A greeting card you make yourself is more meaningful to the recipient and just as attractive as any store-bought greeting card if you apply a few simple graphic design principles. Follow these 10 steps to make a greeting card in any software (including using templates).
Time Required: 30 minutes to a few hours to make a greeting card, longer if unfamiliar with the software
Use appropriate software.
If you are already familiar with the operation of PageMaker, InDesign, or other professional desktop publishing software then use it. If new to desktop publishing and your main goal is make your own greeting cards, consumer software such as Art Explosion Greeting Card Factory or Hallmark Card Studio are good software choices and they come with a lot of clip art and templates you can customize. You could use Photoshop Elements or even the free Serif PagePlus SE. Familiarize yourself with the basic operation before you begin.
Pick a format.
Before you begin, think about what kind of greeting card you want to make: funny, serious, oversized, top fold, side fold, personalized. Having a vision ahead of time can speed up the process even if you'll be using templates straight from the software.
Set up the document.
If your page layout or greeting card software has a blank template or wizard for the style of greeting card you want, use it to set up your greeting card. Or, create a layout from scratch in the desired size. For a top or side fold card printed on letter size paper (rather than other types of specialty greeting card papers) create a folded dummy and mark the front, inside front, message area, and back of the greeting card.
If you want to keep it simple, stick with one image or a few simple, icon-like figures. Some clip art is drawn with a less realistic, more cartoonish appearance. Some styles suggest modern while other clip art has a distinct 50s or 60s air about it. Some images are fun while others are serious or at least more subdued. Color and types of lines and the amount of detail can all contribute to the overall style. To keep it really simple, choose a single photo to go on the front and put your text message inside. Mix and match images that share a similar style.
Modify the images.
Some pictures work without modification but simple changes to size and color can make a image work better for your greeting card layout. You can also use color and frames or boxes with dissimilar images to create a more unified appearance.
Select a font.
For a greeting card, you will probably stick with one, maybe two typefaces. More would be distracting and less professional-looking in most cases. Usually you want your type and images to convey the same tone or mood whether that's formal, fun, subdued, or in your face. You can change the font color so it that contrasts with your paper color and other graphics or pick a color that appears within your clip art to tie the two together. Plain black is always a good choice too.
Arrange text and graphics.
Even in a simple greeting card, try using a grid to align objects. Draw boxes or horizontal and vertical guidelines to help you align edges. Not every inch of your page, nor every inch of every row or column, has to be filled with clip art or text. Use your grid to help balance out the white space (empty places) on your card. In things like brochures and newsletters you don't want a lot of centered text. But in a greeting card that's perfectly acceptable and a quick way to go when you aren't sure what to do.
Create a consistent look.
As you tweak the front and inside of your greeting card, aim for a consistent look and feel. Use the same grid, the same or complimentary graphics and fonts. Print out your front and inside pages and place them side-by-side. Do they look as if they are part of the same card or do they look as if they don't belong together? You want consistency but it's OK to throw in some contrasting elements too.
Add a credit line.
You've just created your masterpiece. Why not take a little bow before hitting the print button? One way to do this is to use the back of the card to credit yourself with the design. If you are making greeting cards for a customer or to sell direct, you may want to include your business name and contact information (such as phone number) — but do keep it simple (and make sure that the credit is part of your agreement with the client). This credit line is sometimes referred to as a signature or even a colophon.
Proof and print the greeting card.
When it comes time to print your final greeting card, don't forget that final proof. Before putting your creation on expensive photo paper or greeting card stock print a final proof in draft mode.
- Check text and graphics and layout.
- Check margins and alignment.
- Fold your proof and make sure everything lines up correctly.
- If printing multiple copies of the final card, first print just one at high quality on the desired paper. Check color and ink coverage.
Enjoy the process. As complicated as the process looks written out in the steps, above, to make a greeting card is a very basic, simple desktop publishing task. If you look at How to Do Desktop Publishing, you'll see a definite similarity in the steps. Don't let the details get in the way of having fun designing your own original creations.
Using a template isn't cheating. Try one of these greeting card templates to jumpstart the design process. You can use them "as is" or as a starting point for your own personalized versions.
The online Create a Greeting Card Class is a structured, step-by-step approach to learning desktop publishing while you make your own greeting card. The links referenced in the 10 steps, above, come from this course.
9-Week Make a Greeting Card Class provides weekly email reminders to guide you through the online course one week and one lesson at a time.
9-Day Make a Greeting Card Class is for those who want email reminders but want to complete the course more quickly - a lesson a day for 9 days.
What You Need:
- Desktop Publishing Software or Greeting Card Software
- Greeting Card Templates
- Photo and Clip Art Collections
- Text and Decorative Fonts
- Card Stock, Photo Paper, or Greeting Card Specialty Paper