This mini tutorial is for ATC newbies. This is just a guideline to work with until you are comfortable doing them. There are really no rules for them except they be 2x5x3.5 inches in size, fit into a plastic sleeve (like baseball card sleeves - I get mine at the local comic book store), and that they be traded and not sold.
There are many ATC books out there. I recommend 2 books:
Bernie Berlin's book: http://www.amazon.com/Artist-Trading-Cards-Workshop-Collect/dp/1581808488/ref=sr_1_1/104-8295595-3596700?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1178404482&sr=8-1
Somerset's ATC book: http://stampington.com/html/artist_trading_cards.html
Here we go:
1 focal point or focal image
2 different backgrounds
3 embellishments maximum - counts as one if you use multiples of one thing
Remember that sometimes less is better than more.
You can click on the picts to get a larger view. Looking at the first pict, the backing for your ATC should be something sturdy like cardstock, matboard, or a piece of game board. Normally, you put your name and email on the back of each ATC.
The second picts shows my paper towel background, a piece of text paper (painted with Golden's nickel azo gold fluid acrylic), and the painted perforated paper. The text here counts as an embellishment, not as a background. I went with a similar color palette here. You don't have to do that. A lot of people like to use contrasting colors.
I decided that I did not like the vertical orientation. That is the most common. There is nothing said that you cannot use the horizontal orientation. It depends on how I like the positioning of my elements. In the 3rd pict, I just chose any collage image that was laying around. I thought that she was very cute and a nice contrast to my background. I like my focal points to contrast with my backgrounds. Email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want internet resources for collage images.
So, after I did my background, I glued on my focal point and worked around her. I put up that little sign - Curious Specimen - in the upper left corner so that it would give your eye somewhere to start and to move down to the little girl. The right side was a little bare so I added some metallic eyelets with my trusty crop-a-dile. If you know me, then you know that most everything I do has something metal in it. I put little white dots around the little girl to bring her out more. The white dots were made with a Sharpie fine point poster paint pen.
So, I have one focal point - little girl, two different backgrounds - painted paper towel and painted dotty paper (perforated paper), and 3 embellishments - painted text, sign, and eyelets.
Done, done, and done. Comments welcome.