I’ve got design tips for you today, using a Painted Harvest Card done in blue and brown. Most cardmakers would love to make unique cards that show off their own style in effective and striking designs. You know how I love to teach, so here are more lessons on designing cards.
1. The Diagonal Line
If you use only one of these tips today, make it this one! The human brain finds diagonal lines very pleasing and harmonious. Any time you arrange elements on your card in a way that speaks to that preference, you’ve got a good start on a compelling and effective design. The observer’s attention can follow that line wherever you want to lead it. When the line goes from upper left to lower right, you tap into a pattern that fits with the way we read words on a page, so it feels especially harmonious. But diagonal lines can go the opposite direction and still be effective. You can see one in this post: Three Tips. Other posts of cards with strong diagonal lines are: Painted Harvest, and Birthday Blooms.
One caveat: When you use two different diagonal lines that cross each other, you lose some of the effectiveness. This point is demonstrated in this post: Birthday Blooms and Timeless Textures.
2. The Color Combination
How many Painted Harvest cards have you seen that use yellows and oranges with green leaves? Probably a lot. One way to make your card stand out is to use an unexpected color combination. One of my go-to alternatives for flowers is blue and brown. It’s amazing how effective it is, and I’ve only heard positive feedback when I’ve used it. This card uses Soft Sky, Crumb Cake, and Chocolate Chip, which is pretty yummy in my book!
As you work with colors, you want to bring them into a cohesive wholeness. Those are the only words I can think of to describe what I mean. Every color has to “belong.” The best way to make that happen is to repeat the colors of the artwork in mats and backgrounds. For example, if I’d made the leaves bright green, and left the other colors alone, my brain would think that the green doesn’t belong. It would not have been brought into the whole color scheme. Here’s what that might look like (I just added green leaves temporarily):
3. Dimension and Texture
How many ways can you create dimension and texture in your cards? Lots!
First, use cut-outs, like the fussy-cut flowers and punched leaves in this example. Because they’re cut out, you can overlap the elements to create dimension and depth. You can adhere them to the card with Stampin’ Dimensionals, so everything isn’t on the same plane: The flowers and leaves are on the highest plane, the Chocolate Chip circle on the middle plane, and the embossed background is on the lowest plane.
The Pinewood Planks Dynamic Embossing Folder will help you create even more texture and dimension, especially if you ink the Folder before adding the cardstock and running it through the Big Shot. For this card I used Chocolate Chip Ink and Soft Sky Cardstock.
Embossing Folders are a really easy way to add texture, but you’ll want to pay attention to the folder you choose. Does the style go with the rest of the card? For example, if your artwork is soft and pretty, choose a soft and pretty folder, like Softly Falling or Seaside. If you’re making a masculine card, Pinewood Planks or Brick Wall would work better.
One more thing to consider: Is the pattern so busy that it detracts from the focal point? Here’s an example from my craft room. I “audition” a lot of different options when I design a card. When I tried my focal point in this card on the Layered Leaves background, it felt like it distracted from the artwork, instead of enhancing it.
Compare this version to the finished card, and perhaps you’ll see what I mean:
Good card designs don’t just happen. They’re a product of many small decisions that lead to a card that feels balanced and harmonious. Even if your style is very different than mine, and you like cute and funny instead of elegant and flowers, the design principles are the same.
Of course, these tips just scratch the surface of what you need to know in order to design great cards. If you want more in-depth training, use this link to learn about The Art of Designing Cards!
Meanwhile, try the design tips I showed on the Painted Harvest Card in blue and brown in your craft room!