weekend creative : hand-drawn grids + repeated shapes


I like organized layouts.

I have done my fair share of a variety of different kinds of layouts (single photo, artsy, words + photos, etc), but truth be told hand-drawn grids (where the grid is drawn onto the background cardstock) are one of my most favorite ways to actually construct a page. Using a grid provides a home for all my elements: photos, words, embellishments, stamps, patterned papers, etc.

Something about working in this fashion always seems to encourage me to dig through my stash and find some of those long-lost embellishments I forgot I had purchased.

All supplies from Designer Digitals. Ali Edwards: Hand-Drawn Overlay Grid (available Sunday), Stacked Dates (available Sunday), Painterly Backgrounds No. 1, The Story Word Art, Everyday Twill; Katie Pertiet: Messy Stamped Alpha No.2, Botanist Notebook Vol.2, Clock Parts 2, Curled Journal Spots, Journaling Strip Masks, Lil Bit Tags; Pattie Knox:Absolutely Acrylic Elements; Jessie Edwards: Gloriously Paper; Andrea Victoria: Faux Bois-Woods, Pina Paper Pack; Lynn Grieveson: Flitter Kit


Layout created for a class Margie taught this past year. Click for larger image. Supplies: Cardstock: Bazzill; Pen: American Crafts; Everything Else: Making Memories - felt flowers, ribbon, stickers, patterned paper.

Here's the process I go through to create a hand-drawn grid:

1. Punch out a bunch of squares with my Marvy Giga punch. Use all those squares to figure out how many I want on my layout. Most of the time I fill it up (16, 2x2 squares on a 12x12) but you could also do half a page or a single row of squares to create a smaller grid.

2. After punching I arrange them on the background cardstock and use a pen (American Crafts Precision Pens) to draw around them to create the hand-drawn boxes (use the punched pieces as templates).

3. Don't worry if there are little pen mistakes in your grid - that is part of the "look" and the "charm" of this style of grid. If you want it perfect you could create a bunch of squares on your computer and print those out onto cardstock. The digital version of my 12x12 hand-drawn grid will be available from Designer Digitals on Sunday (could easily be printed onto an 8x8 for a smaller version).

4. Add elements. Not all places within the grid "homes" need to be filled with a bunch of stuff. Sometimes just a word sticker is enough - especially on antwo-page spread. I also like to have some elements breaking out of the grid shapes (such as the larger flower on page one of the two-page spread above).

A hand-drawn grid design such as those above would be a cool base for a holiday project...hmmm...need to put that on my list for this year (similar to this one I created a couple years ago).

You may also notice that I like to do a painted background underneath the hand-drawn grid. This is as simple as dumping some paint onto the cardstock and using your brush to create a sqaure that does not touch the edges of the paper. Let it dry before drawing in your grid.

One of the biggest ideas here is this: don't reinvent the wheel design-wise each time you go to tell a story. I love grids. Hand-drawn. Computer generated. Punched. Etc. Basically any lined up repetition of shape. They are a great way for me to organize information + accents and they are a great starting point for just about any project.

Here's a couple non-hand-drawn grid/repeated shape examples from the past:


Here's one from 2005. The white on top of the green cardstock is an old transparency from Karen Russell's Narratives line. Those metal rimmed circle tags continue to be a favorite today.

Grids don't have to be hand-drawn. Grids do not have to be squares. Grab a glass from the kitchen and create a layout based on a bunch of circles or gather a bunch of chipboard circles and use those as your foundation. Think repetition of shape.


Above is my second-ever layout from back in 2002. Photos placed together to create a grid with "gutter" space in between each photo. This was before I had purchased any embellishments at all - words + photos and some vellum.

The examples from Three Things this week were also grids.

And one more I posted last weekend featuring a circle grid (good example of partial page grid):


All products from Designer Digitals: Ali Edwards: Layered Template #22, Circle Overlays + Frames, Family Hand Drawn Words; Katie Pertiet: Little Forest Friends, Krafty Ledger, Flossy Hearts; Patti Knox: Have A Heart, Absolutely Clear Acrylic Elements, Have A Heart Felt 3; Anna Victoria: Autmn Crush

And the cover page for my Week In The Life CKU album from 2007 (I have plans to do another version of this project sometime in the next month):


This one is really a bunch of square punched photos and patterned paper squares all gathered together in a nice grid format. Again, it's not rocket science. It is punching things out and lining things up and finding a way you like to do things and repeating it for different stories.

Another way to think in terms of a grid? Use divided page protectors - they essentially provide you with homes for all your elements. You can read more about working with those here.

Today's prompt is to create a layout (paper or digital or both) that incorporates a literal grid. Play around. Try creating a hand-drawn base or play around with aligning a bunch of the same shape on one or two pages.


[ weekend creative is a semi-regular feature appearing on Fridays : past projects can be located in the archives. ]

46 thoughts

  1. Jessica Stoops

    2008-09-19 08:35:26 -0400

    Ali- I had been thinking about that square punch you rave about for awhile. Your post today pushed me to finally get and try some grid layouts. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Molly I

    2008-09-19 10:17:39 -0400

    Good stuff! These are just classic, timeless layouts. I love all of your work, Ali, but this look is the reason I was drawn to your books and your style in the first place. Hope you're well.
    - Molly

  3. jennlui

    2008-09-19 10:30:19 -0400

    ooooohhh great inspiration! thanks ali! sometimes it's the simplest things, like repeating squares, that make a light bulb light up!!! i'm running to my art journal right now!!! have a great weekend!!!

  4. Lisa

    2008-09-19 12:02:15 -0400

    This is a technique I learned from you at WITL/CKU/Nashville last year. I've used it many, many times since. It has become a favorite for me too. And I can't tell you how many friends have bought the square giga punch after browsing through my layouts. You should have bought stock! As always, thanks for the many things you teach us, Ali.

  5. Julie in Houston

    2008-09-19 15:28:15 -0400

    I love your simple style. I've definately been over thinking design and using a grid patter is so easy! I will think about this post next time I scrap! I love the simple and clean style of yours.

  6. Jen

    2008-09-19 17:01:01 -0400

    I've always liked your style. I like organized layouts too. I knew I was going to enjoy your post when I read that first statement!!! ;D Tee he! And so I also laughed as I was reading down through your post because I've been struggling with a creative slump and wondering what I need to do...I need to get back to what things I love...simple...clean lines...squares!!! ;D Here's the post on my blog for today...ironic :D...http://jencropable.com/2008/09/19/and-it-all-just-falls-into-place/
    Thanks for another great, great post!
    Have an excellent weekend!!!!

  7. Rachel Dallaire

    2008-09-19 21:27:58 -0400

    Totally awesome! I was inspired by your post to create this:

  8. Andrea Ford

    2008-09-19 22:04:19 -0400

    Great grids Ali. Will give this a go for my next LO-I love chopping up photos so this will tie in so I can make them fit. I am also trying out scrapping the features of my son that are quite 'autistic' but they are jsut uniquely him and things I want to celebrate and acknowledge make him so special. Thanks for the inspiration again! xoxox

  9. henny Lee

    2008-09-20 05:45:33 -0400

    Thanks for being such an inspiration to me, Ali. May the Lord bless you with His perfect joy and peace.
    Love from Singapore!!!

  10. kristi

    2008-09-20 07:38:46 -0400

    loving these...completely miss looking at your scrappies.

  11. Catherine

    2008-09-20 15:22:47 -0400

    Love the cousins layout-very nice!

  12. O

    2008-09-20 22:34:55 -0400

    All your layouts are fantastic, Ali. Your style speaks to my creative soul. :) Here's my take on this Weekend Creative: http://im-up-for-the-challenge.blogspot.com/2008/09/weekend-creative_21.html
    Simon was an adorable baby and has grown into such a wonderful little boy. :)
    Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!

  13. iHanna

    2008-09-21 00:58:21 -0400

    I love grids a lot too, yours are always inspiring!

  14. Elisa Bohm

    2008-09-21 03:28:40 -0400

    So I tried this and had so much fun. So many great ideas in one post. I was feeling a little stuck creatively and this challange was a great way to break through.
    I started with painting the cardstock. That's something I've never done before and I love it!! Drawing the grids was so much easier than I thought and I turned out so nicely.
    The layout was about all the different houses we've lived in and the small squares were perfect because I don't have great pics of those places. The finished product is wonderful. I love it. This is a technique I will use again and again.
    Thank you for teaching me something new.

  15. Laura

    2008-09-21 05:15:43 -0400

    Thank you for this week's Weekend Creative.
    I was staring at four 4"x4" photos last night and trying to figure out how to arrange them on my page. Your grid idea popped into my head and I am pleased with the results. Thank you for all your great ideas and congratulations on the baby.

  16. Jenny Bax

    2008-09-21 05:45:30 -0400

    Thanx Ali!
    You always get me fired up en wanting to create! So I handdrew my grids and just enjoyed creating. http://www.twopeasinabucket.com/pg.asp?cmd=display&gallery=1&layout_id=1395283

  17. Anna Aspnes

    2008-09-21 08:47:29 -0400
  18. Bethany

    2008-09-21 09:29:56 -0400

    Thanks for the inspiration! I finally bought a 2" square punch and created a page last night using punched squares on a grid. Love it!

  19. sue

    2008-09-21 10:46:38 -0400

    Love the hand drawn boxes. Your layouts always look so effortless and that is a sign of a true artist. Me? Not so much but I try.

  20. Michele

    2008-09-21 11:50:04 -0400

    Love the grid template and painterly backgrouds. Would you consider making them in 8.5 x 11 as well??

  21. Loren

    2008-09-21 17:10:34 -0400

    Thanks for inspiring us this weekend Ali! I passed on the challenge to 2 other friends and we loved the painting and grids. Turned out some great layouts that we're so happy with and they were so easy. Thanks!

  22. ChanelD

    2008-09-22 09:51:11 -0400

    I did it! Loved the results.

  23. Elizabeth

    2008-09-25 00:20:29 -0400

    Hi Ali,
    I was inspired a few months back by your Summer 2007 - Antique Fair Layout when you posted it on your blog, that it gave me an idea of what to do with all my "366 Photo a Day" photos I have been doing this year.
    Each day I take a photo of an everyday thing we are doing and by the end of the month have a great collection of our everyday lives.
    I used your grid system for my January layout. http://littleowlhoothoot.typepad.com/this_is_how_it_is/
    I love how it turned out - SO THANK YOU FOR THE INSPIRATION :)

  24. Renee A.

    2008-09-25 12:52:45 -0400

    that was such a fun class at CKU-Anaheim last year Ali. I want to do it again!

  25. Marjorie

    2008-09-28 16:19:10 -0400

    I have longed to do a grid layout for awhile now and was inspired again when you posted all the info in one place last week. So I finally made one and really love it. It's located here: http://marjorietowers.blogspot.com/
    Thanks for your blog and all the info you give out. It is terrific.

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