Layers give your papercrafts visual and physical weight. They provide an opportunity to add color, texture, and enhance the design. Layers can be paper or embellishments like ribbon or other material.
Layers for Color
These two cards differ only by two additional layers of cardstock, one in Daffodil Delight and one in Marina Mist.
The Daffodil Delight layer repeats the color in the tulip images and the Painted Autumn DSP. The Marina Mist ties to the base layer and the sentiment as well as the Painted Autumn DSP. Each layer is only 1/8″ larger than the layer above it. Both cards are great, but the subtle addition of the color layers makes the card pop just a bit more.
Layers for Texture
Layers and embellishments can be used to provide texture for your cards. Texture makes your cards more interesting. The card below starts off with no layers. Then I added a visual texture layer using the graphic side of a sheet of Naturally Eclectic DSP. The third image is a layer of So Saffron embossed with a retired folder to provide physical texture. The final image combines the visual and physical texture layers and adds even more texture with the burlap ribbon.
Neither the visual texture layer or the physical texture layer is better than the other, they are just options to enhance your card. By combining the two textures in the final card, I didn’t have to choose one or the other.
Embossing folders are great for providing physical texture, but if you don’t have that resource, you can still make beautiful cards by using a layer of DSP to provide visual interest or even stamping a small image repeatedly over a layer of cardstock. This was the technique I used for the card in the previous example in the Layers for Color section.
You can even crumple a layer of cardstock in your hands and then rub it with matching ink to create a faux leather look. There are tons of ways to use layers to provide interest to your cards without a lot of craft supplies.
Layers to Enhance Elements
It’s surprisingly easy to have your texture layers or your sentiments fade into the background, especially when using a pretty piece of DSP. Take for example this card that has a visual texture layer, a physical texture layer, and a sparkly bold sentiment.
It’s a great card, the black and white contrasts nicely with the touch of color in the sentiment. But, it’s flat and the sentiment gets lost in the floral pattern of the background.
There are lots of things we could do to “whip this card up” to the next level, including adding ribbon or rhinestones or raising an element up with Dimensionals. But let’s look at what happens when we use a slightly less busy background and add a layer to the black dry embossed element and a couple of layers under the die cut sentiment.
The elements of the card stand out. They still come together as a cohesive whole, but now we see each element so much more clearly. It’s still a simple card. Fast and easy to put together, but now it looks finished. The sentiment stands out, truly calling for the recipient to celebrate.
And, yes, I still want to add those rhinestones. But we’ll talk about that later when we cover embellishments.
Single Layer Cards
Single layer cards – I love them, but I don’t often create them. Sometimes simple is a lot harder to do than elaborate. Single layer cards leave little room for error. To create a successful single layer card, incorporate the white space or empty space. The card still needs texture, an illusion of layers, a compelling sentiment, a rich use of color and of course an embellishment. Although many single layer cards do omit a dimensional embellishment such as a rhinestone or bow, consider at least a splash of Wink of Stella. On this card I used sequins.
For the texture, use either a patterned stamp to create a background, as I did in this sample, or use an embossing folder to partially emboss the card along one edge. To give the illusion of more than one layer, shaded ink to create dimension or a line frame, either stamped or hand drawn can fool the eye.
Color should be carefully considered. A monochromatic look can be very successful if used in shades to provide depth. I went with bright, dramatic colors to draw the eye to the images. I made sure the sentiment was a feature on the card by isolating it from the image in this case, but it can be layered over the image if done in a high contrast color such as black against a lighter ink. To see more examples of single layer cards see my Pinterest board. I’ll add posts in the future with single layer cards as I challenge myself to make more of these.
I love layering embellishments because more is more. It’s like when you set a holiday dinner table and each place setting has the soup bowl on top of the salad plate on top of the dinner plate. It looks lush and inviting. I was a layering queen when I completed the May Good Things Grow Paper Pumpkin box, so I’m going to use some of those cards as an example.
First, consider layering ribbons or ribbons and twine.
The contrast of the matte ribbon and the shiny metallic edged ribbon is a stronger design element than either of the ribbons by themselves. Same thing with the twine over the ribbon. Together, they provide contrasting but complimentary accents that tie into the design of the card.
Both cards have punched butterfly embellishments, but for the card on the right, I layered pearls on top of the butterfly. Tiny details can add ‘Wow’ to your design.
This next card is essentially a card base with patterned paper and a plethora of embellishments.
The base embellishment layer is a piece of a doily that I sponged with Early Espresso ink, I layered a fussy cut rose branch on top of that. Next, I added leaf spays that had been part of a Brusho experiment. I never throw out exploratory paper – I punch embellishments that can be used on other projects. On top of that, I added wood leaf sprays, then cut out flowers from the kit, punched flowers from a scrap of DSP and wood flowers.
The ribbon on this card was an accident. My spool of ribbon came spliced together with tape. I could have been irritated and tossed the scrap, but no – it’s usable – notice it doesn’t wrap around the card. The final embellishment not related to the sentiment is the corrugated butterfly punched from the holder of a to-go coffee and dressed up with a couple of glitter enamel dots. Not every card will lend itself to this much embellishment layering, but for this vintage, garden style it just works.
Here is another card where I layered embellishments, the sentiment and the elements of the card. You don’t have to layer everything all the time, but consider adding layers as you design your paper project.
Sizes of Layers
Last, but not least – measurements. I know you hate figuring out the sizes to cut the paper in your head and you mess it up and waste paper. Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. The table below has sizes you may want to use on your standard card. What’s a standard card?
Well, in the US – we use 8.5″ paper by 11″ paper. A standard card is half of that folded in half. You can cut the short side, the 8-1/2″ side, at 4-1/4″ and then score it in the middle at 5-1/2″. You’ll get a card that flips up to open and I think of as an easel.
Or cut the long side, the 11″ side, at 5-1/2″ and then score it at 4-1/4″ to get your card base. The card can then be oriented in either portrait or landscape. The majority of the standard cards I do are cut this way.
All of your layers are going to be less than 4-1/4″ x 5-1/2″ if you want the card base to show. Here is the first layer. On the left, I used a 1/4″ smaller layer, so 5-1/4″ by 4″. On the right, I used a 1/8″ smaller layer, so 5-3/8″ by 4-1/8″. You can see the edge most easily in the lower right-hand corner.
In this image, I have another layer on each card, 1/4″ smaller than the first layer, so 5″x3-3/4″ on the left and 5-1/8″x3-7/8″ on the right.
The main thing to ask yourself is how much of the layer below do you want to be seen. The more interesting the base layer is, the smaller you should make your layer on top.
Here is a pdf file of the layers by 1/8″ that you can use as a reference. These measurements keep the same scale between the long side and the short side. This isn’t mandatory, but might be more pleasing to the eye in most cases because it will look balanced.
In the future, I’ll add information on 3×3 cards and our Notecards, but this will get you started.