Altenew: Level 1 Final Challenge

A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life – Oscar Wilde 

A2 Magazine-style Presentation Box/Tag

I recently completed the course material for the Level 1 AECP and now it’s time to take on the “Final Challenge.” As with the previous supporting posts for AECP classes, we are asked to highlight components from the coursework used in our submission and include any personal design tips but new this time is to also show a step by step tutorial. My specific challenge was to design a set of 6 masculine cards that should be packaged for gift giving. Indeed a challenge!

Masculine Card Ensemble

Now for a source for inspiration – besides jeans, nothing is more iconic in a man’s wardrobe than a tie! Ties often have a silky richness; deep,vibrant color saturation; repeating geometric patterns; and hints of silver or gold thread to add a subtle sparkle. I used a tie from my guy’s closet as inspiration for the color pallet choosing dark teal, black/shades of gray, white, and gold.  I also used various geometric patterns (triangles, dots, pinstripes, lines/blocks) to create classic, timeless patterns. Having a unity of color and simple graphic elements brings these individual cards together as gift set. However, our men are not only serious tie-wearing individuals but fun-lovers too so I added a playful shaker element to one card and an unusual card shape to add a whimsical note to the collection.

Let me quickly present 5 of the cards. It’s easy to pick out the inspiration components in these cards but each also have a special element or two that makes them standout uniquely. Be sure to click on a picture to get the best view of the card details.

“For the Grad” – What graduate wouldn’t be pleased to receive a card that sports a jaunty mortarboard and diploma! The special effect on this card is the crosshatch shadow piece behind the ”Congrats.”  To create that element I used the original die turned upside down, traced outside of die as a guide and then fussy cut it out  – voila! text shadow perfectly aligned to the original die cut.

“Thanks” – This card used masking in two ways: 1) simple line masking to create an interesting design for a background coupled with ink blending using Distress Oxide in Black Soot for a smooth, chalk-like finish and 2) mask to edit original image – removed ‘Dad’ from cup image as I wanted a more generic masculine Thank You card.

”Triangle Birthday Shaker” – There’s something about a shaker card that brings out the child in us – testing to see how far those beads move and hear them rattle around. With two shaker elements the overall design needed to be more clean and simple with lots of white space to allow the eye, and ear, to focus on the fun.

”Happy Anniversary” – Contrasting textures is the name of the game with this card. The outside borders were created with a stencil using custom colored embossing paste. The body of the card is a stamped dots motif using a pigment ink left to dry slightly then then gold embossing powder applied for random coverage, and finally, the “Happy” die cut was stacked and partially foiled in gold using glue stick adhesive for a distressed look.

”Fabulous Birthday”  – This card, too, played with textures but also took advantage of leftovers from previous cards and color experiments to create the various geometric shapes. My trick for this design is to build the pattern in all white paper and then gradually replace the white shapes with the same shaped piece in color/themed paper creating a perfectly balanced design. Another special touch for this card was to substitute white pearl paper for the remaining white elements adding a soft, silky glow.

Out of this World Dad

My last card, “Out of this World Dad”, is the playful one with both an unusual 3D design as well as a stunning but easy to create “galaxy” background. I did stretch the tie metaphor a bit for this design but notice how triangles play a major role in this card as well as maintaining the general color pallet of the collection – so I say this qualifies as an “abstract” tie pattern … LOL!

Let me step you through the process of creating both the galaxy background and the card base. First the galaxy background – here’s where we’re headed and the products I used.

Start with a white base in your desired size. I usually use Neenah Classic Crest 80lb in Solar White but Bristol Smooth Paper works as well. Note: for this card heavyweight paper is not recommended as it creates too much bulk. Also, just about any water-based/dye inks you have will succeed for this technique.

  1.  Using the 5 Altenew dye ink colors above and in any order add patches of color to completely cover card stock. Spread out color blocks and add as random, even over lapping, shapes. Leave no white space. I like to make sure a patch of yellow and bright green are somewhere towards the center as it helps to create a glow in the finished galaxy. Bright, vivid colors are a good thing at this stage.
  2. Switching to Distress Ink in Faded Jeans roughly stamp a mini cube over the color panel. This is a texture component you don’t want to skip. Concentrate this stamping along the edges but add a lighter density in the center area too.
  3. Using Peacock Feathers – my preference is again directly with a mini cube but a blending tool works too –  lightly brush ink over all the design. This starts the teal tinting I wanted. If you want to emphasize a different color, experiment away!  I often choose Seedless Preserves to move the galaxy in more of a purplish colorway.
  4. Add Black Soot primarily as a frame for the center using direct to paper technique or a blending tool. This should be applied fairly intensely to create contrast with the center. Then use a spray bottle filled with water to create random water splotches. Mop up water splotches with a cloth or paper towel. Dry with heat tool or leave to dry on own. The dry view lets you see what you’ve really got and if you need ”more.”
  5. Add more Black Soot if needed and I did. I also added a light coat of Warm Breezes to develop the shade of teal I was looking for. Again more water spray and mopping up. As before dry your galaxy before moving on.
  6. The final step is to splatter with white paint or, as in my case, I splattered with both a White Gold and Yellow Gold shimmery paint to create the stars. You get to decide how starry and shimmery you want your galaxy to be!
Now we are ready to create the card base – and believe me this is easy and fun! Here are two templates that lay out the paper sizes, scoring, and trimming. Other than the notch trimming, all parts of these two templates are needed so don’t throw anything away!

I built my card base from black paper and the background from a panel of galaxy background paper I created as described above.

  1. Take 6″ (w) x 5″ (h) paper and score down the center (3″). Fold along score line and  trim a diagonal from outside corner to the opposite corner at the center fold. Resulting in 1 equilateral triangle and 2 separate triangle pieces. The equilateral triangle will be the ”stand” and the smaller triangles will become the “wings.”
  2. Take the 5 3/4″ (w) x 4 3/4″ (h) galaxy paper and trim down the center at 2 7/8″. Take the resulting rectangles and slice each diagonally but along opposite diagonals: that is cut from upper right to lower left on one rectangle and from upper left to lower right for the other rectangle. Note: if you are using double-sided paper you may want to make both diagonals cuts the same direction so that the wing panels will each display a different print.
  3. Mount the background pieces on the base. Make sure to place the triangle backgrounds on the stand/base so that galaxy background folds to the inside of the equilateral triangle. Note there is a very narrow matting edge for all pieces.
  4. On the stand/equilateral triangle, trim out notches that are parallel to the center fold: measure up the diagonal/cut edge 2″ from the bottom corner and then cut vertically from that point for about 3/4″ inch. I like to make the slot slightly larger to more easily accommodate the “wings.” I also fold the triangle and cut both notches at the same time ensuring notches are level with each other.
  5. Test out placement/overlap of the wings by temporarily clipping or taping wings together as shown. The wings must rest in the notches with the back equilateral triangle slightly folded inward creating a standing base. The wings will form a very narrow “w” at the bottom. Once happy with the alignment of the wings adhere them together.
  6. Now it’s time to decorate. I took the moon stamp and created two versions of a planet each with a slightly different color way and then die cutting a full size planet and a smaller sized one. I created the Capricorn constellation and adhered a sentiment panel to its outline. The planets and constellation were then mounted to the wings and base to create a mini outer space scene.
  7. Special note: this card requires a minimum of 6 x 6 envelope.

A2 Magazine-style Presentation Box/Tag

The final element of this challenge is the Magazine-style Presentation Box/Tag. Made using a clever design by “MayMay Made It”, this box is specifically designed for A2 cards. With a 3” width the box easily accommodates 10-12 cards plus envelopes.  Please see her YouTube video  for the details on the construction this box from just a single sheet of 12 x 12 paper. For decoration I used leftovers from the “Fabulous Birthday” card to create both a front and back panel. The coordinating tag similarly used leftovers and the Handmade Tag stamp/die set to provide just the right place to add a personal message.

Here’s a video review of this tie inspired Masculine Ensemble:

For the Grad:

Stamps: Altenew: Watercolor Dots, Pinstripe; Technique Tuesday: Graduation(ret.)
Dies: Altenew: Script Words
Paper: Neenah Crest Solar White 80lb.; Neenah Crest: Black; Coordinations: Black Sparkle; Hero Arts: 40lb vellum
Ink: Altenew: Permanent Black; Versafine Clair: Warn Breeze, Nocturne; Versamark
Accessories: White Embossing Powder; Gold Embossing Powder; Wink of Stella: Clear
Level 1 Class Techniques: Stacked Sentiments, Vellum backdrop to enhance readability, touch of gold sparkle to boost visual impact


Stamps: Altenew: Coffee Love, Watercolor Dots; Hero Arts: Thanks Stamp & Cut
Dies: Altenew: Coffee Love, Signature Words; Sizzix (662694): Stackled Deckle
Paper: Neenah Crest Solar White 80lb.; Neenah Crest: Black
Ink: Versafine Clair: Warm Breeze, Versafine: Onyx Black; Distress Oxide: Black Soot; Versamark Pen
Alcohol Markers: Altenew: B802 – Morning Mist, B635 – Emerald
Accessories: Picket Fence Studios: Life Changing Brushes; 1/4″ masking tape; Gold Embossing powder
Level 1 Class Techniques: 2 masking techniques: masking tape to add design element; masking to modify original image

Triangle Birthday Shaker:

Stamps: Altenew: Trigonometry
Dies: Altenew: Trigonometry
Paper: Neenah Crest Solar White 80lb.; Neenah Crest: Black; Holtz: Gold Metallic Kraft
Ink: Versafine: Onyx Black; Versafine Clair: Warm Breeze; Versamark Pen
Accessories: Misti; Gold Embossing Powder; Clear Embossing Powder; Gold micro beads
Level 1 Class Techniques: Interactive shaker feature

Happy Anniversary:

Stamps: Altenew: Watercolor Dots, Vintage Roses
Dies: Altenew: Script Words, Spellbinders/FJS: Greenhouse
Paper: Neenah Crest Solar White 80lb.; Neenah Crest: Black; Hero Arts: 40lb Vellum
Ink: Versamark, Versafine: Onyx Black; Versafine Clair: Warm Breeze; Altenew: Charcoal Suit
Accessories: Altenew Stencil: Sketched Lines; Scotch Glue Stick; Thermoweb: Gold Foil; Gold Embossing Powder
Level 1 Class Techniques: Customize Embossing Paste color with Ink; Adding texture with embossing paste; Stencil for background; distress/ombre look with glue stick and gold foil

Fabulous Birthday/Magazine-style Presentation Box/Tag:

Stamps: Altenew: Pinstripe, Handmade Tags; Hero Arts: Wonderful Stamp and Cut
Dies: Altenew: Building Blocks, Script Words 2
Paper: Neenah Crest Solar White 80lb.; Neenah Crest: Black; Scraps from previous card makes
Ink: Versafine Clair: Warm Breeze; Versafine: Onyx Black; Versamark
Accessories: Judikins: Diamond Glaze; White Embossing Powder
Level 1 Class Techniques: Stacked Sentiment; texture, color and gold metallic accents to create interest

Out of this World Dad:

Stamps: Altenew: To the Moon
Dies: Altenew: Capricorn, Zodiac; Hero Arts; Infinity Circles; Spellbinders: Unknown Alphabet(ret.)
Paper: Neenah Crest Solar White 80lb.; Neenah Crest: Black
Ink: Planets: Altenew: Mountain Mist, Volcano Lake; Versafine Clair: Warm Breeze or Versamark; Galaxy Background: Altenew: Fresh Lemon; Chamomile, Bamboo, Aqualicious, Pinkalicious; Distress: Faded Jeans, Peacock Feathers, Black Soot; Versafine Clair: Warm Breeze
Accessories: Gold Embossing Powder; Gansai Tambi: Starry Colors: Yellow Gold, White Gold; Holtz/Ranger Splatter Brush
Level 1 Class Techniques: Galaxy background technique


  1. Virginia L.

    All I can say is WOW,WOW, WOW… Deborah! Your Masculine cards are absolutely superb! Each one of them is so well thought-out and full of techniques and details. I love admiring all of them as every card was created with such precision and brilliance. Your detailed writ-e up is EXCELLENT! This is such an awesome comprehensive guide for making masculine card set! Your card base holder is ingenious! I love how you incorporated the card elements into this very practical and useful addition. Thanks so much for entering your beautiful work in Altenew AECP assignment Gallery. Please go ahead and start taking your Level 2 courses. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! BRAVO!

    • Deb Hurtig

      Thank you Virginia! Was’t sure how to start and the 2 week deadline really did freak me out ? but once I buckled down and found the inspiration it went more smoothly. I also got positive feedback from friends on Shaker Card that confirmed I was “on track” with the assignment – all good. Much appreciate your thoughtful feedback!

  2. Marilynne

    Great job Deb! Beautiful on the website, even more stunning in person. Love the shaker card. CONGRATULATIONS on obtaining level one certification!

    • Deb Hurtig

      Thank you my Friend! I so appreciate your help and support on this project! You listened to me drone on and still kept a smile!

  3. Erum Tasneem

    I am just blown away by this post itself! The details and the way you explained each project with such detail and love! It definitely shows how much hard work you have put into this, not just making the projects but writing everything down to the last bit.
    All your masculine cards are AMAZING! Love the addition of gold and a bit of sparkle here and there. You added just the right amount of everything! I like them all, they look very interesting on their own but the last one with the blocks is my favourite!
    The last shaped card looks SO COOL. Love the galaxy look mixed with green. Thank you for showing the process of creating the galaxy background, you explained it very well. I am sure this will be very helpful to your readers.
    Your last project is equally awesome.
    Thank you for this eye candy! I had such a fun time reading the post and drooling over the projects.
    I am so glad that you entered your beautiful work in Altenew AECP assignment Gallery. Thank you for sharing your creative process! Fabulous job!

    • Deb Hurtig

      Oh my, can you see me blushing? Thank you for noticing all the ‘bits and bobs’ as my UK friends would say ?. I guess we all say we love our children equally yet it’s the “Triangle Birthday Shaker” card that satisfies my formal side but the “Out of the World Dad” Card that feels very fresh, unique, original … maybe the photos of this card didn’t quite do it justice – something to work on! In any case, Thank You for spending time and providing valuable input!


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