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Card Design 101

Card Design

Hi All!

I got an email from a blog reader (hi Stephanie!) asking if I could do a tutorial on card design. I replied to her and said that I’m not really qualified because I do not have a background or official degree in design. But, I told her I would think about making an “unofficial” design tutorial.

She was so sweet and encouraging, so I really gave it some thought. I started out not having a clue what I would say. I had to really sort through my thoughts when creating a card and break them down into meaningful concepts. I was really surprised that I actually do have a set of guidelines that I subconsciously think about and follow. As I went through many of the cards I created recently, I’m actually quite consistent! It was a really fun and interesting exercise.

I decided to do a typical video, facing down on my work surface. I explain the guidelines and then show examples of how I applied them. There are times when it’s just my hands while I talk, but hopefully it’s not too much.

Anyway, I hope you get a little something out of it. All the cards I mention in the video are listed below with links if you want to watch that card’s creation. Enjoy!


Cards Shown (click to see card creation):

Glittery Tannenbaum Avery Elle Birthday Stack Heart Parade Lil Hoot Birthday Balloons
Just a Note Watercolor Cupcakes PB Watercolor Groovy Chalkboard Neon Beautiful Friend
Shimmer Butterfly Copic Cupcake Metallic Gelatos No One Like You Mosaic Madness Serene Silhouettes
Love Language Circles Multi-Fold Card You Rock Eight Ball Winter Owl Secret Garden
Forever Fabulous Stargazers

Other Helpful Links:

Copic Combos
Copic Combos
Copic Chart
Copic Chart
Inktense Chart
Inktense Chart
Stampin' Up! Color Coach
SU Color Coach


  1. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Ruth Anne

    What a great video. So much helpful stuff packed into a short video. Thanks so much.

  2. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 1:40 pm


    You are fantastic! I love all your tips and tricks! Then to have them on a tutorial that is great! I look forward to seeing your ideas every week. SO CREATIVE!
    Many Hugs,

  3. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Sandra D

    thank you so much..lots easier to figure out when someone shows you how…..enjoy your work very much. one of my favorite places for beautiful ideas.

  4. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Sandra D

    thank you so much..easier to understand when someone shows you how..enjoy all your work and wish you all the best in your new endeavor.

  5. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 2:04 pm


    Darlene, that is a great video! Thanks for sharing.

  6. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 2:27 pm


    Wow, what a great tutorial! I am going to apply all that you described to making a card and am sure that I’ll be a lot happier with my results.

  7. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Evelyn B

    Darlene, Thanks for taking time to do this video and put your thoughts in order. It was very interesting and helpful. I have always liked the cards you show because they seem right to me – I guess that would be balanced, consistent and a good focal point as well as the colors you chose. Thanks again for all the information. You do a good job designing your cards!

  8. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 2:49 pm


    Thanks, I really enjoyed this video, love the example based approach you used when walking thru design tips. Thanks!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Holly Saveur


  10. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Nana 4

    this was awesome and so helpful! I tend to keep “adding” so this really got me thinking. I am such a fan. You might not have “formal” training, but you have an artists eye! TFS!!!!!

  11. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Carol B

    Another great video with tips and tricks to help make our cards more balanced and pleasing to the eye. Many Thanks!

  12. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 3:52 pm


    Hi Darlene,

    This has nothing to do with the Blog Post. Today I received 2 identical emails from you about 9 minutes apart. This is the first time this has happened. I think since you did something to update your blog services this is the first occurrence.

    Not the worst thing t be happening, but ……

  13. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Rene Stansell

    Thank you Darlene, your video was very helpful and I know I will be viewing it quite often for inspiration.
    Rene from OZ xo

  14. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 4:09 pm


    Great Video. Although I’ve been making cards for a while there are so many techniques you do that I’ve never done or heard ofโ€ฆHOW EXCITING! Your blog was such a great “FIND”!!! Thanks for all helpful tips in the video they really will come in handy when next time I’m stuck, trying to create that perfect card ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Mary Ann Huntington

    Thank you Darlene. That video was so informative.

  16. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Jeanne Thomas

    Wow, I found that video amazing and so interesting, thank you so much.
    I will certainly be keeping it and going back to it often.
    By the way, I too received two emails from you just a few minutes apart!

  17. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 4:44 pm


    Darlene, what a great video! I am new to cardmaking and have watched a lot of technique tutorials, but really needed to find a way to pull everything together. Your video covered a lot of information on design elements and answered a lot of questions for me on how to make everything work together. I’ve pinned it to Pinterest so that it will always be available for reference. Thanks so much for this very helpful information!

  18. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Pat Jandacek

    A wonderful video that is very helpful. I’m in awe of your ability to analyze the components of your cards and present a video like this! I have no one at home to critique my cards so will keep these tips in mind, for sure. TFS

  19. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Tammy Hair

    Thank you for all the information! Lots to be considered.

  20. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Maggie X

    Congratulations on your video Darlene – an informative and fabulous tutorial. Thank you. I so enjoy your work.

  21. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 5:37 pm


    Darlene, thank you!! I’m so glad I asked the right question. Your answers were so incredibly helpful and informative. I will def be going back to re-watch and maybe even take notes! I’m so excited to try out some of your design techniques and see what I come up with. You are awesome!!

    • wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Thank you for your encouragement Stephanie! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Holly M.

    This is one of the best instructional cardmaking videos I’ve ever seen. Seriously. I’m going to watch it again and take notes. These design techniques will carry over to scrapbooking and other crafts I like to do. Thank you Darlene.

  23. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Rachel Brooks

    What a wonderful class! I learned so much and loved having you show your cards as examples! Thank you so much! You should publish this as an ebook so we could refer to it for help along the way!

  24. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 6:45 pm


    Thank you so much for sharing your time and talent. One of the best video’s I have watched and learned from. Much appreciated.

  25. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Gloria Taylor

    Thank you so much, Darlene for these great tips & ideas on creating the cards I make. I personally enjoyed hearing you say about when I my card is finished. Yes I do have that concern some times & now I know what I should do. Looking forward to seeing your next video! By the way, happy Mother’s Day.

    • wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Thank you Gloria. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 8:01 pm


    Hi Darlene, I am a long time follower and look forward to your Wed video. I love making cards but often feel like something is just “not right.”. The tips you explain in this video will really help me enjoy the card making process so much more because I’ll have a little extra confidence and a better result. I appreciate your generous spirit! Judith

  27. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Jeanie Witmer

    Excellent video Darlene! Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

  28. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 8:52 pm


    Thanks so much for making this video. So many great tips that are going to help me.

  29. wrote on May 5th, 2014 at 10:17 pm


    Thx so much great tips

  30. wrote on May 6th, 2014 at 12:04 am


    Not sure if you need to know but received two identical emails from you today too.

  31. wrote on May 6th, 2014 at 8:07 am


    Thank you, I knew some, was doing some, but learned more.
    Great cards and ideas.

  32. wrote on May 6th, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Carrie D

    This is something I struggle with everytime I make a card. Thank you so much for walking us through the process!! This will be a huge help for me.. You are more than qualified to give this tutorial ๐Ÿ™‚ you are amazing and I love all your cards!!

  33. wrote on May 6th, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Debbie V

    This has been a most informative video. Your explanations have taken me from the thinking process of where to start all the way through to the completion of the card. You have been very thorough and clear. I appreciate you taking the time to share this invaluable information with us. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. wrote on May 6th, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Hamutal Shafrir

    Thank you so much Darlene, this is very helpful. I enjoy all your videos and learn a lot. You’re incredibly creative and very kind sharing your knowledge with us.

  35. wrote on May 6th, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Dotty A

    You really did a Great job on pulling your thoughts together and explaining them to us….
    There is so much info packed in your video, I’m going to go back and watch it again!!
    Great Job!!

  36. wrote on May 6th, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Angela Jennings

    Hello ๐Ÿ™‚
    Just wondering if it would be okay to borrow your hands for say, a week or so? By the way, I think I’ll need your crafty brain as well… ๐Ÿ™‚
    Love your work.
    xx Angie

  37. wrote on May 6th, 2014 at 7:11 pm


    Thank you for the tutorial. I found it very interesting. I EVEN TOOK NOTES!!!

  38. wrote on May 7th, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Paulette S

    One thing is for sure, we all learn differently. I love Darlene’s soothing voice as she explains the card she is making. I appreciate the card artisits who speak during their videos. I love “details”. I don’t know why, but I do. I need them and always have. From a very small child, I loved listening to the men talk in the boat, while reeling in the trott lines on Spring Lake. A very special treat on our extended family camp outs. And even later in life, when my son raced MX, I loved listening to him come in off the track relaying how the bike did or did not do and my husband taking it all in and magically adjusting the bike to improve it. Plus, I’m a visual learner. Show Me and I’m in, and I will remember it more. Tell me and I’m okay, I can do it, but not nearly as good as if I’d seen it done. I need examples. Knowing the Tips and Tricks, is literally HALF, of any battle that you have never experienced before. I love the thought process as well, it’s part of the journey to figuring out what will work in the project you are creating.

    Stephanie, experiment and watch lots of videos and before you know it, many things will become a second nature just like Darlene’s. I loved all of her design strategies and how simple some of them are. Like choosing 3 colors and a neutral and her moveable ink color swatches. I design cards better if I have a specific person they are for. Other wise, I feel like I just grab things and hope they work. LOL That’s kind of how using colors work for me. I love ALL colors and it’s so hard to choose what to use. I’ve got to get my hands on a color wheel. I have one, it’s stuck in a cubby somewhere safe and sound. You know as soon as I buy one, it will reveal itself. LOL

  39. wrote on May 9th, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Barbara Brown

    Just wanted to thank you for sharing your time, thoughts, and talent in this jam packed with info video. Very well organized as always and very helpful. Happy Mother’s Day, Darlene!

  40. wrote on May 10th, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Kimberly E

    Hi Darlene! Just had a chance to watch….all I can say is you are wonderful for taking the time to do this. Such a great thought process and really simple when someone with talent explains it to us newbie card makers! You are helping many of us grow creatively and for that I thank you! Have a great Mother’s Day!! Hugs!!!

  41. wrote on May 10th, 2014 at 9:54 am


    Thanks – that was great to see your process and how you really do have “rules” that you follow for each card. It makes me now think about what I do and how I can refine my process. I do love how you ground your image by a box or lines – it really seems to finish the card. I’m going to have to look at your creation videos now!!

  42. wrote on May 11th, 2014 at 8:25 am


    Hi ~ Thank you SO very much for giving such clear & super useful advice for those of us who are unsure of the what, how & with whats of card making. It is awfuly kind of you to do this, I know I will be referring to this time and again. I have saved the blank Inktense chart ~ thank you for that too :o))

  43. wrote on May 13th, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Mary-Anne V.

    I know im late in watching this video but it was so helpful and insightful!

  44. wrote on May 15th, 2014 at 6:20 am

    Maria Rodriguez

    Hello Darlene: I don’t know what happened but all of your posts started to get delivered onto the “Promotions” file on my mailbox. This feature is something that Google did when they changed the format of the inbox, something I really didn’t like.
    I rarely go to this file because it’s usually only sale promos from companies I don’t visit often but I have no idea why your videos started landing there. I even re subscribed to your blog but it kept happening.
    Anyway, this video is immensely helpful to me, the lay out of my cards is always difficult to accomplish, I have a very hard time deciding how to surround my focal point, which is always my stamped, water colored image, with the right combination of DSP or card stock and then, add a bit of embellishments, just enough to enhance it but not over power it.
    This video is amazing, as always, you have a fabulous way to explain the why and the how of your projects and how you arrive at the final design.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to make this incredible teaching videos, it’s the best next think to having you here in my craft room guiding me along.
    You are truly an amazing teacher.

  45. wrote on June 12th, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Suzanne Watanabe

    Hi Darlene!
    Thank you so much for this Card Design Video! For some reason, I didn’t receive an email for this post and only saw it now when I was searching your blog. I am always inspired by your card designs and Copic and water coloring…..you are so talented! I’ve learned so much from watching your videos and reading your blog posts. Thanks again for sharing your creative process and BEAUTIFUL Artwork! Have a wonderful day! ๐Ÿ™‚

  46. wrote on March 4th, 2015 at 5:28 am


    WOW, have not seen this before! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This video is incredible and the tips are priceless – no wonder your cards are so very beautiful and striking. Much appreciated, dear Darlene!

    • wrote on March 4th, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Thank you for your sweet comment Veronica – so glad you enjoyed this video.

  47. wrote on October 15th, 2015 at 5:59 pm


    I absolutely LOVED this video! I am new to card making and had no clue of where to start! Thank you so much for this info!

    • wrote on October 19th, 2015 at 10:44 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      You’re so welcome! There some good information on the Getting Started page, in case you haven’t checked it out yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • wrote on October 19th, 2015 at 10:48 pm


        Thanks! Heading there now!

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