Be sure to catch the eye of your love interest this Valentine’s Day with a beautifully designed card. In this article we’ll look at eight professional tips for making your cards look especially unique and design-forward, and share some great templates for achieving your perfect design.
Sending a Valentine’s card might be daunting, but there’s no need to worry when your card looks as good as these.
To find even more romantic inspiration for your card designs, check out the huge range of Valentine's templates over on Envato Market.
1. Add a Touch of Vintage Charm
Vintage-inspired design isn’t going anywhere this year, and kitsch 1950s styles are having a moment in particular. These retro Valentine’s cards have been given an Americana twist with script typefaces and signage-inspired callouts.
Try out these tips for achieving the punchy mid-century look; it certainly won’t fail to brighten someone’s day:
- Use muted colors in pastel tones, like rusty red, sky blue, dusky pink and egg-yolk yellow.
- Set type on a slightly angled or curved baseline, to give the design an authentically retro feel.
- Place drop shadows behind headers, to imitate the look of old-school diner and cinema signs.
- Use ribbons, banners and kitsch arrows to frame items of text.
- Apply a papery texture or filter to the background or foreground of the card to achieve an aged effect.
- Keep text simple and concise, to make your declaration of love center-stage.
2. Not an Old-Fashioned Romantic? Go Modern!
Ahh, the charms of modern-day romance. If you met your partner on Tinder or eHarmony, you might want to pay tribute to the way you met with a suitably tech-forward card design.
This app-inspired card design discards traditional flowers, pink and roses in favor of a much more pared-back style that wouldn’t look out of place on a Facebook feed.
Modern card styles can be a breath of fresh air and refreshingly gender-neutral. Follow these tips for recreating a clean, modern card design:
- Apply a palette of punchy primary colors and create an app-inspired layout with a grid of colored sections.
- Say it with emojis—place a single icon, emoji or simple line graphic in each section.
- Use clean, sans serif fonts and avoid fussy script type.
- Keep things clean with a pared-back, white background.
3. Can’t Paint? No Problem!
Hand-crafted cards have a nostalgic charm, and have the added bonus of looking as if you’ve gone the extra mile to create a card with a hand-painted design. But if painting’s not your strong suit, you can still recreate this simple yet strong style digitally.
If you’ve created a graphic in Adobe Illustrator, go to the Brush Definition panel at the top of the workspace and open up the Brush Libraries Menu. Choose Artistic > Artistic_Paintbrush to open up a range of painterly brushes. You can apply the effect to the stroke of your graphic to give it a more hand-done feel.
Alternatively, make a genuinely hand-painted love-heart more flexible by scanning a copy of the painting into your computer. Switch up the color in Photoshop, or transform the drawing into a vector in Illustrator using the Image Trace panel (Window > Image Trace), which can be easily scaled, distorted or recolored.
If you’re looking for a quick fix for a lovingly hand-painted card, why not sneakily download this charming card from GraphicRiver instead?
4. You Don’t Have to Stick to Conventional Colors...
Sure, red might be traditional, but unconventional color choices can make your Valentine’s card really stand out from the crowd.
To show your potential beau how grown-up and glamorous you are, try a sophisticated combination of black, white and gold. Extra brownie points for adding a metallic foil to your design—guaranteed to dazzle your intended.
Team it with an abstract love-heart and calligraphic text, as in this beautiful Valentine’s card, for a very elegant take on the traditional Valentine’s.
Other unconventional color combinations with a sophisticated edge to try out on your card:
- Jade green and black
- Silver and midnight blue
- Gold and deep purple
5. ... But When In Doubt, “Think Pink”!
There’s just something so enduringly romantic and vulnerable about a soft shade of pink. It may be a more conventional color choice, but it finds new relevance with vintage-style cards.
Give your cards a design that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of The Grand Budapest Hotel with sugary pastel shades of pink, cream, baby blue and mint.
Teamed with elegant calligraphic fonts and vintage-style touches, like ribbons and ornate borders, pink can look just right.
To give your cards vintage charm, avoid garish hot pink shades—you want to channel Marie Antoinette, not your mom’s Eighties makeup.
Looking for an easy-to-use template instead? Check out this sugary sweet confection from GraphicRiver.
6. Go Back to School With a Chalkboard Design
Remember back at school when you had your first crush? Emulate that nostalgic feeling of romance with a chalkboard-style Valentine’s card.
Chalkboard styles are super-easy to recreate. Simply set the background to a dusky board background, and layer chalky fonts over the top—set in an off-white swatch for the most authentic effect.
Take inspiration from this charmingly rustic card template, and use a circular stamp border to frame your header. Adding doodle-inspired illustrations of hearts and arrows will complete the look.
7. Think Outside the Box
Sending your Valentine’s card can be scary enough, but how can you make sure that you get that elusive first date?
Avoid the awkward aftermath with an assertive card that has a quirky twist. Why not design your card as an event invitation? There’s no need for this to be the real ticket—just make sure you give some details about the place and time to meet.
Check out this Valentine’s event flyer for inspiration. Why not adapt this to create a Valentine’s card?
Create a custom layout in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop or CorelDRAW, and get the card printed and trimmed professionally. Add a glossy coating to the print job for an extra-special touch. Design extras like bar codes and dashed folds add that extra dash of authenticity to the ticket design.
Now all that’s left to do is to cross your fingers and hope your date shows up at the venue...
8. Send a Romantic Postcard
Looking for another quirky idea to make your Valentine’s card that extra bit special? Why not transform your card into a romantic postcard that looks as if it’s been sent from a far-flung, exotic place?
Postcards are super-easy to create from home and don’t need to be placed in an envelope. Create two rectangular canvases, for the front and reverse of the card, no more than 4 inches high and 6 inches wide.
Adorn the edges of your postcard design with vintage-style stamp graphics, and use the line tool to divide up the reverse of the card into two sections to make the card look authentic.
Print the card on a thick, matte card for a luxurious finish, and make sure to apply a real stamp in the top right corner to make sure it gets delivered!
Looking for a postcard style without the hassle? I love this vintage-style postcard template from GraphicRiver.
Valentine’s cards don’t need to be conventional or dull; there are plenty of ways you can inject more personality into your cards and create something that’s both heart-stoppingly romantic and utterly memorable.
Whether you want to give your cards a vintage twist or a modern edge, incorporate dazzling metallics or dusky pastels, or give your cards a completely different layout as a postcard or event ticket, you’ll be sure to create something that’s going to completely wow your love interest.
Choose a design that reflects your personality and interests, and you can’t go wrong. With a bit of luck and a shot from Cupid’s bow, you might find that the recipient of your card finds your unique card suits them just perfectly too.
If you're still looking for Valentine's inspiration, be sure to check out the great range of card templates over on GraphicRiver. You'll be sure to find something up your street.