Posted on September 10, 2009
Digital Stationery 101: Creating an announcement for beginners
This tutorial was created using Photoshop Elements 6 (PSE 6) to ensure maximum compatibility. All versions of Photoshop can be used to accomplish this tutorial. PSE 6 and 7 are also compatible. I have included some keyboard short cuts; these are PC compatible. Also, I’m sure there is a better or more effective method of accomplishing what is included in this tutorial. This is just my way of creating and designing this type of stationery; I hope other find it useful and can build off my knowledge.***If using PSE, please download and install the layer mask action from Hidden Elements www.hiddenelements.com. It is free and will make your life soooooo much easier when it comes to Photoshop.
- Open a new file at 300 pixels per inch. The most popular stationery sizes are 4×6, 5×7 and 5×5 inches. This tutorial will utilize the 5×7 ratio. 300 pixels per inch (dpi) ensures superior print quality with the least chance for pixelization.
- Create a new layer, PC: shift+ctrl+n
- Utilizing the paint bucket tool from the tool palette on the left, fill your new layer, Layer 1, with your chosen background color. I chose a medium pink as I am creating a birth announcement in this tutorial.
- Next decide on the photo layout for the announcement. Be sure that you are not placing anything close than 1/8 inch to the edge to allow for bleed during printing. I decided on three rounded rectangular photos for this announcement. To create a layer mask for the photos, I created a new layer, shift+ctrl+n. This will become your photo shapes layer. Next, I switched my foreground color to black, just hit ‘d’, and chose the custom shape tool (right under the gradient tool) from the tool palette. The rounded rectangle shape is under the ‘shapes’ menu in the standard PSE 6 rollout. Next, I created a rounded rectangle using the custom shape tool. Then I copied that custom shape layer twice so I had three black rounded rectangles. Using the free transform option, ctrl+t, on each rounded rectangle shape layer, I lined up the rectangles utilizing the ‘snap-to’ option with the grid. This ensures that everything is even. Now, select all three rounded rectangle shape layers, right click the mouse while in the layers palette and click ‘merge layers’. Now all of your rectangles are simplified in one layer.
- Now make another new layer, shift+ctrl+n and fill the layer with white with the paint bucket tool. This will become your photo mask layer. Add a layer mask to this layer utilizing the layer mask action from Hidden Elements. Now, click your mouse back down to the Photo Shapes layer. Using the magic wand selector tool found in the tool palette click on the Photo Shapes layer in the transparent area, NOT the black rounded rectangles. This will select the entire area except the rectangles. Now, on the layer palette, go back to your new Photo Mask layer and click on the layer mask that you just added with the Hidden Elements action. Press shift+ctrl+I to invert your selection. Now, using the paint bucket tool, fill in the selected areas with black. You should now see three white rounded rectangles.
- Now, to add your photos! For my announcement, I need three photos. To start I created a new layer, shift+ctrl+n, above my new Photo Masks layer. Next, you need to group this new layer with the previous layer’s mask. To do this, select the layer in the layers palette and hit ctrl+g. Now check out the layers palette. By grouping your newest layer, Photo 1, with the previous layer it has caused Photo 1’s layer to indent slightly and a downward pointing arrow to appear just to the left of the layer’s thumbnail. Next, I opened the first photo I wanted to use in PSE 6 and copied the photo, ctrl+a and then ctrl+c. Now, go back to the stationery file we have been creating. Click on your new Photo 1 layer in the layer palette and paste your photo into the layer, ctrl+v. Now you need to resize and align your photo into the layer. Use the transform tool, ctrl+t to do this. Repeat these steps for all photos that need to be added to the stationery layout.
- Now you need to decide where and how you want any text to appear on the announcement. I decided to add three cloud-like objects to put my text into. I used the custom shape tool to accomplish this. The cloud shape is under the ‘shapes’ menu in the custom shape tool. I put in three cloud shapes, using the grid to help me with alignment, then I merged the three cloud layers together by selecting all three custom shape layers, right clicking on the layers palette and choosing ‘merge layers’.
- To give my clouds a more ethereal look, I decided to add a glow to the outer edges. To do this, I clicked on my clouds layer in the layer palette, then went up to the effects palette, which is just above my layers palette, chose ‘layer styles’>’outer glows’>’heavy’ and then clicked ‘apply’. You will notice that to the right of my clouds layer in the layer palette there is a blue icon that says ‘fx’. This means a layer style is applied to that layer.
- I wanted to add some whimsy to this layout. I created a new layer, shift+ctrl+n. To make the butterflies and their trails, I chose a nice chocolately brown color and then selected the brush tool from the tool palette. After you select the brush tool just under the main menu at the top of the screen (File, Edit, Image, Etc menu), there will be a white rectangular box with a black stroke in it. Click the downward pointing arrow just to the right of this box. This will bring up your brush menu of all the available brushes you have installed. I selected my butterfly brush, went to my new Butterflies layer and stamped on the bigger butterfly first, then the trail and finally the two smaller butterflies.
- My layout needs more of that chocolately brown. I decided to add brown frames around my photos. To do this, I used the same rounded rectangle from the custom shape tool. To make the rectangles brown, I made sure my foreground color was the same color that I used for my butterflies and then made the rectangles. To get the rectangles behind the photos I clicked on the Photo Shapes layer in the layer palette and then drew in one rectangle that was slightly larger than my photos. I then duplicated the layer twice, ctrl+j, and then aligned the other two rectangles using the transform tool, ctrl+t. After that I merged the layers together. The brown frames were a little too brown, so I lowered the opacity of the brown frame layer to around 65%.
- Last step was to add text! I chose the chocolately brown color for my text. Utilizing the text tool in the tool palette, I clicked in the leftmost white cloud and wrote out my parent’s info in the MurphyScriptViva font. Then I clicked the rightmost cloud and entered the birth info in the same font.
BONUS! Want to add a cool texture to your background? All it takes is one adjustment layer!!
- Click on your background color layer, Layer 1 in my tutorial, in the layer palette. Next click the ‘Create adjustment layer’ icon. It is at the top of the layer palette right by the trashcan. Choose ‘Pattern…’. This will bring up a list of the patterns installed. Choose your favorite by clicking the little arrow to the right of the pattern thumbnail and click OK. Voila! Instant change. To further customize, change the blending mode of your pattern layer: click on the ‘Pattern Fill 1’ layer in your layer palette and change the blending mode. The blending mode menu is just above the ‘Create adjustment layer’ icon. Try out a bunch of them to see what you like. You can also adjust the opacity to taste or double click the pattern thumbnail on the layers palette and change to a different pattern. My pattern layer is in the Hard Light blending mode at 58% opacity.
Here is the final outcome! I have also created a second side for my birth announcement, which became the introduction side of the card. Can you figure out how to make the other side using the information in this tutorial? I bet you can! I didn’t do anything fancier that what we covered here. Have faith and go for it. Besides, if it doesn’t turn out you can always try again and no one will be any the wiser.
Pattern: Gypsy Garden by Pixels & Ice Cream www.pixelsandicecream.com
Butterfly brushes: Obsidian Dawn www.obsidiandawn.com
www.kuler.adobe.com Free color scheme ideas and swatches
www.flickr.com Free patterns and textures
www.deviantart.com Lots of free brushes, patterns, textures, etc.
Do you have a suggestion or request for a future tutorial or how-to? Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
COMING SOON: Project 365 CYE Style week one photos. Stay tuned!