Masculine Cards For All Occasions – AECP Level 2 Assessment Part 1

Hey Crafty People!

I’ve been posting over the past few weeks about completing the classes needed for Level 2 of the AECP, and I have now completed all the classes required to take my Level 2 Assessment. This time there are two separate tasks to complete, so I have chosen to split it up into two posts & videos.

I was given four sentiments/occasions that my cards needed to be for, so I’m going to split my post up into each card and tell you a little about the techniques used for each one.



Encouragement & Support

Techniques used:

  • Heat Embossing
  • Custom Background
  • Creative Watercolour
  • Custom Sentiment (New Technique)
  • Masculine Design
  • Specific Colour Scheme (Polychromatic, In The Mood For Color, Color Your Day.)
  • Let It Shine – Metallic
  • Beautiful Details

I embossed my background stamp using Versamark ink and fine detail Silver embossing powder; I already knew what colours I wanted to use in this card, so I chose an embossing powder which would match, and offer a metallic shine.

I chose to use Altenew Crisp Dye inks as my watercolour medium and in the video above I show you several ways of achieving the ink smooshing technique when using these mini ink pads!.

1st Option: I applied ink straight from the cubes onto my Glass Mat then spritzed water onto the ink before picking up some of the colour on a spare piece of plastic packaging, then turning it over onto the embossed paper.

Option 2: I also pressed the ink pads directly onto the packaging, spritzing them and the paper itself, before turning the packaging over and pressing the packaging against the wet paper. Wetting the paper allows the ink/paint to move more freely which I felt was needed due to the detailed nature of the embossing.

Option 3: I pressed the ink pad onto my glass mat and a spritz of water, separate from the ink, then I took some of the water onto my paint brush and went right into the ink before dropping this more concentrated colour wherever I felt it was needed. The paper does need to be wet in order for the ink to spread out naturally.

TIP: When I refer to the watercolour paper as being wet, this means a thin layer of water across the entirety of the surface you want the paint to touch. There shouldn’t be puddles of water visible but more of an even gloss across the entire surface when the light catches it.

Option 4: Using small amounts of water on your brush pick up more pigment from your mat/palette and gently tap your brush against your hand, or another brush for example, whilst directly above your paper. This will flick small dots of colour onto your painting. This can have rather different results, dependant upon how wet the paper is; a wet paper, such as described above, will allow the paint droplets to softly spread a little whereas they will remain more distinct on dry paper. Both results can be equally as gorgeous, so it just depends on the sort of look that you are hoping to achieve.

These aren’t the only ways to create a watercolour emboss resist background, but they are some good, solid starter techniques that will allow you to get the feel for the medium and how it behaves!


I knew that I wanted my sentiment to be on Vellum so as to allow as much of that beautiful background through as possible, but I also wanted my sentiment to match the colours that I had flowing through the piece.

Usually dye ink doesn’t mix well with Vellum; it’s a non porous surface so the dye has no where to absorb into. So you are either left with an ink that remains easily smudge-able forever, or it does dry but you have no control over how the ink will settle and you would be unlikely to get a decent impression.

Dye inks do not usually work with embossing powders because the ink soaks in and becomes dry almost instantly, so there is nothing for the embossing powder to clutch onto; but as I said above the ink might not dry on Vellum, so it could be worth a try to see if I could get the powder on quickly enough, before the ink was dry.

I did a couple of test runs before I tried this with my sentiment and I was happy to see that it was working!

What I love about this is that because of the non porous surface, as you lift the stamp up it ‘pulls’ the ink a little to one side which creates the look of a darker shadow as though the sentiment was double stamped or offset stamped. AWESOME!

I chose a clear glittered embossing powder and I honestly can’t wait to use this technique again! Embossing is just so MAGICAL.

I trimmed the watercolour panel down and matted it with a black mirror cardstock, and I also embossed the second part of my sentiment onto this same cardstock using the same Silver embossing powder as before.

I always love to do those extra little things that complete the finished design of a card, I just find those extra little things are what can really unify the different elements. Sometimes this is achieved with the strategically placed sequin, or some metallic thread, maybe a hand drawn doodle or a thin die cut frame. For this design I decided that a few carefully placed black Nuvo Drops were just what this needed.

TIP! When adding these small embellishments there aren’t any hard rules as to where to place them, however there are a few ‘guidelines’ that can help if you aren’t too sure where to place them;

  • Odd numbers – As a generality, a design is more visually pleasing when it is made up of odd numbers of items, so 9.5/10 I will add three groupings of embellishments.
  • Building from that, Triangular patterns are also visually more appealing, so I always try to ensure that anything that I place on my cards follow that each singular element is part of a triangle of elements. These can over lap, but those triangles are always within my brain when I am deciding upon layouts.
  • Anchor your embellishments – I like to keep my little embellishments close to an integral part of the design, rather than floating off into the clear areas.
  • Always remember there are NO RULES – If you want to go against these things then do! I do decide sometimes that I like a different layout and forgo these tips! They are only there as a rough guide to help you kickstart your own ideas & then you will come up with your own list of what you like in your designs. That’s exactly what I want to do; give you the confidence to trust your own creative instincts and make what makes you happy.

Anniversary Card

Techniques Used:

  • Ink Blending
  • Masculine Design
  • Using Touches of Shine
  • Die Cutting (Advanced)
  • Custom Background
  • Consistent Colour Scheme
  • With A Twist (Inlaid die cut)
  • Heat Embossing

For this card I started with the ink blending, I have covered the basics of ink blending within other tutorials (*see here) but this is a slightly more advanced blend due to it being an ombre effect made up of all four colours from the Tranquility family. These inks are made to go together which helps massively when you are trying to do something like this because it takes the guessing game out of choosing the right colours to blend. That’s one of the reasons why I love that Altenew inks come in a 4 pack of a colour family ranging from very light to dark. (*This isn’t just perfect for blending, it also helps massively when using layering stamp sets.)

When blending I like to start from the lightest colour and blend that a little further down that where I actually want it to go to, so that there is a decent area of crossover between each of the touching colours. Once I’ve added the lightest and moved on to the next colour I go back to the lightest again just to soften that edge. I find this gives me the best and smoothest transition.

I do point out in the video, but I think it’s really important to note that because these are dye inks they dry very quickly; however the inner fibres of the paper still take a few minutes to fully dry and the ink will look a little ‘splotchy’ until they do. So if you keep blending until you get a perfectly smooth colour then you will be blending forever! Just give it a few minutes to settle and it will be a much more even blend. (You can really see the difference in my video!)

The main technique I used for this card is called Die Cut Inlay – this basically means that you use the same die(s) on two, or more, pieces of cardstock, then you take some of the pieces from panel A and paper piece them into panel B. That way you end up with a smooth background rather than having the die cut pieces sitting proud of the background panel.

This technique is fantastic and you can use it in so many ways!! I’ve just chosen two examples to showcase it today, but I have loads more elsewhere on my historical posts! I really love the look you get from this! Both the examples I chose today are pretty intricate and involved ones, but you can also use it in much simpler ways too! (*see here)

I added a sheet of double sided adhesive onto the back of my ink blended panel so that all of my little pieces would already have adhesive on, but I must be honest I don’t really like this particular brand because it is a little too thick so it makes it difficult to get all of the pieces out.

When you do this type of technique on a full background like this it really does become the show-stopping focal point of your design, so it only needs simple accents to complete the design.

I embossed my sentiment onto the same black mirror cardstock I used in the background, and just trimmed this down into a square panel I could pop up on some foam tape. I like the angular look of the square sentiment on top of the Geometric background, but the smooth ink blending softens the design to balance it all out.

I completed this design with some black sequins. (Notice how I didn’t include three specific groupings, but I did use three sequins in each of the two groupings. This was one of the occasions whereby I liked the look of having the two groups balance eachother out.)


Happy Birthday Card

Techniques Used:

  • Die Cutting
  • Masculine Design
  • Consistent Colour Scheme
  • Using Touches of Shine
  • Custom Background
  • Ink Blending

I wanted to show a different way you can do the die cut inlay technique for a background, whilst also using the other part of my ink blended and black mirror cardstock panels. This is a fantastic way to use up the entire panel and leave no waste; which is always a bonus!!

This time it was the outer/line portions which had sticky on so I stuck that down first and I used liquid glue on each of the small die cut pieces.

TIP! Whenever I am doing an inlay technique like this I stick all of the pieces onto some thin copy/printer paper; this makes it easy for me to arrange the pieces where they need to go and it has the bonus of being so thin that it doesn’t add any bulk to my design. (*But because it is all securely attached I can then pop this whole panel up on foam tape if I want to.)

I wanted to mix the background up a little bit this time and add my own pattern within the panel, so I also die cut a white panel with the same die and added a mixture of black mirror cardstock and Neenah 80lb little die cut pieces.

TIP! Don’t be like me; I needed to replace my die cutting plates but I didn’t want to have the whole background panel cut into a brand new plate so I tried to do all three cuts using my old plate. It didn’t work too well so I had trouble getting some of the tiny pieces out, and I had to grab a craft knife to help ease them in several places. That was totally my fault, not the die!

I added a simple sentiment from the Mega Label Love set, stamped in the second darkest ink from the Tranquillity collection so that it fit into the colour scheme perfectly.


Thinking Of You Card

Techniques Used:

  • Die Cutting
  • Stamp Layering
  • Masculine Design
  • Clean & Simple
  • Consistent Colour Scheme
  • Tiny Touches Of Shine – Metallic
  • With A Twist
  • Building Around A Focal Point

For my final card I decided to use the leftover die cut panel I used for the white inlay pieces in my last card; this again minimises waste massively! Some of the little pieces were still attached to the panel because of my die cutting mishap, but I really like the look this gives! I just attached this panel straight onto a 110lb Neenah card base for a tone on tone more subtle design.

I really like the texture that a white tone on tone background gives; it is a much less in your face background than the other two I have made using the background die. I wanted to show several different ways of using this die because I think it is important to stretch the use of the products you purchase!

I chose a stamp layering set that is a more masculine leaning design and that would showcase all of the colour in the Tranquillity collection and could serve as a focal point on my design.

This is also a really good layering set to start with if you are feeling a little intimidated by the intricately detailed floral layering stamps for example.

TIP! Use the layering guides that Altenew provide with all of their sets, because they show exactly which points of the stamp should be lined up with the different layers.

Just take a moment to check that you are adding the correct layer and that you are placing it the right way up. Line each subsequent stamp up on the area you’ve already stamped. You can use an acrylic block if you feel comfortable to, but I really do need to use my MISTI to get a good result with layering stamps due to my hands.

I did actually stamp the last layer slightly off because my paper wasn’t pushed all the way into the corner, but that’s really ok! I just slid the paper back over and re stamped without adding any more ink, this just put enough ink down to soften that bright white coming through. You wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with how it is stamped on my finished card; it is honestly ok for things to not be perfect, these are handmade cards!

TIP! Allow time for the dye ink to fully dry within the paper fibres by leaving 2-3 minutes after stamping before you add the next layer on top. This will ensure you get a really crisp image without the ink bleeding a little as two inks meet within the paper fibres.

I stamped a simple sentiment onto the layered Stone Mosaic piece, but I decided to turn the image to add some further interest and also to allow this to mirror the Geometric pattern within the tone on tone background. This actually further pushes back that pattern making it feel much more CAS. (*Thank you to the incredible Colleen over at Irish Rose Creations for the inspiration to offset this focal point!)

I added some little silver accents that add a little metallic that further draws your eyes into the focal point and the sentiment at the heart of the whole design.

Those Extra Details

As I’ve said before I just love to add those extra little bits of detail to my cards which can take your designs to a whole other level! I decided to create coordinated envelopes for each of my cards; I cut each one using my Sillhouette Cameo 4 from 12×12 white cardstock so that I could add my own touches!

Techniques Used:

  • Ink Blending
  • Stencil Techniques
  • Consistent Colour Scheme
  • Beautiful Details
  • Simple Masking

I wanted to add a bonus onto my lesson by using the same stencil and inks to create four different looks on my envelopes! There is even a bonus to the bonus! I also show you some seriously easy ways to mask using some low tack Heffy Doodle Memo Tape!

Envelope 1: I masked out the still flat envelope by adding memo tape along the crease lines then I blended some of the lightest shade ink over the stencil in the bottom left corner, allowing the colour naturally fade away towards the centre of the envelope. Then I used some of the second lightest shade to deepen the colour just at the very bottom corner. This is a simple way to add some depth and interest, along with really wowing your recipient by taking just a few extra seconds.

Second envelope: I started with the same steps up to allowing the lightest colour to fade away naturally, but then before adding my darker shade I turned the stencil around 30° then blended the darker shade over. This adds a more complex looking pattern which again took barely a minute to create!

Third Envelope: I masked out along the crease lines again but this time I started at the bottom of the envelope and added some ink along the entire bottom of the envelope, with no stencil. I also upped the intensity by starting with the second lightest colour. Once I was happy with the blend I put the stencil over the top and blended some of the third colour from the ink set. This way the stencilled pattern doesn’t come through as white and it just gives a different look.

Fourth Envelope: I went full on with this one! I added masking to the edges as I did with the others, but this time I also added a torn piece of memo tape into the centre; this would serve as a panel to add your recipient’s details to. Then I added a mixture of shades two & three across the whole of the envelope front. I left it at a quite soft blend though and once I was happy with that I added the stencil over the whole front panel and blended a mix of shades 3 & 4 across the whole panel.

The best part about masking is that magic moment when you get to peel the mask away to reveal that gorgeous bright white underneath!! (*Just allow a little time for the ink to dry before removing the mask to reduce the risk of tearing the paper.) I used some thin double sided tape to secure the envelope and paired each one with one of my cards!


This is part one of my Level 2 Assessment and part two will be up tomorrow & involves lots of mixed media, a venture into acrylic paints (!) and a set of desktop drawers that mean so very much to me.


Thank you for visiting my blog today. If you’d like to see more of my artwork & how to’s and/or hear my thoughts on living with a chronic illness then please consider subscribing. T.


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5 thoughts on “Masculine Cards For All Occasions – AECP Level 2 Assessment Part 1

  1. Tasha! What a marvelous job! You have explained all the steps so well and dang it girl, those pieces must have taken you ages to put back in!! I love the colours you chose and the cohesiveness amongst the cards. Thank you for entering your work to the AECP assignment gallery.

    Liked by 1 person

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