Every now and then we take a special, unique, dare I say magical photo we would like to use during the upcoming holiday season. If you are a Photoshop user, you can do it quickly in your favorite image editor.
In this tutorial, I will be using these free resources: frame, snowflake brushes, holly brushes. You can find more decorations like these either by trying graphics repositories on Google or by searching sites like DeviantART.
Step 1. Enhancing the photo.
First of all, I’m going to make some adjustments to the photo itself. This step is optional and depends on the image you are using.
Open your picture in Photoshop. Go to Adjustments (Image>Adjustments) and choose the type of correction you want to apply. In this case, I have increased brightness, lowered contrast, and played with Curves and Hue/Saturation to give the image more warmth and color.
There is no recipe here: Just keep on tweaking the original photo until you are satisfied and like what you see.
Step 2. Fitting the photo into the frame.
Download the striped frame and open it. Drag and drop the image into the frame’s document. With the help of the transform tools (Edit>Transform), resize and rotate so your photo fits nicely into the festive frame. Just make sure all the interesting details are within the frame’s border.
Step 3. Adding snowflakes.
Load the snowflake brushes into Photoshop. Create a separate layer and move it under the frame layer. Start stamping the snowflakes where you want on your image.
You can apply different layer styles and blend modes to the snowflake layer to harmonize it with the photo. I changed the blend mode to Overlay and applied a light drop shadow effect.
Step 4. More decorations.
Load the holly brushes into Photoshop. Use them to add additional festive decorations to your photo. Just like the snowflakes, you can add layer styles to the holly stamps. I included small holly adornments over the frame’s corners and added a Soft Light gradient and drop shadow effect for depth.
Step 5. Including a message.
Finally, you can write a message to send with your picture. Choose an appropriate font for your photo. I picked the font Semilla and added a dark red to yellow gradient, a drop shadow, and a thin red stroke.
It's a holiday photo miracle!
Spicing up your photos in Photoshop is quite easy, and even simple adjustments like the ones I applied in this tutorial will make an impression. Sending your personalized pictures as greeting cards to your family members and best friends will be a pleasant and heart-warming surprise.
Sample photo by Milan Jurek. Edited in Photoshop CS5.