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How to Create a Queen of Hearts Playing Card With Affinity Designer

This post is part of a series called Alice in Wonderland Week.
How to Create an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party Scene in Adobe Illustrator
Create Beautiful Page Layouts and a Striking Cover for a Children’s Fiction Book
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Today we will be on a learning adventure, using some basic tools and functions of Affinity Designer, to create a simple and playful "Queen of Hearts" playing card!

Step by step, we’re going to see how to design and create a cute, colorful illustration using basic geometric shapes, in combination with strokes and effects, to custom design our first playing card.

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to tailor your own "Queen of Hearts" playing card and apply the new techniques to create the rest of the deck! If you need extra graphics, head over to GraphicRiver to see what else you can add to the illustration!

1. How to Set Up the Artboard & Guides

Step 1

We’ll start by setting up our workspace.

Create a poker size playing card document. 

  • Type: Print 
  • Page Preset: Custom
  • Document Units: Millimetres
  • Colour: CMYK/8
  • DPI: 300
  • Page Width: 63.5 mm
  • Page Height: 88.9 mm
  • Left Margin: 8.2 mm
  • Right Margin: 8.2 mm
  • Top Margin: 8.2 mm
  • Bottom Margin: 8.2 mm
  • OK
set up document dimensions affinity designer

Step 2

Let's set up the centre guides. 

View > Guides Manager to open the Guides Manager panel. Select the Add New Horizontal Guide icon and then the Add New Vertical Guide icon to create accurate centre guides on the artboard, and Close.

View > Show Margins.

File > Save (Command-S), and name the file "Queen_of_Hearts". Now we are all set up to start adding our artwork!

Create horizontal and vertical Guides in Guides Manager

2. How to Draw the Card Border Design 

Step 1

Let's start by creating the border around our card. We will draw half the card design and mirror it later.

Select the Artistic Text Tool (T) to add artistic text to the design. Text > Show Character (Command-T).

On the top left corner of the margin, drag the Artistic Text Tool (T), and type in a capital "Q" with a red Fill, in 27 pt font size.

Then move over to the Effects panel, and apply a dark red Inner shadow, with a Radius of 9 px.

Use artistic text tool to add text and effects apply inner shadow

Step 2

Next let's Enable Snapping, so we can make sure all our objects will be positioned and aligned accurately to other objects and the document. To activate/deactivate snapping, click Snapping (magnet icon) on the main toolbar or the button adjacent to the Presets pop-up menu and check Enable snapping.

From the Tools panel, click and hold the Triangle Tool icon to open a drop-down list of custom shapes. Select the Heart shape tool.

Draw a 6 x 6 mm red heart, below the "Q". Use the Move Tool (V) to snap the heart 2.1 mm below the letter "Q". Then, from the Effects panel, apply a dark red Inner shadow, with a Radius of 13 px.

enable snapping and add heart with inner shadow effects and radius set

Step 3

Select the Ellipse Tool (M) and add a 1.6 x 1.6 mm orange circle 2.1 mm from the right side of the "Q".

Duplicate (Command-J) the ellipse and use the Move Tool (V) to snap the duplicate 2.1 mm below the letter "Q".

Create Ellipse Tool snap with Move Tool

Step 4 

Next let's draw a heart-shaped corner border.

Select the Pen Tool (P). With the same color used in the ellipse Fill, apply that color on the Stroke, with a 2 pt Width.

Note: Use the highlighted smart guides measurements to make sure the distance is accurate while drawing.

Start with the right ellipse. Draw a line 37.4 mm horizontally, 7.8 mm downwards, 2.8 mm left, 2.3 mm upwards, 2.3 mm left, 2.8 mm upwards, 7.5 mm right, and down to the centre guide.

Then draw the line from the left circle down to the horizontal centre guide, as shown below.

Draw playing card border line using pen tool P and guides

Step 5

Let's edit the corner curves of our line to create the heart shape.

Select the Corner Tool (C) from the toolbar. Select the corner nodes, as shown in the image. Drag the cursor to modify the corner (you will see a red circle, or you can edit the Radius to about 1.6 pt, from the Context Toolbar).

se corner tool C to curve corner radius

Step 6

Next, select the Heart shape from the toolbar. Draw a 2.4 x 2.4 mm red heart. Use the Move Tool (V) to snap it to the right corner of the margin.

Then, use the rotation handle to set the rotation to -45 degrees, or you can rotate from the Transform panel. 

heart shape rotation from transform panel

Step 7

In the Layers panel, select all the layers we created, and Group (Command-G). Give the group the title "Border".

3. How to Create the Queen's Face

Step 1

Now let's create the Queen's face, starting by drawing a plump, heart-shaped face.

Select the Heart shape tool. Draw a beige filled heart 16.5 15.4 mm, snapped to the centre of the guide.

Select the centre red node at the intersecting edge and pull it upwards so it's not too curved inwards.

transform heart shape thru nodes

Step 2

Then, with the Node Tool (A), click on the heart, and from the from the Context Toolbar, click Convert to Curves, so our object can turn into connected lines and nodes.

So now using the Node Tool (A) and guides, use the nodes to alter the shape of the heart into a more bulgy version, by tweaking the nodes a little further.

node tool convert shape to curves from context toolbar

Step 3

Let's apply an effect on the face.

Layer > Layer Effects....opens the Effects panel.

Apply a Bevel/Emboss:

  • Type: Inner
  • Radius: 19.7 px
  • Soften: 0.4 px
  • Highlight: Apply a yellow orange color 75%
  • Shadow: Apply a dark orange color 75%
  • Close
skew shape with nodes and node tool and apply bevel emboss effect inner type

Step 4

Move on to draw the eyes.

There are a few steps to follow:

  • Select the Ellipse Tool (M), and draw a black fill circle 3.5 x 3.5 mm.
  • Then with the Node Tool (A), click Convert to Curves from the Context Toolbar.
  • Select the left and right node, and Convert: Sharp.
  • After, use the Move Tool (V) to reduce the height by squeezing down the control handles.
  • Finally, Rotate it 30 degrees, and position it as shown below.
create eye from ellipse tool convert to curves and sharpen edges plus rotate

Step 5

Now let's continue with the eye illustration, and add makeup.

With the Ellipse Tool (M), draw a 0.8 x 0.8 mm turquoise circle inside the eye to create some glare. Add another 0.4 x 0.4 mm circle, slightly below the left of the first ellipse.

Second, use the Vector Brush Tool (B), set at 1.4 pt with black stroke, and draw two cute lashes.

From the Tools panel, click and hold the Heart icon to open the drop-down list of custom shapes, and select the Crescent shape tool. Draw a black brow, and Rotate -97 degrees, horizontally above the eye.

And finally, use the Pen Tool (P) to manually add in the white eyeshadow.

Now the eyeshadow layer will appear in front of the eye, so Move Back One (Command-[), until it's behind the eye shape.

draw ellipse glares lashes using vector brush tool and crecent tool for eyebrow and pen tool for eyeshadow move back one layer

Step 6

In the Layers panel, select all the eye-related elements and Group (Command-G) together. Duplicate (Command-J) the group.

Layer > Transform > Flip Horizontally or click the Flip Horizontal icon on the Toolbar (blue and gray triangles mirrored).

Position it on the other side, using the Move Tool (V).

group eyes and mirror reflect  by flip horizontal icon

Step 7

Let's add a nose, lips, neck, and body shape.

Start with the nose, using the Ellipse Tool (M), Width 1 mm and Height 0.3 mm. Use the Move Tool (V) to snap the nose between the eyes.

Use the Heart shape tool for the lips and draw a heart with Width 1.3 mm and Height 1 mm, and snap it below the nose.

Next, create a white heart of 2.6 x 2.2 mm for the neck, and snap it at the base of the head shape. Add an orange heart for the headpiece that's 3.9 x 3.2 mm. Snap it to the middle top of the head.

Finally, for the body shape, we will create a 6.4 x 5.6 mm heart. Move Forward One (Command-]) the layer, over the white heart.

create nose neck body and  headpiece with heart and ellipse tool

Step 8

Let's give our lady some blush on the cheeks.

Take the Ellipse Tool (M). Draw a 10 x 6.5 mm ellipse, and position it below the eyes. Duplicate (Command-J) the ellipse and move the duplicate across to the other cheek, with the Move Tool (V).

Select both ellipses and apply the Add Operation icon to combine them (Layer > Geometry > Add)

After, Duplicate (Command-J) the head shape. Then hold down the Shift key, select the duplicated head shape in addition to the cheek ellipses, and click Intersect (Layer > Geometry > Intersect).

duplicate add and intersect icons to create cheecks

Step 9

The cheeks will inherit the effects applied on the face before. So uncheck Bevel/Emboss from the Effects panel to release.

From the Layers panel, apply a Multiply blend mode.

Uncheck BevelEmboss and apply Multiply Blending Mode

4. How to Design the Hair & Body 

Step 1

Let's create the hair.

Take the Ellipse Tool (M) and create a dark red ellipse with a size of 17 x 13 mm. Give it the following Bevel/Emboss settings from the Layer Effects panel:

  • Type: Inner
  • Radius: 10.1px
  • Soften: 0.8 px
  • Shadow: Multiply in Dark red color
  • Close
create ellipse layer effects panel set emboss type radius and shadow

Step 2

Again using the Ellipse Tool (M), create a bright red 17 x 7mm ellipse.

Select both the first and second ellipse by holding down the Shift key. Apply Align Centre and then Align Middle. Next, Group (Command-G) the two ellipses together.

Then from the Transform panel, set the rotation angle to 50 degrees.

apply align center and middle icon and rotation from transform panel

Step 3

Use the Move Tool (V) to snap the group over the eye, touching the centre guide.

Move Back One (Command-[), so it's layered behind the head. Duplicate (Command-J) and apply Flip Horizontal from the toolbar.

With the Move Tool (V), position it on the other side.

Apply Move Layers Duplicate and Flip Horizontal

Step 4

Moving on, let's create the back hair bob and add a crown design to it.

First, create a dark red 8.2 x 8.8 mm ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (M). For the crown, use the Pen Tool (P), and draw a three-pointed shape as shown below. Use the Node Tool (A) and curve the left, right, and bottom points.

Select the crown and ellipse shape and apply Align Centre, making sure the crown is over the ellipse. Then create a 1.6 x 2.4 mm yellow tear using the Tear Tool from the Tools panel. Set the Rotation of the tear to 140 degrees.

Duplicate (Command-J) the tear and apply the Flip Horizontal icon from the Context Toolbar. Use the Move Tool (V) and position the duplicate on the other side, as shown below.

use ellipse pen nodes and tear tool to create crown

Step 5

Once all the elements of the bob are created, Group (Command-G) them together. Apply Move to Back (Command-shift-[).

Group elements and Move toBack

Step 6

Let's add some details to the body.

Select the Diamond Tool from the toolbar. Create a 1.2 x 1.5 mm red diamond and snap it to the centre guide within the black heart.

Duplicate (Command-J), hold down the Shift key to constrain vertically, and drag the duplicate below the other, as shown.

Grab the Triangle Tool from the toolbar, and create a red 6.4 x 4.2 mm triangle, touching the centre guide to the horizontal guide. 

Note: To create a shape from the starting point, hold down Option-Command-Drag.

Apply Move to Back (Command-shift-[).

diamond Tool duplicate shape triangle tool center option command drag then move to back

Step 7

Now let's add the Queen's ruff.

Grab the Ellipse Tool (M) and draw a 22.4 x 18.2 mm turquoise ellipse centre aligned to the centre guide. Apply Move to Back (Command-shift-[).

Create another 18.3 x 18.2 mm ellipse, in darker turquoise color. Apply Move to Back (Command-shift-[) and then Move Forward One (Command-]).

Ellipse move to back move forward one

Step 8

We need to add the Queen's hands and arms.

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M). Draw a 9.6 x 2.9 mm red brick. Skew the selection from the right by dragging the bounding box control handles upwards.

Then select the Node Tool (A). Apply the Convert to Curves operation, and start curving the lower right side, lift the lower left upwards, and then curve the line to create the Queen's sleeves.

Create sleeves using rectangle tool and Nodes to convert to curves

Step 9

Use the Move Tool (V) to move the selection onto the body. Apply Move to Back (Command-shift-[). Duplicate (Command-J) the sleeve. 

Layer > Transform > Flip Horizontally or click the Flip Horizontal icon on the toolbar to position it on the other side.

Move to Back Layer transform Flip horizontally

Step 10

Let's draw the hands

Start with the right-hand side. Select the Heart shape tool from the toolbar. Draw a red 2.4 x 2.5 mm heart.

Then, using the Ellipse Tool (M) with a skintone Stroke of 2.5 pt, draw a 2.4 x 2.4 mm circle, under the heart. 

Use the Node Tool (N), select the circle you created, and apply a Convert to Curves operation. Then click the two points of the curve where we will cut the top off. 

From the Context Toolbar, select the Break Curve action, and delete the section as shown below.

heart shape ellipse tool node tool convert to curves break curve action

Step 11

Let's add some fingers.

Select the Pen Tool (P). Use the same skintone Stroke of 2.5 pt applied on the ellipse, and draw three fingers as shown.

Group (Command-G) all the hand elements together. Use the Move Tool (V) to move the new group to the end of the sleeve. Apply Move to Back (Command-shift-[)

Pen Tool Stroke set Group elements move and move to back

Step 12

Let's create the second hand, the fist holding the sceptre.

Select the Pen Tool (P), and draw a line with W: 1 mm and stroke 3 pt, and a slightly darker skin tone.

Duplicate (Command-J) and move it above the other, and then press Command-J again to Power Duplicate, to create the three fingers.

For the thumb, select the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle over the third finger, with a size of 1.7 mm x 0.9 mm and a fill in the same skintone used for the other hand.

Draw another in a perpendicular direction, 0.9 x 1.7 mm, on the left edge of the first rectangle, as shown below.

Pen tool and rectangle tool to draw fingers and thumb

Step 13

Select both rectangle shapes, and apply the Add Operation icon to combine or Layer > Geometry > Add

Then select the Corner Tool (C). Choose the top right corner node, and apply a curve. Choose the base node seen in the image and apply a curve. The thumb is done.

Let's create the palm of the hand. Select the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 2.1 x 2.6 mm rectangle in a darker skinshade, from the top finger down to the base. Apply Move to Back (Command-shift-[).

Group (Command-G) all the hand elements and position it on the edge of the second sleeve.

create thumb thru rectangle tool and paalm from rounded rectangle tool group and move

Step 14

Let's add a sceptre.

Use the Pen Tool (P) and draw a vertical line 9.2 mm in Height. Give it a dark color stroke. Then select the Heart shape tool, and remember that if you want to create a shape from the center starting point, hold down Option-Command-Drag

Draw a red 4.4 x 4.3mm heart over the line we created.

Create Sceptre pen stroke and heart tool

Step 15

Let's add some detail to the sceptre.

Select the Heart tool and apply a darker shade of red. Draw a 1.3 x 1.2 mm heart in the center of the big heart. With the little heart selected, hold down Option-Shift-Drag to copy and paste the selection. 

Copy the heart three times below the first, and Group (Command-G) all the sceptre elements.

Select the hand group and the sceptre group, and Move To Front (Shift-Command-]). Then select the sceptre group and Move Back One (Command-[).

heart option shift drag group move to Front Move Back One

Step 16

Let's finish up.

Group (Command-G) all the Queen's parts.

Select the 'Border' layer and the Queen's group, and then Layer > Transform > Flip Horizontally or click the Flip Horizontal icon on the toolbar, and then Flip Vertically.

Snap to the centre guide, and we are ready to play!

Flip horizontal flip vertical and snap centre

You've Played Your Cards Right!

Great job! Our "Queen of Hearts" playing card is complete. I hope you’ve enjoyed following this nice and easy tutorial. Perhaps you learned some interesting new tips and tricks, to inspire you to create the rest of the deck!

I hope you’ve managed to follow each and every step. Have fun, and post your card designs in the comments area below. 

Enjoy and keep creating!

final design queen of hearts playing card design Miss chatz
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