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How to Pick Colors for a Scrapbook Page

Learn how to pick colors for a scrapbook page in this Howcast video featuring expert Carla Sylvester.


When you're designing a scrapbook page, one of the decisions you have to make is what colors am I going to use on my page? Well, one way to do that is just to look at a paper pad and say, oh, I love these pretty colors. I'm going to use this on my scrapbook page. And that might work. One thing that you will know about that pad is that all your colors will go together because they're already designed that way. But will they go with your photo?

Another way to select your colors is by looking at the colors in your photo. So I want to run you through an example of how you can do this. So I've got a photo here of my husband, and we've got a lot of color going on in this picture. So he's wearing a red shirt, and we've got a multi-colored piece of furniture, and, oh, another crazy multi-colored rug. So what color is going to work here?

What I like to do is look at the subject, the focal point in the photo, and pick out a color that might work. So he's wearing this red shirt, so I looked at this red piece of paper, and it actually might work. But what does it do to his skin tone? It also makes his skin tone a little bit more ruddy. So that's something you wanna think about. If I put it against this brown paper, see what it does, how that changes? Now what is popping out at you? I'm seeing the background here, the browns in the photo that are similar to the browns in the paper.

And now I thought, well, what about the plant? No, we don't really want to look at the plant. This color could work because it's actually the opposite of the color wheel of the red, and so it actually might make the red pop a little bit more. And this color, it's kind of a tan color, but it's called kraft, kraft with a K, K-R-A-F-T. It's actually a really good color for a lot of different kinds of scrapbook pages. And so I thought, well, what if I try kraft?

It's okay, but I actually might want it more for the background of my paper. I don't like it right next to this photo, again, because it draws my eye more to this background. So in the end I actually chose the green because I felt like it made my husband's shirt kind of really pop out more. But I did like all the other colors in the photo. And so I thought, gee, maybe I could bring in a piece of patterned paper that would coordinate and not clash, with just a touch.

Now this isn't a finished scrapbook page. I would do, definitely, other things to this page. But
this gives you an idea of how you might go about picking colors to coordinate with the key photo on your page.

So one way to do that is by looking at the colors in the photo. And by the way, here's another great example of that. If you look at this page, you see all the green in the photos, and the color of the children's clothing, and these papers go spot on perfectly with it. The black background makes everything pop, and so this is a great example of where coordinated papers do actually work really well with the colors in the photos.

A separate way that you could also think about finding your colors is the mood that you're trying to set on your page. Is it a peaceful mood? Is it a happy mood? If it's happy, then you might want bright, cheery colors. If it's peaceful, you might want serene blues and greens. So I have this picture here of my husband and me, not very colorful. So because there's so very little color in it, it can go a lot of different ways. At first, I did look at the colors that are in the picture, the blacks and the greens, and I thought, well, that's boring. So let's go for some color, because this is really all about our relationship and how much fun we have together.

And so in the end, I went for kind of a crazy mix of colors. I love red, that's my happy color, my color for excitement. And so I went with this really colorful page that ended up looking like my sample over here. So here you see the colors are kind of very exciting, and it can work because the colors in the photo are very simple. If this had been a very colorful photo like the first one I showed you, it might've gotten just a little too busy.

Finally, one way to look for colors for your scrapbook page is to use a color wheel. A color wheel looks like this, and you can find it at a craft store. And without going into all the many different ways that you can use this, I just want to say that you can pick one color from your photo. Suppose I were to say, gee, I really like the purple on this page. You have several different arrows here. You can point that arrow to one of the colors, and then look at the shape that it is a part of, like this orange triangle. And it will tell you what other colors would go well together with that one color.

Now there are many different types of color schemes, and this color wheel comes with instructions that tell you how to find them all. But just know that a color wheel can actually be a really great assistant in helping you choose the colors for your scrapbook page.

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