Picture of Make a Cut-Out Valentine Card
Getting the right message in your Valentines Day card is too important to trust to a company. If you want to show your affection your way, then you better make it yourself.

This is a guide to designing your own cut-out card that has a good look to it and can be customized any way you want.

If you want one of these, I made a few extra that are at my Etsy shop.
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Step 1: Write Your Message

Picture of Write Your Message
The most important part is to write a short and sweet message. Try to keep it to no more than 8 words or so unless you're really into using an X-acto blade for a while.

These instructions are for Adobe Illustrator, but there are other free vector programs, like Inkscape, that are worth trying as well.

So, first write your topical and romantic message in a big bold font. I chose Arial Black. Also, tighten up the kerning, the space between the letters. Overlapping is good.

Step 2: Convert to Outlines

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Convert the letters to outlines so that they are just shapes and no longer editable as text.

Then ungroup the resulting mass and collect each word into its own group.

Step 3: Play with the words locartion and size

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Draw a rectangle and start placing the words within it. The rectangle can be resized so aim for an arrangement where the phrase is still readable and many of the words are connecting. Watch out for islands (floating elements) and peninsulas (long pieces sticking on on their own).

If it's still not quite connecting or if there are gaps, don't panic. We have hearts on our side!

Step 4: Add the Love

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Place some hearts to make the card more romantic and tie the different elements together. Islands can be saved and peninsulas secured with the hearts.

Step 5: One more rectangle

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Now that the design is done, we need one more rectangle around everything. Make sure it's completely on the outside and then select it along with the inner rectangle.

Step 6: Pathfinder fun

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Use the pathfinder tool to exclude the overlapping shape of the two rectangles. Next, select all the elements and use the Add to Shape Area tool.

This should give you a workable shape to print out for your cards. If you want to completely clean it up, select the image and release the compound path. Delete the outer rectangle and you're done! Just the image you need for a cut-out remains.

Print it out directly onto colorful paper or onto a white sheet as a guide.

Step 7: Cut cut cut...

Break out an X-acto knife and go to town. Use the printout to cut the design out of one half of a piece of paper.

These were cut on our 75 watt Epilog laser cutter. For all you laser geeks out there, I cut a line on the middle of the inside of the card at 100/4 to score it for the fold and the card was cut at 100/30.

Fold it over and you have a card. Glue a piece of white paper on the inside and you have a backdrop for the cut-out design and a place to write more sweet messages.

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WRN1 year ago
Pretty good message, but when I view the last image... what the ... how naughty is..
fred272 years ago
Excellent. I used some different tools - CamBam and a laser controlled using Mach3 - but got a great result making a mother's day card for my wife. (My son is only 1 so he couldn't use the laser himself.) The only problem was that it was so good she thought it was from a shop!
monica4662 years ago
hi im new
maglow2 years ago
After few times at cutting works, finally I made it . would like to share with the rest
maglow2 years ago
After few times at cutting works, finally I made it . would like to share with the rest
Mauigerbil2 years ago
I like the "Thanks for not calling the cops" one, but when would that be practical?!?ಠ▃ಠ
Siggamonda2 years ago
I made this to give to my GF for valentines 2011, a bit late I know but I thought I'd share seeing as I just got access to the laser cutter at Uni.
Great Idea! I am making one for Christmas that have "wicked" tickets inside.
barbq3 years ago
Thanks for your sharing! I made a birthday card to my BF. I use his name Edward to compose the sentence - Each Day With u is A Rainbow Day and put a rainbow color on it !

I believe this is the worth trying card!

btw, I use Linkscape and find this tutorial is good for newbie who wants to make heart shape. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOai_3Isgdc
PuzzleJenn3 years ago
As a woman, I'm thinking about making some of these for my closest guy friends! "You look even sexier through my binoculars" sounds like a good one. ;)

"I'm stalking you," sounds like a good one as well. ;)
I made one for my boyfriend! I just used microsoft word to print out the saying, then used an exacto knife to cut!! I used black construction paper to make a boarder (i wanted to use black ribbon but I didn't have enough).. Can't wait to give it to him!!
gtoal4 years ago
Dude, if ever you had the perfect excuse to buy yourself a Cricut without objections from the wife, now's the time :-)

Total respect to someone who would spend that much effort cutting out fonts by hand.

lostbord9995 years ago
Asum Instructable!! Love it!!
your woman must have loved you!!! :)
awsum spelling- it should be "you're". :P
  First thing I noticed too... and after all that work. >.<
fungus amungus (author)  lostbord9995 years ago
Wow, that's a lot of cutting. Great job!
jace11275 years ago
 awww! i totally want one!!! i love your messages on them =]
fungus amungus (author)  jace11275 years ago
Valentine's Day snuck up on me. I was going to sell some through Etsy again, but life's been busy.
 you really should have. these are exactly the kind of cards I (and I'm sure a lot of other women/girls) like.. Truthful, funny, and I love love love the look of it..

too bad.. 

Next year then? =]
ERCCRE1235 years ago
Some of these cards are quite creepy.
 Only some of them >.> 
Great instructable, I will make one and give it to my valentine!
karma19765 years ago
umm, DITTO
jamowa5 years ago
What a great instructable!  I've wanted to learn how to make this type of card ever since I saw one 5 yrs ago in SF.  Merci.  I'm not experienced w/ Illustrator so I took a wack at it using MS Publisher.  Here is my beta....I'll cut it out this weekend and post the results.
Valentine afford.jpg
fungus amungus (author)  jamowa5 years ago
Looks like it should work. If you're cutting by hand any program should be fine. It's jut about the results.
martymunch6 years ago
These are great, "Thanks for not calling the cops". That's hilarious.
Best one there lol
mihaibica6 years ago
I like your post, i think it's great but next time pleace be so kind as to consider the people that never layed eyes on illustrator! I meen I spent a few hours going through how too's :D.
fungus amungus (author)  mihaibica6 years ago
You can get a similar effect with pretty much any graphics program. Being able to break it up in a vector program gives you much more control. On the plus side, learning a vector program is a good thing anyway.
No what I meen is this is my first graphic project ever! You should put the paths to the different tools needed. Get it?
audiomind6 years ago
An exacto knife ain't gonna 'cut' it for this project, unless you want a mess. Especially if you decide to use regular paper for the print out and trace around it with construction paper underneath. Where do they have 75 watt Epilog laser cutters at?
Further, what did you print this out on? What type of paper?
fungus amungus (author)  audiomind6 years ago
This is 80 lb. card stock
fungus amungus (author)  audiomind6 years ago
It can work. It will take a lot longer and won't be as clean, but it's a lot cheaper than a laser cutter. I've cut through thicker card stock than this before with one.
Valche6 years ago
Is there any way some of us po' folks without editing software could get the image files for some of these? Or, even better, a legal *cough* version of a certain popular editing program?
maruawe Valche6 years ago
I understand that "Gimp' will do vector drawings, I tried the program , it's pretty good and it's free. I believe the it's the newest version. Be prepared to work on learning the program it is not simple or easy to use at first.
Gimp will open vector drawings, but convert them to raster. If you want to edit in vector, I suggest Inkscape.
good thinking . I use adobe almost exclusively now, I have Inkscape but don't use it often. and forget some of the perks that come with each program.. But the question was a (legal"cough"version) Both Inkscape and Gimp are free, That was my point. Check out the free software foundationsite for programs on about everything .
Ya... I actually went to see Stallman (president of the FSF) speak last night. Would anyone be interested in an instructable on using The GIMP? Once you know the basics it's really not hard.
I would be forever in debt to whoever were to create a GIMP instructable.
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