Creating designs with multiple apertures

Creating designs with multiple apertures main article image
Posted on August 11, 2021 by Natalie Ballard
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When you are starting to design your own projects, it is easy to start with a simple frame and aperture arrangement… but what about when you want to move on? Adding a column or grid layout can really add flair and professionalism to your projects. Here’s how-to for absolute beginners.

You will need:

  • White card
  • Coloured card
  • Elements to decorate your card with
  • Design software
  • Electronic cutter

Column setup

You can use a column design on any type of project, but I love them on slimline cards at the moment. Let’s show you how to create one from scratch.

  1. Start with a rectangle measuring 7” across and 8.5” down. This is your base card blank; if you have a premade one, you don’t need to cut this element, but you will need it for positioning.
    Creating the card blank
  2. Add a score line vertically through the middle of your card blank. Eventually, this can be drawn with a pencil, erasable pen or embossing tool.
  3. Design an aperture using a simple circle.
    Adding your aperture  
  4. Offset this circle outwards and on this new circle apply a circle dash (rounded caps, dash of 0 (0.25 in Illustrator) space of 1) to give a scalloped edge. Alter the stroke width to get an even scallop all the way around your shape. Expand the stroke and merge this to your circle to give it a solid scallop edge.
  5. Offset another copy of the inner aperture and apply a longer dash to mimic stitching (dash 3 space 6). You can use the phase of the stroke to move the stitching around the shape and/or stroke width (which will alter the width and length of the stitch).
  6. Group all of these aperture elements together for now.
  7. Move your aperture group to the centre of the front panel using smart guides as a guide; or use align selecting the group and the top rectangle and align to centre. Move the group back into place to line up with the score if needed.
    Move the panel to the centre front of your bard base
  8. Press and hold [Alt], click and drag your aperture group to create as copy. You can then release [Alt] and the mouse button. Position this new copy using smart guides if you have them. Move this to the top portion of the column.
    Duplicating the panel
  9. Repeat step 9 and move this new copy to the bottom portion.
    Adding the bottom panel
  10. Use centre vertical align if needed and distribute vertically to even out the space between the apertures.
  11. You can then use just the centre circle from each panel to punch through the card base and the decorative border to create your aperture. Use duplicate to make as many copies of the centre panel that you need before starting the subtraction process. I’ve added shading so you can see how the file would look in 3D. You should not use FX with your electronic cutter.
    Two apertures punched through and a layered centre panel

Cutting the card

  1. Start with your card base: hide all aperture elements apart from the centre circles.
  2. Send to your machine (remember don’t cut the outside box if you are using a pre-made card blank); cut out this piece and set to one side.
  3. Reveal the hidden layers; and this time hide the card base and scoreline ONLY.
  4. Cut your design from a contrasting card. This will create the frames for your apertures.
  5. Glue these pieces to your card blank and decorate as you wish. You could add a lightly coloured insert to your card for adding elements into your apertures. Alternatively, use the centres you cut out and adhere to the inside back of your card and decorate. Adhering these with 3D foam will help them pop.

Grid setup

You can use grids on many, many different projects from cards to scrapbook layouts and even art journalling. Start this project with a simple shape that represents the edges of your project. While you can still use your smart guides for grids, try to use the align and distribute tools this time.

  1. Start by designing your first aperture; my advice is to keep it simple for your first grid. I just used a simple square so you can clearly see how the align and distribute tools work.
  2. Move this aperture to the centre of your guide shape.
    First aperture and the red alignment box
  3. Draw a rectangle from the fold to the right hand edge of the card blank. This will give you a reference point for the centre of your card front; important for both Smart Guides and alignment tools at this stage. I colour mine red so I remember to delete it.
  4. Duplicate (either using [Alt] and drag method or by using your software’s duplicate function) the aperture shape. You want to have 9 copies in a rough square layout.
    Adding the apertures
  5. Now move one in closer to tighten up the grid; I used the bottom left square so go with the one for now.
    Resizing the grid
  6. Select the bottom row of apertures; align to top and distribute horizontal spacing.
    Align and distribute the bottom row
  7. Select the left column of apertures; align to right and distribute vertical spacing.
    Align and distribute
  8. Select the middle row of apertures; align to top and distribute horizontal spacing.
  9. Select the middle column of apertures; align to right and distribute vertical spacing.
  10. Select the top row of apertures; align to top (if they weren’t already level) and distribute horizontal spacing.
  11. Select the right column of apertures; align to right and distribute vertical spacing. If the top square in this selection moves, repeat step 9. If the middle square moves, repeat step 7.
  12. Group all of your aperture shapes into one shape using Weld or Group depending on your software’s capabilities.
  13. You can then reposition the group to fit the base guide shape as you wish.
    The completed grid 

Cutting the design

Send to cut either with or without the guide shape depending on the project you are working on. You could also save the grid object as an individual asset for future designs.

Grids can then be edited so you can merge sections, which look great in grids with 12 or more apertures. Play with cutting out some of the apertures while layering up others also. Mix up colours for a Mondrian-esque style.


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