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Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Bootcamp, Stars and Stamps | 6 comments

Let Me Repeat (Using Repetition in Design)

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Hello everyone and welcome to the June Bootcamp! Before we get started I’ve been receiving some comments and emails recently and wanted to clarify for everyone that while a new Bootcamp will be posted monthly, there is no ‘end of month’ deadline. The InLinkz will all remain open through the end of the year and you may participate in any class at any time. I am emailing PDF summaries at the end of each month and keeping an eye on all the uploaded cards. If you upload a card and want to request a PDF summary for that class just email me at paula at operationwritehome dot org. Okay now let’s get to the topic at hand… Repetition.

Last month we discussed the principle of Variation and how you can improve your designs by adding variety in values, texture, color and shape. This month we’re going to take a look at the principle of Repetition and how it relates to Variation.

The principle of Repetition states that you should repeat some aspect of design throughout the entire piece. Like variation it can be applied in several areas including shape, color, size and elements.

Repetition may be an exact duplication without variation (also called a pattern), or a duplication with variety. Repetition can be regular or irregular and even or uneven. It can be in the form of radiation where the repeated elements spread out from a central point (picture the rays of the sun) or in the form of gradation, where the repeated elements slowly become smaller or larger or a color slowly becomes lighter or darker (picture the Ombre technique).

Repetition provides continuity and flow to a design, and it establishes a visual rhythm which is soothing and appealing. Once the brain recognizes the pattern in the rhythm it can relax and understand the whole design.

Some basic examples of the ways repetition can be applied to a design are:

COLOR: When we choose patterned & solid paper combination and choose a solid color that ‘picks up’ one of the colors in the pattern.

SHAPE:  When you use a ‘dotted’ embossing folder and a polka dotted patterned paper and a circle die to cut out an image.

SIZE:  You might, in some, designs use repeating shapes or elements that are identical in their size.

ELEMENTS:  When you use several brads, eyelets, buttons or flowers in an area of your design.

Let’s take a look at some card samples and study the relationship between repetition and variation in each of these cards so you can see how the two are closely intertwined in a strong design


1 Cheryl Anderegg (repetition)

Cheryl’s card design shows a strong use of repetition. She’s repeated colors, shapes, sizes and even the background paper pattern in her coordinated flower embellishments, but she’s also added some variation in these same areas. The sentiment is framed in a different shape, the background consists of two paper patterns, the flower embellishments are alternating in their color combination.


2 Allison (repetition)

Allison’s ‘Ruffle Technique” card is an excellent example of repetition but note that it has a variety of coordinating patterns and colors. Some ruffles are lighter than others and the texture of the ribbon, sentiment shape and brads all add variety which adds interest.


3 Marianne (repetition)

This design by Marianne has repetition in the 5 kites (note the Rule of Odds) but also in the repeating clouds in her background and the blue color tying the whole design together. She hasn’t ignored variation though… the kites are varying in color and she’s added layers  and by  ‘popping’ the kites with dimensional tape and adding the twine that strings them together she’s added nice texture and dimension to this design.


4 samantha (repetition)

Samantha’s card has a background of identically sized repeating squares and she’s repeated the paper patterns (and therefore color) but at the same time she’s incorporated variety in textures, by adding the twine and butterfly embellishment and in shapes with the way she rounded the one corner of her sentiment. A perfect example of how small details can have a big impact on a design.


5 Lynn Ramsey  (repetition)

In this card, Lynn has carried the circle element in her patterned paper through to the button embellishments and the colors in the papers tie in to each other as well as into the button. However there’s plenty of variation happening too.. the buttons are not identical in either size or color, there is nice strong contrast in the light stamped focal point image against the darker blue pattern that frames it and she has a variation of shapes in the rectangles and circles too.


6 Lee Mae (repetition)

Lee Mae has created this design by stamping the same design. She’s got repetition and variation in the very same areas. The stamp repeats but in varied positions. The colors are varied but repeat in each copy of the image.


Repetition can be a very valuable tool in your design toolbox giving your composition a cohesive feel but be forewarned that it can be overused and too much repetition can be dull or boring, so the key to remember is to use repetitions with variety.



I’ve been mentioning the ultimate goal of applying multiple concepts simultaneously and this month that should be easy to do. Create a card that uses both repetition and variation. Don’t forget to plan a strong focal point too. I look forward to seeing your designs!

Everyone who participates in this Design Bootcamp by linking up a card created for this class will receive a Class Summary in PDF format via email.


  1. These are all beautiful great cards. All those details I see better now. Thanks, Paula, for your dedicated contribution for this Boot Camp and inspiration.

  2. I think I’m finally getting it…I actually saw what you were talking about…that doesn’t usually happen. I am going to try and create something with variation and repetition. Thank you for your Boot Camp classes.

  3. Thanks for your lessons, as always, Paula. I haven’t taken an art class since I was in 8th grade, so it’s great to refresh my memory on the fundamentals of design. I’m also glad you clarified that there aren’t deadlines for the bootcamps. Since they fall on Monday, I usually am too busy to try them right away and I’d like to go back and work through them all this summer.

  4. Thanks Paula, I just love the design lessons, so easy to understand and lots of examples to “live by”. Thanks for your great efforts!

  5. Thanks, Paula, for another wonderful session!

  6. Thanks, Paula, for another great lesson. Your explanations are easy to understand and I do love how you use the different examples to illustrate your point.


  1. OWH June Bootcamp – Repetition | Madame Wong - [...] The new Design Bootcamp is up at Operation Write Home – this month it’s all about Repetition. [...]

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