adding artwork to a design

At the beginning of November I decided it was time to get cracking on my own Christmas card. In last year’s card, I took some of my random photos and placed them into an accordion fold template. This year, I wanted to do something different and toyed with a few ideas. Initially I had an idea that would have required many photos that I did not have in my own archives.

So I turned to istockphoto.com which is a great, inexpensive source of photographs and illustrations. You can purchase credits and then use those credits to purchase artwork or photographs that can be used when designing marketing materials. (Some work is available, at a higher price, to place on products to resell.)

design
I was reluctant to use stock photos for all the obvious reasons, so I soon turned my focus to Christmas illustrations and found some that I loved and that fit in well with one of my ideas. I opened up the downloaded document (which contained 13 major icons plus a flurry of snowflakes) in Illustrator. This allowed me to make some color adjustments, pull out the desired Christmas icons, or alter parts of the icons to suit my purpose.

Since I’m more fluent in Photoshop than Illustrator and could easily send a Photoshop file to my destination printer, I opted to create the entire card in Photoshop, although I could have created it in InDesign or Quark and then placed the artwork into the layout.

My first step in Photoshop was to create a nice blue background based on my PMS color (reflex blue) for the front and back of the card. Back in Illustrator, I changed the color of the snowflakes from a pale green to a light blue and then placed them into my Photoshop document on several layers, resizing some of the original flakes to fill in.

Turning my focus to the back of the card, (bottom half shown above) I pulled in the North Pole icon onto a new layer. On subsequent layers, which I then placed behind the North Pole layer, I created a few snowbanks with the Pen tool, using the gradient tool to add some shading to the snow banks. I made sure to leave the card mostly white towards the left and bottom and added my logo and information there so it would stand out best.

I reversed the colors on the inside of the card, leaving it mostly white with some blue accents. The red and green colors of the icons set against the blue and white backgrounds gave the card contrast and punch.The process of designing the entire card took some time, but I had a lot of fun putting this together. And this Christmas, I plan to take more pictures so I have my own, more varied stock of Holiday photos for next year should I choose to use a photo or two on a card!
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