Introduction: Make a Cut-Out Valentine Card

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.

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.

Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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.