Some months ago I promised my photog friends, in one of my facebook photography groups, that I would create a photoshop tutorial on how to create a holiday card template. Or any kind of card for that matter. Now why would you want to create a template? Well, once you have the template created, half of the work is done and you can create many more varieties of cards from it.
Making A Photoshop Template
So let’s begin. First, create your background layer. This is the easy part. Click on “File”, then “New”–or if you’re into keyboard shortcuts it is: Ctrl + N
Let’s say you want your card to be 5×7. But you need to accommodate for bleed in the printing process, so you need to make it slightly larger. 5.25×7.25 will give you enough extra space to insure your image is large enough. Also, be sure you give it a good resolution since it will be for print–300 pixels/inch is good.
And here’s the thing–you want to keep your image centered and make sure nothing gets cut off, so before you go any further make “bleed” or “safe zone” guidelines to be sure you don’t accidentally get something important cut off in the printing process. Click on “View”, then click on “New Guide”.
In the pop up put in your guide measurements; one at vertical .25 and vertical 7 and another at horizontal .25 and horizontal 5.
Now you are ready to choose what you want your background layer to look like. You can place a photo on the bottom layer or you can make it a solid color and get creative with graphics. To keep things simple today, I’m just going to choose a photo for the background. I think I’ll use a nice black and white image I took right after the ice storm. Ah, but my image is vertical and I want it to be horizontal for this card. No problemo, I’ll just stretch it to fit. So, click on “file” then click on “place” and another dialog box will open up allowing you to browse your files for an image.
If you have to stretch your image, but you want to keep the dimensions so it doesn’t look warped, hold down the shift key while you use your mouse to grab a corner and drag it to fit. When you have it where you want it, hit “enter”.
On the bottom right palette, click on the “new layer” icon. Your new layer will be transparent, but you want to make sure it is highlighted before you go on.
Okay, now this is not going to be your main image–it’s just the background, remember? So let’s say we want to feature an oval image in the center.
Next click on the “ellipse” tool on your left tool palette. From the top menu, choose a “50% grey” fill–this will insure you see your ellipse easily when you place it.Now, start on the left with your mouse, left click, and drag out your ellipse. It’s okay if it’s not just how you want it at first, because you can adjust the size by grabbing and dragging a corner of it.Click on your “move” tool (keyboard shortcut “V”). Now grab a corner and adjust the placement and size to just how you want it. When you have it just how you like, hit enter.
Now let’s place a photo in the ellipse. Click on “file” then click on “place” and choose your photo.
Then hit enter. Now your image doesn’t look right yet–you have to adjust it to fit your ellipse.
First click on “layer” and “create clipping mask” (keyboard shortcut “Alt-Ctrl-G”)–ta da!Now, while holding the shift key, grab the corner of your image and adjust the size to fit how you want.
Mkay, it’s starting to look a little better, but still a bit plain. So let’s add a stroke around the ellipse. Make sure your ellipse layer is highlighted, then on the bottom right click on the fx icon and choose “stroke”. I want a wintry white outer stroke and I’ll make the size a little bigger then the default, so 15px will do.
Now it’s time for me to add some text, so I will add another layer and switch to typography.
I have lots of fonts–there are many free fonts available online. One of my favorite sites is ScrapVillage. That’s where I got “Flakey” and “Beautiful”–the two fonts I’m going to use to dress up this image.
Okay, so next I adjust the font to flakey, make the size nice and big (150pt) and choose the color (white for snowflakes!). Then I choose my horizontal type tool from the left tool palette (keyboard shortcut “T”). I like the way the “B” looks in this font, so I put a “B” flake in the upper right corner. Then you can adjust the size of the graphic by using your move tool (V) to grab and drag. I ended up dragging mine to a 205pt and then reduced the opacity of the layer to about 55%. But now that you see how it’s done, you can kind of go nuts adding snowflake graphics! Create a different layer for each snowflake so you can move them around and adjust them easily. You can adjust the opacity or leave them a bright white.
Finally I used the font Beautiful to add the word “Joy!” to the image. But I want it to stand out nicely so I’ve added some effects–drop shadow, outer glow, and bevel & emboss. Use the fx icon on the bottom right tool palette and play with the effects and blending options until it looks the way you want.
When you have it the way you like, save it! (Ctrl+S)
Now your template is complete. But you want to save this as a jpeg, and you don’t want to accidentally save over your template, so give it a new name.
First flatten your image to shrink the layers. Click on “Layer” then click on “flatten image”.Now Shift+Ctrl+S to “save as”–I renamed mine to “white christmas card” and choose “JPEG” for the format. So there you go!
Now… want to make changes? Close it all out and reopen your template that you named “card template.” Highlight your background image in the layer palette on the right. Right click and choose delete layer, then choose yes.
Highlight your background layer; go to “edit” and “fill” (Shift+F5). Now try choosing a color to change it up.Don’t want snowflakes? You can delete those layers or your can simply click on the eye to hide them. Want to change up the background image instead of deleting? Right click and choose “replace contents”.Then browse for another image to use. You can reduce the opacity of the background image to create another look.
Change colors, change fonts, change images, change the words of your text, or change your graphics–get creative!