Posted by Ancestry Team on January 15, 2009 in Website

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

Click to enlarge image

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.

Click to enlarge image

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: 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 family trees, including the new option to make your tree totally private.  


  1. I signed up for tonight’s webinar on MyCanvas and was told (on the registration page) that if I wanted to submit a question in advance to post it on this blog. I could not find anywhere to post so I am commenting here. My question is: Is there a way to change the default font size in MyCanvas? It seems the old way I could, but now I cannot. I have several pages to write and each time I add text, I have to remember to change from 12 down to 10 font. I am so afraid I will forget to change it on one page and the whole book will look amatuer.

  2. Kay

    I have a question about MyCanvas–the calendar. I made a couple of calendars in December for Christmas gifts. Will it remember my dates for me to be able to do another calendar next year or will I have to re-enter all my info?

  3. Nancy

    I missed part of the MyCanvas webinar presentation. Was the calendar option presented? Also, what is the status of the calendar program that was on earlier versions of FTM? Will it be available in the near future? The calendars shown on MyCanvas are great for fancy ones, but I would like just a very basic one that lists birthdays and anniversaries.

  4. Stefanie Condie

    Thanks for your questions. I’ll try to answer them in a coherent fashion.

    Sue, we don’t currently have a feature that lets you change the font at a global level. It’s a good idea and something that’s been discussed, but unfortunately I can’t give you a timeframe on when it will be implemented.

    Kay, I think you will be able to automatically retrieve the dates you entered in your 2009 calendar. This feature doesn’t exist yet, but it’s planned for next year and I think it will be retroactive. (Sorry I can’t be more definitive. I just don’t want to promise something unless I’m 100% sure.)

    Vicki, I’m not sure I understand your question. Can you be a little more specific about how you’d like the timeline to be organized?

    Sue Claps, the webinar presentation is now available in the archive. You can view it at your convenience by clicking this link:

    Nancy, we didn’t discuss calendars last night. I just checked with the lead software engineer for Family Tree Maker, and he confirmed that the patch with the calendar feature will be released next month.

  5. Stefanie Condie

    Kay, I just talked to Kelvin Hulet, principal product manager for MyCanvas, and he confirmed that the system is tagging custom events so that they can be retrieved for future calendars.

  6. Trudy Getha

    I signed up for the Jan. 21st event but I am deaf and the print as you spoke and demostrated was so small I couldn’t read it and was unable to enlarge the print no matter what I tried. Is there aNY WAY TO OBTAIN COPIES FOR THE DEAF OF YOUR PROGRAMS?

  7. Linda C.

    I am very excited that the calendar program from early versions of FTM will be available next month. I like to print out a calendar with only birthdays and anniversaries. Thank you for returning this option to us. How will we know when the patch is available and will it be done automatically?

  8. Stefanie Condie

    Linda, if you registered your Family Tree Maker 2009 software, you’ll be notified when the patch becomes available so that you can install it on your computer.

Comments are closed.