Thrifty Thursday | Circus

I have news! I am joining Stamper’s Delights for a three month guest design post. I will be creating projects each month for the Thrifty Thursday Deal as well as the Kawaii New Release. This first project is for Thrifty Thursday, and this month it’s all about the circus. I’m featuring the Ring Mistress from Circus Bundle 1, which is 30% off. Also included in the deal is Circus Bundle 2, Circus Pony Bundle, and Elephant Bundle. You can see inspiration for those from the rest of the team, so be sure to visit the Thrifty Thursday Deals blog post for that. And if that’s not enough of a deal for you, there’s also a code to save 40% store-wide a little further down this post.

I decided I would create a scene with the image, and of course that meant a circus scene. The more I thought about it the more I decided I wanted to create a circus tent and have my image on the inside. I spent a little time looking on Pinterest for ideas, and then got started on making.

I started with a panel of white card measuring 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″. Normally I would score this in the centre to create an A2 sized card, but for my circus tent I wanted to make a gatefold. I created this by scoring in 2 1/8″ from each edge, so the finished card was still A2 sized, but with two flaps meeting in the middle.

Next I took a ruler and lightly drew a line across the card base 3 1/2″ from the bottom of the card. This line divided the sides of the circus tent from the top. I then marked the centre top of my card base and cut away a triangle on either side. I didn’t cut right to that centre mark as I didn’t want my tent to have a sharp tip at the top.

I used my pencil and ruler again to lightly plan out the spacing for the stripes on the circus tent. In order for my stripes to help give the look of dimension, and the impression that the tent is rounded, I made the edge most stripes narrower and the central stripes wider. This is because the centre stripe would be closest and the edge most stripes would be further away. Once I had them planned out I used some tape to mask off the areas I wanted to keep white. I then took some Ruby Red Altenew ink and an ink blending tool, and heavily applied it to the stripes that I wanted to be red.

When I removed the masks from my white stripes I wasn’t entirely happy with how the divide between the walls of the tent and the roof looked. After some contemplation I decided to add a strip along for some extra interest and to help that divide. I realised the Love From Lizi Sway Peel Off’s would be perfect for this but I didn’t have a suitable colour so instead I dug out some scissors that cut a similar design, and used them to create a narrow border. I liked how it looked so much that I also added it along the top and bottom of the card base. I then set the card base aside.

As I’m working with a digi stamp I created my scene on a panel rather than directly on the inside of my card. I use Word for sizing, arranging and printing my digi stamps. I made sure that I had enough empty space around the Ring Mistress to be able to fit her in the card base, and also made sure she wasn’t too tall. Actually if I were to do this again I would perhaps have made her a little bit taller. I printed the image out onto alcohol marker friendly paper, and also printed again onto regular printer paper. I fussy cut the printer paper version and used Tombow Mono Multi Liquid Glue to turn it into a mask, which I then positioned into place before continuing.

As I had with the front of the card I started by planning out the areas of my design with a pencil. I used a curved border die as a ruler of sorts to help me get the edges for the wall of the circus ring. I then sketched where I wanted the stripes of the circus tent. On the front of the tent we had the centre stripe be widest as it was closest. Now that we’re looking at the inside of the tent, the central stripe is the one that’s furthest away, so this time it is the narrowest strip, with the edge most stripes being wider. I again masked off the areas I wanted to keep white, and ink blended with the Ruby Red ink.

For the rest of my cards I used my Spectrum Noir Illustrator markers to do the colouring. I started with the ring wall, using a variety of red browns to sketch it in and add some simple shading. for the ground of the circus tent, which I wanted to resemble sawdust, I used tans and a stippling technique to create texture.

Then I worked on colouring the star of the show – the Ring Mistress! I started by putting a little bit of yellow on all the places that I thought the light would hit, then worked on colouring her as if she is lit from above. I gave her a darker skin tone and brown hair, and coloured her with a red, white and blue outfit with just a touch of yellow.

I used a small oval die to help me sketch out the spotlight area around my character, then moved on to the scary part! After putting the time and effort into creating the scene it’s a bit intimidating to add the dark colour necessary for making the background. I really wanted to create the spotlight though, and that’s the way to do it. I started by filling in the entire area around the spotlight with my lightest grey. I then repeated the process with a slightly darker shade, and kept going building up layers of colour until I reached my darkest shade of grey. With each layer I moved a little further away from the central light area so that the darkest colour didn’t come all the way up to the light beam. Likewise the area on the ground behind the spotlight circle did not get darkened as much as the rest of the background. My grey markers (actually most of my markers!) are running a little dry so I did struggle with the coverage, but I actually think the slightly streakiness that resulted adds to the scene.

I further enhanced the look of the spotlight by using my lightest yellow to add some beams of light coming down it, and I also used my lightest grey to add just a little cast shadows coming down that light point as well. Finally I used some more grey to add a little cast shadow directly below her feet.

I wasn’t finished colouring yet though! Alcohol markers are my favourite colouring medium, but coloured pencils can be a great way to add more detail to a design. I rummaged through all the pencils I own (which is a fair amount, and includes some that I don’t even know the brand of) and just used various colours to add more detail to her hair and more shading to various other areas of her outfit. I also used some white and yellow to enhance some of the highlight areas. Plus I used a white gel pen to add highlights to the sawdust. I did this very lightly as I didn’t want it too intense, so I would put a few dots of the gel pen down then press it with my finger to mute it back a bit.

All that was left to do was add a sentiment. I chose a Handwritten Happy Birthday die for the inside of the card and a retired Hooray die for the outside. I cut each from black card stock and added some sparkle to them with the Nuvo Aqua Shimmer pen. I adhered the Happy Birthday onto the inside of the card with the Nuvo Smooth Precision Glue Pen. I used the same pen to adhere half of the Hooray word onto the front of the card. My idea was to use the die cut as a way to hold the card closed, so once the one side was adhered down I added some repositionable adhesive so that the other side would stick down to the card base but be able to be lifted for opening that card.

Phew, that was a long post! I hope you enjoyed it though and found it to be a useful tutorial. I actually thought part way through creating this card that maybe I should have created a video showing how to do it. Would you be interested in a video? I definitely learned a few things along the way of creating this card. For example, if I were to do this again I would rethink how I did the hooray on the front of the card. It’s a little too delicate for being used the way I did it, at least if it’s going to be opened much.

Anyway, please do leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Don’t forget to hop over to the Thrifty Thursday Deals blog post for full information, as well as inspiration from the rest of the team. You can also find links to their blogs below.


Lady Joyful

*Affiliate links may have been used in this post. For more details on affiliate links as well as other ways to support me, visit this page.*


Color My Heart Color Dare – Color Palette Inspiration Board

Classic Design Challenge – Anything Goes

Crafter’s Castle – Anything Goes

Daring Cardmakers – Stripes and/or Spots

Dragonfly Dreams Challenge – No Patterned Paper

Inkspirational Challenge – Painting or Colouring

Kat Scrappiness Challenge – Red, White and Blue

Lil Patch of Crafty Friends – Anything Goes

Polkadoodles Craft Challenge – Anything Goes

The Sisterhood of Crafters – Ink It Up


Thrifty Thursday Deals Team:


Charlotte <- that’s me!











Scatty Jan


25 thoughts on “Thrifty Thursday | Circus

  1. Wow! What a clever card. Such pretty colors and use of ink and the whole shape and theme of the card is very fun! Thanks for playing with us at Inkspirational!
    – Shauna

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like the circus theme to your card. Your colouring of the image is beautiful. Thank you for joining in the Christmas in July Challenge at Lil Patch of Crafty Friends.

    Liked by 1 person

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