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  • Writer's pictureGina Shord

How to design a greeting card

Illustrating greeting cards can be a fun and exciting way to channel your creativity and bring joy to others. Whether you're a seasoned illustrator or just starting out, designing a greeting card requires careful planning, effective concept development, and a keen artistic eye.

a thanks giving table full of all the thanks giving foods including turkey, pecan pie, pumpkin pie and more bottom right has two hands holding. With lettering in the centre of the card which says "Giving thanks to you my love"
thanks giving card 'Giving thanks to you'

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to create an illustrated greeting card:

Step 1 - Develop a concept for your greeting card design.

Before starting the illustration process, it's essential to come up with a concept for the card. Decide on the occasion for the card, such as a birthday, holiday, or any special occasion. From there, brainstorm words, phrases, or themes associated with the occasion. For example, if the card is for a birthday, consider the recipient's age, interests, and hobbies. Ideally, you want to think of a unique and personalised angle for your card concept.

Step 2 - Generate ideas

Once you have a concept, it's time to brainstorm ideas. Think about the different visual elements that could represent your concept. For example, if you're creating a birthday card for a cat lover, you could use illustrations of cats or cat-related objects like tuna cans, litter boxes, or cat toys. Don't be afraid to sketch out different ideas and explore various concepts. After all, this stage is all about experimentation.

Step 3 - Design the card

Once you have an idea you're happy with, it's time to start designing the card. Start by determining the card's size, fold, and orientation. Then, sketch out your composition, keeping in mind the card's front, inside, and back. If you're using digital software, begin with a rough sketch and gradually refine the details. Make sure to consider typography and other visual elements like colour, line, and texture.

Step 4 - Refine the image

After creating a rough sketch or initial digital design, it's time to refine it. Start by cleaning up your lines or shapes using the software's tools or an eraser. Consider adding more details, changing the composition, or adjusting your colours to enhance the overall look of the card. Take a break and revisit the illustrations with a fresh eye. Don't be afraid to experiment and make changes - this stage is all about refinement.

Step 5 - Finalise the design

The final step is to add the finishing touches to your design. Make sure to double-check that you've captured all the necessary details and that all elements are aligned correctly. You may also want to add a message or text on the card's inside or back to personalise it further.

illustration of a greeting card with cats playing with yarn and wearing fun party hats at the top text reads happy birthday to you. card is in an array of pinks.
Happy birthday cat card illustrated by gina shord

Finally save your final design in the appropriate file format for printing (CYMK) or sharing online. (RGB)

In conclusion, illustrating greeting cards requires careful planning, effective concept development, and a keen artistic eye. Following these steps, you can create a unique and personalised greeting card that stands out and speaks to its recipient. Don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with the process - this is how you will find your unique style and voice as an illustrator.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope it has been helpful to you in some way and if you know someone who might enjoy it too: please share it forward. ✌️


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