Friday, May 28, 2010

Father's Day Gift Certificates

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Father's Day is coming up. Sometimes dads can be a little hard to shop for, but you know you've got a whole list of non-store-bought things they love, from your homemade pies to back rubs to taking on some of their chores. I love the retro look of these cards from L2 Design Collective and wanted to apply the same style to some custom gift certificates for Dad!

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To achieve a retro gender-neutral look, you'll want:

  • a fun retro palette
  • a few big chunky fonts (normally I absolutely do not mix similar fonts but for this retro look, it's okay! I used Headline 1 and Chunk Five, which I found for free online, and Playbill, which was already on my computer)
  • a symbol font (like wingdings or zapf dingbats)
  • some slightly askew lines

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Open your design program of choice. I always use Illustrator. Set up your document to be 5x7.

Type all of the words you'll be using in your gift certificate. I like to type each line in separate text fields, which makes it easier to resize and place the text well. One style I love is making each line of text span the width of the certificate.

Apply the colors to the text.

Draw in some skewed lines.

Use your symbol font to find a fun symbol to add to your design.

Print the certificates on your home printer or at a print shop (I always prefer the colors from a print shop. I loathe my home printer). I print two to a page, and then cut them out from an 8.5x11 sheet!

Give to Dad!!

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Friday, May 21, 2010

A Personalized Happy Anniversary!

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When I saw that my post was scheduled for today, my parents' wedding anniversary, I knew I wanted to create something for them. I found my inspiration in these wallpaper patterns found at Design Sponge, and love the "specialness" of lined envelopes. I decided to make a personalized card that they could frame if they choose to.

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For this recipe you'll need:

An organic pattern. I already had this one, but I purchased it from .istock where they have lots of styles to choose from.
A flourishy font with a delicious ampersand. This one is called Mutlu, and it's free!
A classic serif font. I chose Goudy Trajan, available here for less than $10 for the style I chose.
Natural, neutral colors, with one dark accent color. I chose Eggshell, Sand, Winter Blue and Ivory.
Cardstock, lightweight stock (for the envelope liner) and an envelope that complement your colors. Xpedx paper stores carry tons of options in color, texture, weight, even transparent vellum sheets that can be purchased individually. I like to buy unique bargain basement envelopes and keep them on hand for occasions like this! I used a 7.5" square cream-colored envelope, with an off-white vellum sheet for the liner; and a tan parchment cardstock with a ribbed textured cream paper for the design panel of the card.

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To make this card, I measured my envelope and trimmed my card stock 1/4" smaller in height and width (since my paper wasn't large enough to do a folding card from one sheet, I created the front and back panels individually, then just carefully used invisible tape to join them). Download your fonts and pattern, and open the software program of your choice—I used Illustrator. It's ideal to use a program that allows you to make transparent elements to get the rich layered effect.

I set up guides that were 1/4" smaller than my trimmed card, so the parchment cardstock would frame the panel I created. I started with the pattern and enlarged it—almost to my outside dimensions. I left a thin border of the cream paper to frame the "inset" portion of the design. Then I pulled in the flavorful ampersand. I made it transparent to subtly blend it with the background pattern then enlarged it. I added my parents' names in the dark color, letter-spacing them to achieve a more elegant look.

And this is where the hands on craftiness starts...I cut out the front panel, and glued it in the center of the parchment cardstock. Then I printed the pattern (only) on the vellum sheet. I trimmed the width to barely less than the width of the envelope. I inserted it into the envelope, then marked and trimmed to just below the flap glue. I printed the same pattern on a cream sheet and trimmed and glued it to the inside of the card, for a designated message space.
I always place my finished pieces under a couple of heavy books, to make sure they don't curl as the glue dries.
Happy Anniversary dad and mom!

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Retro Custom Book Plates for Teacher

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With school ending soon for the summer, I thought I'd design some personalized book plates for an end of school teacher gift. I chose this awesome book of poetry from 1963 as my inspiration. I love the line drawings, use of color, and funky type style.

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For this recipe you'll need:

A retro style font: I liked this one called EastMarket from Font Squirrel
Some retro flower illustrations: I could find any I liked, so I drew my own. You can use your drawing program to create simple shapes for your bookplate. Or you can download an eps or pdf of my drawings to use for your own book plates. For personal use only please.
A retro color palette: Direct from the book cover I chose a bright red, mustard yellow, olive green, and black.
Full sheet sticker paper to print your bookplates on.

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To make these bookplates, first download any fonts or elements that you might like to use. Open your software program of choice (I used Illustrator) and set up your document size for 8.5 x 11. I set my bookplates up so that I can fit four to a page and set up guides so I can design in one square and then just copy and paste the finished design into the remaining squares for printing.

I started with my text box frame and using my illustrations, just layered them around the box to fill the space. I started with just the black and white illustrations and then colored the finished design after all the elements were in place. My last step here was bringing the text box to the front of all the elements.

Once I had my main design, I went to work on the type inside the box. I chose the EastMarket font for this design. For the word "book", I created the text as individual letters, typing, sizing, & adding them on top of each other until I was satisfied with the results. Each line was type set individually to fill the space.

If you don't want to make the custom version of these book plate, you could omit the name and just add a line to be filled in by the recipient.

After completing the personalization of the text, I added the frames around the illustration. Using the book cover as inspiration. I layered boxes with different widths and colors of frames to make the border.

Now just select and group your whole design together and copy and paste into the other squares set up on your page. Ta-Da! Finished custom book plate. Print on sticker paper and trim them out for a cute teacher gift. You could also save or export your finished bookplate template as a pdf, burn it to a CD, and include it with the printed versions. That way, the teacher can print out as many more as she needs for her classroom library.


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Friday, May 7, 2010

Fashionable Graduation Announcements

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My sister recently contacted me about making some graduation announcements for my niece, who is graduating from high school in just a couple weeks. When she sent me the pictures that had been taken, they reminded me so much of fashion photography. I knew that I wanted to use a simple magazine ad for clothing or a screen shot from a clothing company website as my inspiration. This opening screen from The Gap fit the bill perfectly.

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For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • A simple, sans serif font. You want to choose a font that comes in at least 2-3 different weights such as bold, medium, and thin. You want a simple, clean look that will not compete with your photos. I chose Quicksand, available at
  • 1 large main photo
  • 2 small accent photos
  • A simple color palette that coordinates with your photos. I chose a palette very similar to the inspiration piece; navy blue and white.
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Gather all of your ingredients. Feel free to make adjustments, according to your own tastes. Because this will be image heavy, I have chosen to design the announcement in Photoshop. You can use the program you feel most comfortable with.

My sister is planning to have these announcement printed as photo cards at Costco, using their special size of 6 x 7.5. So I open a document in Photoshop that is 7.5 inches wide and 6 inches high. Open all 3 of your photos and resize them to fit into the spaces you have designated. Draw a rectangular box to fill the bottom section of the announcement and fill with the color of your choice. I chose the navy blue from my color palette.
Type the name of the graduate, using your sans serif font in the large white space to the left. Next, type the supporting text, including the high school and the details of the graduation to fit in the bottom right box.

Here is my finished graduation announcement. Try making one for the grad in your life!

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