With the holidays approaching it is still not too late to take on a project and do your own holiday card. All you really need is an image for the cover, some paper to print on (or a service to send to), Photoshop (or Elements), and a plan for the layout. The plan mostly has to do with printing to the edge, and getting the image on the front of the card.
Printing to the Edge
A layout problem that may confound those making their first cards is printing to the edge of the paper. Though some home printers have a print-to-the-edge feature, there is an edge area of the sheets you are printing that the printer will not print on -- commonly called a grip edge. It is often a quarter to a half an inch broad, and may vary from edge to edge depending on how paper was designed to go through the printer.
The solutions to the problem of printing to the edge (and this holds for when you send a job to a shop to have it printed), is to design a little larger and then and crop the paper to the size you want the finished piece. So, for your holiday card, you wouldn’t start with paper that was exactly the right size and then use your printer to print the image exactly to the edge; you’d start with a larger sheet, print the layout, and then trim the paper down.
To make your layout work, you'd lay out the graphic part of the card to print a bit beyond the crop edge—say, by an eighth of an inch (which is a printing standard). This is known as a bleed. The bleed provides a margin of error for the cropping. If the cut doesn’t fall precisely on the crop mark, the image will still come all the way to the edge of the cropped area.
The Basic Layout
Image on the Front
In laying out the card, be sure to think of how you want it to present! When you use a folded card, you have to put the front of the card on the right side of the layout so that when it folds the front of the card is in the right place. It may not be natural to think of the right side of the layout as the front, but that is where it is! The back of the card is on the left.
On the inside, the left and right facing sides are more intuitive. You usually want to have the saying on the right.
As far as the back of the card, you can put several things there for information purposes. Sometimes it is fun to put in your real or even an imaginary business name, copyright and date, website (if appropriate), and maybe some information about the photo (subject, title, separate copyright -- if applicable). Usually this is all in small type so as not to detract from the card.
Homemade cards seem to always be the ones that stand out from the others.
For More Information...
For better ways to process your images and get the most out of them for your cards and other uses, be sure to check out Richard Lynch's Photoshop courses and his latest book: The Adobe Photoshop Layers Book
Holiday Gift Ideas
If you are looking for a good gift for that budding photographer or photoshop professional, try giving a betterphoto.com gift card. Good for courses, books and apparel!