Monday, July 28, 2014

Basic Card

As I approach my one-year anniversary in card-making, I wanted to write something for those of you who are just starting out - or thinking about getting into card-making. I've got a few posts now about the different tools and supplies, but I've never written a post about the process itself. True, my regular card posts outline the steps (and I hope dearly those are not boring and annoying to read!), but they all operate under the assumption you're familiar with the tools and basic techniques.

So, I thought I'd walk you through a process of making a card and maybe go over a few tips or tricks that could be helpful.

This is the card we're going to end up with. It's very simple and easy to reproduce, and - most importantly - it doesn't use a million supplies and techniques.

The first step with this card was choosing a focal image. Now, I normally stamp an image and then color it in with Copics or watercolor, but coloring is not always easy to get into. I'm lucky in that my current job has me creating art, so I was able to skip over a lot of the basics of coloring and just focus on techniques using the particular coloring tools. But if you've never done art before, it might be a bit more challenging and leave you with a result that you're not happy with.

So, the very first step in choosing that focal image is to get creative. Since I was trying to go simple with this card, I chose a beautiful sticker from Penny Black's Petals and Poetry sticker sheet. The reason I like this particular sticker is because it's fairly large, and it looks like it has texture and detail. This means I could keep the rest of the card simple and focus on the card layout - something that will set your card apart from a random card you find in the grocery aisle.

This is what the full sheet looks like. I chose the flower in the bottom right corner.

Once I had the focal image chosen, I picked out the rest of the supplies:
I chose a piece of Kraft cardstock because the color was close to the brown tones on the sticker. However, I also wanted to draw attention to certain parts of the card (such as the sticker, for example), so I chose a darker navy color, too.

I have two tips that will help you choose colors. The first is to have a selection of neutrals - brown, vanilla/cream, white, grey, black, kraft. Neutral colors go with any other color, so they're a safe combination. They also help with contrast, by either toning it down (example: a soft pink on white) or by increasing it (example: pink on black). The second tip is to grab your favorite paper pack and use it as a palette. Even the bold and bright prints will give you an idea of what tones you can put together. And it's a great bonus if you also happen to use that paper pack and have it match the rest of the card.

Speaking of patterned paper, I chose to go with Pebbles Front Porch 6x6 paper for this card. There's two main reasons why. The first is that the sticker had a soft brown border - which is the same tone I used for choosing the kraft base. The second is that quite a few of the stickers had writing in it, and there was one Front Porch paper that had a dictionary-like print on it, along with a creamy brown tone. It also had a bit of the distressing/texture that the sticker had. So, since many of the small details were the same, I knew it was a good choice for background paper.

The next few things I chose were:
- Foam squares -- because I knew I wanted to use layers, and having that slight bit of elevation would make the card more interesting
- Off-white ribbon and pearls -- because they had a soft antique quality that went with the sticker.

Then I got to work on the card.

I started by creating my base. I cut the sheet of cardstock in half on the long side, so my base measured 4 1/4 by 11". Then I used my Martha Stewart Mini Scoring board to score at 5 1/2" for a standard A2 card.

Since the navy is a strong color, I knew I wanted to use it as an accent - which is easy to do with frames. I cut it to measure 4 by 5 1/4. Then I cut a piece of Front Porch paper to measure 3 3/4 by 5". When I glued them on top of each other, this created a navy border around the paper.

I measured the sticker, then cut another panel that was slightly larger. After placing the sticker on this new panel, however, I realized that the sticker was a bit see-through. I ended up with a result that was darker than how the sticker looked on the sheet. But, I actually liked the deeper color quite a bit. So, it was a happy accident - and those can happen in card-making.

The rest of the card came together very easily. I tied the ribbon around the first panel, then adhered the flower panel with foam squares. Lastly, I added the pearls - just randomly, where it looked good.

At this point, I knew I wanted to add a more customized/personal touch to the card. But it was already done... So, I decided to make a matching tag.

I cut a rectangle out of the craft paper measuring 2" by 3". I rounded the corners at the top with a corner rounder and punched a hole with a hole punch. I layered bits of blue cardstock, patterned paper and a sticker. To match the card, I also added a ribbon and a pearl.

And voila! A simple card and tag.

Hopefully this was useful to someone out there. If so, please let me know in comments. :)

Penny Black Petals and Poetry Sticker
Neenah Desert Storm Environmental Cardstock in 100#lbs
Avery Elle Sapphire Heavyweight Cardstock
Martha Stewart Mini Scoring Board
Pebbles Front Porch 6x6 patterned paper
Melissa Frances Cream Pearls
Schiff satin 1/4" ribbon in Antique White
Scrapbook Adhesives 3D Thin Foam Squares
Tombow Dot Adhesive Runner
EK Success Mini Corner Rounder duo punch
Paper hole punch


  1. Awesome, Elle! And congratulations! Cannot believe you've only been making cards for a year. You are a natural. I love the hints and tips you provided. Think they are great for a newbie card maker. :)

    1. Aw, thank you Kylie! You're so sweet. :)

      It's amazing to look back at my cards and see how different they got (and how my thinking has changed over time). A year feels like forever - yay for sticking with a hobby for so long! But, then, it's also really short when you compare it to decades some of the other folks have been crafty for.