Making Your Own ACEO Cards

Making Your Own ACEO Cards

I’ve been asked often where i buy the blank cards to make my ACEOs and i always tell them that i make them myself. There are benefits to making your own rather than buying them already made. The most important is the cost, its much cheaper to make your own than to buy them made. I’m not saying that its gonna cost an ‘eye’ to buy them already made, but you do save a couple of dollars. Its not hard to make them, just tedious, but one sheet of paper can make you quite a few cards to work with. You can choose to sit down and go at it and get that out of the way so you can concentrate on drawing/painting on them.

If you don’t know what an ACEO is, here is the accepted definition. ACEO stands for “Art Cards, Editions and Originals”. These cards have one main rule – they are 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches – the size of a trading card. Why make ACEOs? Well the main reason i started making them was to promote my artwork. I was having a hard time selling my larger original art pieces, people we’re complimenting them but no sales. Well i came upon ACEOs while searching the web and i saw how popular these little cards were. They are not only sold, but they are also traded,just like baseball and hockey cards. They are fun to make and because of their size don’t take too long to make. I started making a couple and began selling them on eBay and noticed that they were selling fairly well. Don’t expect to make millions selling them, but they can be priceless in promoting your artwork. My main goal with these cards was to get exposure and get my work out there. The reason why ACEO are great for this, is because they are affordable. Think about it, you’re giving buyers the opportunity to buy an original piece at a price that is affordable. That’s how is saw it and that is why they are so popular. If you’re a buyer, i can understand the hesitation of buying from an unknown artist. ACEOs take away some of that fear. Don’t expect that all ACEO you make will sell. What sells depends on what you create and if its unique. People buy art that is different, that stands out from the rest. Keep that in mind. There are ACEO makers out there that stick to one theme and do very well. If you want to see what im talking about, go to ebay and search for ACEO. You will see how popular they are and the variety of that is available . Ok ill tell you now how i make my cards. I will make another post on how you can use ACEO to promote your artwork.

Before you make them, you gotta first choose the type of paper that you’d like to use. If you’re going to paint use a paper that is made for painting. For example, if you want to make watercolor paintings, choose watercolor paper, either cold pressed or hot pressed. The same goes to the other mediums. I use pencil so the paper that i use is bristol vellum. There are people out there that don’t like using this paper because it has a slight tooth to it. If you’re one of those you can go for Bristol Smooth. Paper choice depends on personal preference so the best advice i can give you when choosing paper is to try different ones until you find one that you’re comfortable with. You will have projects where the paper that you use will not work. I like working with bristol vellum, its got a slight texture which i love when i draw animals, especially for the hair. But when i work on a portrait of a person, i choose a smoother paper. I could use the vellum paper, but the skin tones would not be as smooth as if i were to have used the smoother paper. it’s not a rule, because your style of drawing might work with a paper that others think is not right to use. Buyers might see that unique look and will buy. Drawing is all about having fun and experimenting, you will not only grow as an artist but you will enjoy the whole process of creating art.


Once you have chosen your paper you will now look for a template to trace. Find a card that measures 2.5″x3.5″. The easiest thing to do would be to find a baseball card or hockey card. I have used the same card to make my ACEOs for the past 5 years. Its a Marylin Monroe card that i got when i was like 14 years old. I used to collect comic book cards and i still have them stacked somewhere. I once bought a pack of baseball card and that Marylin Monroe card was included. I remember thinking that it was going to be worth millions one day, ah how i miss my innocence. Well enough with my childhood, now that you have your card you now trace it on the art paper that you chose. The number of cards that you get will depend on the size of the paper. I user a pad of 14″x17″ Bristol Vellum and i make around 20 cards from that single sheet. One quick note on paper that i did not mention. If you enjoy a bright paper i suggest you go for Canson Bristol Smooth or Canson Briston Vellum. Strathmore papers have a slight cream color, you will only notice it if you compare it side to side to a paper that is whiter. Ok, lets continue.

Once you have outlined the cards, all you have to do now is cut them out. I suggest using a sharp blade. I tried using an xacto knife but i noticed that they get dull pretty fast. I now use box blades that i buy at a dollar store. You can get 5 different kinds for a dollar. They work great for this and will last you a long time. Make sure you use a metal ruler as well because when cutting. If you use a plastic or wooden ruler you will have some unfortunate accidents. The problem with wooden and plastic rulers is that when you are running the blade along the ruler, the blade might cut into the ruler and climb over the ruler. Using a metal rulers removes this because the blade can’t cut through metal. Like i mentioned, this is tedious but i think its worth it once you have made them. These are also great for sketching. I use these cards to practice drawing textures and testing new techniques. Hopefully these cards will help you