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  • Writer's pictureDevon Noel Lee

Playing With Color in Heritage Scrapbooks

Selecting a color scheme for a family history album is probably one of the most exciting and sometimes difficult parts of creating a scrapbook. With paper scrapbooking, one would spend hours trying to decide what colors and color combinations work best. It would be very costly to cut and glue your pictures to a variety only to decide it doesn’t look as good as you had hoped.

Thankfully, digital scrapbooking makes it affordable and fun to try different combinations of colors and papers until you find the one that works for you. Let’s see how I used a layout with three other color options.

Heritage Scrapbook Layout - Original Home

Cover page template with photo and title in place

As you can see, I can have three or four colors in my color scheme. The template designer has given me a few hints of where the light and darkest papers should go. And, I want the picture of the family farm in the center not to get lost.

If you have a digital scrapbook kit with papers and embellishments that meet your needs, stop reading this post and create your pages.

Unfortunately, I don’t always find kits that have all the papers I want. Or, the kit costs more than I want to spend. So, I usually pull digital scrapbook papers from a variety of scrapbook kits for my heritage album. Since I’m not a designer by trade, I need help knowing what colors go together.

The first step is to look at a collection of color palettes from I came across this color scheme that I thought would work nicely for my heritage scrapbook. It is a nice blend of rich colors that aren’t always brown or black and white.

I found different pieces of scrapbook paper on my computer that I thought might work nicely. So I opened them in Photoshop Element.

As I opened each piece of potential paper, I weighed them against the color scheme. I tried to match them as closely as possible (notice the maroon color is now more mauve). I also looked at the sample papers against each other to see if they were compatible. In the end, I came up with this layout option.

Heritage Scrapbook Layout for vintage home with purple and gray color scheme

Title Page created using Color Combo 34

Monochromatic Heritage Scrapbook Color Scheme

Then I decided I wanted to try a monochromatic green color palette for my family history album. The color scheme that I found has four different green shades: two dark, one medium, and an interesting light choice.

Light green proved to be very difficult to find on my computer. So, I transformed a piece of paper I already had to be closely related. As I selected other green papers, I kept finding myself using the color palette as more of a guideline (2 darks, 1 medium, and 1 light).

Layout inspired by ColorCombo 52Heritage Scrapbook Layout for vintage home with green color scheme

Layout inspired by ColorCombo 52

Though the palette isn’t exactly like the one I tried to emulate, I did find a pleasing color combination. I also decided to decrease the size of the outer mat. Unfortunately, the layout seemed out of balance with the color choices I was making.

Since no rule says I have to follow the template exactly, I modified it. I think this looks nice. I also played around with the title. First, I separated the location information of the main title. Next, I chose a tag embellishment and placed the information on it. This gave the layout more balance and flow. I also added a line of digital stitching to separate the upper border and the lower section. It was a nice touch.

Three Color Heritage Scrapbook Page

The next color combination I decided to try was black, brown, royal blue, and cream. This time, I thought about finding a piece of pattern paper with some of these colors together.

Layout inspired by ColorComboHeritage Scrapbook Layout for vintage home with blue and brown color scheme 11

Layout inspired by ColorCombo 11

I found black paper with navy and cream pinstripes. I loved how that enhanced the quality of the dark top border. Next, I tried looking for a medium brown similar to the sample color palette.

I found quite a few browns with rich texture, but nothing closely matched the sample color. So, I decided to compare the browns to the black with pinstripe paper.

By doing that, I finally found a brown that worked nicely. And it was fairly close to the suggested color recommendation. So sometimes, changing how you look for a paper (matching the color recommendation vs. compliment to papers already selected) helps you pick the right one.

I loved how placing the dark brown in the picture's outer mat resembled a picture frame. When I used dark brown as the title mat, I found the white text contrasted to the dark paper pleasing. Since the closer you come to a black and white color contrast increases the readability of writing in print, I knew this was a keeper.


The next question was what to do about the dark blue. I knew if I added another dark color to this layout, the papers would blend as they wouldn’t have enough visual contrast. So, I decided to use the blue as a guide (what type of blue, navy, blue-green, red-blue) and find a lighter version. I found a nice light, dark blue. When I added the piece as a background to the brown frame, the layout came alive. I went a few shades lighter than the select blue for the inner picture mat and kept it a solid color. After adding a few accents, the layout came together nicely.

I hope this look into how I select a color scheme for a layout or album was beneficial. It pays to play around with color combinations whether you're doing a paper or a digital scrapbook. Of course, your favorites will vary from mine, but that’s the beauty of it. Variation is the spice of life.

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