I got the printed copy of my 2009 MyCanvas calendar last week and wanted to share with you some of my favorite pages, as well as a few things I learned while making it.
Tip #1: It’s more fun when you build the pages from scratch.
My sister and I created the calendar together, and I think there was only one month where we used the image boxes that came with the template. Not that there was anything wrong with the layouts provided. We just preferred the flexibility of starting with a blank page, which is how we ended up with spreads like this:
In the top right photo, our 12-year-old niece is in pre-teen heaven as she takes a break from swimming to read a few pages of a Stephenie Meyers novel and write a love letter to Michael Phelps.
Tip #2: Use a background with a pattern on the top and a solid background on the bottom (or vice-versa).
There may have been two or three months where we used the default backgrounds in the “Classic Calendar” template, but in most cases we changed both the top and bottom backgrounds. If you go to the Backgrounds tab and click the “All Themes” folder, you’ll see sub-folders for each of the photo book themes. I usually like to pick two backgrounds from the same theme to make sure they look good together. For September, we used two backgrounds from the “Autumn Holidays” theme.
For August, I used the “Tiny Purple Daisies” background from the “Springtime” theme and then picked a complementary, solid purple background from the “Solid” folder.
For December, I applied a home décor tip that I picked up from a design show on TV: use two colors from opposite sides of the color wheel. I got the inspiration for this spread from my living room, where I have a red chair and turquoise accent pillows. On the top I used the default “Classic December” background from the “Classic Calendar” theme. The bottom background is “Winter Memories” from the “Winter Warmth” theme.
Tip #3: For the bottom page, try making a custom background that shows through the calendar dates.
This can be a really cool effect if you do it right. The trick is picking a photo that’s interesting but subtle enough that it doesn’t clutter up the page. Check out the spread my sister and I designed for October:
We saved the baby ankles photo as a background (by right-clicking on the image thumbnail and clicking “Use as background”) and then made the block of dates transparent (by clicking the “Calendar transp.” icon in the top toolbar). When you make a custom background for the bottom page, be sure to use an image that coordinates with the top page but doesn’t compete with it.
Tip #4: Add visual interest to the bottom page by placing photos in the empty boxes.
In every month, the dates portion of the calendar has at least a couple of empty boxes before the first day of the month or after the last day of the month. You probably don’t want to fill in all of them, but placing a photo or two in the empty boxes can be a nice touch—especially if you have lots of cute photos of your brand new baby niece and they won’t all fit on the top page.
By the way, we recently launched four new calendar themes, so if you haven’t started your calendar yet, be sure to check them out. My personal favorite is “Zippity Doodads.”
If you’ve already made a MyCanvas calendar, share your own design tips by posting a comment on this blog!
P.S. I was interviewed last week by the lovely Myrt of “Dear Myrtle” for her weekly podcast. Here’s the link in case you’re interested: http://podcasts.dearmyrtle.com/2009/01/08/dearmyrtles-family-history-hour-13-january-2009.aspx. Our discussion, which starts about 24 minutes into the program, was mostly about family history books. We also talked about the various privacy options for Ancestry.com family trees, including the new option to make your tree totally private.