We photographers are always talking about wanting to do more with our photos. With the Christmas season upon us, now is the perfect opportunity to walk the walk we’ve been talking about all year. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to make Christmas cards from your photos using a quick and easy method that anyone can follow.
To get into the festive spirit this year, why not learn how to make Christmas cards using your own photos – it’s really easy to do, and people you send them to will love the personal touch!
All you need is a suitable image – and if you want to add a comical twist to your card, as we have, you can add festive hats or other adornments to a photo of family members or your pet.
If you don’t have a suitable image to hand you can shoot one – and don’t worry if you’re photographing a landscape and you think it won’t look wintry enough, as in this tutorial we’ll show you how to make Christmas cards more festive by adding snow to your shots using filters and blending modes.
Photoshop Elements has a number of greeting card templates that you can explore under the Create tab, but if you’re feeling creative you can design your own custom card.
We’ll show you how to make Christmas cards with text, and how to enhance that text by adding Layer Styles. We’ll also show you how to make Christmas cards using a folding card template for the outside and inside of your card, and guide you through process of printing the card on your home printer.
Finally, while we used Photoshop Elements for the purposes of this tutorial, but most good photo editing software will have similar tools and features allowing you to follow this same workflow.
How to make Christmas cards from your own photos: steps 1-5
01 Add the hat
Download our start files and follow along! Open duck_start.jpg and hat_start.jpg. Select the hat using the Quick Selection tool, and click Refine Edge. Select On Black from the View menu, and paint around the edge of the hat with the Refine Radius tool to restore the fine edge detail.
Click OK, then press Ctrl+C to copy the selected hat. Target duck_start.jpg tab, and press Ctrl+V to paste the hat into the image as a new layer. Take the Move tool, click Show Bounding Box and drag the handles to resize the hat, then position it on the duck and add mask to the layer.
02 Edit the hat
Take the Brush tool, and paint with black at 100% opacity to tidy up the hat. Add a Levels layer, Alt-click the line between the layers to create a clipping mask, then set Midtones to 1.32. Add a Hue/Saturation layer, click the line between it and the Levels layer to create a clipping mask as before, and set Saturation to -13 to tone down the red.
Click the top layer and press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E to create a merged layer. Use the Burn tool, set to Midtones and 10% Exposure, to brush over the top of the duck’s head to add a shadow.
03 Create some snow
Use the Dodge tool, set to Midtones and 10% Exposure, to lighten and soften the edges of the hat. Create a new layer, then go to Edit > Fill Layer and select Black. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, set Amount to 150% and Distribution to Gaussian, and tick Monochromatic. Go to Filter > Blur > Blur More. Go to Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Levels.
04 Add motion blur
Set Shadows to 132 and Highlights to 184, then set the layer’s blending mode to Screen. Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur, and set Angle to -61 and Distance to 8. Copy the snow layer and go to Image > Rotate > Rotate Layer 180°. Go to Filter > Pixelate > Crystallize and set Cell Size to 16. Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and set Angle to -61 and Distance to 9.
05 Enhance the backdrop
Click the top snow layer, and hit Ctrl+E to merge it with the layer below. Duplicate the merged layer, and add a mask to the duplicate. Paint over the duck with a black brush at 50% Opacity to fade the snow.
Add a Brightness/Contrast layer, and set Brightness to -6 and Contrast to +38. Add a Levels layer, and set Shadows to 20 and Midtones to 1.08. Add a Hue/Saturation layer, select Blues and set Saturation to +43.
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