I’ve dithered about this post for a while, because there are obvious copywrite issues surrounding licensed characters. However, children can be a demanding bunch and it is nice to surprise them with a handmade card with their favourite character on. I want to start by saying that I only make these cards as gifts (and being a mum, auntie, godmother and ‘auntie’ to friend’s children, I make quite a lot!)
Character cards can be tricky, because you don’t normally just see kits for making a Paw Patrol (or Lego, or whatever!) card in the shops, so you have to turn to your stash and your creativity. Because I make so many, I’ve explored a few different ways to create them over the years, and I thought I’d share them.
Do your research
What do the characters look like? Does the recipient of the card have a favourite? Is there a symbol associated with those characters? What about the font used on their logo? Which colour(s) will you need to use? I often look on Pinterest and Google images to see what the characters look like if I’m not sure.
Check your stash
Have you already got the right colours hanging around in a box or cupboard? Can you use your Cricut machine/die cutter/hand drawn template to create part of it? When I made my Shopkins card, the apple on my Doodlecharms cartridge was the perfect starting point, then all I had to do was paper piece and hand draw the finishing touches to make it look like the character.
The same goes for the Captain America shield card which I made using only two Cricut cartridges and some coloured card from my stash.
Use free printables
It only takes a quick search to locate printables related to the character(s) you are using. It is wise to be careful what you click on, as some sites are decidedly ‘dodgy’. There are plenty of free printables about, which I either print directly (if in PDF format) or copy into Microsoft Word and resize. At this point you can assess the quality of the image before printing, as some are very low resolution. If I am using Word, I also type and format a greeting to go with the card. (Top tip-copy and paste the greeting in several different sizes and print them all, then decide which size suits your card the best. You’ll still only be printing one page.) When I am printing onto paper, I use spray glue to mount it on card to make a sturdier topper.
Think outside the box
Once you have exhausted the stash and free printable options, it’s time to go shopping. If the character is a popular one, you will probably find wrapping paper and children’s sticker sets with them on. In the UK, shops like Poundland and B&M are very handy for purchasing these cheaply and easily. I used stickers for the Paw Patrol card pictured above, as well as the free printable shield.
When making this Minions card, I mounted wrapping paper onto card and then die cut a selected image. This is a particularly useful method as you can then make a coordinating gift tag and wrap the present in the remaining wrapping paper!
When I wanted to make a Lego card, I actually made my own Lego brick emboassing plate, It worked surprisingly well, and was quite a frugal way of crafting.
I’m going to finish with one final photo, to show what happens when you let a 3 year old loose with a pack of Paw Patrol stickers to make a card for her cousin. (She had a method, and was very definite in her design choices, from the base card colour to the greeting-which she insisted was ‘just plain red’ despite my offer of shiny red!)
I do enjoy the challenge of making these kinds of cards: they really make me think through the whole design process. Have any of these tips given you ideas for future projects? Do you have any other tips for creating character cards?