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This is the time of the last minute holiday preparations. For far away friends and family, it may be too late to mail them a card. However, it’s not too late to email them your season’s greetings. In fact, it’s never too late for email. That’s its best quality.

You don’t need to get too fancy. The recipient will appreciate the thought. So let’s get started.

First you will need a festive or festively-suggestive image. What do I mean by that? Perhaps a shot of a snowy landscape or your kids building a snowman. Heck, even a close up on the bough of a fir tree (or potentially any evergreen tree) will do. For us, we’re using a close up of the decorated tree.

Open your image in Edit mode. If you want to make a large number of cards on a variety of images, you could press Record in the Actions palette at this time to save yourself work later on.

Orginal

I’m opting to crop the image just a little bit so there’s no wasted space. This can be done in the Crop tool of the Geometry group. Simply drag your cursor over the area you wish to keep. Everything outside of the selected area will be removed.

Crop

I then press Done.

From here, there’s a lot of different directions I could take this. I could add a lens blur to emphasize the bokeh effect that’s already happening. I could add a special effect. I particularly like using the Oil Paint effect, but turning down all of the settings so low that it almost tricks the eye — is that a photo or a painting? The subtlety is nice, and the Edit Brush, Gradients, and Pixel Targeting come in handy in such cases. All will depend on your image. You may want to boost the saturation to make a cold winter photo into a warm, cheery one. I didn’t bother on this one, as the golds are pretty warm already, and I kind of like the warm and cold contrasts in the incandescence of the ornaments, but that’s just me.

You could add a vignette, which, incidentally can be done in any color.

Vignette

In the end, I chose something more classic to emphasize the center subject. This can also be done by adding a border, and so I’ll open the Border tool in the Add group. You can select a color for your border by choosing one from the color box, or by selecting a color on the image.

Color Picker

You can adjust the width of the border by moving the Size slider. To create some visual interest, choose the Irregular radio button in the Edge section, and then press the arrow button to see the edge options available. (You can also use the lower arrows to flip through the options.)

Irregular Edge
Edge

Press OK to choose an irregular shape. Press Done to finish with your border.

Now for the message. How in depth that becomes will be decided by a number of factors, such as:

a) How much space do you have?

b) How customized do you want it to be?

c) Would you rather treat your email as the inside of the card, and the image as the outside?

d) Does the image look silly with a lot of text on it?

Open the Text tool in the Add group. I covered adding text in detail in this tutorial so I won’t carry on about it too much. What’s most important to me with a situation like this is positioning, but also the look and feel. Once again, you can match the text to colors in the image by clicking the color box, then choosing the Eye Dropper in the Colors dialog by pressing the Select button.

Choose Text color

Once you have selected your color, I recommend playing around with the blend mode, available from the Blend Mode drop-down menu.

Blend Modes

Once satisfied, I’m going to click Done. Since I don’t want to get carried away, and there’s a million other things on my holiday to-do list, I’m going to call it quits on the editing and move on to sending my message out to loved ones. I save my image and exit out of Edit mode.

Final Product

If you have included layers in your card and then saved it as a .acdc file, it may be too large to send via email. You can quickly convert the image to a file format of your choice by selecting the image in Manage mode and choosing Batch | Convert File Format. Select your desired file format and follow the prompts in the Batch Convert File Format wizard.

Now you can email your image by selecting it in Manage mode and choosing Send | Email Images…

Email Image

For assistance, press the Help button in the Send Email Wizard. From here you can inscribe your personalized greeting to loved ones far away. There you go — one task down! Now on to getting those gifts wrapped. :)

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