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Dash of Inspiration: Custom Front Card Tips

October 22, 2012

A Dash of Inspiration, A Cup of Creativity by Doreen

Custom Front Card Tips

I’ve created hundreds of Custom Front cards for GCU and as ALL design software, GCU’s personalization software has it’s own little quirks that you can learn to work around.  So I thought I’d offer a few tips:

The Font choices are what they are:  Spend some time working with these choices to be able to create cards which have both a professional appearance, a style that fits the theme of your design and gives the look you are seeking.  As Corrie has mentioned many times, you need to be careful combining fonts on the same card, but it certainly is possible if you follow the basic rules (See the previous posts on this blog for more ‘font guidelines’).

Always keep the customer in mind:

  • Make sure you use names which are ‘longer than average’ to ensure that your text box will most likely fit 99 out of 100 names the customer adds.  For example one thaat I use is Madelaine Rosemary Montgomery
  • Always chose a Name Placeholder which has at least one ‘j’ or ‘y’ (for example) to define the descender line* therefore making sure the text box will fit all letters the customer enters.
  • Carefully align custom text, both the text box within the horizontal and vertical parameters of the card, but also choose the alignment within the text box. If you add text which should align right or left to look professional, then choose that alignment within the text box so that when customers add their text, it will auto-align and keep the design the way it’s intended.
  • When entering a year – you are much better off using a year far into the future than using the current year.  Once the current year passes, many customers don’t know they can make an old year current, therefore they may ignore your card and choose another. Secondly you don’t have to update your cards to bring them current.  I tend to use the year 2020.  This seems to immediately register to the customer that this is a customizable field and I don’t’ have to update them each year.

Fickle Text Boxes: Some design software allow you to overlap text boxes, GCU’s does not … so work within it, not against it.  Get to know the fonts, some tend to rise to the top of the text box, some to the bottom and some snuggle right in like Garamond Pro.  The amount of space in-between your text boxes is affected by how the font sits within the box, so choose wisely and work with it until you get the desired effect.

If you see that your text when in the Preview Mode has jumped spaces, it’s because you have not given the text enough room within your text box.  Increase the width and/or height of your text box slightly giving the text room to breathe and you’ll find it previewing correctly.

ALWAYS use the Preview Tool before the final save.  One reason is, it seems that another quirk of the tool is that if you do not preview before saving, your thumbnail in Manage Cards will often be blank. The other of course is to verify that the ‘final’ design will look right.

When all else fails:  Sometimes the look I’m after, or the customization I envision requires a ‘seamless’ appearance that just can’t be achieved by combining the text I add as part of my uploaded image and that which I want the customer to be able to change.  When this happens, I upload a version with no text on it and add all of the text using the custom tool.  This is a great alternative and makes for seamless blending.

About the Fonts offered in the Custom Front tool:

Common Fonts: A few of the fonts used in GCU’s tool are commonly added to the font package which comes with your computer, so check and if you have them.  If so, consider choosing them when creating a card front you wish to customize. If you don’t have them, you certainly can purchase them.

Adobe Garamond Pro: Listed as Garamond in most font packages

Gill Sans – Purchase here

Brush Script MT – Purchase here

Bottom line is professional designers pay for the tools of their trade just like any other business person, so if you want the fonts on your card fronts to match the those available in the tool, then purchase those you really like.

Grilled Cheese



Cookie Nookie



 *Descender Line:  The lowest line that a character’s descender extends to, like the bottom stem of the lowercase ‘j’ and ‘y.’ A line marking the lowest point of the descenders within a font.


This is an example of looking seamless by using the Brush Script font in lines which do not have baby’s name and using the custom tool to add the two lines of text which are customized.

This card was a blank upload so all text is done in using the custom tool.

This is an example of finding a font that I had which is so similar to Amazone that it blends well enough to fool the eye when not in a continuous line.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. SHIRLEY STARCK permalink
    October 22, 2012 11:59 am

    you are amazing! THANK YOU FOR THE LESSON! I need many as I am just a newbie to this world at GCU. It is a struggle thus far so thank you again.

    • October 22, 2012 3:11 pm

      You are very welcome Shirley and WELCOME to GCU! We are all here to help each other, so when you get stuck just tune into the forum and one of us can probably help push you along … LOL!

  2. Laura J. Holman permalink
    October 22, 2012 3:38 pm

    Doreen, thanks for these helpful tips! Just one concern …. when you use actual names for the customizable name holders, GCU seems to want the card placed in a category under the name used ( as the place holder ).

    • October 22, 2012 3:59 pm

      This really only happens in Birthday which has Name categories … it’s also something they are working on to correct in the future. Don’t worry about it, I have a lot of cards which are personalized in Birthday and therefore under only one letter in those categories, yet they sell … so don’t underestimate the customer’s ability to search and find the cards. Also, IF you are going to personalize a card, GCU requires you use a name vs “your name here”, so I just go with it and await the changes the future is sure to bring.

      Remember, this customization feature is just now about a year old, so how the cards are placed in categories is sure to improve with time 🙂

  3. Laurie Schneider permalink
    October 22, 2012 10:41 pm

    Hi Doreen, just wanted to thank you for the font info. I am always playing with the fonts GCU offers to get mind to match as close as possible. I bought amazone, my favorite! No more problems for me! 🙂 Your tips are always so helpful!! Take care, Laurie

    • October 22, 2012 10:51 pm

      Thank you for stopping by Laurie, glad to have been of help! Amazone is my favorite too 🙂 Happy creating!


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