Comfort Cafe: Design Tips for DSP

Designing handmade cards with DSP can sometimes be challenging, so I thought I'd share some tips using Comfort Cafe as an example.  It is the background for this sweet handmade birthday card.  Wouldn't you love to receive one like this?  It's my birthday Friday, so maybe I'll make this one for me.

Comfort Cafe - Design Tips from Stamping Madly

I usually steer away from Designer Series Papers (DSP) with busy patterns, since they tend to detract from a focal point.  But I like this one so much, I had to figure out a way to use it.  With a busy DSP design, you just have to let the paper be a dominant element, and add some simple embellishments.  Otherwise your project can look like a yard sale:  Your eye doesn't know where to look.

In this card, the embellishments aren't all that simple, (you know how I am about layering things), but they don't compete with the background.  They repeat some of the Comfort Cafe Colors:  Midnight Muse, Pool Party, and a smidgen of Cajun Craze.  Repetition of colors, shapes, and motifs helps bring all the pieces together.

Comfort Cafe and Apothecary Art from Stamping Madly
When designing a card, you want to be aware of where the eye travels as it looks at the elements. Elements on the card need to be placed in a way that the eye flows smoothly, rather than bouncing around.

  • There needs to be a clear focal point–something that is the strongest element of the card. The Midnight Muse background for the Apothercary Art tag is a bold enough color that it draws the eye first.
  • The eye will naturally explore other elements on the card, but it needs to know where to come to rest.  It will move to the bow, and check out the DSP, but it won't be jumping around trying to figure out where it's supposed to focus. 
  • If the bow were made with Midnight Muse instead of Pool Party, it would be as strong an element as the focal point, and the eye would be split between the two–jumping back and forth.
  • Another way it might have to jump back and forth between the bow and the tag is if they are too far apart.  When I first added the tag to this card, I positioned it down in the bottom right corner area.  I quickly saw that it needed to be closer to the bow so the eye wouldn't be confused.

Leave a comment to let me know if you find these design tips helpful.  If you do, I will keep including them in some of my posts.  I did a design tip post with a video on the rule of thirds quite a while ago.  Just click the link to view it.

Meanwhile, try some of these design tips with Comfort Cafe (or another busy DSP), and see if you like the results!

8 Responses to Comfort Cafe: Design Tips for DSP

  1. Michelle September 18, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    Yes, yes, yes, these design tips are awesome, thank you! I for one probably do things intuitively, but never could articulate the why (other than “it looks better that way” lol) Many thanks for sharing these tips ­čÖé

  2. Missy September 18, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    Awesome Tips! Please keep doing these tips! It truly helps me since I don’t trust my own judgement on designing a card! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this for people like me! LOL!!

  3. Bette S September 18, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    First, sending wishes for a very happy birthday filled with fun, love and laughter to you! And, secondly, please do keep up the helpful tips, we do appreciate them.

  4. Janice Johnson September 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Beautiful card. Happy Birthday.

  5. Sage Kimble September 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Thanks, Michelle.
    I started out with a good intuitive sense of design, perhaps its the artist gene I got from my mom. But then I started teaching design in my cardmaking classes, and doing critiques of cards I ran across that illustrate either bad use of the elements, or were harmonious. Teaching really helped me understand what I was doing intuitively.

    Sage Kimble
    Independent Stampin Up! Demonstrator

    If your fingers arent inky yet, what are you waiting for?

  6. Sage Kimble September 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Thanks, Missy. Seems youre not alone, so Ill keep putting the design tips out.

    Nurturing Creativity, One Stamp at a Time

    Sage Kimble
    Independent Stampin Up! Demonstrator
    link to

  7. Sage Kimble September 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Thank you, Bette. Its always good to get the feedback.

    Sage Kimble
    Independent Stampin Up! Demonstrator

    If your fingers arent inky yet, what are you waiting for?

  8. Sage Kimble September 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Thanks, Janice. So far its feeling like a great birthday!

    Sage Kimble
    Independent Stampin Up! Demonstrator

    If your fingers arent inky yet, what are you waiting for?

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