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 steps to make a greeting card in any software.
USE APPROPRIATE SOFTWARE
If you are already familiar with the operation of Publisher, Pages, InDesign or other professional desktop publishing software, use it. If you are 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 even use Photoshop Elements. Familiarize yourself with the basic operation of creating a greeting card before you begin.
PICK A FORMAT
Think about what kind of greeting card you want to make: funny, serious, oversized, top fold, side fold or personalized. Having a vision ahead of time speeds up the process even if you use 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-fold 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, images.
Some clip art is drawn with a less realistic, 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 all contribute to the overall style.
To keep it simple, choose a single photo to go on the front and put your text message inside.
MODIFY THE IMAGES
Some pictures work without modification but simple changes to size and color can make an image work better for your greeting card layout. You can also use color and frames or boxes with dissimilar images to create a unified appearance.
SELECT A FONT
For a greeting card, stick with one, maybe two typefaces. More is distracting and less professional looking. Usually, you want the 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 contrasts with the paper color and other graphics or pick a color that appears in the clip art to tie the two together. Black is always a good choice.
ARRANGE TEXT AND GRAPHICS
Even in a simple greeting card, use a grid to align objects. Draw boxes or horizontal and vertical guidelines to help you align edges. Not every inch of the page has to be filled with clip art or text. Use the grid to balance out the white space (empty places) on your card. In brochures and newsletters, you don’t want a lot of centered text, but in a greeting card, centered text is 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 the greeting card, aim for a consistent look and feel. Use the same grid and the same or complementary graphics and fonts. Print out the 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.
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, but keep it simple. If you are working with a client, make sure that the credit line is part of your agreement.
PROOF AND PRINT THE GREETING CARD
When it comes time to print the 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, graphics, and layout
- Check margins and alignment
- Fold the 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. Then print, trim and fold and you’re finished.