I felt a certain amount of pressure to come up with a really amazing baby book for my daughter, considering my business.  But when I finally sat down to do it (yes, even pros can procrastinate), I felt really creatively stuck.  I found a set of digital papers/backgrounds that I really liked, but nothing was “clicking”.  I had all the photos and text laid out, but no matter how I arranged the page, nothing looked right to me.

First, I tried using a pretty pink background, but it swallowed my text and overwhelmed the images:

Making Busy Background Papers Usable (1)Next, I tried lightening up the background by adding a white layer on top of it and adjusting opacity:

Making Busy Background Papers Usable (2)

This was better.  I could read my text again, and the paper was looking elegant and light.  But the page still didn’t … pop.  There was something missing.  I nearly scrapped the whole layout, but instead I stepped back and took a tour through pages and backgrounds that I liked in other designers’ albums.  I tried to figure out what was so appealing about them.  One pattern I started to see was the use of smaller patterned elements on solid backgrounds.  But I liked the neapolitan papers I had found, and the designer didn’t sell coordinating elements.

What’s a stubborn girl to do?  Make her own elements!  I cropped down the paper to become a ribbon instead.

Making Busy Background Papers Usable (3)With this version of things, I actually noticed the pretty pattern even more.  It still left too much white space, however.  Even making the background a light pink color wasn’t enough for me.  Finally, I started playing with the Matte feature in FotoFusion.  This function will “cut” an image into various shapes.  I decided to use a “tag” shape to demarcate the two different kinds of text in the album.  Quotes I had copied from emails and posts written during my pregnancy would be on tags, and text I was writing while creating the album would stand on its own.  The color became too dark on these tags, so here is where I used my white layer to make sure the text was still readable.  I also zoomed out on the pattern to make the design relatively smaller and less overwhelming.

For a finishing touch, I decided that the number of “months pregnant” on each spread would be marked with a button (a circle-shaped matte of the patterned paper).

Making Busy Background Papers Usable (4)

Ta-da!  My spread finally came together.  I used these techniques throughout the album, ensuring that I could use even extremely busy backgrounds without creating busy pages.  I also faked my way into a coordinated set of backgrounds, ribbons, tags, and buttons 🙂

P.S. – AestheticAddiction, the designer who created the original papers, is currently having an amazing sale – entire packs of digital paper for $1.00 each!  I only stumbled on the sale when I went back to find a link to this pack, and I immediately filled up my cart.  I’ve already got half a dozen sets from her, and I love how they coordinate.  Check her out!