonita Rose Kempenich created a diamond shape on her layout with her title and journaling, reflecting the beauty and value of family harmony.


Scrapbook Kit Giveaway

Are there symbols you turn to on your layouts time and time again? Comment here and let us know what symbols you would use to demonstrate contentment, and you might win our newest kit. Entries must be received by Monday, April 9, at 9:00 am (MDT). Sorry, we can only ship prizes to people in the United States.

Our newest kit, contentment, helps you combine color, design, and symbols to help your creative heart express itself.

And do come join us at Scrapbooking from the Inside Out and grab your kit and our free multimedia inspiration now…we would love to welcome you and join you on your journey. Come on by and explore your inner world!

–Rachel Kaufman, Scrapbooking from the Inside Out




P.S. Want more great tips on incorporating meaning into your visual design? Check out the following resources:


P. P.S. Don’t forget to download CK Parakeet for Free Font Friday!


Congratulations to our winner, Cori W! Watch for an email to claim your prize.

Cori W says:

I think that I tend to use clouds to show contentment.


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50 Responses to Make Good Scrapbook Layouts Great with Symbols

  1. jengd says:

    I actually haven’t really used any symbolism in my layouts but I could easily see using fabric, padded embellishments and felt to indicate contentment.

  2. Jamie Greene says:

    I really had not thought about my scrapbooking in this way. I always just pair pictures with colors and embellishment that I love. This requires more thought:)

  3. Anne says:

    I regularly use paper flowers and string to symbolize growth and learning. Thanks for helping look for new ‘symbols’ to use for what I’m trying to express through my pages.

  4. Cori W says:

    I think that I tend to use clouds to show contentment.

  5. Shelly says:

    Things from nature, leaves, flowers, animals, sunshine. These are things that I would use for contentment.

  6. Miriam Prantner says:

    I love how your questions really stretched my thinking about how I scrapbook. I don’t normally scrapbook around symbols, but I do try an mimic the shapes that might be in my layout/theme. So often these are circles, or waves (which could really be a great symbol for contentment I think), and as well as flowers.

  7. Alison Day says:

    I find that I use a lot of butterflies on my layouts – they (for me) symbolize growth, change, and freedom. I have 3 young girls as my “Scrappin’ Victims” so the butterflies seem appropriate (and nicely girly too!)

  8. tammy K says:

    I use clouds a lot, and circles…circles are soothing to me for some reason :)

  9. April W says:

    I find myself constantly using butterflies, and when I think of them, it always makes me happy, so maybe that’s why? I’ve never thought about it all that much…I just love the way they make my pages feel. :)
    – April W

  10. Candy says:

    Contentment….a warm fuzzy kitty, sunshine, the smell of jasmine, a hug, some ice tea, a rocking chair, some slow jazz, good conversation, peonies bursting with color, a good book, some needlepoint in progress, birds chirping, lady bugs, butterflies everywhere, a bubbling stream, moss on a rock, and a beautiful view.

  11. Karen Lingel says:

    Symbols for contentment would be sun or cats.

    Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  12. Rebecca Gaona says:

    When creating a memorial album of my mom, I used the color yellow, with ribbons, buttons and daisies along with the picture of her and I when I was a little girl wearing yellow dresses she made. I look at the layout and can feel the warmth of the sun, the softness of the fabric and it reminds of all the love she gave. ( It’s been sixteen years since we lost her to MS and when I am feeling blue I turn to the pages of the album and remember all the good times. Scrapbooking is so wonderfully theraputic.

  13. Mandy says:

    I would say circles. It encompasses one whole and doesn’t have pointy sides.

  14. Pingback: Scrapbooking Tips - Using Symbolism in Scrapbooking Layouts | DailyCraft - Your Daily Dose of Arts & Crafts Tips, Projects, & Inspiration. Quilting, Sewing, Knitting, Scrapbooking, Card Making and more!

  15. Mai says:

    I would use blue sky colors and bubble clouds… reminds you of vacation which is relaxing and content, but not too bright of a color scheme so that it symbolizes ecstatic or bubbly.

  16. Marilyn Nimmo says:

    I think I would use birds, butterflies, warm colors….things that make me happy!

  17. Mel H says:

    A pair of question marks joined to make a heart!

  18. Sheri K says:

    I haven’t thought of this technique either–but cute kittens and butterflies say contentment to me!

  19. Penny Arnold says:

    I think it would be open spots on my pages to represent space to grow, and full flower blooms that show how life can be full of life’s experiences, both of which make one’s life full of contentment! Love Penny

  20. Megan Smith says:

    For me it would be a bird – a sign of life and rebirth personally. My grandmother was a bird-lover, especially of hummingbirds. When she passed away, family members started seeing hummingbirds everywhere. It was like she was still with us. I actually have a hummingbird tattoo on my foot as a tribute to my grandmother.

  21. Wendy Orme says:

    I would probably use “family” or “home” themed products to symbolize my contentment.

  22. Jenny McGee says:

    I like to use circles or stars a lot. Mostly stars on boy pages. Stars make me happy. Thanks for a chance to win your kit.

  23. Contentment for me is something like flowers, trees. Thanks!

  24. Sue D says:

    Wow–I never thought of using symbols in my scrapbooking. I would probably use butterflies for contentment.

  25. Amber R. says:

    I would use a lot of soft colors, flowers. Thanks for the chance to win!

  26. Angela A says:

    I think I would use a circle to symbolize a family circle or togetherness for contentment.

  27. Emily Todd says:

    I usually use flowers, varying the color to match the emotion I want to capture. Love how this question challenges me!

  28. Cristina says:

    Great inspiration!
    I have never thought about what symbols I use in my pages… But whenever I use animals, it means home to me.

  29. I think I tend to use color as a symbol on my layouts to reflect the theme or mood of my pages. Love each of the layouts, you Ladies created with this kit!!

  30. Kelly Sas says:

    Very interesting thought. Now you have me thinking…. I do lots of travel LO and albums. I think warm tones, clouds and birds are the symbols for calm then for me.

  31. Lisa P says:

    This is a newer concept for me. I am trying to learn how to stretch myself in my scrapbooking… to look beyond the pictures. I like the concept of drawing a feeling out of the subjects and representing it on your layout. I think I would probably say contentment would be a beautiful mountain landscape, a meadow of flowers, a newborn baby sleeping, my comfortable living room with my family sitting around. I would use neutral colors with pops of soft blues, greens, browns.

  32. RamonaP says:

    I am not very good at using symbols beyond the obvious. This is definitely something I would have to think about and work on.

  33. Lynda White says:

    I never thought before about what symbolism I use on my layouts. I guess it depends on the layout. I ALWAYS include journaling because I think the story is the basis of each of my layouts. Could this be symbolism?

  34. Melissa H. says:

    I love to use doilies and hearts as symbols for contentment!

  35. Robin B. says:

    I like to use hearts and things from nature, butterflies, clouds, trees etc.

  36. charlene says:

    I think for contentment I’d have to have the symbols of a house, a heart and a circle to show how they are all connected to making me content.

  37. Debbie L. says:

    I think I tend to use circles for contentment. I am happy when I am content, and like a circle, I wish for that contentment to be unending!

  38. Chris E. says:

    I don’t use a lot of symbols per se, but I do try to have the layout try to portray my thoughts about the thing I am scrapping. I often resort to colors, bright for happy and darker or softer for less-than-happy. I also use a lot of circles and rectangles. I also like creating the effect of a “horizon”by having a border or line that goes all the way across the page.

  39. Katie says:

    I do use butterflies a lot and waves. I would probably use a frame to demonstrate contentment, maybe lots of frames together on one page. I really do love the lotus as well, I saw one page using them, and that is what is happening in my life right now. This looks like a really wonderful kit, definitely an amazing giveaway. Thanks for sharing!

    Katie B.

  40. Marsha F says:

    Beautiful layouts! I use circles in my layouts to stand for contentment.

  41. Catherine Franz says:

    I like to use poetry as a symbol. Normally not long poems. Sometimes by famous poets, especially ones I learned in school. Other times I write my own, even if they aren’t that great. The words are a symbol of how I’m feeling about the pics on the page or about what’s going on in my life. Sometimes it is a quote of something someone said at the time of pictures. Sometimes is a quote from the Bible. These symbols show my focus and personal grow. For example, I’m a practitioner of the Law of Attraction and I have an Attraction Scrapbook of what I want to attract into my life. The big symbol, as a saying, I wrote on 12/31/2011 that I wanted to change in what I was attracting is “The fastest way to make cash is to change what you are doing.” I took the scrapbook page out of my scrapbook last month and placed it into a 12×12″ frame especially design for scrapbook pages that I purchased at Michaels and it now on my wall. I use symbols of everything I want to attract into my life. It is a scapbook that is alway sitting out and I look at every day. It gives me goosebumps. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now and many of the things in the scrapbook have come into my life amazingly easy because of the vibrations created from creating the page and re-reading it so many times.

  42. Carol M. says:

    Warm colors is normally what I use on my scrapbook pages. That indicates contentment to me. If I need excitement I use bright colors. It depends on my photo mainly. I love to scrap sunsets on the beach.

  43. Steffanie S says:

    Not so much a symbol but rather a technique—stitching. When I stitch on my layouts it makes me feel at home, connected, grounded, comforted. That’s how I achieve contentment on my layouts!

  44. LinhC says:

    I tend to use stars. I don’t think they really scream “contentment”, but I like using stars because they make me happy, and that translates into “contentment” to me.

  45. Carol B says:

    I never thought about doing this, perhaps I would use a heart for contentment.

    Carol B

  46. Pingback: Make Good Scrapbook Layouts Great with Symbols | Creating Keepsakes Blog « danidaily

  47. Your symbolism is scrapbook examples theory is awesome, can I tell how much I love that relax one? LOVE it.

  48. Jasmine122 says:

    well, i ma jasmine tucker i hope you are going to like my scrapbook….

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  50. Pingback: How To Make A Good Scrapbook Page | The Scrapbook Idea

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