Me Time with ATCs

Just lately life seems to be just work, work and still more work. I’m sure you know the feeling.

I really felt I was getting stale so I decided to block out an afternoon of  ‘me’ time and get reconnected with my ‘touchy feely’ self.

I decided to make some Artist Trading Cards, which I haven’t done for a very long time.

I love ATCs because they’re a like miniature scrapbook layouts but with their own unique challenges. For example, the tiny canvas size you have to work with means that you need to be very careful in how you design your card to maintain a balance of color and element ‘weight’.

But having said that, ATCs don’t usually take very long to make so it’s a sort of instant gratification thing. Perfect to lift those jaded spirits.

I make both paper based ATCs as well as digital ones. Although my preference is for paper based ones because each one is totally unique.

One of the cool things with ATCs is that you can make a series of them; each different but with a common thread or theme. I had a fit of the patriotics so I made this Australia Series.

Click on the thumbnails to see the full size ATC.


These were made using Hybrid Scrapbooking techniques. I scanned Scrabble tiles to make the title and used a photo I have taken of Sydney Harbour bridge and a Map of Australia downloaded from the Internet. Then I just assembled each card together with some ‘real world’ embellishments from Hot off the Press.

I love making hybrid ATCs because you’re never lost for the right embellishment. That’s one of the beauties of the digital world.


But I wanted to do a paper scrapped ATC as well. I find ATCs are a fantastic way of using up tiny scraps of scrapbooking leftovers. I know that the theory is that you can use them up by making greeting cards. But somehow my cards never seem to include much in the way of leftovers.

Anyway with this Lilac Heart ATC I used some gorgeous Japanese paper borders that I had. And I cut out the background from some of the silver trellis so that it could extend across the background card. I really liked how that turned out.

Then in a fit of scissor inspiration I cut out some of the tiny flowers from the paper to use as stand alone embellishments with my scrapbook flowers, added the lilac heart to be a visual title and voila.

I usually make my ‘real world’ ATCs using the paint chip swatches you get from paint shops. That way I get a range of colors and they’re easy to trim to size. I generally stick two back to back for added weight.

Remember if you’re going to have a go at this, the accepted size for an ATC is 2.5 in x 3.5 in or the size of a normal playing card. You can design it in landscape or portrait mode.

glowWell naturally after making some paper based and some hybrid based ATCs I had to do at least one in digital format.

I find digital ATCs are a great format to experiment with different techniques. That’s what makes them so much fun for me.

I had a great time playing around with different filters and styles for this Glow ATC.

And don’t forget of course the other really cool thing about ATCs is that you can swap them with other ATCs around the world; building up a great collection of different styles from different people. As well as having some super mementos from fellow traders.

If you’re going to give this a try yourself, don’t forget to stick a sheet on the back (or write directly onto the back of the ATC) with all the details of the card. Generally this includes:

  • Name of the ATC
  • Name of the Series if it is part of a series and which number in the series it is.
  • Date it was created
  • Your name
  • And it’s also a nice touch if you sign the back as well. After all it’s your piece of art, so you should sign it.

And then you can start swapping and trading around the world. I keep my ATCs in a Flickr Gallery and use that as my base to trade from. But you can also join a number of trading groups on various sites and also at Flickr.

Let me know if you decide to give this a go. I’d love to see your ATCs. And maybe we can do a trade.

Remember ATCs can be created in any medium. It’s the size that’s imporant (hmmm…where have I heard that before?) So you don’t have to be a scrapbooker to join in. And given the number of different crafts that Scraps of Mind readers play with, that should produce some fantastic ATCs.

And if you already make ATCs feel free to leave a link to your gallery in the comments section below.

Other Related Articles:

Artist Trading Cards

Trading ATCs

3 Different Techniques for making Artist Trading Cards


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