Every year, I make a Valentines card. In the past, I’ve made a digital version to send around, but this year, I decided to print and make full cards. I bought some small pre-cut warm white cardstock at Michael’s and used that to determine the size of my document. In the future, I’d probably go with a slightly larger size if I were to fold them in half again. Originally, I thought I’d make a single illustration on the front and write on the back, but then I realized I already had some red envelopes from a previous project and they were too small. Sometimes things don’t fit perfectly, but getting to re-use materials is really awesome, so I went ahead and adjusted my design to fit what I already had.
I started by just sketching some raccoons in my sketchbook.
1. Sketching and Concepts
2. Creating Artwork
I decided I want to send this to friends and make a special one-of-a-kind card for my boyfriend, so I didn’t end up going with the kissing raccoons. I liked the idea of a leaping raccoon, so I sketched a bigger version of it and then traced it so I could apply it to a heavier paper to add color. I put graphite on both sides of the tracing paper (essentially tracing the trace) and then applied pressure to one side to transfer it to the page.
You’ll notice it’s a little rough, so I went in and cleaned up the lines after.
I decided I wanted an exterior and an interior illustration. For the inside illustration, I thought raccoons reaching out to each other would be a good way to show affection.
Again, I traced it on both sides of the paper and applied pressure to one side.
I used watercolor to paint the raccoons.
I also wrote out some words for the card in pencil and went over them in watercolor. Before going over the outlines of the raccoons with a Micron pen, the artwork looked like this.
3. Digital Touch-Ups and Set-Up
Once I finished up the lines, I took photographs of the art and edited them in Photoshop. If you don’t have access to Adobe’s products, you can use a comparable photo-editing program like Affinity Photo. I use a mask to remove the excess background information and clean up my lines.
An important thing to note is whether your files are in RGB or CMYK. RGB is for digital displays only, and while it’s more vibrant, printers aren’t capable of printing in that spectrum. CMYK (short for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) is the standard set of colors most printers use to mix and create all colors seen on a page. See RGB vs CMYK below.
Then I imported the photos and type into an InDesign file that matched the size of the cards I would be printing on. (You could also do this part in Photoshop or a comparable program, I’m just partial to InDesign for multi-page documents.)
4. Printing the Cards
First, I exported my InDesign file to a PDF. After hitting print, I chose my paper size. Most printers are set up for a standard 8.5″ x 11″, so you’ll need to create a custom size in the setup if your card is a different size. This will look different depending on your operating system. On a Mac, you go to Manage Custom Sizes, enter in your paper size, and make sure that size is selected when you hit ok and then print.
Note that the printer isn’t printing borderless right now. That is an option on some printers, but here the printer won’t print .12 in from the top, left, and right edges, and .2 in from the bottom edge. Make sure your design is printing to actual size and that nothing is getting cut off. If it is, adjust your file and account for a border.
For the first time, I printed the designs on two different sheets of paper. I realized the cardstock I had chosen wasn’t the best for my printer. It looks a little fuzzy at this size. That’s also a part of the process, you learn as you go. Next time, I’ll look out for papers better suited for an inkjet printer.
Make sure you note how your printer flips the paper when it prints. Most printers include a diagram. For example in this printer, the side that is facing up will not be printed on, it’s the bottom side that receives ink. I printed 15 copies of the front illustration and then took those print outs and reloaded them in the tray for the inside illustration. If you mess up the first time, don’t sweat it. I went through 10 different print-outs before I got it just right.
5. Folding the Cards
I measured halfway up the card and then made a shallow incision in the paper with an X-acto blade. You don’t want to cut too deep or the paper will separate. I suggest you test it out on a blank piece of paper (and the same thickness as the paper you printed your card on) so you can get a feel for how much pressure to put on the X-acto blade. This incision will help you bend the paper in a straight, smooth way.
Here all the cards are folded.
6. Finishing Touches
I wrote a personal note and put one in each card. Then I stuck them into envelopes.
And they are ready to go! (Why the post office only had 2013 Christmas Globals stamps, I really don’t know.)
Hope that gives you some ideas for how to make and print your own cards. Happy creating!