Fun with One: Monochromatic Scrapbook Layouts

In my day job I’m an art teacher, and one of my favorite art topics to teach is color theory. I find color fascinating – the scientific principles behind it, the emotional aspect it has on us, and how we as artists can manipulate and use it in our artworks. My students like learning about and using various color schemes in their art, and I find that I rely a lot of these color rules when I create scrapbook layouts as well. Today I want to share a color scheme “lesson” that might at first sound boring, but can create very dramatic and impactful scrapbook pages.


Monochromatic means “one-color”, and refers to a color scheme that uses only one color along with its tints and shades (light and dark values). Using just one color doesn’t mean that the end product will be dull or plain – in fact it can really showcase your photos and provide a pleasing, harmonious feel. Let me share some examples with you!



The first type of monochromatic color scheme I want to show you uses black and white and all the shades of gray in between. Using these tones can create a very classic look and feel. I love creating this type of scrapbook layout using black and white photos to enhance this effect. I had some black and white photos of my husband on a motorcycle trip through Montana last summer. I wanted to highlight the various shots of his prized Ducati bike as well as photos of him in a small town that shared his name – “McAllister”. I couldn’t choose between a mainly white or mainly black layout, so to show you the different effect that each creates, I made two identical layouts – one on white cardstock and one on black cardstock, both from the Shades of Neutral Paper Pack.


I had to do something to create interest and variety to ensure the layouts didn’t become dull. On the white layout I created an embossed border around the edges of the cardstock. I placed the cardstock in my 12″ Straight Trimmer 1/2″ from the edge of the paper and instead of using the cutting blade, I ran the tip of my Multipurpose Tool down along the length of the cutting groove. I repeated this again at 1″ and then did the same on all four sides to create a simple embossed design that creates interest and texture.


I laid down my four 4×6 photos and used Black ABC/123 Letter Stickers for the main part of the title. (TIP: when I want to achieve a nice straight line when using stickers, I place the bottom of each sticker along the edge of a clear flexible ruler, stick the top/exposed part of the letters down onto the layout and then slip the ruler out from underneath them!)


I hand wrote rest of the title and added a little bit of journaling at the bottom with the Dual Tip Pen in black and called it done.


On the black layout, I decided to create some interest by distressing the cardstock to match the slightly gritty feel of the photos. I used a regular emery board and rubbed it on an angle along all four edges of the cardstock, and then over the entire surface of the cardstock.


I placed the photos exactly the same as I did on the white page layout. Since I didn’t have white letter stickers or a white pen, I used letter stickers as templates and traced around them with the Silver Metallic Pen. (TIP: I used the Watercolor Green ABC/123 Letter Stickers because they are a sans serif font and easier to trace around! The Green and Gold stickers are both sans serif fonts while the Black and Navy are serif fonts)



I LOVE how the silver stands out on a black background! I also used the silver pen to write the journaling at the bottom of the layout.


So…Black or White? Which monochromatic layout do you prefer? I kind of like the black myself!



The second type of monochromatic layout I want share with you is more colorful, but still only uses one color and it’s tints and shades. CM’s Shades of Color Paper Packs are a great example of this principle – in each pack you have 5 different versions of the main color. Used together they create interest and variety but still have an overall harmonious effect. I sent some photos of our vacation in Osoyoos, British Columbia off to be printed and when I got them back I was blown away by the gorgeous blues that dominated the photos. I knew that by using several different colors of blue cardstock from the Shades of Blue Paper Pack I would have a stunning layout with no need for patterned paper.


I chose to use the two pieces of the light aqua cardstock from the pack as the base for my layout and selected the three darker shades of blue to use as accents (the only color I did not use from the pack was the lightest blue – it simply was not vibrant enough for the blues in my photos!)

I had taken three photos that created a D-I-Y panorama, so I grouped those together across the top of the layout and matted them on the navy paper. I distressed the edges of the photo mat with the same emery board technique I used in the black layout above.

I also used the Square Shape Maker to punch out two small photos, matted them on the dark aqua cardstock and distressed the edges of those as well. I placed and adhered the rest of my photos – layering a couple into the border strips at the bottom to look as though they were in the waves – and left some room for journaling.


For the wavy border across the bottom, I cut two 1″ strips from each of the three accent colors, tore an edge off of each and layered them. (TIP: Always tear the paper in the same direction…it doesn’t matter which way, but be consistent! I like to hold the strip of paper in my right hand and tear down and towards me with my left hand. Try a few different methods and see which one feels natural to you.)


To create the fun layered scrapbook page title, I placed upper and lower case Navy ABC/123 Letter Stickers somewhat haphazardly onto a small piece of the royal blue cardstock and trimmed around the letters with my All-Purpose Scissors. I lightly distressed the cardstock with an emery board, adhered it onto a piece of the dark aqua cardstock, then trimmed and distressed again. Finally, I layered it onto the navy cardstock, then trimmed and distressed one more time. The letters that formed the rest of the title were placed directly onto my cardstock base.


The last thing I did was create those cute water drop splashes as embellishments. I punched circles from each of the three different blues with the Circle Shape Maker and trimmed them into drops by cutting an “S” through each circle and rounding off the corners/points with my Scissors.


I distressed the edges of each drop with the emery board as well and popped them off the layout with Foam Squares for some dimension. Journaling was written with my trusty Black Dual-Tip Pen.


I love how the variety of blues in this layout echo all the gorgeous blues of the water and sky in the photos. it takes me right back to the lake…sigh!



The third type of monochromatic layout features a little more variety, but still stays true to the one color theme. We all know that CM’s paper packs have a beautiful range of bold and vibrant patterns, but don’t forget about the tone-on-tone designs on the back side of the designer papers! These papers are great to use in a monochromatic layout as there is usually just one predominant color, and the visual interest is created from the subtle pattern or texture.

I had taken a couple of photos of my younger son reading on his iPad, and because I had zoomed in so close to his face, there wasn’t really much in the way of color in the photos – only the green of his T-shirt. So, I thought I would play off that solid green tee shirt with a bunch of green patterns. I chose some solid green cardstock from the Shades of Green Paper Pack and then gathered papers with predominantly green patterns from the A Year to Remember, Look on the Bright Side, Strut Your Stuff and Fresh Picks Paper Packs. I also knew I would use the Watercolor Green ABC/123 Letter Stickers.


I cut several strips from each of the patterned papers to about 1.5″ x 11″. I played around with them, placing them on a light green background piece of cardstock. I decided to add a strip of a solid darker green for contrast, and for fun I punched it out with the Star Border Maker Cartridge. This gave me lots of little green stars to use on the layout as well – bonus!

I trimmed a few of the strips into banners, left a few plain and made pointy ends on the others. I adhered them all to the cardstock page to use as a background for the photos, overlapping and placing each one slightly askew for interest. The photos (matted on white cardstock to stand out from the patterned background) were then placed on top of all the strips.

I added the title “SAM” with the green letter stickers and journaled descriptive words in point-form style to capture his personality with my Black Dual-Tip Pen. I also “stitched” around some of the paper strips with the pen to provide more interest and contrast. I added a smattering of those cute punched stars for the final touch, and another monochromatic layout was done!




I hope I have been able to convince you that monochromatic doesn’t mean boring! Leave a comment and let us know what you think about having fun with just one color!


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