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After doing a bit of research, I found I could print my Christmas cards from Mpix and Color Inc. Pro for cheaper than Shutterfly.

I have never used Mpix, but they get great reviews.  Color Inc. Pro is awesome.  Great prices, great turn-around, Christian foundation, and a real personal touch.

But if I want my prints from them, I have to use their designs–not awesome–or design my own.

It’s easy to make an awesome knockoff of the Shutterfly designs.  (Or just use these techniques to create your own.)

Take a look at this one.  It catches my eye.

We can make this in Photoshop Elements.  For starters, you’ll need to download some free snowflake brushes.

Brushes confused me at first.  They’re more like stamps.

I downloaded my snowflake brushes from easyelements.com.  Follow their instructions for downloading and installing in your version of photoshop.

Open up your editor and select File>New>Blank file.  Or press Ctrl + N. 

You’ll need to set the dimensions of the card you are going to create. I’m making a 5×7.  Be sure to set the resolution to 300 or higher.

Oops, I made it a vertical card. 

If you make that mistake, go to Image>Rotate>90

Ahh, much better.

Next, select the little black and white circle over the layers palette.  Choose Solid Color. . .

Then choose the color you want for the background.  The Shutterfly card is black, but I think a deep brown would be prettier.

Now your card has a nice dark background.  You’ll see in the layers palette that you have created a color fill layer.  It is locked with a layer mask.  Drag the lock and the layer mask into the trashcan icon. 

Now you just have a big brown rectangle.

Select the rectangle marquee tool.

At the top of the page, you’ll see a drop down menu called Mode.  Select Fixed Aspect Ratio.  In the Width space, type 3.5.  For Height, 5.  (This is half of the card size.)

Position the rectangle so that it is aligned with the corners of your card.  Now, chose the magic eraser.  Click anywhere inside the rectangle marquee.

Your brown will be replaced with a gray and white checkerboard–no pixels.

This image shows the magic eraser (in the red box). 

In the purple box, I want to point out that you must chose the new layer icon–looks like a square page turning–to create a new layer.  Drag this new layer below the brown color layer.

Okay, hang with me here, I don’t have pictures of everything, but I’ll try my best to explain it.  And I’m always available to answer questions.

Next, we’re going to add a snowflake.  Create a new layer.

Grab the rectangle marquee tool, set the fixed aspect ratio to be a square and draw a square about the size of the snowflake field you want to create.

Be sure your new layer is selected.  Click the brush tool.  There is a drop-down list of brush palettes. Choose the snowflake brush/stamp you’d like to use first.  Set your foreground color to the color of the snowflake you’re going to make. 

Use the [ and ] keys to make the snowflake larger or smaller.  It should be about one-third of the height and width of the square.  Place the snowflake where you want it and click.

Ta-Da!  A snowflake.

Repeat this process (including the new layer) eight times, using a different brush and a different color for each snowflake.

If all goes well, you’ll get here.

I suggest placing each snowflake on a separate layer because then you can move or nudge them if their position is not just right.  You can also easily erase a mistake without erasing all of them.

Once you have all the snowflakes how you want them, you can select all nine layers and merge or lock them together.  (Right click.)

Now we need some text.  I can’t really tell you what font to use.  I didn’t actually copy Shutterfly, just the basic design.  So, on a new layer, add in the text box for the word “happy”. 

For the word “holidays”, you’ll need to do a new layer for each letter.  Yes, layers are your friend. 

Select the text box.  To choose the color, use the eye dropper on your snowflakes.  After you make each and every letter–yes, this is a bit tedious–you can select each letter and use the align tool at the top of the page to align all top edges.  The Distribute tool may work to position the letters, but it won’t work if all your boxes are different widths.  You can just manually arrange them.

Then, select all those letters and link or merge their layers.

Finally, you’ll add a text box for the message and one for the names. 

Save this as a pdf file.

You’ve made a card template!!

To put in a picture, open the file you wish to add.  Then select the blank bottom layer on your card, remember it?

Drag the photo from the bin on the blank layer.  (It may be necessary to use the Transform>Free Transform option.)

Once you get the image in, the card template will clip any part you don’t want to show.  You just grab the resize handles to make the image bigger or smaller.

Obviously the names do not really belong to these people. 🙂 

I hope I’ve encouraged you to try your hand at card making.  Though, I certainly could have chosen a simpler card to teach you with. 

If you’re ready to take this on, place to begin is google.  You’ll need to download some free brushes and maybe some patterns. 

Another good trick to know: when you want a line around a photo, use the rectangle marquee and then Edit>stroke>stroke outside. 

The most important part is to remember to keep a blank layer underneath it all and erase–from the card–the part where you want the photo to be.

When I make my own Christmas Card, I’ll share it with you.  Good Luck!

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