You don’t need a degree in graphic design to create a beautiful photo book from bonusprint. This how-to guide will help you think like a designer, with tips on choosing a colour scheme, to keeping things consistent, and on using our assets like a pro.

By sticking to a few graphic design basics, you’ll be making amazing photo books in no time, and you’ll have loads of new photo album ideas to get creative with for any occasion.

First, think about the purpose of your photo book

The purpose of your book will shape everything that goes into it, from the colour scheme you choose to your page layout, and the structure of your narrative – you can find tips on telling a story with your photo book here.

If it’s a gift for someone, keep their taste in mind with every design decision that you make. If it’s for you, you can go to town on creating a book that suits you.

Quick tip: a mood board is a great way of starting any design project. If you’ve never made one before, it’s essentially a collage of ideas, like colour samples, images, font styles, and anything that inspires you, which will help you pin down a theme and figure out what elements go well together.

How to pick a colour scheme for your photo book

Try not to get too carried away with loads of different colours. Before you start your photo book, pick three or four colours and make sure they complement the tones in your photos – your mood board will help you figure this out.

It looks more professional to try and group photos with similar tones in them. But with a big family album, for example, where your snaps might span all kinds of decades and different styles, don’t overcomplicate your colours. A simple black and white scheme can look very striking and help to tie all your images together.

Quick tip: keep your colours consistent throughout and carry your theme across your backgrounds, clip art, and fonts for a professional finish.

Stick to three fonts, tops

When you’ve got loads of fonts to choose from, it can be tempting to use as many as you can squeeze in. But think about magazines you’ve flipped through or professional coffee table books you’ve read. They always keep their fonts consistent and rarely use lots of contrasting styles.

Stick to three fonts at the very most and choose ones that suit your photos. For old black and white photos, why not go for a traditional serif font? A rounded font could work well with cute family photos. And for a travel journal, a font in the style of handwriting would make it look more personal.

Quick tip: pick one font for headers and one for captions and dates. This will make it easier to be consistent.

Be consistent with your layouts and your photos

Consistency is key in graphic design, so apply that sentiment to your photo books. If you can, use photos with similar tones or at least use photos with the same subject, and run with those themes throughout your book.

Use similar page layouts too. If you’re using rounded mosaics, for example, try and avoid using lots of square grid mosaics alongside them. Otherwise, your pages could look messy and cluttered.

Quick tip: if your photos have loads of contrasting tones in, why not make them all black and white? Just a quick edit before you get started can create a very sleek-looking photo album.

Balance single and multi-photo layouts

Single-photo layouts and multi-photo layouts look great side-by-side. You can use the single-shot layout for a large picture, like a sprawling landscape or a big family photo, and then use the multi-photo layout to capture more detail or cosier moments.

Quick tip: use the pre-set layouts in our editors. All you need to do is apply a layout to a page, then click each grey box, or drag a file across, to add a photo. It takes all the fiddly stuff out of aligning and resizing lots of individual shots yourself.

Use clip art collections

We’ve got a very talented team of designers who create our clip art. These exclusive designs are grouped into collections, and they’re the perfect way of adding a little something extra to the pages of your photo books.

Like everything in design, try and keep the clip art you use consistent too with the overall look and feel of your book. In our online photo book editors and downloadable editors, there are loads of clip art options to choose from. They’re split into categories, like ‘wedding’, ‘travel and holidays’, and ‘baby and kids’ so it’s super easy to find beautiful clip art to match your theme.

Quick tip: if you need a little inspiration on where to place clip art, take a look at our pre-designed photo books to see how our designers have used them and the colour schemes they’ve matched them with.

How to design your photo book cover

Our standard linen covers and faux leather covers are a great option if you’re creating a series of photo books for your bookshelf and want the covers to look identical. But to give your book a unique finish, why not customise a photo cover instead?

To make it look extra professional, select one large photo that you can wrap around the front and back covers, or you could select one large image for the front and a couple of smaller images for the back cover. We always work on our covers last so that we can pick out some of the best elements of our overall design to go on the front.

Quick tip: use the font you’ve chosen for your headers to write the title on the cover, then use one of your secondary fonts, the one for captions or dates, to repeat the title on the spine. You could include a couple of pieces of matching clip art on the cover too, to carry your photo book theme from cover to cover.

Now you’re equipped with loads of graphic design basics and photo album ideas you can get creating your next photo book. How will you start yours?

For more inspiration on how to tell a story with your photo book and how to establish an easy-to-follow workflow for your next project, read the rest of our handy guides.