Introduction: How to Design a Flat Lay

About: Customer service by day, fiber artist and obsessed creative by night. I have too much yarn and zero time. Oh, I'm also a graphic design major.

This mini tutorial will show you how to design a flat lay for social media the easy way!

First of all, what IS a flat lay? It’s pretty self-explanatory: a flat lay is basically a photo of several objects laid out in an aesthetically pleasing fashion, usually themed or organized by type. Flat lays can include elements of nature, products, an outfit someone is going to wear, ingredients to a recipe, what to take on a trip, or what someone might need to make a particular craft. They can even just be fun little layouts of favorite things! Let's get started.

You'll need:

  • Camera or phone
  • Items with a specific theme, colors, or details
  • White poster board, wood background, or even scrapbook paper

Step 1: Prepping

So how do you go about making one? Well, first you choose what you want your theme to be. Collect the items you’ll need for that theme: a good one to start with would be the ‘favorite things’ flat lay, like the two I have in the photos. So grab a book, a movie, a piece of jewelry, a favorite accessory, a phone or phone case, even a piece of food, and we'll begin.

Step 2: Lay It Out!

Now you’ll lay it all out. A good rule of thumb is to just start with something in the middle and work out from it in right angles. Line up the edges of the objects, and try to envision a square or a rectangle shape outside the objects. Try different angles, and grouping like objects together. You can even color-theme your flat lay!

Lay your objects out on a plain background, black or white, and photograph from directly overhead using natural light for the best results. I like using a white foam core board laid out under my apartment windows, but sometimes I experiment with different backgrounds. I also stand on a chair, especially if I'm using a 50mm lens.

Step 3: Finishing

And voila! You just created your first flat lay! Experiment with different layouts - you could do a circular layout, working out from the center in a spiral, or try creating a letter or shape with the objects. Have fun with it! I'd love to see whatever layouts you come up with.

Follow me on Instagram @melmariadesigns for more inspiration.

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