Where to Start a Handmade Card

A reader asked, “where to start a handmade card, especially if you don’t have any artistic training.” What a great question! I always figure for every person who takes the time to ask a question, there are a lot more who would like to know the same thing, but don’t take the time to ask. Or are embarrassed to ask. Or . . .

The most important advice about this and any other question about designing cards is this: Be willing to experiment, to try several versions of each step in the design process. That’s why I teach designers to use “practice pieces,” unlined 4″ x 6″ index cards cut down to 4″ x 5-1/4″. You’ll be much more willing to try different layouts and colors on index cards that you might end up throwing away, than using several sheets of cardstock until you end up with a focal point you like.

I’ll use this simple design as an example, and explain my approach.

Start a card with the focal point, Awesomely Artistic in this case.

  • Since the focal point/artwork is the most important part of a card, that’s where I start 99% of the time. 
  • I choose a stamp set, then experiment with it until I have a layout and color combination I’m happy with. This image from Awesomely Artistic is one I have used many times, as I love its delicacy and graceful lines. I chose Fresh Fig, Powder Pink, and Pear Pizzaz for the colors, and even stamped the image in Fresh Fig. 
  • I trim down any excess cardstock so the margins around the artwork are quite small.

Here are some other examples of cards started in the same manner.

This is a card I designed for the Designers Facebook Group in order to illustrate the design principles I teach. The figure felt like not enough for a focal point, so I added the sentiment and splatters to make better use of the space. I colored it with Watercolor Pencils, and the two blues I chose became the basis for the card’s color scheme.

Start a card with the focal point, Beautiful You in this example


As I experimented with the Serene Silhouettes image in this card, I decided to stamp it twice so I’d have a larger focal point. Then I decided to use the emboss resist technique, and started over with a piece of cardstock. I embossed the images with Early Espresso and lightly sponged the background.

Focal point for handmade card with Serene Silhouettes

If you like advice on how to design cards, be sure to come back for more! You can also visit me on the Stamping Madly Facebook Page, where you’ll frequently find discussions on card designs. 

If you want more in-depth training on designing cards, then use this link to learn more about the exclusive Stamping Madly Designers Facebook Group.

I hope you find this post helpful. I’m planning to do more posts on aspects of card designs. If you want to see more, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT! Your comments and questions help me know what you want to see and learn!

Give this design tip a try in your craft room. The first, and sometimes most important, of many design decisions you need to make is where to start a handmade card! 

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