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Examples of matted clip-art cards
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Tutorial #2

Matted Clip-Art or Photo Cards

What we will be making:

This tutorial is all about combining colors. You'll learn how to select a mat color that suits the clip-art or photo that you've chosen as the central theme of your greeting card. This tutorial builds on elements presented in the first tutorial, Four Patch Cards. Refer to that tutorial for instructions on making card blanks and envelopes.

Here's what you need:
  • White card blank: 4¼″ by 5½″
  • Colored paper or cardstock for mats
  • Glue
  • Clip-art or photos
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or paper trimmer
  • White computer paper for envelopes
  • Optional: Paper punches, rubberstamps, colored pencils.

This is the second of twelve cardmaking tutorials and is rated EASY to do.

Making Matted Clip-Art or Photo Greeting Cards

Read through the tutorial before starting.
Step 1: Getting Started

Combining Colors
Some beginning cardmakers have a hard time combining colors in a pleasing way. One way to address this problem is to minimize the color choices. In week one, we did this by using a single color or a single sheet of decorative paper. This week, we'll add another color choice by matting clip-art and photos. What's interesting about the color of a mat is that it can both enhance the color of the image and set the mood of the card.

Card Mats
A card mat is simply a piece of paper or cardstock a little larger than the clip-art or photo. The mat is used to create a frame around the image. Its main purpose is to draw the eye to the image's focal point. If you plan to make cards regularly, it's convenient to have mats pre-cut in a variety of colors. Letter-size colored paper cut into quarters and 12" by 12" scrapbook paper cut into six 4" by 6" mats both work well. For a group or class, buy a ream of colored paper in a variety pack—pastels, brights and darks. For home cardmaking, it may be most economical to buy a pack of 6" by 6" or 4½" by 6½" cardstock in a variety of colors. For the best buy, look for value packs of 100 sheets.

Clip-Art
Clip-art is freely available on the internet. Aunt Annie's favorite web site for downloading clip-art is: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/

Microsoft offers thousands of free files for download and makes it easy to find just the right image. To find clip-art, enter a search term like "dragonfly," and click the search icon. On the left side of the screen, choose Media types - Illustration. Select a black and white image and copy it to the clipboard or download and save to your computer.

Microsoft clip-art downloads

Clip-Art Cards
Since this week is about matting and color choices, our first sample card features black and white clip art. This makes the mat color choice very easy and allows for the easy introduction of matting. After that, we'll go on to learning how to mat colored clip-art and photos.

B&W clip-art card - Africa Savannah

Follow the steps below to make a black and white clip-art or photo card, then read on for how to select mats for colored clip-art.

Step 2: Select and Cut a Mat

Select and cut a mat using heavy paper or cardstock of any color except black or white. You might select a favorite color, or just the use the paper that is most convenient. Cut the mat to about 3¾" by 5" for a 4¼" by 5½" card, or cut a mat ½" (1 cm) smaller than the card blank you are using. For a 5" by 7" card, the mat would measure 4½" by 6½". (See the first card tutorial for how to make a card blank.)

Mats can also be cut in other shapes. Print the patterns in the Shaped Frames download on colored cardstock, and cut them to size. To make clip-art and photos in these shapes, trace around a cut-out frame on the back of the clip-art or photo with a pencil, then cut.

Step 3: Select an Image

Select a black and white image for your card. It could be a favorite photograph or clip-art downloaded from an online site like Microsoft Office Images. The image used in the sample is available in a PDF file.

Step 4: Print

Print the clip-art or photo and cut it to about 3¼" by 4½". Materials cut for example clip-art card

Step 5: Add a Message Strip (optional)
To add a message strip like the sample card,
  • Cut a ½″by 5½″strip of the mat paper. Leftovers trimmed when cutting the mat to size work well. For a larger card, make the strip longer—about the width of the card.
  • Cut a message strip from the African savannah PDF that is about 3/8″ wide. Or, make your own message strip using rubber stamps or a word processor.
  • Decorate the message strip with a small punch or stamp. The color of the strip of mat paper will show through any punched hole. In the sample card, a small heart punch was used.
  • Glue the message strip to the strip of mat paper, then glue that to the clip-art and trim any excess.
Step 6: Glue

Center the clip-art on the mat and glue in place, then glue the mat with clip-art to the card front.

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Selecting Mat Color for Colored Clip-Art or Photos
It is usually best to select a mat color that matches a secondary color in the clip-art or photo: in essence, an accent color as opposed to the image's main color. Take, for example, this butterfly clip-art from Microsoft.

Butterfly clip-art

The main colors are the oranges and black of the butterfly, while the accent colors are the pinks of the flowers. The background colors are various greens. Let’s see how different mat colors look.

Main Color – Orange Mat

Butterfly clip-art - orange mat

Background Color - Green Mat

Butterfly clip-art - green mat

Secondary (Accent) Color – Pink Mat

Butterfly clip-art - magenta mat

All of the mat colors coordinate well with the clip-art, but each has a different effect. The orange mat tends to compete for attention with the butterfly. The green mat simply extends the background and makes the orange butterfly appear duller. The pink mat (secondary color) adds dimension to the clip-art, and the butterfly seems to come off the page. Move your chair back from the screen to see these effects the best.

Also notice the white border around the clip-art. This separates the mat from the clip-art and adds a more finished look. Experiment on your own to get a better feel for how mats work with colored clip-art and photos.

Back to Top
Before you start a tutorial:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read through the tutorial.
  • Think about what you plan to make. Imagine how you can add your own creative touch.
  • Gather the materials you will need.
Get ready, and get started!!!
Greeting card with matted botanical drawing

Tip: Pull the overall design of the card together by matting the card message and image with the same color.

The image on this sample card comes from the Curtis Botanical Collection, hosted at the National Agricultural Library.

Share images of your greeting cards to the Greeting Card Class Flickr group.

Greeting card with special arched mat

Tip: Mats and clip-art can be cut in shapes other than squares and rectangles.

The arched mat is available in the Frames download.
Greeting card using mat strips

Tip: Save paper by using strips of paper to mat the clip-art instead of one large piece of paper.

What is clip-art?
In its broadest definition, clip-art refers to pre-made images used to illustrate printed documents or electronic media. The term clip-art refers to the printed sheets of ready-made graphics that can be cut out or clipped and then pasted on a print master. In cardmaking, both electronic and printed clip-art can be easily used to decorate cards.

Clip Art card with scalloped edge

Enlarge
Tip: A scalloped edge is a terrific way to enhance a clip-art card! See how to do it in the Scalloped Edge card tutorial.

Clip-art card with shaped cut

Tip: Plain colored mats can be decorated with rubber stamps.

Matted giraffe clip-art

Tip: Cool colors, like blues and greens, are calming. When used as mats, these colors tend to stay in the background. Warm colors, like yellow, red, or orange, give a lively feel to a card. When used as mats, these colors have a tendency to stand out from the card.

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