Paper Crafts Blog

How to Turn Your Art Into Greeting Cards

If you’re interested in selling your drawings, or perhaps have already started selling originals or submitting to art directors but would like to branch out into product offerings, greeting cards are a wonderful way to begin reproducing your artwork in a higher volume.

Not only are greeting cards a fantastic mini canvas for your illustrations, but they are also a practical item that people purchase and use on a regular basis.

Greeting card designs

Illustrations and photos via CakeSpy

Working with printers and file formatting can seem quite daunting to the uninitiated, but once you break down the steps, it’s quite an accessible process. In this post, we’ll offer some helpful tips and considerations to help you get started in the wonderful world of greeting card production.

What type of art should you choose for greeting cards?

Naturally you want to choose your best work to reproduce on greeting cards. However, consider the fact that most people purchase greeting cards for specific occasions: birthdays, weddings, new baby, housewarming or thank you notes. Choosing artwork that is appropriate for these occasions will ultimately make your cards more salable, taking them from an “I want” item to a useful “I need” product.

Choose from common greeting card sizes

Illustrated greeting card collection on Craftsy

Generally, you will base the size of your cards on popular envelope sizes. This will not only make them easier to package and sell, but they will also to tend to fit better into standard card rack sizes, which makes them easier to merchandise in stores or at craft fairs.

Typical greeting card sizes include 4.25 by 5.5 inches, 4 by 6 inches, and 5 by 7 inches. If you’re working with a printer, be sure that the cards come with envelopes.

Note: Many find that the card size measuring 4.25 by 5.5 inches is a great format with which to begin your greeting card adventure. Why? It’s easy to print this size at home, since the unfolded measurements of the card, 8.5 by 5.5 inches, are exactly half of a standard 8.5 by 11-inch sheet of printer paper, meaning you can print them 2-up on a standard sheet.

Formatting your art

These tips will serve you well with a variety of different printers or for at-home printing. However, it’s worth noting that different printers will have varying specifics and criteria for printing, so be sure to closely review and adhere to them.

Scanning

Scan your art at a high resolution — at least 300 dpi. It is always better to reduce the size of your art rather than enlarge, as it can make it grainy in reproduction, so if your artwork is fairly small, scan at a higher resolution, which will naturally make the image size larger.

Scanning into a photo or image editing program can allow you to adjust your image to make it print-friendly.

Color correcting and image formatting

Once your image is scanned, you may want to do some light digital touch-ups, including adjusting the contrast or brightness of the image and removing dust spots. This is easy to do in image editing programs such as Photoshop.

Always double check the color format of your image and tailor it to your printer’s preferences. It is common for printers to request your file to be delivered in CMYK color, but this is not always the case as some prefer RGB color. Do check this, as it will be important in ensuring that the color matches what you see on the screen.

Template tech

Now it’s time to start thinking about the front, back, and inside of your card, and how these pieces will fit together.

Happily for beginners, it is increasingly common for printers to offer design interfaces which can guide you through the process with their built in design tools which can allow you to add background colors, text, and resize images.

Even if they don’t have a snazzy interface, however, most printers will be able to share templates specifically designed for their greeting card sizes. DO download these, as they can be very helpful in formatting and sizing your artwork appropriately.

Typically, a template should include the following important info: fold line, trim line, and a “safe zone” border in which all important aspects should be contained. Don’t include important aspects right on the edge–there is a small bit of leeway during the cutting process, and you don’t want your logo or an important word to be cut off. See how the logo rests a little above the bottom of the card, in the “safe zone”, below?

Lay out your design within the template, but be sure to save the final image with the template removed: You don’t want those guide lines printed on your card.

Formatting greeting card art

Alignment tips

  • Format your artwork to take up half of the surface area (the other half will be the back of the card; the front and back are actually printed on the same side, which is scored).
  • Make sure that the artwork and back design is aligned so that they will face the same way once folded (so for instance, the logo on the back would look upside down when you view the artwork unfolded).

The alignment of the back will differ depending on whether your card is vertical or horizontal

  • If there is a greeting on the card, it should be about 1/3 of the way down the card if aligned vertically.
  • Be sure that the most important elements of the design is not toward the edge. Because of slight shifting during cutting and printing, there is a small area (usually 1/8 inch or so) which you should leave as “bleed”–extend background colors so that they will have a little leeway when trimming, and nothing really important has the potential to be trimmed out.
Pro tip: Make sure that an enticing part of the design is prominently featured on the top third of your card. Many card displays are tiered so that only the top of a card is visible. Make yours enticing even if only a sliver is viewable.

Inner greeting

Greeting card front and inside

Use the same template for an inner greeting, making sure that you’re aligning it in the same direction as the artwork (it would be very strange to open a top-fold card and find the greeting sitting on its side). Most printers will allow you to upload the front and back as separate files.

Check twice, print once

Double check everything. Print out your finished file on your home printer, so that you can have a general idea of how the cards will look when they are printed.

A printer’s proof (their final printout before “going to press” with the file) is well worth a few extra days’ turn time and the nominal fee that most printers charge. This will be your final chance to “OK” the file before the entire job is printed.

Package your cards prettily

Boxed illustrated cards

Make your cards ready to sell (and keep them safe) with plastic sleeves or boxes. Clearbags.com is a great resource for purchasing both boxes and sleeves to fit all sorts of card sizes.

Pro tip: If it is a greeted card, be sure to make a sticker that shows what the inner greeting is. If it is blank, make a sticker that says “blank inside,” otherwise people will pry open the boxes trying to find out!

Get better at what you love! Whether you want to create your own greeting cards or aim to render gallery-worthy watercolors, you can reach your true artistic potential with drawing and painting classes from Craftsy!

Explore drawing classes! >>

 

Have any questions about making greeting cards? Ask away in the comments section!

34 Comments

Christine Lehto

If you can’t find a local printer to print your art. Is there a recommendation for a printer online?

Reply
Gene Black

I have been very happy with http://www.printingcenterusa.com/
The only mistake I have had is that they sent the wrong size envelopes. So I bought replacements at Office Max.

Reply
Adel Torres

So I was looking at this site and it looks like it only has a template for 5×7 greeting cards, which is enormous. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

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Christine Lehto

If you can’t find a local printer to print your art. Is there a recommendation for a printer online?

Reply
Walsy

check twice print once – indeed! 🙂
I love this article with detailed description of tips, cool!
original greeting crads is always in trend, you can impress anyone with such pleasant gift

Reply
Laura

What paper do you use to print your cards on? And what printer? I’ve been trying to decide between printing my cards at home or sending them off to be printed. Thanks!

Reply
CakeSpy

Laura: I would suggest printing some at home first and seeing how you like them – then you’ll feel more comfortable moving on to a bigger print run!

Reply
faye goldstein

Hi I would like to speak to someone on the phone about selling cards can someone call me please ask for my number

Reply
Michelle Decker

What online printing company do you recommend for quality images?

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Waytosparkle!

home printer reco’s? Does anyone ever reply?

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CakeSpy

Hi there…I’m sorry, I am not sure what you are referring to? I use an HP printer at home.

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Angela

I’m inspired by this blog and I too would really appreciate suggestions about what kind of printer to look for with the capability to do this. Not just a brand name: I’ve always had HP printers, but what features does the printer need to print high quality cards? Also, what kind of card or paper would be suitable? I see people have been asking this for months; can anyone help with specific suggestions please?

Reply
Ruth

I suggest talking to someone at your local office supply as well as camera shop about the different qualities each printer is known for. What they suggest, because I know this changes from time to time. Paper is a hard one they may be able to help with that as well.

Reply
Assunta

I was wondering how to sell my cards once I have them printed. Do I approach a Target or Walmart? How do you actually get your product on the shelves?

Reply
Debb

I use an Epson printer that utilizes quick dry-no smear ink. Epson also makes great matte photo and presentation paper. Or you may use what is called Cardstock Paper. I cut my cards on an old fashioned paper cutter but scrapbook companies make some great paper cutters these days.

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Susan

You didn’t answer all the questions on what type of paper to use. Also, how do you cut the cards to size?

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christy

Blueedgecrafts.com.au sell ready made cards & envelopes for you to use ..terriffic store, they have everything in a card you could want to make your own

Reply
Jinny

I use 110 lb white CARDSTOCK from Office Depot. They only have one kind. Take to kinkos for a smooth chop right in half. After cut you will have a NOTEcard sized 4 ¼ x5 ½ Paper. This is called an A-2.
One size larger Is 6 bar. This is a GREETING size. I buy my six bar from clearbags.com. Their envelopes for each size (and more) are best price I’ve found.
Sell cards on Etsy, Pinterest and craft fairs/ boutiques.
I rubberstamp on a-2’s, and stamp or stencil color in. I have sold mine recently at a church fundraiser. I print mine on epson or HP. I scan my artwork in, insert it into Word app. To size artwork and print logo. If anyone has the Pages app, it also has formatting for cards. If you’re a stamper, utube tutorials are abundant for ideas. Check out jennifer McGuire. She will knock your socks off. ?

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Lotus

Fab advice! Thank you!

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Jesse brenneman

Great article! I have just started making handmade photo greeting cards that are blank inside. I was wondering if you had any tips on getting my work noticed. I think my cards are unique because of the photography on them, and I would love for some blogs to feature my work, but I’m not having a lot of luck finding the right blog to contact. Any ideas? My work can be found at: http://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/TwilightDigitalPhoto

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heather jenkins

Is it possible to have my designs printed onto natural brown card? This is really the only type of card I see my hand painted illustrations against.

Reply
Carrie

What software/ computer program do you recommend for creating greeting cards? I need one that will also allow me to add my own artwork. Cost isn’t majorly important but I need something professional.

Thanks for any help!

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Donna L. Escobar

Hi, I have actual black and white photos of Hawaiian dancers which are from our family that I would like to make into black and white greet cards. How do I go about doing this to sell for fundraiser and possibly beyond this since they are originals.

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tracy

I make hand made cards and would like some advice they are made from either stamped images or images printed out from a cd can you give me any advice of how to market my cards and possibilities of where I might be able to sell them

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Jessica

Are there some ideas to paint and draw for painting? I paint a lot and want to start a gallery but I don’t know how to reproduce the idea of my paintings on cards

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Kat

If your scan your home made greeting card, make it a little larger, print, cut and frame it under glass,
what would you call it on a title card? A photo copy?…..or?
Thanks so much.

Kat

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Judy Baldaccini

Kat- I’d call it a limited print. If the quality of the original is good, make x amount. Example- 60… then number each on lower left, 1/60, 2/60— 60/60. (Have 60 copies made) Sign the limited number in pencil, autograph each lower right side in pen/thin marker with your name. This way the buyer knows how many the artist has reproduced. Hope that helps.

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john

I have used services from http://www.printingsolo.com and the greeting cards were of high quality and reasonable price. You should try some 🙂

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Amy watson

Nice greeting card design ideas. Last time i came across one site that gives an array of design templates and also you can upload your design ideas and creative arts for the further detailing. That also gives you a 3D preview features, through which you can able to see your art work… Good software for printers.

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Ivy Baker

I really love the idea of having a personalized greeting card. It does seem a good idea to do what you said and double check everything before you print the card. It would be awful to print a lot of them and have them be done wrong.

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Pratik Shah

These are really amazing designs with premium print quality. Thanks for the idea. I am on my way to create one.

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Richard Washington

Awesome greeting card designs. I have the idea to 3D print this type of design on books and laptop screen, thanks for the shared here.

Reply
AppJetty

Hi,Thanks for sharing nice greeting card design ideas.

Reply

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