How to Read a Scrapbook Sketch

Have you ever been excited to slip into a much-needed therapeutic cropping cocoon… only to be met by a horrible case of scrapper’s block? Or maybe you’re new to scrapbooking and staring at your project pile makes you wish you could say “craft-a-cadabra!” and magically know where to start. Here’s an idea that will have you cropping like it’s hot in no time: use page layout sketches as creative inspiration! Not sure how to “read” a sketch? Not a problem – check out the details below!

What are scrapbook sketches?

Think of sketches like “blueprints” for creating pages. They feature outlines for scrapbook layouts that give you a general idea of where to place your papers, photos, embellishments, titles and journal spaces, and typically come in grayscale tones to allow you to visualize the page designs with your own products.

How do I “read” a sketch?

Note: The following gives examples of what each shape on a sketch layout could represent but remember – it’s up to YOU!


  • Dark rectangle or square boxes: Photos
  • Rectangle or square boxes: Papers or mats
  • Long rectangles or circles: Die-cut border embellishments, border stickers, BMC or border punch borders
  • Other shapes: Embellishments or stickers
  • Title: Large writing, large sticker with words or ABC Stickers
  • Journal or lines: Place for writing and journaling
  • Corresponding shades: Can suggest using the same designer paper, cardstock or mats

Do I have to follow the sketch exactly?

It’s up to you! You can pick and choose the elements that appeal to you, create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece loosely based on the sketch or completely scraplift the whole layout (this is perfectly acceptable, and in fact, highly encouraged). Scraplifted sketch layout pictured above!

Why are sketches so great?

Where to begin?! The simplicity of sketches allows you to get creative with your scrapbook pages without having to come up with your own layout or design ideas. You can also use any product collection you like and any number of photos (remember how you can pick and choose which things to follow?!). And finally – there are TONS of free sketches available to you online!

Where can I find sketches?

Your first source shouldn’t surprise you at all… CM! We post four sketches a week on our @CreativeMemories Instagram account (along with samples of completed layouts, many of which you’ll recognize from our marketing images). If you’re not on Insta, you can find these weekly sketches posted Sundays here on the blog. You can also check out our Scrapbook Layout Ideas – Sketches Pinterest board. Then there’s always Virtual Crop – we host several Virtual Crop events a year on our Facebook page and each includes multiple sketch challenges you can complete and submit virtually (along with thousands of other croppers around the US and Canada!) to share your sketch-inspired masterpieces and win prizes. Lastly, there is an abundance of scrapbook sketch ideas when you do a simple Google search.

So, there you have it – the 411 on scrapbook sketches! Comment below to tell us if you learned anything new, how you feel about sketches or if you’ll be trying them for the first time!

26 thoughts on “How to Read a Scrapbook Sketch

  1. Sketches are great- would love to see size measurements for mats and photos on sketch also, so no guessing on what size to crop photos and mats.

    1. I’ve never done a virtual crop but can’t wait to try on February 8th. The 411 was a great help! Thank you!

    2. Yes, My Big issue is the photo sizes in the “Grey” boxes? That would be great to have so we know how much of our photos need to be cropped….Thanks!!

  2. I agree the sizes measurements for the mats and photos would help. Also I would love to see some sketches with more than three photos on it, for those of us who like to put a ton of photos on a page.

    1. I totally agree with you, about the measurements. I’ve been wanting those for years. Praying this comes to pass, sooner than later.
      Tammy Smith

  3. I like saving these, especially like you said about hiting a mental block.
    LOVE how you clarified each element. Super Helpful. As the other comments suggest, sizes can be very helpful also (as a starting point anyway 😉)

  4. Hi everyone! Thanks for your feedback. The Sketch Round-Up posts have links to blog posts that will give you the measurements and step-by-step instructions for each layout. And since it is just a sketch you can always make it yours by adding more or less photos.

  5. Thank you. I will teaching a scrapbook class at the library. This article will help with that.

    1. Vickie, at your class at the library, are you teaching brand new scrapbookers or are they customers? What do you teach in the class?

  6. I would love to have this post in the form of a handout. It would be a wonderful tool for workshops. I know I can print the blog post, but it could be formatted better for a handout.

  7. I have never done a virtual crop before. I am looking forward to it. Also for anyone looking for ideas you can always look in old Scraps. They have great ideas and even show you some border ideas as well as other things you can put together for your pages. Thanks again for all the help.

  8. I am newer to digital scrapbooking and cropping and learning so much. These layouts will help me to organize what is in my head!! I am so excited to do this.

  9. I have never done a virtual crop, I found this very interesting and helpful. One question do I have to use Creative Memories paper, stickers and etc at the crop or can I use other brands of supplies?

  10. I love these CM sketches. Can you please share on how to print them out, so I can place them into a binder for future use. Thanks

  11. I print the sketch out have it in front of me and I’m good to go! I have made a book from all the sketches and challenges with notes in case I ever want to recreate, since they would look totally different!

  12. I love the idea of the Sketches. I have been spending a huge amount of time organizing my pictures. I’m looking forward to getting to Scrapbooking. When I can I will be using the sketches. Thanks for the 411 article. It was very helpful!

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