I’ve been working on some projects lately for an upcoming baby shower for my daughter (yee haw! I’m gonna be a grandma!). Since the shower and even the trip to see us is a surprise, and they aren’t sharing the baby’s gender, our theme is “What will it bee?” with lots of cute bee decorations. I’ll be showing you quite a few of those. Today, I want to show you how I created a design for our cupcake display. I’ll show you how I took a simple, flat design and turned it into one with several pieces of cardstock I stacked for added dimension.
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Step 1: Pick your design
To create this stacked design, you need to have a specific kind of design to start with. You’re looking for a design that–
- is all in a single level (no pieces you glue on top of one another)
- is a single piece (no floating pieces in the middle)
- has a border piece all the way around the outside
- has inner pieces that are large enough
Think of something like an overlay. Here are some examples:
If you have a design that’s all one level but doesn’t have a border, you can add one by just drawing a square or rectangle or other shape around the outer edge. That’s how I made the butterfly design — I put several single piece butterflies on the drawing area, made a oval around them, and combined it all into a single compound path. I also did that with this flower that has several pieces that don’t overlap:
It would also work with this tree design:
Remember: you can’t have any pieces that would glue onto one another — we’re working in a single level.
As always, I recommend working with filled shapes.
You could also create your own design using the drawing tools. In Designer Edition Plus and up, there are extra drawing tools to make a variety of shapes. They are called Flexishapes, because you can determine different properties such as number of sides, amount of angle, depth of curve, etc.
Notice there’s a shape at the end of the second row that looks like a pentagon. On that one, I can determine the number of sides. Since a honeycomb is a combination of hexagons, I created my own design by making one hexagon, copying it multiple times, separating them slightly and aligning them. Then I added a square around the outside. It’s also how I made the heart overlay above.
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Step 2: Make several copies
We’re going to create depth by gluing several pieces on top of one another so they’re stacked. To start, we need our original plus a few more copies of the same design. I’m using 4 levels, so I have my original and 3 copies. Make as many copies as you like. Just keep in mind that the smaller your project is, the fewer levels are recommended.
HINT: To make quick copies, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD+any arrow key on your computer keyboard.
Step 3: Release the compound path/ungroup
Normally, we want to always work with compound paths when possible, or grouped shapes at least. But this time, we need to isolate just the outer border of the design. That means we need to separate it from the rest of the design, but only on the copies. Leave your original as is (my yellow one at the upper left). If by any chance it’s NOT grouped or in a compound path, do that on the original before you continue.
As you work, try to not move that outer piece. If you like, you can set it’s fill to clear (none). That makes it harder to grab by accident. And don’t forget the Undo button.
Step 4: Make internal offsets
Start with your second set (so the first copy — my light orange one on the upper right above). Select all your internal pieces at once, making sure you don’t move them. Create an internal offset, making note of the size you use. After it’s made, while all of it is still selected, group those pieces and fill them with a different color (I used blue here).
Delete your originals from that set only. Then make the offset pieces you created into a compound path with the outer edge piece. What you’ll wind up with is something that looks like your original design, but where the internal pieces are smaller.
If I put it behind the original piece, you can see how they will look when aligned and glued together. The outer edges (the square) are the same, but the inner pieces are smaller on the back piece.
Now we’re going to repeat that with another of the copies. But this time, make your internal offset twice as much in distance as you did on the first one. Repeat that with all levels, making the distance greater each time but by the same amount. For example, on my first copy, my internal offset was .06. The others were .12 and .18.
Step 5: Cut and Assemble the stacked design
Cut all your pieces. I like to use darker colors as I go down in the order. That helps create even more depth.
Start with the one that has the smallest internal pieces (so the last one you created). On top of that, stack the one that you created next to last. Continue on through all your layers. Here are my pieces individually and then glued and stacked. (I changed my mind and made the outer edge the honeycomb shape by doing an external offset, and I added a row on the left to make them more symmetrical, but the principles stayed the same).
Since I’m using this on the cupcake stand and wanted guests to be able to view it from both sides, I cut 2 of all the pieces. If you’re using a textured or patterned paper, or if your design is not symmetrical, be sure to mirror the images for the second set. I put a layer of foam pop dots between the 2 middle pieces in the stack, which also allows for room for the dowel rod I used. You could use foam core board instead. Put your foam pieces between some or all of the layers. (See this post for an AMAZING way to cut foam core board cleanly.) You’ll be able to see it from the side, so plan accordingly. (Just ignore all the glue mess on mine, too).
This is great for a shadow box in a frame. If you don’t want to add the spacing with foam dots or foam core board, you only need one middle piece. I also used a 3d banner for even more dimension.
Bonus stacked projects
Don’t throw away the internal pieces you remove. You can stack those up for another project. I played with adding foam dots between none, all and some of the layers for different effects here when I stacked them.
TINA JOHNSON says
Love this. I’ve been seeing such pretty stacked designs lately. Now I’m going to need to try it. And my daughter loves bees, so I’m going to use these tips for something with bees for her.
Cindy Eckhoff says
Awesome! Obviously the shower is on hold for now, but hopefully we’ll bee able to do it somehow even if it’s virtual.