I recently added digital greeting cards to my shop. It took me a while to figure out the file formats, sizes and layouts that I needed. I decided to write this guide so you have more time to work on your card designs and not the boring stuff!
I’m currently using Adobe CS6. I’m planning on upgrading to CC, but for now this works for me.
This guide is for a 5 x 7 (A7 size) greeting card like the one below but you can change the dimensions to create any size card you need.
Create a New Document. File > New
For a landscape orientation, set the width to 7 inches and the height to 10 inches so it will be 5 inches tall when folded. For a portrait orientation, just click the landscape orientation button.
You can apply a bleed if you plan on having a background color. The standard print bleed is 0.125 inches. It will ensure that you will be left with no hairline white edges when trimming the document.
Set the color mode to CMYK as this is the best mode for print purposes.
I also set the Raster Effects setting to 300 ppi for a high resolution print out as I have some raster effects in my image (drop shadows and glows).
Set your center line so you know where the fold is going to go.
Click Control/Command + R to display your rulers.
Click and drag from the ruler to the 5 inch mark. You may have to zoom in to place it exactly.
The red line in the image below is the bleed line.
Add your graphics and text to the document. Use your Align panel to help you line everything up.
If you want to add a background color, this is the best time to do it.
Hit M on your keyboard or choose the rectangle tool and click and drag, making sure the rectangle extends to the red bleed line. Delete any stroke color and fill it with the color of your choice.
Right click on the rectangle, Arrange > Send to Back, to place it behind all your artwork.
Save your Illustrator file.
Then you will save the document as a PDF file.
File > Save As
Make sure you choose Adobe PDF as the format. Hit Save.
This will open a dialogue box.
Click on the Compression tab and make sure nothing is being down sampled as this will degrade the quality of the image.
Click on the Marks and Bleed tab and check the trim marks box. Check the Use Document Bleed settings box also.
Click the Save PDF button.
Create a new letter size document in Illustrator. This will make it easy to print out your card on any printer at the correct size.
File > New
Choose Letter size (8.5” x 11”)
Choose Portrait Orientation as the document created in Step 4 will be placed on this new document.
No bleed is necessary for this document.
Choose CMYK Color Mode and 300 ppi.
Place the PDF that you saved in Step 4 onto this new letter-sized document.
File > Place
Step 7 (Optional)
You have your cut lines on this document. I sometimes like to make extra cut guides if I don’t have a colored background and I’m just printing at home.
To do this, draw a rectangle (7 x 10), center align it to the artboard using the align panel, change the fill to No Fill and the stroke to a light grey dotted line. Align the stroke to the outside.
To add a fold line you can use your rulers again (Control/Command + R) and drag a line to the center point in the document. In this case is it 5.5”.
Create a line with the Line Segment Tool (Press \ on the keyboard) and place the line on top of the ruler guide.
Press the Shift key as you are creating the line to make sure it is straight. Set the stroke to black or grey.
Do this on both sides of the document.
If you need graphics for your card, Creative Market offers 6 free goods each week. You can grab awesome fonts, gorgeous graphics, mock-up templates and more!
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