By Christina VanGinkel
Scrapbook overlays are exactly what they sound like. They are placed over your scrapbook layout, sometimes as a defining focal point, such as a frame, and other times just as an added layer, covering the completed layout beneath to provide an extra layer of interest. The problem with overlays though, is often finding one that will reflect the mood or option that you want it to. Thanks to the innovative computer along with your friendly printer, you can make your own overlays.
Hardware wise, if you want to make an overlay in a size that is bigger than your typical printer will print, you will have to invest in a printer that is capable of printing in this larger dimension. The Canon I9900 for example, will print on materials up to a stunning 13" by 19" size. There are other printers besides this one that will print in the larger dimensions that will make your projects suitable for use in a 12x12 scrapbook, but you could also use a smaller size overlay, such as an 8 1/2 " x 11" , and either use it at this size, or even reduce it to a size such as 8" x 8" so that the dimensions you are working with are at least squared off evenly. Part of the fun about making your own overlays lies not only in printing on them exactly what you want to have on them element and word wise, but also experimenting with different sizes and variations that you can never achieve when using store purcahsed ones.
Transparency blanks (what you print on to make your own overlays) are sold that are compatible with different printer types and copiers. Most home users will want to purchase transparency sheets that are compatible with either their laser printers, or their inkjet printers. I cannot stress enough the importance of being sure to buy those that are suitable for your printer. You should not try to run a transparency that is made for an inkjet printer through your laser prinrer and vice versa. While you can often mix and match papers in both types of printers, transparency sheets are not nearly as compatible!
Another product than can be used to make your own transparencies is vellum. While not a traditional overlay in the truest sense, vellum can be used with some quite stunning results. I printed a cream colored filigree design on vellum, and coupled it with a cream on cream scrapbook page of my wedding pictures. The results of the vellum overlay on the layout was actually quite stunning. I accented the vellum and the page design itself with my gold paint pen, for a layout that was both rich in design and concept.
Once you have everything you need to make your own overlays, that is when you will start to realize the open doors awaiting you. Overlays are truly one of the most full featured products that you can use when creating a scrapbook layout. No more will you be constrained by the designs that you can find to purchase. For example, I created a page that was ok, but it was lacking something of defination of exactly what I wanted it to portray. Instead of tearing the whole page apart, I created an overlay with a small design in one corner, and some fun words in the opposing corner. The layout was of my grandson, and featured him at the park on the swing and crawling on the monkey bars. I used the words play, smile, fun, and summer in one corner of the overlay, and in the opposing corner I printed a picture of a monkey. On the edges of the overlay that did not have the words or the picture, I made a border of what looked like monkey bars. This pulled the other pieces of the whole design together, and created a frame. Together, the layout and the overlay combined to make a very fun page! I have since donme several similar layouts, each with their own unique words and pictures.
Once you realize how simple an overlay is to make, you can also find different printable versions online that scrapbook enthusiasts commonly make and share amongst each other.