Black & White with a Pop of Color


Welcome back to Tanoshii Crafts! The two-page spread pictured above is from the same scrapbook as the Tonari no Totoro page in my previous entry. The inspiration for this one was actually a contest from the Fisk-a-teers, titled “black and white with a pop of color”.

I have an iPad app called Color Splash (there is a similar app available for Mac) which allowed me to achieve the black and white photo effect in both pictures. Essentially, the program converts my photos into black and white, and then I use a stylus to color in the parts of the photo that I want to pop in their original color. It’s super easy to get this awesome effect, and then I just save the photo, move it back to my computer, and send it off to be printed with my other photos.

Since the theme of this page is Japanese fashion, I wanted the look to be a little bit edgy and modern. I also wanted it to be apparent that the subjects in the photos are in Japan, since the cropping of the photos makes it hard to tell. With my criteria being black and white and Japanese, I pretty quickly fell on the idea of using Japanese newspapers as my background; however, the challenge here was finding Japanese newspapers now that I’m living in America. Google to the rescue: an image search for shinbun (Japanese for ‘newspaper’) gave me plenty of results. I put my favorite images into Photoshop and did some minor editing to make sure they all had a similar look with nice, sharp contrast, then printed them out on ordinary printer paper.

The actual background was created by cutting my printed newspapers into strips, and laying them out until I was satisfied with the effect. Since the base paper wasn’t going to show, I actually taped the strips to the paper inserts that came in my album’s page protectors – it was cost-effective and I didn’t have to cut up any of my nice cardstock (or even pull out a ruler!).

To emphasize the color pops in the pictures, I wanted to bring the colors out into the page. A slim border around each picture in a coordinating color really accentuates the photos, and the tiny pink stones in the title are just enough to pull in the third color. I framed the photos a second time in black because I find that clean black frames really bring pictures into focus on a page – it’s a go-to technique that I use in a lot of layouts. Even a thin border will make a picture seem more “on purpose”, especially when there’s a lot of pattern going on in the background.

The title on this page was created using one of my favorite new resources: alphabet stacks. Seriously, everything seems to come in stacks lately, I’ve found journaling stacks, border stacks… but alphabet stacks are by far my favorite. If you haven’t seen these wonderful products yet, it’s kind of like having a collection of post-it note pads: you have one stack for each die-cut letter, and there are several of each of three designs or colors in each stack. The result is so many letters in coordinating styles, it would be months before you found yourself without E’s or A’s or whichever letter you usually run out of first. In this case, I had a black and white set (perfect for my theme) and I mixed up the styles to add a bit of interest to my title.

As far as embellishments went on this layout, I wanted to stay pretty simple – the background alone is chaotic enough – but I still needed something to draw your eye to the foreground and emphasize those photos a little more. The rhinestone swirl on the left side is great with the photo of the girls, but I wanted the picture on the right to be more masculine, despite the rather flamboyant color of the men’s jeans. The studs down the side of the frame were a good way to add some embellishment (and yes, even a little sparkle) to a layout without going too feminine; a balance which is sometimes tricky, especially in scrapbooking. Plus, it helped me to achieve that edgy look I had been going for all along.

The continuity of this layout was really important this time. I didn’t want to have two coordinating pages as much as I wanted to have one big layout, both because of the theme of the page and the photos which held more weight together than separate; as well as the fact that these are once again 8×8 pages, so I had less space than usual to fit all of my elements. I laid the photo of the girls across both pages, but was careful to cut it in a way that neither cut off anyone’s limbs nor split the girls apart – neither would be very aesthetically pleasing. In this way, we still have the effect of the photo being laid across both pages, effectively joining the two sides together, but I only cut off an unimportant corner of the photo.

Sometimes it amazes me how much thought can go into a single scrapbook layout. Much of what we do when we’re crafting is unconscious – something looks cool, or really seems to work, but we might not be sure why. I find that really delving into why can help bring interesting elements and effects into other projects, and also helps to make me a better crafter. Hopefully some of these techniques inspired you to try something new. Keep an eye on this blog for future updates, and if you want to be notified of new posts, feel free to sign up via email using the link on the right side of the page. Ja ne! (See you later!)


Totoro Paper Piecing

Welcome to Tanoshii Crafts! For my first post in this blog, I wanted to highlight one of my favorite scrapbook pages. This is part of an 8×8 scrapbook dedicated to the time I spent living and working in Japan, and I have to admit, 8×8 is more of a challenge than I expected. I’m learning how to make an impact in a smaller space with less photos. In a way, it’s good that it forces me to edit; I have a bad habit of taking several hundred photos per day when I’m traveling.

The photo I chose for this page is one of my favorites. For anyone who has seen the film Tonari no Totoro from Studio Ghibli, the cat-bus (and, for that matter, the totoro) will probably look familiar. This is a display in a toy store in a popular tourist area in Nagasaki. I visited this shop on several occasions (everyone wants a picture with the cat-bus!), but this was my first visit, with two new friends from the JET Programme.

Since the focus in the photo is the famous cat-bus, I decided to continue the theme of the animated feature by devoting most of the page to a totoro paper piecing. For those who haven’t tried this technique before, paper piecing is a method of creating your own embellishments by cutting shapes from different papers, and layering them to create an image – easy! Depending on what shape you want, you can often find great templates online specifically for paper piecing (I like the selection at Scrapbooks Etc., they’re updated frequently and often inspiring on their own), but sometimes your ideas will require a little extra digging. I find that a google image search including the words “coloring page” with the object you’re hoping to create will often get you a nice template. That’s exactly how I found the one I used for this totoro.

Once you have your template pieces cut out, trace them on the backs of the papers you’re going to use and cut them out. Since I was mimicking an animated character, I stuck to solid colors, but patterned papers often have a very cool effect. I always use chalk in a slightly darker shade to add definition along the edges – you’d be amazed how much extra dimension this adds to the page. In this case, I also used googly eyes to give the totoro a sense of life… And fun! It seems like every time I turn to this page in my scrapbook, he’s making a new face at me.

The photo really called for bright color, which I achieved by slicing up some coordinating paper strips for the background. Those small, 6″x6″ or 4.5″x6.5″ coordinating paper packs are great for little pops of color, or even inspiration – when I get stuck, I just flip through the ones I have on-hand, and often I will find a fun small print or a bright color that gets me started again. These strips came from the a day at the Beach pack by the Paper Studio.

Hopefully you picked up some ideas, or at least some inspiration, from this Tonari no Totoro themed scrapbook page. Keep an eye on this blog for future updates, and if you want to be notified of new posts, feel free to sign up via email using the link on the right side of the page. Ja ne! (See you later!)