Card Making: Choosing Patterned Digital Papers Made Easy

Card Making: Choosing Patterned Digital Papers Made Easy main article image
Posted on January 3, 2022 by Joon Parker

Beginner Friendly

Have trouble choosing patterned papers that go together? A simple way to choose patterns is by using a digital paper set. Digital paper sets have several different coordinating patterns that are designed to pair well together. There are some digital paper sets that do not have coordinating patterns so the following probably will not work for mismatched papers.

Graphics Used

Choosing Patterns

The image below shows examples of dark and light patterns.

Choosing patterned papers is one of the hardest tasks when making a card, but thanks to coordinating digital paper sets, choosing patterns is much easier. When choosing patterns try choosing only two patterns. Any more than two will probably become overwhelming. Choose patterns that have contrast. For the two patterns choose one with light colors and a pattern with darker colors. If you want, one of the patterns could have a busy pattern and the other pattern can have a non-busy pattern. Or you can choose a light-colored busy pattern and a non-busy dark-colored pattern or vice versa. 

Card Matting Layers

Card matting layer is a solid color of cardstock that is bigger than the patterned layer it is going to mat. Matting layers really make the patterned layer(s) pop and give a more finished look. You don’t have to just mat patterned layers, you can even mat the shape the sentiment is on. Anything that is a solid color, think gold foil or teal glitter or kraft cardstock, for the matting layer. 

The most common matting size is 1/8” (.125”) border on all 4 sides. The first matting layer will be the card size 4.25” x 5.5”, this is the layer everything will be glued to and then glued to the card base. The first pattern layer dimensions will be decreased by .25” length and .25” width, making the dimensions 4” x 5.25” and creating the first matting border of 1/8″ (,125″) on all 4 sides. Remember any other matting, you want to keep the matting border the same throughout, otherwise, it might look funny with different sized borders.

The images below are examples of how layer matting helps to break up the patterns and gives a more finished look.

Neutral Colors for Matting

Neutral colors are easier to work with than trying to find colors to coordinate with the patterned paper colors. It always seems we never have the right shade of a color in cardstock. Try choosing a neutral color that looks good with both patterns. Most times black or white works well. If you want to get fancy you can use foil or glitter cardstock.

Here’s a quick list of common neutral colors:

  • Metallics: gold, silver, and copper.
  • Black
  • White
  • Ivory
  • Navy Blue
  • Brown
  • Gray

Other colors that can be used are usually lighter or darker shades of the colors listed above.

These colors include:

  • Charcoal Gray
  • Medium Gray
  • Light Gray
  • Cream
  • Tan
  • Kraft

Putting It All Together

The examples below show how using one pattern light and one pattern dark provides the contrast needed and how the layer matting makes the patterns pop. 

Helpful Information

I have a Cricut Maker so I use Design Space. I use the digital papers for Print Then Cut. Since I do not have a large format printer and a lot of digital papers are 12”x12”, I will slice each image from its pattern. That way I can use my standard letter size printer (Epson EcoTank printer). I’ll even change the matting layers’ colors to one of the neutral colors to help me decide which color goes best with the patterns I have chosen. Doing this uses less ink and creates a mock-up to see what the card looks like on the Design Space canvas before cutting.

To learn more about how I use digital papers you can read my article Tutorial: Using Digital Papers in Design Space

Happy crafting!

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Danielle Logan

April 30, 2022

Thanks i will defiantly use this as a reference

Daisy Mae

March 14, 2022

This was so helpful and I printed your samples so I can look at that when I go forth and conquer my fear of choosing paper each time I try a new project.

Shirley Lundstrom

March 5, 2022

Great article! Thank you.

Kay Hall

January 6, 2022

Super helpful! Hope you have more like this coming! Thanks so much!

Deanne Bell

January 3, 2022

Another wonderfully detailed article, Jooniper. Thank you so much.

Jooniper Parker's profile picture
Jooniper Parker

January 4, 2022


You’re welcome! 🙂

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