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Make a Christmas card - digital design - Peter Bargh demonstrates how to use your computer to make your own personalised greetings cards.
Card shops offer a huge choice of Christmas cards with humourous, traditional or contemporary designs in all shapes and sizes. You can spend ages trying to pick the right one, with the right verse, for that special people in your life. So why not create one yourself. You don't need fantastic design skills or the expense of employing a local printer to make the card. If you have an image editing program with a type option and an inkjet printer you can create your own personalised ones at home.
1 First choose a suitable photo. I'm going for a scenic image that I will send to overseas relatives. I'll choose one that's taken in Derbyshire to remind them of the cold winters we can get here. You may want something a little more traditional, such as Christmas tree baubles that you can shoot using your camera's close up mode. Nature lovers may have taken a close up shot of a robin in the garden or how about a night street view when the Christmas decorations are illuminated? Those wanting a fun option could dig out the Christmas stocking and get a small pet to pop it's head out of the top or you may go for a group shot of the family. Basically, providing you have a suitable photo to hand any type of card can be copied.
2 Open the phopo in your image editing program and perform any adjustments you need to improve the photo, cropping unnecessary edge detail and adjusting levels to make it bright.
3 Now to create the card. This stage depends on whether you are using a portrait or landscape photo and also the thickness of paper. I'll run through the stages needed to create a landscape shot to suit this sample snow scene on thin paper and will also indicate what you need to do for the other options, but you can still use this example as a the guide. As most digital photographers will have an A4 inkjet printer I'll create the card using A4 paper. I'm using Photoshop, but you should have similar options in your image editing program if you use a different one.
Go to File>New (Ctrl+N) and in the dialogue box set the A4 paper size in the width and height boxes. From the drop down choose inches or cm depending on which you prefer to work in. I'm using centimeters and in the width box I keyed in 29.7cm and in the height 21cm. Reverse these measurements if you are creating a portrait format card. Set the resolution to 240 pixel/inch (ppi). Make sure the background colour is white and you may want to name it Christmas card. Colour mode should be set to RGB and 8-bit. Click okay and you will have a blank canvas with these measurements.
4 Before we start to add text and pictures it makes sense to divide the canvas up into four (or two with thicker card) so all the elements can be drop into place and will turn out the correct way when the card is printed and then folded. Most image editing programs have a grid option you can turn on and rules around the edge, but neither option highlights the centre of the canvas, so you can divide it into four with ease. Creating two diagonal lines from corner to corner will pinpoint the centre where you can then run horizontal and vertical lines to intersect. Or, try this: create a new layer from the drop down menu Layer>New>Layer (Shift+Ctrl+N) or by clicking on the Create a new Layer icon in the layer palette.
5 Select the Rectangular Marquee tool (M, Shift + M to tab between the options) and in the menu option across the top of the page set style to Fixed and key 148.5mm into the width box and 105mm into the height box. On the canvas, click in the top left corner and a rectangular selection one quarter of the size of the canvas will appear in the top left quarter of the canvas. If you intend printing the card out on thick paper you could create a portrait or landscape format card using two halves rather than four quarters, resulting in a larger format card.
6 Go to Edit>Stroke and set 1px width, the colour to Black and Location to Centre and click OK. This will create a narrow border around the selection which will appear as a thin line on your canvas.
7 Repeat step 6 and 7 clicking initially in the bottom right corner and the result will be a rough, but useful, guide that splits the canvas into four quarters. The reason for creating this on a new layer is so that it can be deleted later when all the elements are in their correct place.
8 Select the Magic Wand too and click inside the bottom right quarter. This will make a selection inside the quarter.
|9 Go back to the original snow scene and Select>All (Ctrl+A), Edit>Copy (Ctrl+C) and then with the new canvas selected again choose Edit>Paste Into (Shift+Ctrl+V). You will see the snow scene appear inside the selection. At this stage a fair bit may be masked by the selection. If you look at the layer palette you'll see what Photoshop did when you used Paste Into. It creates a new layer and with a layer mask. The area that's black in the mask blocks the subject in that layer from showing so just the white area shows through.|
|10 If you click on the Move tool (V) you'll see you can move the image around inside the selection as all the detail outside the selection is still available. Select Edit>Transform>Scale and drag the corner handles to resize the photo so it fits better inside the selection. If you hold down the Shift key as you resize, the image will stay in proportion. When the image is sized and positioned correctly double click in the centre to make the change permanent.|
|11 Now for some text. You could just have some inside or add some to the front too. Select the text tool (T) and a suitable font or typeface. Photoshop comes with a selection of Adobe fonts and many more can be downloaded and added to your original set of system fonts. The choice of font also has an effect on the overall feel of the card. Choose the wrong one, or wrong size or colour and it will clash with the photo or project a different feeling than you intended. I've picked a light Script font which often suits Christmas cards and have used a red colour so it stands out. I've also right justified the text and made it small enough to fit on two lines.|
12 The text inside needs to be upside down so when the paper is folded the text appears the right way up inside the card. With a suitable font create a message in the top left quarter. When done go to Edit>Transform>Rotate 180 degrees and use the Move tool to position it in the centre.
13 Just before you flatten the layers, Layer>Layer Flatten, click on the layer that you created with the reference lines in step 4 and drag it to the waste bin or right click and delete. Now flatten and print out.
14 You may get a message saying that the image is too big for the paper do you wish to proceed. Click no and go to Print with Preview so you can change your printer settings. You need to select borderless printing (f the option is available) or Scale to fit Media and trim off the border when it's printed.
|15 When printed, fold over carefully using the left and top edges of the photo as the folding points. Use a ruler or clean finger to score across the crease and make a sharp fold. The card will then stand up on its own and, depending on the paper used, will be a really smart alternative to the typical cards in the shops.|