Since we are currently ‘locked down’ again, it seems like a good time to come up with a new Challenge. With Christmas on the horizon, what better than to set about designing – and perhaps also printing – our own Christmas cards?
So the Challenge is to design up to five Christmas cards. Since it would be difficult to show complete cards in the Gallery, we are asking you to submit only the fronts of your cards, but we hope that you will also design the insides and backs, adding whatever greetings and design features you like. Why not then print at least one of your designs? Sending a personalised Christmas card can be an extra special touch for family and friends, especially this year.
Below you will find guidance about how to achieve this, as well as advice about how to get your cards printed if you’re interested in doing so.
A. Choosing images and decorative touches for the front of your Christmas cards
For this Challenge, you are welcome to use photos from your archives. You will probably already have a collection of winter, Christmas or family-themed shots but you may, of course, take new ones if you’d like to. In addition to your photograph, the front of your card should include a seasonal greeting. You might also choose to include additional festive details, such as snow and/or an appropriately decorated border.
When you’re choosing or taking your pictures, think about the orientation that you’d like your card to be and how the image will fill the space. Will there be enough ‘empty space‘ for your greeting? If not, you could add a plain or festive border for it to be positioned on. If you’re shooting something new, think about the composition. Sky, water or snow can be particularly useful ’empty’ spaces on which to place text.
Your cards can feature photographs of anything you like, whether places or people, food or drink, banners or baubles. You will, however, probably want to use images that are appropriately seasonal, rather than pictures of sunlit beaches on the Costa del Sol – although that’s up to you!
Your images might reflect ‘winter’ rather than being inherently ‘Christmassy’. You may decide to add snow if you’d like your images to appear more seasonal (see below).
Another possibility would be to create your own still life scenes using festive items such as decorations, candles, mince pies or other festive treats. These make great macro subjects and could work well in your images.
Alternatively, use a photograph that celebrates a family milestone that has happened during the past year, such as a family wedding, a big birthday or a special anniversary. And if you’d like to include more than one image on the front of your cards, then feel free to arrange them in a collage or montage. As mentioned in previous Challenges, apps such as PicsArt, might be useful for this.
How to add snow
Here is a step by step guide to adding snow. It is written for Photoshop users, but it should be quite easy to find similar tutorials using your preferred photo processing software.
B. Designing the inside and back of your cards
There are a couple of ways to complete the design of your cards – one involving minimal effort – so if you think the first way (see i) below), is a little too complicated, do keep reading for an easier option (see ii) below)…
Tip: Although you may want to complete all of your cards, you may decide to proceed only with your favourite design – but that’s up to you of course.
i) Using photo processing software
You can design the inside and back cover of your cards ready for printing with whichever photo processing software you usually use. If you need some advice and guidance, you should be able to search for relevant information on the web. Remember to add a seasonal greeting inside the cards and perhaps some additional festive decoration inside and on the back.
It would not be practical to provide details here for every type of photo processing software, but the following website articles/videos, which happen to be written for Photoshop users, may give everyone a few ideas and a taste of what’s possible. Even Photoshop users are unlikely to want to follow these instructions fully, but hopefully they will provide some inspiration.
How to Create a Greeting Card Using Adobe Photoshop (Please note that a resolution of 300dpi is usually recommended for printing a JPEG file.)
ii) Using online bespoke services
If you think that completing the cards using your own software sounds too involved, or you are short of time, you can at this stage make life simpler by using templates provided by online bespoke printing services.
Please use your own editing software to make sure that the front cover is exactly as you want it, with your own image, greeting and decoration, before uploading it to one of these services. The front covers will be showcased in the Challenge Gallery, so it would be really good to see your own work here!
Feel free, however, to take advantage of the bespoke templates provided by the online printing services for completing the insides and backs of your cards.
As a guide, this article from 2017 provides examples of what’s possible using three different online printing services (Jessops, Vistaprint and Moo.com). The following printing services might also be worth a look: DigitalPrinting.co.uk and Photobox – and there are many others.
Using the the templates provided, you will have the option to add a printed greeting to the inside of your card, leaving room to sign the card, as well as other decorative features to the inside and back cover. Once you’re done, your finished card can be previewed to make sure you’re completely happy with the design before printing.
C. Printing your Christmas cards
Those of you with printers may wish to print your own cards. It is advisable to use a reasonably sturdy card to give the feeling of quality and you’ll need to decide whether you want your cards to have a gloss, satin or matt finish. It might seem obvious, but make sure you print your cards so that they will open correctly, which means that the front and back covers will need to be printed on one side and the inside pages on the other, and with the pages the right way up!
The alternative is to use an online printing service. Once you have finished creating your cards, you can either upload the designs you have created yourself, or use ones that have been created using a template to get them printed. The companies mentioned in B.ii) above all provide this service.
With some companies, you will be able to choose between different paper finishes, such as glossy, satin or matt, and as mentioned above, for a premium look, it might be worth selecting a quality card. There may be a minimum number of cards that you can order; some companies will only print multiple copies of the same card in a single pack, whilst others will allow you to include different designs.
As standard, you will be normally be provided with white envelopes, but you may have the option to add personalised matching envelopes.
Final thoughts on the Challenge…
This Christmas, probably more than many, your family and friends will appreciate a personalised card, so we hope that this Challenge will provide the impetus to get creative.
You can make the Challenge simple or more involved, depending on whether you choose to undertake all steps of the design process yourself or use templates from online printing services to help you to complete the design and to print your cards.
However you go about this Challenge, we’ll be looking forward to receiving a wide variety of your front covers, each featuring one of your photographs and a seasonal greeting, for uploading to the Challenges Gallery on the website.
Submitting your images – please read and check carefully before submitting
Please submit the fronts of up to five Christmas cards as soon as possible and no later than midnight on Friday 11 December to email@example.com, ideally by WeTransfer.
We hope that you will enjoy sending your cards to family and friends. Please note that the clock is ticking down to Christmas, and you may want to get them ready for printing before the Challenge deadline to ensure that they will arrive in time for Christmas.
To help the web team, please check that your images conform with the following tick list:
- Images are JPEG files.
- Image dimensions are a maximum of 1600 pixels wide or 1200 pixels high.
- Image sizes are less than 500kb. If not please save your images at a lower resolution until they are.
- The ‘title metadata field’ includes your ‘image title’ and ‘your name’ in the following way: Christmas Holly, Your Name.
- There is NO other metadata in the caption or description. (Note to Olympus users, you will have to delete ‘Olympus digital camera’ from the caption field.)
- Your images are saved with file names as in the following example: Christmas Holly, Your Name i.e. as in the ‘title metadata field’ (see above).
If you are not sure please ask so that we can help you. We will acknowledge receipt of your images, so please get in touch if you don’t hear from us.
If you’re not a Club member, you are more than welcome to join in this Challenge. Please feel free to send us up to five cards and we’ll post our favourites in the Gallery.
With grateful thanks and acknowledging the authors of the articles and YouTube videos mentioned above for their advice and inspiration. Pictures are taken, with grateful thanks, from articles (links provided above) or from Creative Commons (with titles, authors and licences) as follows: Collage, Amateur Photographer; Make Your Own Card, Marie Gardiner; Cards, Philippa Mckinlay, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0; Berries, unknown, CC BY-NC-ND; Merry Christmas 2011, Koshyk, CC BY 2.0; Merry Christmas, Tom Gill, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0; Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Tom Clearwood, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0; Snow Effect, Steve Patterson; Inside Christmas Card, Marie Gardiner; Outside Christmas Card, Marie Gardiner.