Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cardmaking 101: Card Basics

Did you miss a previous post in this series:

Card Basics: 
Making, layering, and laying out the card

Now that you have a few supplies gathered together - it's on to actually creating the card!  

Making a card base: 
The first thing you need for your card is a base.  You always have the option of buying premade card bases (and their coordinating envelopes), however, even if you do that, you should be aware of how to create your own card base from cardstock for those times that you need a specific color or size.  As you become more involved in card making, you'll be able to find fancy folds and intricate shapes that you can make your cards into, however, let's begin with a few of the "standard" sizes.  

There are two shapes (three sizes) that are standard for homemade card bases.  Each card base, once cut, can be opened like a book (fold at the left) or like a notepad (fold at the top).  Depending on what size of cardstock you prefer to keep in your stash, you may prefer one size over others.  (There are also shipping considerations - which will be addressed in a later post in this series.)

The A2 card size has a "face" the size of 1/4 of a sheet of letter size paper.  This is the size that you typically find premade invitations or thank you notes in stores.  You can create 2 A2 card bases from one sheet of 8.5"x 11" piece of cardstock. 
You can also cut on the shorter side of paper at 4.25", and fold at 5.5". 

Square cards are very popular among  many card makers.  Depending on what size of cardstock you are beginning with, you can create two sizes of square card bases.  (You also always have the choice of cutting a smaller square if you prefer.)

The 5.5" Square card size (cut from an 8.5"x11" piece of cardstock), will leave a 3" remnant when cut.  This remnant can be saved to use as matting for additional layers, borders, tags, and other projects.  

The 6" square size (cut from a sheet of 12"x12" cardstock), will also give you 2 card bases from one sheet of card stock, with no remnant left over.  

Once you've decided on a card base size, you need to cut and fold your card base.  Let's pull out our cardstock, paper trimmer, and bone folder and make a card.  

For this particular card, I want a 5.5" x 5.5" black card base.  My cardstock in this case is 8.5" x 11".   

I'm going to line up my cardstock with the 5.5" mark on my paper trimmer.  I have marked this particular increment because I use it over and over again.  

Once lined up (along the top edge of the trimmer so that the cut is straight), I will make my cut.

After making my cut, I'm left with two pieces of cardstock.  One is 5.5" x 11", and one that is 3" x 11".  

My next step is to score my card base.  If you have a scoreboard, you can use that; I chose to show how you can also use your paper trimmer for this step.  I've moved my cutting blade away from my cardstock, however, you can remove the blade entirely for this step. I turned the 5.5" x 11" piece so the long side is at the top of the paper trimmer.  For this particular cardstock, there is no difference in the front or back, however, if you are using a patterned cardstock, your "face" or the pattern you want on the front of the card should be what you see.

Once again, using the 5.5" increment I lined up the cardstock at the top of the trimmer.  Using my bone folder, I will score a line down the center of my card base.  Place the point of the bone folder in the groove, ABOVE your cardstock, and using light pressure pull down, on to your cardstock.  You can slightly increase the pressure once you are on the cardstock, then reduce it again before dragging the tip of the bone folder off the bottom edge.  This will reduce the chances of tearing the cardstock on the edges as you score.  

Once scored, the cardstock will be folded.  Fold your card so the "valley" created is the top of the fold, and the "mountain" is inside the card.   I've used the edge of the bone folder to sharpen that crease.

And that's how easy it is to create a basic card base!  

Layering/Laying out the Card: 
Layers give your card interest and dimension.   Even though most cardmakers add an image or some embellishment to their cards, the layers behind the image and the embellishment are the foundation of the design and provide pattern and color to the entire card.

When choosing your papers for layering, keep in mind that you CAN mix patterns!  An easy rule of thumb for mixing patterns, is 1 large, 1 medium, and 1 tiny, then keep everything else in solid (or very subtle tone on tone) colors. Also, learn to color coordinate your papers - a prominent color in one of the papers, should be a secondary color in at least one of the other papers....and this should continue throughout all of the papers you use.  If you aren't comfortable with matching individual papers up this way, you can rely on the coordination of paper packs to do this for you.  Paper packs are full of carefully chosen papers, so that all the papers inside can be used together.

When beginning card making, I suggest that you start search for sketches for your first layout ideas.  Create a board on Pinterest, or a file folder on your computer and start finding sketches you like that you can use to make your cards.  Many challenge blogs are based on sketches,that the owner or design team provide, so look into your favorite challenges' archives for layout ideas.   Once you have some sketches saved up, take time to REALLY look at them and try to determine why they appeal to you.  As you get comfortable making cards, start doing some research into design elements, balance, and color theory.   You may be surprised at that point how easily you can recognize a "balanced" layout.  There's so much information on design, that it would be hard to share that with you in one post - not to mention, needlessly intimidating and confusing to a beginner - but understand that those elements make a HUGE difference in how your finished card looks.

I have to say, I'm a bit ashamed at how long it took me to realize the importance of matting layers.  It really makes a huge difference in how much a layer "pops" on a card, and the color of mat used can draw out a color from papers above and below it, or it can be a contrasting color that allows the layer to stand out from it's background.  

Let's mat a layer, just to see how it's done.  I've chosen to use a white mat, and some paper from one of my current favorite paper packs.

Since this will be the back layer on the 5.5" square base we just created above, I'm going to cut my white mat into a square 1/8 of an inch smaller in size than the 5.5" square.  The resulting mat will be a 5 3/8" square.   This will let a band of the black card base show around the white mat.

Then, I will cut my patterned paper 1/8 of an inch smaller than the mat I just cut - so, it will be cut into a 5  2/8"  square (or 5.25").  This will allow a band of white to surround the paper.  If you prefer a larger band of color, you can cut these at 3/16" or 1/4" increments.  You can also mat with multiple colors if you choose.  For instance, I could have chosen to mat with gray, then white, and finally add my patterned paper.

If I were to ink or distress my paper, I would do so at this point - prior to adhering the paper to the mat.  In most cases, when you are layering cut patterned paper over a colored mat, you will likely want to ink the edges of your paper.  This is due to the white center of the patterned paper showing along the cut edge - since most patterns are simply inked on top of white paper.  However, since I'm using a white mat and that cut edge will blend into it, I do not need to ink the edges of this paper.   I can move on to applying my glue.

As much as tape runners and ATGs quicken this process, I do recommend that you use a glue stick for your layering when you begin.   The reason I say that, is that a glue stick isn't an immediate permanent bond.  You have a small window of time after putting your pieces together, to make adjustments to their placement.

This allows time to carefully center the paper on the mat, hopefully creating an even band of color around the paper.

Once satisfied with the placement of the layers together, I've used the side of my bone folder to "burnish" the top paper (a brayer will also work).  This pushes the glue into all of the crevices and cracks of the mat and paper, and seals the bond.  This is a step that should also be taken when using a tape runner or ATG, to make sure the seal is completed.  (FYI: I had not known this when I started making cards, I used the side of my hand to smooth the top of the papers.  As it turned out, that was not enough direct pressure to create a tight seal between the papers, regardless of what tape runner or glue I had used.  Many of the cards I made, prior to learning this trick, wound up peeling apart with a bit of time - sometimes just a few weeks!)  Each time a layer is adhered, burnish the layers together and your cards will hold far longer than they would otherwise.

As you mat your papers, lay each piece together (unglued) as you plan to on your finished card.  This will give you a chance to see how your layout is progressing, and make any changes or fix any big issues/mistakes prior to everything being permanently attached.  

If you notice in the photo above, I chose to mat my second patterned paper with black cardstock, rather than white.  This is because I saw that I would be layering this - already very lightly colored - piece over the top of a white doily, and a white mat would have caused the layer to blend into the background.    And again, the background for my stamp was matted with black for the same reason.  

Also, and this is a personal preference, you will notice that while this particular layout is currently quite "traditional" in it's design (meaning, that the basic layers making up the layout are the same on each side.  The  right is a mirror of the left and the top is a mirror of the bottom), the "sentiment" is missing from this layout.  The reason for this is that I tend to use sentiments as part of the embellishment of most of my cards.  Many sketches that you find will include the sentiment in the design, however, when I'm designing my own layouts, I prefer the focus of my card to be on my image, and to have some flexibility in where I add the sentiment in conjunction with the other embellishments.  So, the initial design does not include the sentiment.  

Hopefully, those beginners who are reading this, are realizing that the basics of creating and layering a card are not that complicated, and can be quickly and easily done.  And, perhaps those who have made cards for some time, picked up a tip or two.  

For those just starting card making: Do you feel you "get" the basics a bit better?
For those who have been making cards for a while: What is your go-to card size?    

1 comment:

  1. I love these card-making posts! Even though I've been making cards for qite awhile, I'm learning lots of new stuff. Thank you for doing this!


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