Buckle up! Creating digital ATCs with free content and tools


Someone on one of the FB groups I am in for trading ATCs asked about my process for creating ones like the digital Frida ones that I then enhanced with stamping, doodling and embellishment. I tried to explain it but she doesn’t have the same tools I do and not the experience. I’m sure it all sounded a bit like gobbledegook to her. Which got me thinking – I have discovered a load of interesting free/public domain resources in my KDP journey and I have used a few online tools in my art in the past and I have recently played a bit with the free version of Canva, which is a design tool that has some nice features (better in the Pro version but the free one will do what we need, mostly) and is all online.

So the goal was to create some Frida Kahlo ATCs that were a bit like the ones I did last week. Could I do exactly them? No – I bought the lovely digital paper from a shop that is no longer in business and bought the full page digital stamp of images of Frida and spent a bit of time breaking it up into separate ATC sized .png blocks. But I could keep the flavour of my cards and show the process.

So we are going to break it down into steps, with options. First let’s look at the backgrounds. Like I said, I used digital paper. I had a look for similar digital paper and didn’t find anything free that I liked. If you know of Carolyn Dube, her Sparks of Artspiration would be great substitutes but I think that you had to have bought one of her classes to get them.

Here are a few other places that you could look at for free or public domain pieces

Unsplash is a free to use photo site that has some nice abstract images and I found two on the first page that I liked a lot. There are other similar sites, like Pexels, but also some fab museum sites that show public domain art that you can download. This link should take you to a Google search that lists a lot of them but honestly it can be a hard slog searching thru them. CC search is a great resource and by ticking CC0 as a filter you will get public domain works.

STEP 1: find an image that you like to use as your background. I picked a couple to play with from Unsplash.

The actual downloads are much, much bigger.

STEP 2: Find your focal point image. In this case, we are looking for a Frida Kahlo image that is B&W and a bit like a stamp or stencil. A quick google brings up LOTS, but narrowing that down to free-to-use images is harder. I found two that looked good. This one was the best one.

Ideally your image needs to be a .png and the background should be transparent. When You click on the image to download it, the image has the background still white. If you bought the Pro version of Canva they have a Remove Background tool but that is not available in the free version. So we have to jump thru another hoop first.

STEP 3: Go to a free online image convertor tool like this one. You want to select Convert to PNG in the sidebar, tick Remove background, then drag your image into the big green box and click Start conversion.

It will do it’s thing then your can click the option to DOWNLOAD your .png. When you do, you will have an image of Frida in black with a transparent background (basically all the white in the original will convert to transparent) although you may want to crop your image to remove the site promo.

So now you have your background and your focal image. It’s time to move over to Canva. You will need to sign up for the free version.

STEP 4: Build your sheet to print.

Canva is not hard to use, and there are many YouTube tutorials for it. I am going to give you really bare bones instructions so you can do this in the easiest way possible.

Click on the Create a Design button at the top of the page. I find this part super annoying cause I always forget it. You need to click Custom Size

and change the measurements to INCHES an click Create New Design

When the new window opens, click Uploads and simply drag your two images into the upload area. Then drag your background into the white design area and your Frida image over the top.

You will want to grab a corner and drag the background image to fill the 8.5 x 11 inch area. I did for my first one but forgot to show that here.

STEP 5: Size your Frida image to ATC size by grabbing a corner of the image and dragging it – measurements will show up to show you:

Now simply Right click on your Frida image and Copy/Paste her as many times as you like into the background. You can use the little rotation tool to move her around and perfectly place her over the background. The bordering lines will show you that you haven’t overlapped anything!

Once you are happy with the placement click the Download button. Click on The file type and select PDF – unless you want to buy the pro version, for me, PDF is the best format. Don’t select Cop lines or bleed or anything special. Just download!

Done. Now print them. I suggest using the coated cardstock that I have mentioned before for a really good, bright print. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you don’t let your printer scale your image.I have no idea how it looks on your machine and your printer but for me it is here:

Ignore the circle text, it’s the SCALE and 103% that you need to pay attention to. If it is not showing 100% you need to change it. Unless you have enough area around each “card” that you can trim them to the proper size of 2.5 x 3.5! My two look like this:

Cut them up into ATC sized cards

and tart them up as you like! This is just the basic process. Obviously if you buy nice digital paper – or even scan your own masterboard, for example, you can use that instead of a digital image.

2 thoughts on “Buckle up! Creating digital ATCs with free content and tools

  1. Pingback: More ATCs with the printed versions from the tutorial – just having a play… | scrappystickyinkymess

  2. Thanks for this tutorial!

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