"I can't seem to make a card I like." or "Cards are hard for me! I just don't know how to make one."
I am the exact opposite because cards come easily for me but I hem and haw over designing a scrapbook page.
So I thought I would offer up some tips that have helped my card making process.
Since I have wholeheartedly embraced cardmaking in the last year or so, I find it even easier to make a card and I almost always use these principles...
Tip #1 - Have some "go-to" card sketches that you rely on.
Here's a sketch based on a card I made this weekend (I'll share it later this week).
Let's talk about how versatile this sketch is. The heart can be anything - a flower, a cupcake, an apple (for a back to school card), a bicycle (Happy Spring!), a bunny (for an Easter card), six smaller hearts with "I love you" underneath, the list goes on and on.
The dots on this background represent a patterned paper - we'll talk more on that in a minute.
Many times, the layout designs you love to use on a scrapbook page, translate well to a card design. Look at some of your existing layouts and see if they would work well for a card.
To find other card sketches - just look at your favorite designer's blogs, PaperCrafts magazine (which has sketches in every issue) or you can google "card sketches" and click on "images" and you'll be amazed by how many come up! Also, when you see a card you like in a magazine or online - make your own sketch of it. Compiling a small notebook or file box of card sketches will really make it easier to have ideas when you are ready to make one.
Tip #2 - Patterned paper with a small, repetitive print works best for cards.
For example, this is not a good paper to make a card from.
It could be done but it's not the first one I would choose to make the process simple. A better choice would be something with a consistent pattern, like this:
The simplicity of this also allows you to layer other elements onto it and still keep a clean design.
Now don't think you have to go out and buy paper specifically for cards because if you own a stash of scrapbook paper - I assure you, you will have some patterns like this. This particular paper is by My Mind's Eye which seems to consistently produce patterns that are perfect for card-making. I prefer a design that is the same across the entire page: polka dots, chevrons, plaid, damask, stars, small floral, etc. all work well.
Tip #3 - 6x6 Paper Pads are perfect for Card Making
You might have heard me mention this before, but one of my favorite techniques is mixing patterns. It's just my fave. In my opinion, the best way to mix patterns on a card is to use a 6x6 paper pad. The patterns have usually been shrunk to a smaller size and they all coordinate. Less work for me! Here's a card I made using a 6x6 paper pad and it's still one of my all-time favorite cards...
Tip #4 - Start with the envelope!
The worst thing to do when making a card, is to just start cutting and gluing, end up with an odd-shaped or sized card and never be able to find an appropriate envelope for it. The best way to avoid that is to start by finding an envelope. If you want to make a 5x5 card and don't have an envelope - then start by finding a YouTube video that shows you how. Especially if you own a scoreboard, you can make any size envelope you want by finding the instructions online but I usually take the lazy route and use an envelope I already have.
I like to keep lots of card bases and envelopes on hand so when I'm ready to make a card - I have what I need! That's Tip #4.5 - keep card-making supplies on hand! :)
Tip #5 - Print or stamp your inside sentiment first.
I try not to make a card, unless it really says something. I have had an a-ha moment about this in the last year. I love greeting cards from the store, just as much as handmade ones. Why? Because I think they are beautiful little joys of kindness and happy. I love to stand in the card aisle and read cards and laugh out loud or smile at the thoughtfulness. So I want my cards to get that same response from the recipient. That's why I almost always include a printed poem/sentiment inside my cards.
After choosing a size/envelope, I take my blank card base and make a document the same size in Word. I either "borrow" a poem from a card I buy or see at a store or I write my own little saying. It's about half and half. Then I run that bad boy through the printer and then begin the design process on the front. If you don't know how to do this - stamp a sentiment inside. It's actually easier for me to do something on the computer because I'm a bit stamp-challenged although I own drawers and drawers of stamps!
I always leave room to handwrite a little note and sign my name too but I like to convey the main thought of the card with printing and it also gives me a chance to indulge my love of fonts. Always make sure you use a very readable font. Here's a card with a great poem inside (copied from a store-bought card):
Stay cool people!