Creating Greeting Cards the Old Fashioned Way

There are so many different ways to make a greeting card that I wanted to address those readers/artists that have minimal computer skills. Greeting cards can easily be made by hand using your art work reproduced by a simple copy machine, color copier and/ or photographs.

As I stated in my last post, "How to Create a Greeting Card" the first thing you need to determine is the final size of the card. By working backwards it makes it easy to create cards by hand. The simplest and most cost efficient way to reproduce anything is with a copy machine. Copy machines can be found in any office supply store and many of them have self-serve areas where you can do all the work yourself at a minimal charge per piece. The easiest way is to produce a black and white drawing. B&W copies are the least expressive to reproduce and there are some creative ways to add in color. The industry standard for paper is 8.5" x 11" here is the USA. A piece of paper folded in half can makes a 5.5" x 8.5" card that can be oriented either vertical or horizontal.

For the first example, I am showing a card that was produced in my Pen & Ink class. The student designed the drawing to "float" on the paper so that none of the image would be cropped off or touch the edge of the paper. She also had some of the image wrap around the back of the card. To add color to it, she simply purchased some heavy weight beautiful lavender paper and hand fed the paper into the copy machine at the self-serve counter. She was able to print as many as she wanted and purchased matching envelopes to go with them. Another way to introduce color into the project is to make copies in b&w on white paper and hand color or tint them after printing. This is much more time consuming, but it looks like an original work of art and I have seen people frame their hand colored cards and hang them on the wall.

My second example is a bit tricky. It is working with the same piece of 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper only this time the image bleeds off the page. What this means is that you need to extend the drawing beyond with outside perimeters of the finished size so that the image is cropped where you want it to end. A regular copy machine can not print exactly to the edge of the paper. It needs to have a small non-printable edge so that the machine can grasp the paper and feed it into where the ink is located. The size of the area needed is variable based on the manufacturer of the copy machine. It is important to know what that is, but if you do not know, a safe measurement is to have a 1/4" border where the image will continue outside the printable area. Anything that is an important element in the drawing should not be accidentally cut off, so plan carefully. After the card is printed, cut the 1/4" border off and the card will have a bleed. This card is slightly smaller that the above card because 1/2 inch was taken off, 1/4" all the way around. The finished card size is 5" x 8". This example shows the card with a 3-sided bleed and the image wrapping slightly on the other side of the back of card. This card was also done by a student  in my Pen & Ink class. She chose handmade paper that had flower petals inbedded into the surface. It added wonderful texture to the drawing and made it very unique and beautiful. It probably cost her about .50 to .75 cents to reproduce and that included the paper and envelope.

Another inexpensive way to create a greeting card is to have a picture taken of the art work and have prints or color copies made up of them. The prints can then be attached with a glue stick onto ready made greeting cards. You can find cards with matching envelopes by Strathmore and Canson in art store or online. I prefer the above methods to this one, because the photos/copies don't always come out that great and I don't like the glossy surface of the photo.

If you have any other ways that you produce greeting cards by hand I would love for you to share them with us!


For the next card making tutorial I will talk about scanning, using Photoshop and going online to have cards made.