Valentine's Day is almost here!
In honor of the occasion, let's look at how quickly and easily you can create a custom Valentine's Day card for your special someone using Photoshop Elements.
This tutorial below uses 8½" by 11" paper so that you can print the card on your home printer. This design assumes that you are using quarter-fold greeting card stock. If you have the option of borderless printing, that's definitely the way to go.
Choose File>New>Blank File from the top menu bar.
The New Document dialog box will open. Give your project a name and enter 11 inches for the width, 8.5 inches for the height, and 300 for the resolution.
We will be folding the page after printing. To make this easier, let's add guidelines midway on the page both vertically and horizontally.
To add guidelines, choose View>New Guide from the top menu bar.
To create the vertical guide, select Vertical in the New Guide Dialog box and then enter 5.5 inches in the box. Click OK to accept.
Repeat the process to add a horizontal guide at 4.25 inches.
With this done, you'll see two thin blue lines crossing your page.
We’re going to add a decorative background to our card cover. Given the layout of the page, we will be adding this background to the lower right of our canvas because that's the part of the page that will be the front of the card after it's folded.
We’ll start with a gradient.
To add a gradient to the card cover, first choose the Gradient tool from the toolbox found on the left-hand side the Elements Interface.
We’ll make a radial gradient that's white in the center and gradually goes to pink. To do this, we'll first choose the radial gradient from the Options bar at the bottom of the interface.
Then change our foreground and background color chips so that the foreground color is white and the background color is pink. In our example, I'll use hue #fda9a9 for the pink color.
Before creating the gradient, add a new layer above the background layer of our file. To do this, click on the New Layer icon at the top of the Layers panel. A new layer, Layer 1, will appear above the background layer.
Remember that we only want to add a background to the lower right corner of the page. To keep the gradient confined to that area, create a selection outline around it. To do this, select the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the toolbox or press the keyboard shortcut M. Then make a selection around the lower right corner of the page.
Again select the Gradient tool. With the new layer selected and the selection outline active, add the gradient by clicking in the center of the lower right quarter of the page and pulling toward one of the corners.
Release the mouse button once you've reached the corner. The gradient will fill the lower corner of the page.
To add a little more interest to the card cover background, we will add some random heart shapes over the gradient layer.
To add the heart shape, click on the Shape tool in the toolbox.
Choose the Custom Shape tool from the Options bar. Then choose the Heart Card shape from the Custom Shape picker.
Set the shape proportions to Defined Proportions using the drop down box in the Options bar.
Set your Foreground color to the color that you want for the heart shapes. I'm going to use white. Then click and drag to add a heart shape over the gradient layer.
Set the opacity of the heart shape layer to 50%.
Copy the heart shape by dragging the layer to the New Layer icon.
Move and resize the copied shape, by clicking and dragging on a corner point, making it either larger or smaller.
Repeat this process multiple times, resizing and moving each heart shape around until you are happy with the pattern.
In creating the heart shape pattern, some of the shapes may go beyond the area of the card cover.
To clean everything up, select all of the shape layers that you have created. To do this, click on the top shape layer and then shift-click on the last shape layer. Merge all of these shape layers by right-clicking on the multiple selected layers and choosing Merge Shapes.
Then simplify the merged shape by right-clicking on it and choosing Simplify Layer.
Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the toolbox or press the keyboard shortcut M. Then make a selection around the lower right corner of the page.
Choose Select>Inverse from the top menu bar. With the simplified shape layer selected, hit the Delete key on a PC, the Backspace key on a Mac to delete any stray shapes or marks.
Let’s add a little texture.
Add a new layer above the shape layer of our file by clicking on the New Layer icon at the top of the Layers panel.
Select the new layer. With the selection from the previous step still active, choose Edit>Fill Selection
When the Fill Layer dialog box open, choose Pattern in the Use drop down box….
Then open the Pattern Picker, scroll down a bit and choose the pattern named Granite from the list of patterns.
The area over the background will fill with the Granite pattern.
Now change the blending mode of the textured layer to either Overlay or Soft Light, whichever you prefer. I'll use Soft Light for this example.
With the Blending mode changed, the the background design will show through, but now with a soft, subtle texture.
Now it's time to add a photo to the cover of your card.
To add a photo, select the top layer and then choose File>Place from the top menu bar.
Then navigate to the photo on your hard drive. The photo will appear on a separate layer.
Reposition and resize the photo to so that the part of the image that you want to include on the cover of your card fits nicely in the area of your card cover. Don't worry about keeping the entire image in the cover area. That will get taken care of later.
To frame the image, add in a shape. You can use any shape that you want. Some might want to use the same heart shape used for the background. I personally think that's too much, so I'm going to use a plain oval shape.
Select the Shape tool from the toolbox and choose the Oval Shape tool in the Options bar.
And drag out a shape that nicely frames the area of the image that you want to show on your card front.
When you release your mouse button, the shape will fill with your Foreground color, covering up your photo! But we'll fix that.
In the Layers panel, drag the shape layer under the photo layer. Then press the Alt key on a PC/the Option key on a Mac and hover the mouse pointer over the line dividing the photo and shape layers. The pointer will change to a square with a down-pointing arrow.
Click the mouse button when you see the cursor change. The photo will now show through the shape.
If you need to reposition either the heart shape or the photo, click on that layer in the Layers panel to select it and use the Move tool, (keyboard shortcut is V).
To move both the shape and the photo at the same time, Shift-click to select both layers and use the Move tool.
To resize either layer, drag any corner handle either inward (to make the object smaller) or outward (to make it bigger).
With the photo frame in place, you can add embellishments–drop shadows or strokes, etc.–as you like. To do this, click on the Effects button in the task bar at the bottom of the workspace. Then click on Styles at the top of the panel. From there, you can access and apply the different Layer Styles from the drop down box at the top of the panel.
By the way, when adding a Layer Style using the Effects panel, you have to choose from the available preset styles. But once you've added the style, you can change the settings to tweak the effect. For example, I often find that the settings of the preset drop shadows create a shadow that's too stark. So I often go back into the setting to tone down and soften the effect.
To see this in action, let's work through an example. I'll add a drop shadow and stroke to the oval frame to give the photo some depth and interest.
First, I'll select Drop Shadows in the drop down of the Effects/Styles panel and I'll select the one called Soft Edge.
Then I'll go to the Strokes presets and select the one named Black Stroke 20 px.
Here’s the photo frame with the Layer Styles–the drop shadow and stroke–applied.
I think the Layer Styles need some tweaking. To edit the Layer Styles, double-click on the fx found next to the layer name in the Layers panel.
This will open the Style Settings dialog box.
There, I'll change the color, size and placement of the stroke and adjust the drop shadow settings.
Here’s the card cover:
Now all that's left to do is add some text using the Type tool.
First, I'll add text just under the photo and frame on the card cover. I'm using the Lucida Handwriting Italic font and a darker pink color.
I’ll also add text on the inside of the card. To do that, I'll add the text, again using the Type tool, in the top left quarter of the page. I'll add a few small hearts in there too.
I’ll need to rotate the inside text and heart shapes 180 degrees so that it's right-side up when the card is printed and folded.
To do that, select the layers for the inside text and the two heart shapes. Then choose Image>Rotate>Rotate Layer 180 degrees from the top menu bar.
That’s it! You're done! All that's left to do is print and fold!
Happy Valentine's day!
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