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How to Create DIY Greeting Cards With Original Paintings

Robie is an artist who loves sharing what she's learned about art and painting in the hope that it might help other creatives.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to make greeting cards using your own small, original paintings.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to make greeting cards using your own small, original paintings.

Handmade Birthday and Holiday Cards Show You Care

Billions of greeting cards are purchased and sent every year for a wide range of occasions such as holidays, birthdays and milestones. By making your own cards instead of buying them, you can save quite a bit of money. Creating your own greeting cards also makes your message more personal and meaningful. It shows the recipient that you took the time to craft something just for them.

Whenever I have to occasion to make a greeting card, I usually make several so that I have a stash of ready-to-go cards left over for future occasions. After doing this for a while, I began selling my handmade and hand-painted cards out of my studio and at art events—people really seem to appreciate their unique designs!

Use Blank Cards and Envelopes to Make Custom Greetings

I like to create my cards using purchased blank cards as support. Other people make the whole card from scratch, and that's definitely a good option too. Store-bought blank cards are very convenient because they come with matching envelopes and look professional. They came in different sizes and colors, so pick whichever variety suits you.

For this project, I used 5' x 7' white cards, which have the advantage of being an easily framable size. Since these cards are made from original paintings, many recipients choose to frame them and hang them as decor after enjoying the message inside.

Supplies

  • 1 blank greeting card (I use 5x7" Strathmore cards)
  • 1 matching envelope (if you buy a set, the envelope is included)
  • 1 small painting on paper or canvas paper (if you do not have a painting ready to use, you will need paper, brushes, and paint as well)
  • Colored paper of your choice for the background/mat (optional)
  • Acid-free glue stick
  • Ruler
  • Scissors

Instructions

  1. Create small paintings on paper or canvas or select old paintings to use on the cards.
  2. Create interesting edges for your painting by tearing the paper with your hands or using pattern scissors.
  3. Create a mat using colorful background paper.
  4. Glue the small painting on the background paper to create a mat effect.
  5. Glue the matted painting on the front of the blank card.
  6. If you are selling the cards, protect them in clear plastic bags or slips (optional).
  7. Include the information that the cards are handmade (optional).
Small, original watercolor paintings like these can be used to make cute and artsy cards.

Small, original watercolor paintings like these can be used to make cute and artsy cards.

1. Select or Create a Small Painting

Get some of your paint and brushes out, relax, and create several small paintings without worrying about the final result. Trust me—this is the best way to end up with interesting pieces that look stress-free and cute. Alternatively, you can create a large, abstract painting and cut it into smaller rectangles to use on your cards. Be sure to cut the larger painting into pieces that will fit well and look nice on your blank cards.

Painting Tips

  • I usually like to have a colored background on each card to frame the painting like a mat. If you'd like to do this, make your paintings smaller than the actual cards to leave space for the mat.
  • I create my watercolor mini-paintings on watercolor paper using acrylic or watercolor paint, but you can also use markers, tempera, or any other medium that won't smudge when handled.
  • If you mess up, no worries—it's just some paper and a little bit of your time.

Using Old Paintings

You can also use existing paintings for your cards rather than creating new ones. Oftentimes, I go through my old paintings and cut the ones that I don't like into smaller pieces then use these to make cards.

For example, you can take a landscape watercolor painting, tear it into several rectangles, then look at each piece and transform it into its own little painting by adding details as needed. Use each painted section as a starting point, then change it into something else. You can add buildings, flowers, animals, trees, or small abstract elements. You can also add color or intensify existing colors.

Create Interesting Edges

Tearing the edges of your paintings gives them a crafty, organic look that will contrast well with the straight edges of the card.

Tearing the edges of your paintings gives them a crafty, organic look that will contrast well with the straight edges of the card.

2. Tear the Painting's Edges to Create Some Interesting Textures

Instead of cutting out your paintings with scissors or paper cutters, consider tearing them by hand. Tearing the watercolor paper with your hands instead of cutting it with scissors adds extra texture and interest and makes the edges of your paintings appear more organic.

Tearing Tips

  • For a neat tear, fold the card both ways along a line to create a straight edge.
  • When you tear, pull the paper away from the front of the card. This creates an irregular white edge.

Potential Mat Paper

Use colorful paper to mat your painting. Keep a wide range of possible colors on-hand to choose from.

Use colorful paper to mat your painting. Keep a wide range of possible colors on-hand to choose from.

3. Create a Mat With Colorful Background Paper

The purpose of the colored paper is to create a background that gives the card a more finished look and complements the colors of the small painting. Avoid busy patterns or intricate designs for the background—you want something that makes the main image pop, not something that fights with it. It's good to have a nice variety of colors and textures to choose from.

Inexpensive Colored Paper Ideas

  • Paint samples from the paint store
  • Card-stock
  • Paper sample catalogs from the local printer shop
  • Scrapbooking paper

Cut the colored paper about an inch or so larger than the painting all around (you can cut it larger or smaller as long as it fits inside the bounds of the card you are going to use as support). You can give your mat paper straight edges with your scissors and a ruler, or you can bend and tear it like you did with the paintings for a more organic look.

4. Glue the Painting to the Background Mat

Apply some acid-free glue to the back of the small painting then stick it to the background mat you selected and cut.

Make sure you center it nicely.

Press it well and get all the edges to adhere flat. I like to use a brayer to press to get it nice and flat all over.

Once you've glued the painting to the mat paper, place it under a heavy object while it dries to help it adhere nicely. I like to use a stack of large books.

Gluing Tips

  • Don't use too much glue, and don't apply the glue too close to the edges of the painting. If it seeps out, it can discolor your mat paper.
  • Practice centering your painting on your mat paper before applying the glue. You can make light pencil marks on the mat paper where you want the corners of the painting to be to help guide you as you place it.
Here are some of my small painting greeting cards with background mats and interesting, organic edges.

Here are some of my small painting greeting cards with background mats and interesting, organic edges.

5. Glue the Mounted Painting to the Blank Card

Using your acid-free glue stick, apply glue to the back of the mat paper and stick it to the front of the blank card you are using.

You can place the image centered on the front of the card or position it in an asymmetrical fashion. Try different options before you apply the glue, and choose what looks prettiest to you.

The gluing tips mentioned in the previous step apply here too!

When you are done mounting, place the card under a heavy object to make sure the glue sticks well.

These cards made from original abstract paintings have been bagged so I can sell them at my studio.

These cards made from original abstract paintings have been bagged so I can sell them at my studio.

6. Protect Your Cards Using Clear Plastic Bags

If you plan to sell your cards, I strongly recommend that you protect them by inserting each card in its own clear plastic bag. This will look very professional, and the slips will protect your cards as people shuffle through them to find the ones they like.

My cards are a standard size of 5x7" and I order plastic bags online by the batch. You can also find them in a craft store.

7. Market Your Cards as Handmade Crafts

I like to include a small sheet of paper with each card that specifies that the image on the front is an original painting.

Since there are so many mass-produced greeting cards for sale, people may not realize that yours are handmade and include original artwork. This information will make your card more valuable to the recipient or buyer.

Additional Card-Making Tips

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when creating your own greeting cards. These apply whether you plan to send them to friends and family or sell them as crafts.

Sign Your Work

Once you are done, your card is a true piece of art. The recipient may even choose to frame and showcase it, so make sure you sign your artwork!

Embellish Your Paintings with Handwritten Notes

Make your cards even more personalized by adding quotes, wishes, or doodles. You can use one of the many handwriting and monogram books on the market to find interesting font styles and patterns. Sometimes I like to use stencils to add interesting shapes and images to my cards' interiors.

You Can Use Reproductions as Well

Of course, there is always the option of using prints of your art on the cards instead of the original paintings. If you want to do this, you'll have to take good photos of your art, have them printed to size on high-quality paper, then glue them to the cards the same way you would with the originals.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: What do you charge per handmade greeting card?

Answer: Well... less than $10, I found they sell well at $6 or $7, you can have them at more but it's harder to sell.

© 2013 Robie Benve

Comments

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on October 17, 2019:

Thanks Rosie, that sounds lovely! Happy travels and much fun making your own personalized greeting cards!

Rosie Foshee on October 15, 2019:

We have never purchased cards, but organizations we support keep us in greeting cards. I love to paint, and I have all the supplies to create our own along with any free ones we get in the mail. For family, friends, and neighbors, I want to send them free greeting cards with my original paintings. It will be a gift to treasure, because I create them with archival art supplies. We travel approximately 6 months out of the year, so I have so much inspiration for painting, and I carry all my art supplies with me on the road. Love reading about your creation of your own greeting cards.

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on March 22, 2019:

Thanks a lot Stella, your kind words make my heart smile :)

Stella Olejar on March 20, 2019:

Robie thank you so much for sharing both your creativity and ideas. Your paintings are just lovely.

Have a blessed day,

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on March 19, 2018:

Hi Mary, great to hear my article on small paintings inspired you to create on the go, that's awesome! Thanks for the note.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 16, 2018:

I love creating but since we travelled for work, it became a tad difficult carrying my materials so I just gave up. I think I will start again. Thanks for the inspiration.

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on March 28, 2015:

Thanks Alicia, I really enjoy making cards with original artwork. And in my experience they are much appreciated also by the recipients.

Thank you. :)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 26, 2015:

This sounds like a very enjoyable project. I love your examples!

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on February 13, 2015:

That's exactly the idea peachpurple, we can make original cards for any occasions throughout the year. In my experience it's very useful to have a stash ready, because when you need a card you may not have the time to actually make it...

thanks for your comment and vote, appreciated! :)

peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 10, 2015:

i love this simple craft, I can make them for all the occasion throughout the year, voted up

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on January 12, 2015:

I totally agree TolovajWordsmith, thanks a lot for your comment! :)

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on January 04, 2015:

I like the idea of making your own cards, although the saved money is probably not so significant. After all you have to invest your time and some material as well. By the way, drawing small painting is definitely not so easy as some may think. The most important is showing how much you care and with your talent I bet your cards make precious keepsakes.

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 03, 2014:

Thanks Randall! Give it a try, making greeting cards can be a lot of fun, and worst-case scenario you just waste a little time and a little paper. :) Thanks for your comment!

Randall Guinn from Pinellas Park, Florida on October 28, 2014:

Good ideas. I may try make this year. You have a lot of good hubs.

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on September 07, 2014:

Hi ItayaLightbourne, that sound so special! I'm sure friends and loved ones would appreciate a lot cards with your original paintings as gifts. Thanks! :)

Itaya Lightbourne from Topeka, KS on September 02, 2014:

Making small art for greeting/note cards is also a great way to practice your painting techniques. I'm exploring watercolor painting currently and have thought about sending out little paintings mounted on cards for Christmas gifts this year from my latest practice sessions. If one is even more generous, it would be great to send the recipient a set of several note cards featuring your artwork. Lovely article!

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on January 06, 2014:

Hi randomcreative, I'm flattered you liked the tutorial! :) Have a Happy and Creative New Year!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 28, 2013:

Greeting cards are an excellent option for artwork! I know people who make their kids' drawings/paintings/etc. into cards. No matter what type of painting you do, cards are a cool choice. Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 26, 2013:

@theraggededge, I love your idea of scanning the images and printing on special paper. That also looks very special.

The only prints I have ever had of my art were from FineArtAmerica and they print some good looking glossy cards for a good price (if you buy 10+). The trick is uploading a good image, the rest is piece of cake.

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robie-benve.htm...

Thanks for your comment! :)

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 26, 2013:

@ Nadine May, if my hub inspires someone to create art, that's a happy day for me. Thanks a lot! :)

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 25, 2013:

@ R Talloni I like "gift in an envelope", such a smart way to describe these cards! Thanks a lot for your comment. :)

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 21, 2013:

Hi Prithima Sharma and Amberld,

Making small artwork to be used for cards can be a nice way to be artistic even when you don't have a lot of time or particular artistic attitude. I hope you give it a try. Thanks a lot for your comments. :)

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 20, 2013:

@ Suzanne Day making cards with reproductions is a great idea too. And the bonus is that you can \use reproduction of bigger painting, no matter the size of the original the card will be awesome. :)

One thing I personally don't like are cards made with regular glossy photo prints of artwork. I prefer matte I guess, but that's me. Have fun with it! Thanks for the compliments. :)

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 20, 2013:

@ ComfortB, using kids artwork is an excellent idea. It's cheap, it save you time, and it really boosts the self-esteem of the young artist. Thanks for your comment and votes! :)

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 20, 2013:

@ Purple Perl, I agree: little pantings can surely be season or holiday related, and make wonderful Christmas cards. Thanks a lot for your comment and votes!

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on November 19, 2013:

With Christmas round the corner, this is a genuinely useful hub.Voted up and useful!

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on November 19, 2013:

This is a very practical and useful tutorial. I love the idea of using small paintings. Got a lot of those from my kid's kindergarten folder.

I do buy cards sometimes when I don't have enough time to make my own. Great hub. Voted up and useful.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on November 19, 2013:

I really like your paintings! What a sweet idea. I guess for all the lazy painters like me, you could also paint one good one and then reproduce it as a photo card or something.

Amber White from New Glarus, WI on November 19, 2013:

Love this idea, have never really ever thought of using my own artwork on cards! wonderful.

Prithima Sharma from Delhi, India on November 19, 2013:

hey its really nice, thanks for sharing this wonderful hub wid us.

RTalloni on November 19, 2013:

This gift in an envelope is such a nice idea for card making and I agree that this is an activity for all ages. Your examples are delightful.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on November 19, 2013:

Lovely idea, I will share it with my local painting group friends. Great hub!

Bev G from Wales, UK on November 19, 2013:

Fabulous hub! I made some Christmas cards once from a watercolour snow scene that I'd painted. I scanned, reduced and printed it out onto special printer watercolour paper, then did roughly what you did above. I really like the idea of mounting it on a coloured background.

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 17, 2013:

Hi rebeccamealey, I got the idea from my kids, they always make cards for they friends' birthdays, and since I love to paint and draw, I thought I would do the same. It makes the card more special, and it's a great artistic practice for me! :) Thanks for your comment! :)

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on November 17, 2013:

This is a great idea for those who like to draw and paint to share them with family and friends!

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 17, 2013:

Hi Glimmer Twin Fan, it truly is an idea for all ages, I probably should mention that on the hub. :) Thanks a lot for your nice comment!

Claudia Mitchell on November 17, 2013:

This is a lovely idea for all ages and so special for the recipient. Beautiful paintings and great hub!

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