Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Make your Own Invites: What you need to know BEFORE you Start

 Up until this point, this blog has been mostly me posting my work, with not too much talking. But I realize that this has a limited reach as far as helping people. So I have decided to start a (hopefully weekly) feature on my blog; DESiGN for the Common Man, in which I share simple design tips and tutorials, because I know so many crafty people that want to design something themselves, but don't quite know where to start.

So what's the #1 design request I get from my friends? (Jenner this is for you!)

Can you design a really cool invitation for my party/wedding?

Yes, I could, but so can you! But first, I want to ask you, are you designing this yourself only to save money? Because depending on how many cards you need and how much printer ink/paper/envelopes you are going to use, it might not be as cheap as you thought. There are so many online photo and card companies with reasonably priced cards (my personal favorite is tinyprints - they sell specialty cards designed by industry-leading designers & illustrators). Another budget-friendly option is searching etsy for "printable invitation".  Most 5x7 cards sell for around $10- $15 and will be designed to fit your needs, then you can get some nice paper & envelopes and print yourself, or use a print-on-demand service like Staples or Kinkos

But if you still really really really want to design it yourself, here's how:

TUTORIAL: HOW TO make a 5x7 flat Invitation - Some helpful tips to know before you start


I use Photoshop CS5, which is pricey to buy, but you can download a free 30 day trial on their website here. You might also want to check out the much cheaper Photoshop Elements (which may have come free with your printer purchase, or download a 30 day trial here), Microsoft Publisher, or a free design program like Gimp.

JUST A NOTE: You are mostly likely making this for personal use, but I'm going to mention this anyway - some, but not all of the art on the sites I list below are for personal use only, if you are going to be making money from your design, you will may need to buy a commercial license, read the fine print to be sure.

There is a ton of FREE and almost free vector patterns and illustrations available on the internet. Some great sites to search are Vecteezy.com, lovevectorfree.com, and 123freevectors.com. You may be able to find something you like there.  This is a card I made for a coworker using a free background pattern from Vecteezy.

If you don't mind spending a few dollars, you can search through the very affordable and expansive selection of stock illustrations & patterns on a site like istock or shutterstock. Below is an example of a card I made using an illustration of a woman I purchased off istock for $2! 

Almost all of the illustrations, patterns, and photos can be purchased off istock for less than $20, and can be used commercially (check licensing agreements for exact specs)

Another budget option, Etsy! Search for "digital clip art" or "digital paper pack"to get lots of cute art options. Most can be bought for around $5. One downside of buying from etsy is you may have to wait up to 24-48 hours to receive your purchase (based on the seller), while getting art from Vecteezy or istock is an instant download. Also, as my company recently found out, there is no guarantee that the seller actually owns any copyrights to the image, they could be selling a close copy of art owned by someone else - so I would strongly suggest buying your art elsewhere if you are going to be using it commercially.


I love love love fonts, and here's my secret: I get *most* for free through Font Squirrel. These are all high-quality, free, commercial use fonts, but the selection is much more sophisticated and smaller than my second favorite site, Dafont. Not all of Dafonts fonts are free for commercial use, so look at the readme.txt before using them for this purpose. Download a few that you like, some may work better than others for your design, but you won't know until you try. 

And if you have high taste and some money to spend, look no further than myFonts, the go-to site of many graphic designers.

Here is an invitation I made using the font Dirty Ego, a free personal and commercial use font from dafont.

Don't know how to install the fonts once you've downloaded them? Check out instructions here:

Okay, I think that is enough information overload for now!

Are you ready to start designing your card? Check out Part 2 of the Tutorial Here!

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