In this article we are going to take you from point A to point B in creating a unique visual aesthetic—from thinking about style, to learning techniques, to creating a fully printable design. The process is simple and the principles can be applied to any design project. Before we get started, if you’re not familiar with your photo editor (or need a refresher) take a moment to view one of the videos below, which detail the basic tools available in each editor:
Making your business card
You’ve watched videos; you’ve played with the tools and tried out a few techniques. Maybe you’ve even created or found some textures or other design elements you’d like to incorporate. It’s time to create your business card. You might find it helpful to use predefined template files to start your business card. Doing so helps you quickly get sizing and resolution right. Many online printers make templates available to give you a head start on your project and create an easy and fast print process. You can find templates from reputable printers such as Uprinting or OvernightPrints.
If you created design elements earlier that you want to use now, bring them in to the new file as new layers. Take as much time as you need to size and place your graphics. Manipulate the opacity and other settings on each layer. Get it all exactly as you want it.
Add and place your name, business name, and contact details. The text on a business card is the most important part. This is what people will use to contact you and possibly bring you future business opportunities.
Designers will typically spend hours on the content of a business card. Text size, color, and placement as well as the font selected should represent the business you are promoting. Most brands have preferred fonts which they use across all of their platforms. Pick a font (or two) that represents your brand—modern or classic, rounded or squared, narrow or wide—and use it (or them) consistently across your branded public-facing content (your website, your social media images, your banners, etc.).
Take a moment to decide if you want a double-sided card or not. If you typically write an offer on the back of your cards before you hand them to someone, you might want to leave the back of your card blank. However if you have a lot of information to convey to your contacts you may need to use both sides of your card. It is important to avoid making the contact information side of your card feel crowded or cluttered. Think of it as the text equivalent of you in a contact’s mind. Your contact information should look neat, clean, and attractive. It’s worth mentioning that applying this line of thinking to many of your designs is a good idea. Less is often more. In the publishing world, designers are taught to embrace white space. It might feel at first like your designs are incomplete if you leave blank space. In truth, however, white space is refreshing and appealing to the eye. Cluttered, busy banners, ads, and websites irritate the eye and increase the likelihood that we’ll look (or click) away.
Make sure to leave some space at the edge of your design file. You’ll see this extra space frequently referred to as bleed area and trim area. This area is included in the digital canvas of a design to avoid reprinting in case the cutting of the die becomes slightly askew. It’s a good idea to check with the printer you intend to work with to get the right size of bleed area. Any time that you set out to develop printed materials (like banners) it’s a good idea to do some research about the print process for that medium.
Here are two videos of videos of the business card design process, each creating a unique final product, each made using different editing software. Watching these should give you a good overview of the process of “putting it all together”, that is putting together all of the skills and ideas you’ve already worked through.
In our next article we’ll share more of our favorite video tutorials teaching a wide variety of skills and techniques. With advanced design software your options are limitless, and hopefully we can give you taste of what we mean when we say that.