Some things just don’t work properly when you lay them flat.

Like a Slip ‘n’ Slide. Or a baby with reflux.

But other things are incredibly awesome when you lay them flat.
Like a “lay flat” design!

What is a “lay flat” design?

As the name suggests, it refers to objects that are laying flat, and have been photographed, filmed or drawn from an aerial perspective. You get a birds-eye view of the content of the image.

Lay flat design is becoming increasingly popular because of the unique and different perspective it provides. These days, everyone wants to stand out, and by doing something slightly ‘outside the box’, you’re more likely to get noticed.

Where do we see it being used?

In film

You can’t scroll through your Facebook newsfeed anymore without seeing a lay flat aerial perspective of someone cooking. Forget reading an old fashioned recipe – pffft – we want to see it in action!

 

In fashion

Flip through any fashion magazine and you’re more than likely going to see lay flat design being used to showcase a new fashion trend or collection of pieces. Retailers love lay flat design because it lets stylists communicate the look of a collection with ease and simplicity.

 

In food

The ‘fresh-food’ movement has fully embraced lay flat design. It’s the perfect way to put the focus on fresh, locally sourced, straight-from-the-farm ingredients. Lay flat photography promotes even the most basic food ingredient and makes it look regal.

How to master the lay flat design

If you’re keen to try some lay flat photography or create your own lay flat graphics, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Keep your background simple

White or pale neutral colours are ideal for creating lay flat designs. Go for monochrome or block colours over a pattern to make the subject matter of the image stand out. Wood backgrounds also work well and add a natural feel.

  1. Use natural lighting

One of the keys to nailing a perfect lay flat photograph is to use natural light and avoid any shadows. The best way to achieve this is to take your photo during the day in natural sunlight.

  1. Test your object

Items that are naturally flat, like a book, magazine or clothes laid out will almost always look good in lay flat design. Other bulky or tall objects, like a pineapple for example, might look a little wonky. Test your objects and try laying them in different positions to see what works best.

  1. Leave space between your objects

Whether you’re photographing items or designing on a computer, be sure to leave enough space between your objects so your image is not too cluttered. And don’t overdo it. The best lay flat images always have perfectly positioned items that are consistently spaced apart.

According to a report by Shutterstock, the lay flat design trend is up by 160%, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s incredibly versatile, can be used across multiple mediums in any industry, and can instantly turn a basic focal subject into a work of art.

 

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