Welcome to Week 4 of Summer School 2021: Holiday Break! Tutorial - Time Saving Christmas Clusters This is the last week of the Christmas in July sale and I'm going to show you how to use Christmas elements to build a cluster base that you can use for a single page or multiple pages, and can help create a cohesive look to your page or album design. A cluster is made up of multiple products, placed onto your layout, that can add visual interest. It helps direct your eye across the page and can be an anchor point to a specific spot. Multiple clustering provides a cohesive look to the page. When creating the cluster, shadowing can be used to create a dimensional look, to give the cluster a depth that can be very realistic. You can find drop shadow styles in the TLP store. https://the-lilypad.com/store/Realistic-Drop-Shadow-Styles.html The choices of what to create your cluster with is almost endless. Flowers, wordart, buttons, paper pieces, labels, string, ribbons, flairs, paint, glitter, overlays - almost anything can go into your cluster! But start small, choose a few things to start with and don't overwhelm yourself with too many products initially to get your base cluster created. Check out the TLP Blog to learn more about clustering (search cluster or clustering to bring up a selection of articles on the subject). gonewiththewind (designer of Fiddle-Dee-Dee templates) and creator of "Watch Cheryl Scrap" has a tutorial with a video that I recommend you look at. https://the-lilypad.com/forum/threa...nday-july-19-2021-at-9-pm-edt-6-pm-pdt.78506/ To show you how to build a cluster base, I have chosen 10 elements (image 1) from these kits, available in the TLP store: Heaven and Nature Sing by Forever Joy Designs Starry Woods by Lynn Grieveson Designs Merry Little Moments by Just Jaimee Lets get started building a cluster! Here are the steps I took to build this cluster (image 2): Placed a branch with berries and then copied it twice, rotating and transforming two of them to give a variation in appearance. Layered the remaining elements overtop, resizing so some were smaller and some were larger. Tucked a branch underneath and then duplicated it 5 times,rotating each one slightly. TIPS: greenery, ribbon, string, buttons are great "fillers" to tuck in after you place your main elements i.e. flowers, themed elements, wordart. rotate and/or resize an element to give it a new look i.e. one flower can be resized and rotated numerous times. labels/paper strips can be tucked into a cluster to provide written info such as the date, event, etc. resize greenery and layer them on top of each other, slightly rotating each layer. add paint, glitter, overlays, stamps, etc, usually as the first layer (right on top of your paper) but occasionally can be added closer to the top of your cluster stack to resemble a realistic look i.e. paint splatted overtop or glitter sprinkled onto the top of the cluster. try adding a few buttons, flairs, small bling, etc to add that little touch of color here and there throughout the layers. wordart can be positioned anywhere within your cluster but tucking it under and/or a few elements gives it more depth. try adding a sprinkle of beads, sequins, etc to give the cluster a bit of sparkle/color. My recommendation is to save your cluster as a PSD file on your computer so you can open it anytime and change it as you wish. It can be flattened in jpeg format but the layers would be merged together into a single element which could be rotated, resized and recolored but it wouldn't be possible to change the order of the layers, turn any layers off (removing an element from the cluster) or individually rotate or resize individual elements. Therefore, the jpeg cluster can be manipulated but not to the extent that the PSD cluster can. The cluster can now be duplicated and moved around the page. It can be recolored and/or resized. If the layers were preserved (PSD format), then there is even more that can be done. You can turn layers on and off, additional elements can be added and any of them can be moved around. Here are 3 variations I created quickly and easily from the base cluster. Sample 1: 3 elements removed - resizing and repositioning of elements. Sample 2: 2 elements and greenery removed - resizing and repositioning of elements with duplication. Sample 3: 4 elements removed - resizing and repositioning of elements with duplication. Here is the base cluster placed along the edges and one cluster overtop another cluster, resized smaller. The base cluster can be used as is but other elements can be easily added into the cluster. Paint/overlays/stamps can be placed under the cluster. Here is a page using the cluster 4 times. Here is a page using the cluster but adding additional elements and repositioning of some layers. Making a base cluster that you can re-use over and over again saves a lot of time in your design process and it's so much fun to do that you might want to create a variety of cluster bases to use in your pages. Have fun with it!