PI8 Printed Valentine Cards

printed valentine card It's a special treat for kids to send custom designed valentines, instead of mass-produced cards from the drug store. This tutorial shows how to turn a graphic into a Valentine's Day card using both Print Multiple and by manually arranging multiple graphics on the same base image.

The latter method offers a way to squeeze more cards onto a sheet of paper, like the valentines kids give their classmates at school. I have two kids and each year I have to make 60-70 valentines for them to hand out. Being able to make dozens of cards at a time is a real plus.

Feel free to use my teddy bear valentine objects, which you can download here. Check the Read Me text file and you'll see that you can delete the frame, get rid of or change the background and edit the text objects as desired. The graphic will print out at roughly 3 X 3 inches, as is. You can choose Format, Resolution to edit the resolution so that the graphic will print out larger or smaller.

Open up the graphic you're going to use for your printed card and edit as desired. For example, to make a Print Multiple folding card, you would probably want to delete the "TO:" and "FROM:" text objects, since you'll be signing the inside of the card. Alternatively, edit the text to include a personalized greeting, or whatever else you want on the front of the card. When you're done editing the card, right click and Merge All.

Here's a little tip to make sure that part of the graphic doesn't get cut off during printing. Choose Format, Expand Canvas and expand the canvas by 30 pixels on all sides. This will help to force the entire graphic to fit into the Print Multiple placeholders by creating a little "buffer" around it.

To print the folding card, choose File, More Print Function, Print Multiple (Ctrl+Shift+P). When the Print Styles screen opens, note the Paper Layout section in the upper left corner.

paper layout options

Choose Avery from the dropdown list. You don't have to use Avery products to print cards but it is nice to have the perforations, and most Avery card kits come with matching envelopes. You can, however, just use the layouts and print on your own paper or card stock. If you do so, you'll have to trim each card manually with scissors, an Exacto knife or a paper cutter. Scroll through the thumbnails to select a card layout:

C2351 Makes one folded card from a full sheet of paper. You may have to drag the graphic around in the preview window to make it all fit within the placeholder.
C2352 Makes two portrait cards, turning the graphic sideways to fit the confines of the placeholder.
C2353 Makes two post cards on a single sheet of paper.
C2355 Makes four note cards per sheet of paper.

As you try out the layouts, keep in mind that your graphic will be resampled to fit the placeholders printed, no matter what the resolution is in the work space. Remember, you can reposition graphics within the placeholders and resize them by dragging on their bounding boxes in the Preview window.

If you want to set up your printer to print at a higher quality than its default, click the Printer icon in the upper left corner of the Print Styles screen to open your printer's Print Properties dialog box. If you want to print with default values, just choose File, Print. After printing, carefully fold along perforations and gently pull the cards apart from the rest of the paper.

Next I'm going to discuss an alternative to using the preset layouts in Print Multiple. If you don't mind a do-it-yourself layout and trimming the cards yourself, you can get 6 of these teddy valentines on a single piece of paper. Copy the edited graphic into your Clipboard (Ctrl+C). Choose File, New (Ctrl+N). In the "User-defined" section make a new white, 8.5 X 11 inch image at 150 pixels per inch resolution. Click OK to make the new image.

new image attributes

Don't be alarmed that the size of the new image is 1275 X 1650 pixels. It is a large image because of the high resolution. You've crammed a lot of pixels into the new image at 150 dpi. Paste the graphic you've got in your Clipboard into the new 8.5 X 11 inch image by hitting Ctrl+V or hitting the Paste button in the Standard Toolbar. You'll see an animated broken line around it indicating that it's an active image. Choose Edit, Rotate & Flip, Rotate Left 90 Degrees.

rotate card

Hit Ctrl+C to copy the rotated graphic into the Clipboard. Hit Ctrl+V 2X to paste it back into the base image. You'll have three teddy valentine graphics. Use the Pick tool to arrange them in a rough vertical line on the left side of the base image. Spread them out a little so that there is room between them to cut them apart later, and leave a little room at the bottom (most printers won't print beyond the bottom 1/2 inch or so of paper).

3 graphics in base image

Click on any graphic to make it active, then right click, Select All Objects (or Ctrl+Shift+A). When all three graphics are selected, right click, Align, Left. This will line up the graphics so that their left sides are aligned on the same vertical axis. While all three graphics are still selected, right click, Align, Space Evenly. When the Space Evenly dialog box opens, choose to space them Vertically, Even (fix objects on both ends).

space evenly, vertically

While all three objects are still active, right click and choose Group. Hit Ctrl+C to copy the Grouped graphics into the Clipboard. Hit Ctrl+V to paste them back into the base image. Drag them over to the other side of the base image. Right click, Select All Objects. Then right click, Align, Top. This will line up the two columns of graphics so that they are aligned at the top. Aligning and spacing the graphics evenly will make it easier to cut them out after printing.

two columns lined up

To make sure that you've got all the graphics within the printable area of the paper, choose File, Print Preview (or Ctrl+Alt+P). When the Print Styles screen opens, make sure all 6 graphics show fully in the Preview window. Make sure you deselect "Title" in the "Settings" section, because the title takes up valuable space on the paper. If all the graphics don't fit on the page, close the Print Styles screen and return to the work space. Select a group and right click, Ungroup. Then Align and Space the objects again until they show up correctly on the page in Print Preview. When all looks good in Print Preview, print the page out.

I left plenty of room between my graphics to use fancy scissors ($5 at WalMart or craft stores) to put a scallop around the edges of the cards.

cut with scalloped scissors

If you're using plain scissors, the border around the graphic makes it easy to cut them in a straight line. If you don't want to cut the cards by eye with scissors, lay them out on a protective mat and cut them out with a rotary cutter or Exacto knife following the edge of a ruler.

cutting out cards

Since the cards have "To" and "From" on them, you don't need envelopes, unless you are a major crafter and really want to make them yourself.

Finally, remember that the biggest fun of making your own valentines is customizing them. One year I made Geoff's valentines with his head grafted onto Bruce Lee's body, and they were the hit of his Montessori school. Another year I made Vicky valentines with a photo of herself and InSync (remember them?). Make a heart shaped graphic, then cut out and glue to a paper doily. Your imagination is the only limit. Just make sure you have color ink refills on hand because crafting on your computer is addictive!

This tutorial uploaded 1/24/03

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