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Set of 4 Masculine Cards & Affirmation Cards (AECP Level 2 - Final Assignment)

Eek, it's time for the final assignment of level 2. The brief is to:

  • Select three components from the classes in Levels 1 and 2, and explain the process, sharing design tips along the way.

  • Make four masculine cards (Themes are; birthday, Love/Thinking of You, Anniversary, and Encouragement)

  • Create an altered item/upcycled project

  • Include step-by-step tutorials and photos

  • Deadline 1 month

This is going to be a long post, so please bear with me!


Creating a Video


Firstly, let me tell you this - a month seems like a long time. It isn't, haha. So, I had in my head that I would attempt to make my first cardmaking video for this' exam'.


It took a bit of playing around with, but I got there with a lot of help from my darling hubby. I got the ring light; check. I got the remote control; check. I attached my phone in its bracket to a more solid table so it didn't shake; check.


The main things that I got stuck with were how to get my hands up the right way (that was weird!) or at least showing as left and right when I was creating and then how to get my video to work in landscape on my phone. The solutions were SO simple! Definitely, a few facepalm moments going on.


Four Masculine Cards


Today I have four cards to share, plus an upcycled project where I created some affirmation cards.


Here's a mini gallery of my cards and the affirmation gift box.

The three techniques I chose were from the following classes: Beyond Basic Backgrounds (Level 2), Clean and Simple Boutique Cards (Level 1) and Easy Ink Blending Techniques.

When we had to make masculine cards for Level 1, I was not sure where to start, but the For the Guys masterclass completely changed my thinking about them. I no longer fear making them, so I guess you could say this masterclass influenced my design elements for these cards today.


I went with my favourite go-to formula for male cards now - clean and simple, with geometrics and a good colour palette. This Geometric Menagerie set with the three animals (bear, lion and giraffe) is a set I pull out over and over again now for this type of card. It's so useful.

Rather than sticking to my original plan of creating four different colour variations for the masculine cards, I decided to experiment with using kraft cardstock to add a unique touch. Altenew has some really gorgeous browns that work beautifully over kraft. This card set would look great in many colour combinations, though. I love doing monochrome masculine colour themes with teals or blues, and I love a navy, orange and pale blue colour combo too.


Note: I used all four inks from Altenew's Delectable Delights Ink Cube set (Milk Chocolate, Almond Butter, Hazelnut and Vanilla Cream) and will list individual colours where relevant.


Card One - Using Charcoal Pencils on a Stencilled Background


I learnt this technique in a stencilling masterclass with Nicole Watt - I think it was called Stencils Unleashed. She had loads of fab ideas:


I created my first cardmaking video (eek!!) for my first card, which you can watch below:

However, if you prefer to read about it, here's the step-by-step process:


  1. Using the Colour Block Triangle Stencil and Almond Butter ink, create an ink-blended background on kraft cardstock. (I used Strathmore Tan Mixed Media for all of these cards as I had it on hand, but any kraft is fine).

  2. To create a more dimensional effect, using a charcoal pencil and a tortillon (paper stump), add shading. You do this by deciding where you want to shade, adding a little line of pencil along the triangle's edge and then blending out the charcoal with the tortillon. I used a Derwent Tinted Charcoal pencil, Glowing Embers', for this card. NB. In the past, I've used Altenew's Monochrome Shading Pencils. Die cut panel using a stitched rectangular die.

  3. Ink blend a small piece of cardstock, big enough for your slimline die. Die cut using a slimline stitched rectangle die. Cut a larger piece of cardstock using a guillotine and attach the 'caramel' panel to the black panel. Adhere to the card base.

  4. Die cut the phrase Happy Anniversary in black cardstock using the Altenew Essential Sentiment Strip set. Adhere it to a piece of white cardstock and cut away any excess. Attach to the slimline panel.

  5. Stamp the giraffe from Altenew's Geometric Menagerie with black ink. Using all four inks mixed with a tiny bit of water, create some 'paint'. You do this by smooching the cubes onto a palette. Scroll down to card two for a photo of how I did my palette. I used my Tim Holtz mixed media mat, but you could use a piece of acetate. Use a small paintbrush to colour him in various tones. Use a black fine liner to add the black segments. I used a Sakura Micron o.5mm fine liner pen.

  6. Die cut the coloured giraffe and two more giraffes out of scrap white cardstock, adhering all together to create a 'chipboard' effect. Attach to the card base to finish.

Top Tip: This technique is a slow process. This background took around 30 minutes to do. However, it's very relaxing. I usually put on some music or listen to a book while I do it.

Card Two - Creating a leather effect

For my second card, I wanted to create an almost leather-like effect with ink blending. The cardstock is smooth, so it blends well, and the ink colours are a perfect colour for this 'technique'. I think I pulled it off, as a few of my friends said, "It looks like leather' before I even mentioned it. Yay!


I wanted to do something different with the background on the bear, so I dug out a little stamp from the Altenew Watercolor Art stamp set and then did a bit of doodling on him to match.


I considered using more stamped animals but wanted to keep it simple, so I decided to use accent stamps only. I used a simple sketch for the design. It's a great starting point for many designs. You could just as easily use stamped or die-cut flowers in place of the bear and little doodle stamp.

I used this sketch, which I slightly adapted for what I wanted:

Top Tip: Sketches are the starting point for most of my cards. I find they stretch my thinking, and they work whether you're an experienced cardmaker or are only just starting out.

Here's a step-by-step:

  1. Using the Geometric Landscape Stencil and the following colours - Milk Chocolate, Almond Butter and Vanilla Cream, create an ink-blended background on kraft cardstock, blending the ink darker in some places for added interest.

  2. Using the same inks, create a piece of ink-blended cardstock for the main panel. Die cut using a slimline stitched rectangle die.

  3. Using vanilla cream, ink blend small pieces of cardstock. Die cut using a small rectangle.

  4. Using almond butter, ink blend small pieces of cardstock again. Die cut using a slightly smaller rectangle die.

  5. Before attaching the darker rectangle on top of the lighter one, stamp the little striped square using the Altenew Watercolor Art set. Attach all of the darker rectangles on top of the lighter ones.

  6. Stamp the bear from Altenew's Geometric Menagerie, and colour him in using all four inks mixed with a tiny bit of water to create a 'paint' (see below for a photo). Use a small paintbrush to colour him in various tones. Use a black fine liner to add the black segments. I used a Sakura Micron o.5mm fine liner pen.

  7. Die cut the coloured bear and two more bears out of scrap white cardstock, adhering all together to create a 'chipboard' effect.

  8. Using a black multi-liner pen (I used a Copic 0.3), add some little stripes to some of the sections on the bear.

  9. Die cut the phrase Happy Birthday in black cardstock using the Altenew Essential Sentiment Strip set. Adhere it to a piece of white cardstock and cut away any excess.

  10. Place the slimline panel onto the front of the stencilled background, and before attaching, add the sentiment to the left-hand side.

  11. Position the three rectangular panels onto the central strip, adding the bear to finish.

Card Three - Waterbleached Background


I thought a 'Here for you' sentiment would be nice for this theme. It says you're thinking of the recipient and that you're around for them if they need to talk.

For this card, I wanted to create a water-bleached background. This is a simple technique where you ink your panel, spritz your stencil with water and lay it over the inking to lift the colour. Here's the step-by-step process:

  1. Die cut a large rectangle out of kraft cardstock using a stitched rectangle die. Attached to a card base.

  2. Using the Almond Butter die ink cube, ink blend a rectangular panel. I used ribbed card stock for mine. Once blended, die-cut the panel using a smaller, stitched rectangle die. Attach to the kraft panel.

  3. Create an ombre effect panel by ink-blending some kraft cardstock using all three inks (almond butter, hazelnut and vanilla cream), starting with the darker colours at the top and slowly blending down throughout the card base.

  4. Spray your Altenew Trellis stencil with water, flip it over and lay it down over the top half of the ombre panel. Leave it there for a moment, and then gently press it down with a cloth before removing it. You will see the magic of water bleaching as it lifts the colour from the ink blending.

  5. Using the Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut inks mixed with a bit of water and a paintbrush, splat the bottom half of the front panel to create some interest. Once dry, attach this panel to the other panels on the card base.

  6. Die cut a banner from white cardstock and then die cut the phrase 'Here for you' in black cardstock using the Altenew Essential Sentiment Strip set. Adhere the sentiment on top of the white banner and attach it to the ombre panel at an angle. Add a black pearl.

  7. Stamp the bear and giraffe from Altenew's Geometric Menagerie, and colour them in using all four inks mixed with a tiny bit of water to create a 'paint'. Use a small paintbrush to colour them in various tones. Use a black fine liner to add the black segments. I used a Unipin Micron o.5mm fine liner pen.

  8. Die cut the coloured bear and giraffe, plus an additional two bears and two giraffes out of scrap white cardstock, adhering all pieces together to create a 'chipboard' effect bear and giraffe in the same way as card one.

  9. Attach the giraffe and bear to the card to finish.

Card Four - Shifting Your Stencil to Create a Shadow Effect

For my final card, I used a simple technique of shifting the stencil to create a shadow, but instead of doing it in the traditional way with the darker colour behind it, I used black as the main colour and brown as the shadow. This allowed me to create a dramatic background that was still in line with all of the other designs. I think this is my favourite card of all of them.

I totally forgot to take a pic of this process, so I've recreated it here with the scrap piece that was left over. For stage 1, you use the brown:

Next, you align the stencil over the brown so that it's covered over by the stencil. Then you add the black. As you can see, I didn't clean my stencil! You live and learn!

Here's the step-by-step process:

  1. Using Almond Butter ink with Altenew's Deco Wallpaper Stencil, ink blend the background.

  2. Next, shift the stencil very slightly to the right so that you get a shadow. Then using black ink, ink blend again.

  3. Add some black splats using water with black ink and some white gouache for some white splats. Set the card aside to dry. Once dry, die cut using a stitched rectangle die. Attach to the card base.

  4. Using Almond Butter and Hazelnut inks, create a two-tone effect panel. (Sadly, I can't seem to get this to show properly in the photo, but in real life, it has a slightly marbled effect). Die cut using a smaller rectangle die.

  5. Stamp the sentiment from the Geometric Menagerie set on the top right, and attach the finished panel onto the stencilled background.

  6. Cut a further rectangular panel out of black cardstock, and attach it to the marbled background.

  7. Stamp the lion from Altenew's Geometric Menagerie, and colour him in using all four inks mixed with a tiny bit of water to create a 'paint'. Use a small paintbrush to colour him in various tones. Use a black fine liner to add the black segments. I used a Sakura Micron o.5mm fine liner pen.

  8. Die cut the lion, plus an additional two lions out of scrap white cardstock, adhering all pieces together to create a 'chipboard' effect. Attach to the card.

  9. Finally, add three black gems to the top left, creating a visual triangle with the lion and sentiment.

Uplevelling These Cards


Sometimes you want something more. If you want to take these cards a step further, here are a few ideas with examples:


1. Stencil Your Envelope


Stencil the flap on the back of the envelope to match the card. This is a quick and simple way to pull the design together. You may find that your stencil doesn't entirely cover the envelope flap, so ink blend part of the stencil and then move it over to stencil the rest.


This is also a nice effect for inside the card and or on the front of the envelope.


Top Tip: You can also use one of your stamps to add a bit of interest. I do this a lot, i.e. when I make a floral card, I will choose a smaller floral from the same set and stamp it on the 'V' of the flap of the envelope. It's this attention to detail that can make a difference to the recipient.


2. Make a Gift Card Pocket


A gift card pocket makes for a nice little surprise for your recipient. I created a simple template that you can use to create your own. By changing the dimensions, you can make the pocket smaller or larger if you want to put something other than a gift card inside.


Cut a piece of card 6" long x 4 & 3/8" wide. Score across the width at 2" from the top and at 1 & 3/4" from the bottom.


Next, on both long sides, score at 3/8" and then use this line to trim the top and bottom left and right sides so that you have a small panel on either side. This should be 3/8" each. Turn this into a flap either side by cutting away a small triangular piece of card, allowing the card to fold inwards. (See pic below)

Fold the little pocket up at the sides, making sure not to add glue to the 3/8" sides that show. Add a little stencilled blending in the same way as we did with the envelope in bullet point 1 above, and add your gift card and attach it to the card base with strong double-sided tape. (Or, in my case, steal your husband's bank card and tell him you need new crafting supplies, haha).

Top Tip: For my masculine card, I kept the gift card element very simple. If you were making a floral card, for example, you could create a pretty border for the pocket or use a fancy-shaped die.


3. Create a Pop-Up Element


Turn your card into a 3d card by creating a simple pop-up mechanism inside. In this instance, I added a couple of animals to the inside, but it would work nicely with flowers/leaves, too.


There are lots of interactive card dies now, but I know that it can become costly, and unless you're selling your cards like I do, it can be a dilemma whether to buy stamps or interactive dies. There are ways to make simple interactive cards, though, without spending money on specific dies. Here's a simple way to create a 3d pop-up element.


For my pop-up, I went to the Queen of Cardmaking's YouTube channel - Jennifer McGuire. I've shared her video link here, where she takes you through the process. I used her simple mechanism for this card. I just adapted it to work from the top, as I only had small animals to add.


I wanted to do a couple of little test runs before committing to adding the pop-up element to the card. I got a small piece of scrap, scored it in half and then created a mini pop-up to check sizing. As my animals are quite small, it wasn't possible to get a perfect finish, but I'm still pleased with the final result. I was going to use the bear, but colour it in the browns. I then thought the lion would be better.


For my mini pop-up, I cut a little strip of white cardstock about 5" wide and 3/4" deep. I scored it at 1", 1.75", 2.75", 3.5" and 4.5", cutting the last piece off after the 4.5" score. I then folded this up into a little cube shape for the mechanism.


Top Tip: If you think your card is lacking something, think about how you can spice it up a bit. It might be adding an acetate window, a shaker element or a bit of shine. Get your creative thinking hat on and see what ideas you can come up with.

And finally ...


The Affirmation Gift Card Set



In my business, Rock Your Fabulous Biz, as well as teaching business owners how to grow their businesses, I teach them about managing their mindset. I love changing the way people think through mantras, affirmations and more, so I thought these little cards were the perfect combination of my skills.

I knew I wanted a small box and was hunting around the house for something to use. I then thought of using a Cook's Matches box of matches. NB. If they don't sell them where you live, the matchbox is ‎24.7 x 15.6 x 7.7 cm. I thought it would be a good size to put some cards in.


I then needed to find some dies to create the cards. Altenew's Rounded Rectangle Dies were the perfect solution. I created eight cards for my box, two of each colourway; purple, pink, orange and blue, plus an additional card for the front of the box. I wanted my cards to be quite thick so that they could be used in a little stand and not bend. You could get more cards in the box if you made them less dimensional.


Lastly, I wanted some small flowers to add to the printed affirmations I was going to create to give them a pop of colour and to make them look pretty, of course! I chose Altenew's Heart Flowers set.


Here's the step-by-step process:


1. Stamp and Die Cut Flowers


Stamp and die cut multiple flowers in multiple colours. With scrap white cardstock, cut two extra flowers for each colour and layer them up to create the 'chipboard' effect, as we did with the geometric animals in the masculine cards.


I used Altenew's Heart Flowers stamp and die set with the following Altenew dye inks: Volcano Lake & Emerald, Coral Bliss & Grapevine, Turquoise & Deep Blue Seas, Orange Cream & Autumn Blaze, Purple Wine & Cosmic Berry.

Sorry, this isn't a great picture, but I hope it's useful. Sometimes a picture paints a thousand words, so I thought it might help to see the affirmation cards in this way.


I had planned to use three layered leaves, but it was actually too thick and made the 'chipboard' flower wobble, so just stamp and die-cut one and pop the layered flower on top.


2. Create Affirmation Card Bases


For each affirmation card, die-cut two large rectangles out of scrap white cardstock and an additional one in coloured cardstock to complement your flower, e.g. if you have an orange flower, cut the 3rd rectangle in orange. Layer up the rectangles, adhering each one together, and add the coloured rectangle on the top.


Die cut another two smaller rectangles out of scrap white cardstock and adhere them together.


I used Altenew's Rounded Rectangles dies. This is such a versatile little set.



3. Create Affirmations


Next, you need to print out the affirmations onto white cardstock. I've created a PDF of the affirmations I designed for mine. I'm in the process of sorting out email for my blog, so don't have anything fancy schmancy yet, but if you'd like a copy of the affirmations, drop me an email at ruby@rubymcguire.com, and I'll send it over to you :)

Using the smaller rectangle die, die cut each of the affirmations.


Using Lagoon ink, stamp a small leaf in the top left corner of the printed affirmation rectangle to create a little pop of colour.

Add a 3d flower and single leaf to the bottom right corner, then attach the finished floral panel to the two smaller rectangles that you adhered together in step two. Repeat this process for all of the cards, as shown.


4. Create Slipcover


To complete the box, create a slipcover to go over the original matchbox and then decorate it.


Cut a piece of cardstock 7 & 3/4" x 4 & 3/4" in your colour of choice. With the cardstock landscape in your scoring tool, score at 1", 3 & 5/8", 4 & 5/8" and 7 & 1/4". Fold the card at the score lines, and attach the two ends together.


Top Tip: Score each line firmly to create strong folds so that the cardstock bends nicely.


Gently push the cover to the original matchbox. It will be a tight fit.


5. Create a Liner


Next, you need to create a liner. As you can see, the inside of the box isn't that great. I gently opened the box to create a net to work with. Ignore the score lines that I haven't marked with measurements, as they are from another project. I like using up scraps! Using the same cardstock as the slipcover, cut a piece of card with the following dimensions:

  • The liner size is 6 & 1/4" x 4 & 1/8".

  • Score on the long sides at 7/8" and again at 3 & a 1/4".

  • Then score both short ends at 7/8".

  • Cut out the four corners and attach the liner to the card base.

  • Attach a flower to the liner.

Adhere the final title cover card, 'Affirmation Cards', to the top of the box.

As one end of the card is more dimensional than the other, I turned the cards in opposite directions to make them look nicer in the box.

Anyone I've shown these to has wanted to order some from me, so they are great for selling. They also make lovely little gifts.


Top Tip: You could use any wording on the cards and any stamps or dies. Think cute animals, or geometric shapes, mixed with encouraging messages or tips for people to follow. The world is your oyster!


I hope you've enjoyed these masculine cards and my upcycled project and they have inspired you to make something new.


That brings me to the end of my assignment for Level 2. Wish me luck!






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4 Comments


Erum Tasneem
Erum Tasneem
Jul 10, 2023

Ruby, this is brilliant!! Your cards, along with the second part of the challenge, is amazing. You did an incredible job presenting both. You are so talented! I love your projects; they are so creative and unique. You have a great sense of color and design, and your skills are impressive. You should be proud of your work. Keep up the good work. You rock!


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Ruby 2 Shoes
Ruby 2 Shoes
Jul 10, 2023
Replying to

Ah, thank you so much! Your message made my day :)


I loved making them, and the video element wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be. Sometimes you just have to start!

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Absolutely beautiful work Ruby. The masculine cards are just WOW! I honestly thought you had used a veneer wood piece on the first card I saw. Your shading and stenciling is just perfectly amazing! You made such an awesome set of cards. The instructions on how you made them is easy to understand.

As for the affirmations... I love them! I want to make some for my middle daughter. The sayings, the floral element, the colors you chose, everything about them is stunning! Anyone would be so honored to receive a card or set of cards from you.

Even though you surely don't need any luck, I wish the the best of it. You did such a great job o…

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Ruby 2 Shoes
Ruby 2 Shoes
Jul 05, 2023
Replying to

Ah, thank you so much! I'm really pleased you like them. They would be a lovely idea for young girls, and perfect where you can create your own personalised messages too 😀

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