Here’s a little story I thought I’d share with you about my biggest challenge in designing handmade cards, and how I stretch myself to grow.
I love Designer Series Paper (DSP) from Stampin’ Up! I’m always attracted to the beautiful color combinations and interesting patterns I see in the Catalogs. But when I order a pack, I often find myself not knowing just how to incorporate the beautiful designs into a card. Does that ever happen to you?
The problem for me is that too often the patterns are too big, bold, and/or busy. When I try to use them as a card background, they tend to overpower any focal point, sentiment, or embellishment I want to add. So to challenge myself, sometimes I’ll sit down with a piece of DSP I like and play with it until I find a way to use it that still fits with the principles of good design.
One thing I look for is a subtle enough design that will allow a focal point to be more prominent than the background. I showed this example earlier this week, using one of the patterns from Sweet Sorbet–a free item in the Sale-a-Bration Catalog. Click on the image to see the post with the photo of the full card.
This piece of DSP was easy for me to work with, because the pattern is subtle enough. I still had to work at getting the focal point to stand out–hence the crochet trim around the tag. Otherwise it just blended into the background. The DSP is also monochromatic, which meant I had to find colors to add some contrast so the card wouldn’t end up looking too blah! The Calypso Coral card base and the Old Olive accents helped make a striking color scheme.
Today I decided to take a more challenging piece of DSP, and use it as a background. This is one of my favorites from the Watercolor Wonder collection, since it makes me happy just to look at it:
But as usual with a design this bold, my focal point tended to get lost on top of it. So I experimented. Here’s what unfolded:
First I knew it would be important to have a strong color for a card base to set off the pastels in the DSP, so I chose the darkest color in the paper, Island Indigo.
I knew the focal point would have to be bold and simple, so as not to compete with the background. I decided to use a layered tag (Gumball Green and Whisper White), with a sentiment from Perfect Pennants.
I always look at a design in terms of where my eye travels on the card, and where it comes to rest. What happens to your eye when you look at this example. For me, the focal point does grab my attention, but the background quickly confuses my eye, as the background has an almost equally strong pull, and my eye doesn’t “come to rest.” It keeps going back and forth between the background and the focal point.
So I fussed and experimented until I came up with this:
The Island Indigo background helped, but it was a little too small. I played some more, added a ribbon, and here’s the final result:
Do you see the repeating motif? The Delicate Dots Embossing Folder and the splatters on the tag from the Gorgeous Grunge set repeat the pattern of circles of color in the DSP. This is a very effective design element, and one I try to use frequently. It can be very subtle, but kind of brings the design together at an almost unconscious level.
So that’s the story of how one card design developed, starting with the choice of a DSP pattern. Leave a comment and tell me what you think, and whether you learned anything helpful for your own cardmaking adventures.
Items used in this card include:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind the scenes story about designing handmade cards!