Card Making for Beginners: Basic Card Shapes and Folds

Card Making for Beginners: Basic Card Shapes and Folds main article image
Posted on June 17, 2021 by Zeldi Smulders

If you want to start making cards you need a good idea of the shapes and folds you can use. It might sound like such a trivial matter but it is in fact so important because it will determine how the base of your card turns out. If you have a good foundation for your card, then the possibility that your final product will turn out as you would like it to is so much greater.

Grab your basic card making tools

You need the following items to start making your basic card shapes and folds:

  • Cardstock
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Scissors

Optional tools:

  • Cutting machine
  • Shape cutter
  • Scoring tool

Notes for the tools you need:

  • When choosing the cardstock that you will use for your card, you first need to determine what size card you want to make so that you can know what size paper you will need.
  • The scoring tool is used to create a groove or crease in your paper so that you can easily fold your paper. Using a scoring tool is optional but it will result in a much cleaner fold.
  • Investing in a scoring board can save you a lot of time. There are even some paper trimmers that come with scoring attachments.
  • Folding a card by hand is entirely possible but it is more time-consuming and it can be less accurate. If you do decide to use this method, make sure you clearly mark the line that should be folded and use a ruler to keep it straight.
  • You can refer to the Card Making for Beginners: What You Need to Start article to get a good idea of the basic items you need to start making cards. This article can be found under the Card Making section of The Artistry together with other helpful tutorials and tips related to this craft.

Card Shapes

Why is the shape of the card important? The shape of the card can have an influence on the type of design you choose or the elements you would like to include in or on your card. Here are some card shapes to try out:

  1. Rectangular card

This is a very classic shape when it comes to card making. With this shape you have two options:

  • Portrait – This is a card that is higher than it is wide.
  • Landscape – This is a card that is wider than it is high.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

  1. Square Card

This card shape has the same measurements for both the length and width of the card. It is also a classic shape used in card making.

  1. Other shapes for cards

This can include anything from simple shapes like triangles or circles, to more complicated shapes like a heart or a flower. 

There are so many shapes to choose from and you can even use irregular shapes if you want, but keep in mind that the card might not be able to have a lot of folding options. So, it might be better to leave it as an unfolded card or to create an exact copy of the shape and attach the two to create a card that can open and close like that with shapes that fit exactly on each other when closed.

Take care to keep your base card’s shape simple enough so that you will be able to handle it and fold it. You can always include a more complicated shape as a layered element on the card.

Card Folds

Why is the card fold important? For one thing, depending on the type of card you want to make you will probably want to hide the inside of the card for various reasons. By choosing a card fold, you determine where your card’s interior and exterior will be as well as the effect you want to create. 

  1. Single Fold Card

This is the best-known fold for a card. You can achieve this by folding the card in the middle. Basically, the entire base card will just be folded in half.

  1. Trifold Card

This is where the card is divided into three sections. These sections can be equally sized or they can differ in size. What’s important to know is that there are two crease lines and three sections that fold together to create the front view of the card.

  1. Gatefold Card

With this card, the front page is split down the middle, allowing you to open a flap to the left and a flap to the right. When these flaps close they will meet in the middle, although the area in the middle doesn’t have to be closed or covered completely. This creates a gate effect that closes towards the centre. The flaps will each be half the size of the middle section’s width. There is also an option to create an off-centre gatefold where the flaps will not meet in the middle and they will have different measurements depending on where you place them.

  1. Concertina Fold Card

This can also be referred to as a zig-zag fold, accordion fold, or z-fold. It is a card that is continuously folded in a zig-zag manner, alternating to the front and the back, to create a “concertina”. You can choose how thick the card will be as you can choose how many pages it’ll have within the concertina.

Photo by Mockaroon on Unsplash

  1. No Fold Card

Of course, you don’t have to fold your card. You can have a single piece of paper with your notes and decorations on the front and back or even just the front of the card!

Combining different shapes and folds

Now that you know about some of the different shapes and folds available, you can combine them to create your own designs. Different shapes will create different looks and different folding techniques will result in different effects. 

Look at some examples on The Artistry:

  • You can find some examples of portrait rectangular-shaped cards with a single fold in this article.
  • You can find some examples of rectangular- and square-shaped cards with gatefolds in this article.
  • You can find an example of a landscape rectangular-shaped card with a z-fold in this article.
  • You can find an example of a landscape rectangular-shaped card with no fold in this article.
  • Find more examples here.

Try something else: Make your card a stand-up card. This type of card is made to be displayed and can stay upright. You can achieve this by creating a stand for the card or by just letting it stand on its own if possible.

Which one to choose?

With so many options to choose from, it might be difficult to know where to start. You can use factors like your card’s theme, size, recipient, or design to help you make your choice. Make sure you have a plan for your card before you decide on a shape and a folding technique. Creative Fabrica also has a variety of card templates available for you to try out. After you have decided on your shape and fold, you can start adding layers, notes, and decorations to the card.

Note: Will you deliver your card in an envelope? Are there standard-sized envelopes available for the card shape and size you chose or will you have to make your own custom envelope? Creative Fabrica has many envelope templates available for whatever card shape you choose. Get them here.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Now, it is up to you to fill in the blank card with the shape and fold you have chosen. Keep following the articles on The Artistry to help you find inspiration and learn more card making techniques.

As you progress you will discover that there are many more card folding techniques to try out. Would you like to see an article on more advanced card folds? Let us know in the comments below!

Credit for main picture: Mockup PSD created by Marie Smith

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1 Comment
Fernanda Rafagnin

August 23, 2021

I agree, folding without scoring almost never works. I learned the hard way LOL. And the envelope tip is gold. Sometimes you're in a hurry and the envelope doesn't fit and you end up having to give the card by itself. Always measure!

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