Apertures, Borders and Frames

Apertures, Borders and Frames main article image
Posted on July 14, 2021 by Natalie Ballard
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A common paper craft skill is the ability to creating apertures and frames. Apertures can be a single shape cut out of a pre-existing material; while, frames consist of two or more shapes to form a hollow shape. This tutorial will teach you both techniques to build this tri-fold card design.

You will need:

  • Tri-fold card blank or adaptable

  • Coloured card

  • Pen holder and compatible pens

  • Optional verses, sentiments and design SVGs

Cutting an aperture from a card blank

Start with an unfolded card blank, and on the right-hand panel draw a light pencil line marking the vertical and horizontal centre. Place the card onto your mat with a right-hand panel being closest to the origin point (usually closest to the blade in its resting position). Use your pencil guide to align your chosen aperture in your design software…

  1. In your design software (or on your machine for ScanNCut users), choose a simple shape to form your aperture.

  2. Align the shape to your pencilled guides using the measurements on your mat as a guide.

  3. Send to DRAW with your machine.

  4. Insert a pencil into your machine and draw the aperture first to check alignment.

  5. Adjust the aperture if necessary, and then cut the design.

  6. Save this shape as you will need it for the remaining stages of this project.

Adding the aperture shape

Creating a panel insert

This next section creates a panel to pop behind your aperture and it adheres to the inside back of your card.

  1. Import a sentiment or type your own

  2. Size it to fit your aperture shape with 2-3mm clearance around it.

  3. Lock your sentiment so you are just working with the aperture shape; click on it without moving it.

  4. Use offset to expand the shape slightly by 2mm; this will give you a neater finish to your card

  5. Depending on your software, you can then hide the original aperture shape for future use, or delete it if you don’t have the hide option.

  6. Send the file to your machine and DRAW the sentiment and border with either a fineliner or using the fine tip on the Foil Quill.

  7. Adhere this into your card using the verse to align the panel to your aperture before closing the card to adhere it.

Inserting the panel shape

Building a frame

Next, we are going to build a frame to add dimension and strength to our card. You are going to use the same panel shape for this process.

  1. Remove or hide the sentiment from the last section

  2. Select the shape and duplicate it if needed; use offset and expand the shape by 15mm (adjust this figure as necessary for your card blank).

  3. Send this larger shape to the back (usually [Ctrl/Cmd]+[Shift]+[[])

  4. Select both shapes and use subtract to make your frame.

  5. Apply colour to your frame and it should now be hollow like a doughnut.

  6. To this frame, we can then apply decoration or a border…

Creating the frame

Adding a border

This step is purely optional; if you want to skip this step you can, or use offset to create a simple line border.

Fixed borders: geometric frames

  1. Import a border design or use one of the built-in borders (ScanNCut users)

  2. Duplicate as many as you need to take the design around your shape; resize it so the height fits the width of your frame.

  3. You can trim pieces using a rectangle at 45º to mitre the corners for squares or rectangles. Try to pattern match as much as possible. See my post on printed boxes for a method for doing this.

  4. Draw this pattern and cut out the frame.

Adding a shaped border

Flexible borders: circular and oval frames

  1. Not all software is capable of this. If you have the ability to use brushes or decorative strokes, this is the time to use them.

  2. Using a copy of the original panel shape, offset to give you a line midway around the entire frame.

  3. Apply your decorative stroke and convert it to curves so your cutter can replicate it.

  4. Draw the stroke and cut the panel. 

Additional decorative ideas

You can also import SVG designs to add to your frame. Be sure to add a duplicate solid shape and weld that to your frame if your design extends beyond it.

The finished card design

Another idea is to add a word or title to your frame, but that’s a project for another day.


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