How I made our christmas family calendar cards this year. It takes a little fiddling to create the sketch – but the rest goes together very quickly – and then you have a PDF which you can print out to make as many cards as you like – doing it this way is perfect if you don’t have a colour printer – or if you want to create something just a little different from your usual cheesy christmas photo cards.
Make the sketch: (see the image gallery for screen shots)
1. Take a photo of your kids, yourself, your pets or your favourite flower/tree/vegetable and open it photoshop [don’t have photoshop – try a free online photoshop alternative like Picnik or splashup or aviary].
2. Create a new layer by opening the layer palette and clicking on the little arrow in the top right corner – select ‘new layer’. Then select the background layer and create a copy – which enables you to select the opacity tool. Deselect the background layer by clicking on the eye, then change the opacity on the background copy layer so that the main highlights are still visible. Then select the new layer on your layer palette.
3. Select your drawing tool – the pencil or brush – and select your brush width – I like to choose a thin brush – experiment with different widths. Choose a colour – I usually just go for black. Zoom in on your photo and use the pencil or brush tool to outline the main highlights.
5. Turn off the background layers to examine your image, then turn them back on if you want to add more details. If you are happy with the sketch, keep the background layers turned off and open the layer menu bar – select flatten image this will discard the background photo and leave you with your sketch.
6. Your pic should look a little like the one above – save it and you are ready to use as is – or go a little further and smooth your drawing and vectorise it – I use illustrator – but there are plenty of online vectorising tools try vector magic, or aviary’s raven tool. Once you have vectorised your image it will be smoother and more even – a little cartoon like and you can size it up or down to your liking.
Create your calendar
Download my free 2010 yearly calendar template – already formatted for printing 2 per page – download the pdf – or create your own by downloading this calendar spreadsheet – once you have downloaded it and opened it in your spreadsheet editor you can tweak it as much as you like.
Now to put the elements together
1. Open a new document in photoshop, word or indesign – make your document the same size as the paper you put in your printer – letter or A4 size. Create a vertical centre line – as you will be printing 2 per page. If you have downloaded my pdf template then this will already be set up for you.
2. Place or insert your drawing on the top section, then place the calendar on the bottom section – in between you will write your text. I used a fun pre-school font – you can find heaps of free fonts to download at dafont.
3. Once you have adjusted all your elements on one side of the document – repeat for the other side. Flatten the layers if you are in photoshop – and save as a pdf if you are in word or indesign. Print out onto slightly heavier than usual paper and go.