3 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From One of the Greatest Men I’ve Ever Known…

3 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From One of the Greatest Men I’ve Ever Known…

The last few months have brought me immense sadness, lasting joy, and an even greater focus and clarity on living a life of value and purpose in the here and now. I have cried, prayed, and made decisions that I certainly wouldn’t have made had I not had to say goodbye, so soon, to one of the greatest and most influential men of my life – my father, Paul Brown.

Exactly three months ago, to this very day, my family stood around his hospital bed in the living room of my parents house and my daddy left this earth we live on. It was at this time that I realized my life was no longer the same and that that point forward marked a completely new chapter in my life – if moving forward was even possible.

At the time, moving forward in my life just didn’t seem right, my father was gone, and no longer in my day to day life. I needed time to mourn what I have lost that was so precious to me. After the commotion of his memorial service died down and a month of reflection and sadness went by, I began to realize that even though he is no longer here physically, he is still very much a part of my day to day life, as he will always be a part of me.

It is my belief that every person you meet has something they can teach you. My father was no exception as I have learned so many things from him throughout my life. The past few months have taught me a lot as I have taken time to reflect, time to assess, and time to create an even clearer vision of where I want to go and what I want my life to stand for. I have learned three very big life lessons from my father that I would like to share.

Lesson #1: You Have the Power to Make Your Own Future

This first lesson that I learned from my daddy, I learned at an early age. My father was adopted and when I was just 3 years old, I remember the day my little brother and I met my grandmother, Carol Moore. All of his life, my father wondered who it was he came from, and why he had been given up for adoption. His adopted family wasn’t as nurturing as they could have been, and my father struggled with feelings of abandonment and lack of love for all his young life. He later married my mother, and then was encouraged to begin the astronomical task of finding his mom. After years of searching, he finally found her and then did the hard work of trudging through emotional pain and inviting her to be a part of our family. Because he faced his pains head-on to make a change in his life – he was rewarded with the mother he never knew, my mother was rewarded with a happier husband, and my four brothers and I were rewarded with a loving grandmother who greatly enriched our lives as we grew. He changed the future by taking the necessary and difficult steps he needed to.

Lesson #2: Your Skills and Experiences Can Help Others

The second lesson I learned from my daddy, was one that had been modeled for me from as far as I can remember. Once my father found his birth mother, he went on to get a private detective’s license, founded his own company in the budding era of the Internet, and MiracleSearch.com was born. Over the course of the next 20+ years, he consulted hundreds of adoptees who were looking for their birth parents and birth parents who were looking for their children. It was because of him that many happy reunions happened in the lives of people who before only had discouragement. My father had a gift, and he boldly used it as his personal life’s ministry to God.

Lesson #3: Enjoy Every Day of Your Life

This third lesson was one that I have been reflecting on often since my father has passed. Every single day of life is a precious gift from God, to be used in whatever way that we want. We can choose our life’s experience. For me, I have learned that anger, regret, and complaints is a waste of the short time that we have on this earth, and that love, acceptance and grace towards the people around you, as well as perseverance to the goals and good things you want in your life is what should occupy the time that we have. Going after your dreams should start today, and each day thereafter that you build upon it – you will feel fulfilled and happy inside that you are doing something of value to you and to others.

There is a beautiful quote that goes: Don’t let your music die inside of you.

My father certainly didn’t and he will forever be remembered through the families he reunited and the bonds that were formed through his life’s work. My father was an amazing person and is loved and missed so much. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about him, or feel him as I excitedly push forward with my business dreams. He was my number one supporter, and I will always hold on to one of the last things he said to me… “I’m so proud”.


Ira Glass On “The Creative Gap”

I came across this powerful little video today and thought it was just too good not to share!

Expressed through kinetic typography, Ira Glass talks about the “creative gap” and the importance of not giving up on your creative work. He urges individuals in the creative field to keep moving forward. This “creative gap” is this special something that your writing, or in our case as designers – your design projects lack. You know this, and you know that you fall short. This is normal and is good, because it makes you want to get better! Now, you may think you’ll never fill this gap and achieve that special something that your work is missing. However, if design is something you are passionate about – then the best thing to do is to KEEP PUSHING THROUGH.

Keep sitting yourself down at your computer with your design programs open. Keep the drawing pad and pen handy. Keep on creating. Keep on studying. Keep on learning. Keep on applying. Keep on playing. Keep on sharing. Eventually, your work will have that special thing that you longed for and the time it took to get there will have been well worth it!

As Ross Perot puts it: Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success…

Without further ado:

Ira Glass

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass

Kinetic typography by David Shiyang Liu

The Top 3 Reasons Why I Chose to Work For Myself

The Top 3 Reasons Why I Chose to Work For Myself

There are so many reasons why I love working for myself. Over the last few years, I’ve been working as a freelancer and just this year I have turned my freelancing into a profitable graphic & web design company by the name of LUTZstudio. On a daily basis, I help individuals and businesses effectively communicate the message of their company through the visual branding I create. I spend my time bringing forth innovative logo design concepts, laying out catalogs and books with eye-pleasing balance and contrast, as well as building stunning and responsive websites for the small business owner so they can make a profit to care for their families and do what they are passionate about at the same time! I love my job and I am blessed tremendously through the relationships I have formed with the clients I work with every day. I also just started this blog where I actively share what I know on design and branding, working from home and creating an intentional life that you can be passionate about! Would I be able to do all of that working for someone else? Not likely…

The Top 3 Reasons Why I Chose To Work For Myself

Reason #1: I Can Work Anywhere & Be There For My Family
Reason #1: I Can Work Anywhere & Be There For My Family
Having my own design company and blog means that I can literally work anywhere. All I have to do is set up my laptop or pull out my drawing pad. With a wifi connection and a phone, I can answer emails, contact potential clients and converse with any team members I might have. Working for myself means that I am not tied down to any one location (such as an office cubicle) and I am able to work anywhere that I desire in whatever environment that I choose at any given time.

Feel like playing some music? I can turn it on at my leisure.
Need a change in scenery? I can walk to the park or step out onto my balcony garden.

I am able to travel and still be able to make a profit while I am away from my home office. I am able to live anywhere my husband and I decide to reside as all of the work I do is online and I am not bound to living in one place all of my life.

However, by far the most important benefit to me in regards to being able to work anywhere is that I can work from home and be there for my family. This means that I will be around to shape the lives of my future children throughout each day and provide a happy and creative home environment for them to spend their childhood.

Reason #2: I Am My Own Boss & Can Set My Own Hours
Reason #2: I Am My Own Boss & Can Set My Own Hours
Being my own boss is an especially great benefit as I can set my own schedule and be flexible for the ones that I love. Many of my friends have come to me with horror stories of their bosses and how they don’t allow them to stray from the initial work schedule or take time off, even in a family or personal crisis. To me, I don’t believe that to be right and it definitely isn’t the way I want to live and work. There is just too much negative energy! Sometimes people just need a break so they can deal with whatever problem they have at hand so it doesn’t interfere with the quality of the work they are providing. I believe in being there for the ones you love and doing work you can be proud to call your own. It’s a very liberating feeling for me to be able to plan my day out and be able to say what I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it.

Do I need a personal day? I take it!
Is a member of my family or one of my friends emotionally distraught? I’m there for them at any time!
Does my husband gets off work early and want to take me out on a date? I’m so there honey!
Do I find myself sick in bed and just don’t feel like lifting a finger? I take however much sick time that I need.
Do I want my weekend free for nurturing important relationships? I can take the weekend off.
Do I need a little break from work to clear my head? I take it without hesitation.

There is nobody I have to check with, no paper slips I have to sign. As long as the work is getting done on schedule for my clients, then that is all that matters. My clients don’t care what I do in my off-time as long as they are getting the quality of work that they pay for and they get it within the agreed timeframe.

Since I am my own boss, I get to choose the clients that I work with. I don’t put up with negative, rude, or demanding clients and there is no reason that I have to. I get to work with exciting and positive people and dedicate my time to the projects that I am most passionate about.

Reason #3: There is No Cap to How Financially Fruitful I Can Be
Reason #3: There is No Cap to How Financially Fruitful I Can Be
Lastly, there is no cap to how far I can go with my business endeavors and how financially fruitful and rewarding those endeavors can turn out to be. I have huge plans for myself which include blogging about and authoring books on design, branding and working from home, as well as moving forward with my plans to expand LUTZstudio, along with many more ideas down the road. Working for myself means that I have the flexibility of exploring all sides of who I am and sharing all that I know with the world to be of help to others. Bringing in a profitable income in return for providing value to my clients is a win-win situation. I am able to do my share in providing for my family financially while doing what I most enjoy and helping people in the process.

What could possibly be better than living your God-given dream doing work you’re passionate about and being able to be there for your loved ones? In my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing more rewarding than that.

5 Simple Ways to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

5 Simple Ways to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

We’ve all been there at one time or another. We make a list of resolutions that we want to commit to for the coming year, but we just don’t seem to commit. Sure, the first few days or couple of weeks oftentimes go well, but then somewhere along the way, somehow we end up caught in our old habits – “I can do it tomorrow right?” or “I’ll just catch up on it later.” With that attitude, come February, our goals seemed to have slipped away completely and we are in the same old rut that has somehow become the way we live our life.

The dictionary defines the word resolution as this: The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.

And the word resolute in the dictionary means: Firm or determined; unwavering.

Resolutions are a choice

Making a resolution then, is a choice. You decide what you are going to do and then you do it. Simple as that.
It is a firm and soundly made decision in which you follow through unwaveringly.

Sure sounds like a far cry from what the typical New Year’s resolution means to people in this new millennia doesn’t it? New Year’s Resolutions have become something that is oftentimes laughed at as even the people who are making the “resolution” know in the back of their mind that they won’t keep it to fulfillment. To me, that’s so sad and it needs to be changed!

The Bigger Picture

I think one of the reasons we fall away from our goals is because we oftentimes become caught up in how difficult our goal seems to be that we don’t actually work a little each day to pursue it and we escape back to what is easy and familiar to us. It is sometimes difficult for us to break new ground emotionally. I believe that is because breaking away from the familiar, even if it isn’t as good for us (in comparison to how wonderful our new resolution will be), is always a hard thing to do. Why? Because it is what we are used to. It is easy. It is comfortable. It is familiar.

When we are tempted to fall back into our old ways of life, this is when we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what our resolution means for us and how it will better our life. Each day we need to look to that bigger picture to help motivate us to do the days work and move us one day closer to our goal. You will see that the more you work towards your goal, the easier it will become to keep it up and the more fulfilled and happy you will feel about yourself as a person.

Breaking old habits that have become the way we live our life is worth it when we are reaching out to achieve something better.

Don't Give Up on your goals because they are difficult. Keep pursuing your goals because you are worth it

Be All That You Can Be

You are worth seeing your goals into fruition! If your goal is something that will better yourself, your family, your friends or your overall quality of life – then you deserve seeing the change in your life being made! Don’t give up on your goals because they are difficult, keep pursuing them because you are worth it!

There are so many people in our life, including ourselves, that tell us that we can’t do certain things. I want to tell you specifically that you can. You can make a thought-out choice to better yourself in some way, small or large that will move you towards a better tomorrow. You can make your goal become your new reality. You can be a blessing to others by the resolution you have made. You can be an inspiration to those around you and be an example of what enough hard work and dedication can do!

5 Simple Ways To Help You Keep Your Resolutions

Today I want to share 5 simple ways you can use to help you stay on track and keep your New Year’s resolutions all throughout the year. I will be following these very same tips myself for my own resolutions/goals I have for 2014.

5 Simple Steps To Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions | RebeccaLutz.com1. Write out your goal on paper.
One of the most important steps is to first write out your goal and become very clear of what it is that you want to achieve. Envision what your life will be like once this goal is being worked on/or complete. Next, list all of the steps that it will take to make your dream a reality and then break it down into obtainable bite-sized chunks for each day. Feel free to read more on how to do this here.

2. Post a written or visual reminder in a prominent place in your home
Once you are firm on your resolution, it’s time to get excited about it! Post a written or visual reminder of your goal in a prominent place in your home. This reminder should give you an instant glance of the “bigger picture” so that in the day to day life, the bigger picture won’t be lost. Put it somewhere that you see often throughout the day. Your bathroom mirror is an excellent spot for me and is where I’ll be keeping my reminders as well as on my fridge, and my desk.

3. Be Accountable & Tell Someone
Now that you are serious about your goal, it is time that you share it with someone close to you. By being accountable to someone else, you will be even more motivated to see it through to completion. For if you don’t, then you will be setting yourself up for embarrassment if they ask you how your goal is coming along and you haven’t actually been working on it!

4. Pray and Meditate on Your Goal and Future
I find it extremely helpful to say a prayer whenever I don’t feel like working on my step for the day. “Lord, give me your strength to do today’s task and help me to do it joyfully for You!” Sometimes, that is all I need to pick me up and out of my zombie trance of doing only what is easy and satisfying to me at the moment. It’s also good to meditate on your goal each day and the life you’ll be living as the results of your goal begin to transform your life for the better!

5. Set Your Alarm & Add a Star to Your Calendar
To keep you on track each day so that you don’t go a day without working on your scheduled task – set your alarm to go off on your phone at a certain point each day to remind you that you need to complete your task for that day if you haven’t already. If you haven’t done anything up to that point, then when your alarm goes off – that is when you need to do it, no matter how you feel at the time. Say a prayer, and just get on with it. Once your task is completed for the day, mark a star on your calendar. The more stars you have in a row, the more incentive you will have to want to follow through with that day’s task because if you don’t do the goal for that day, you won’t get a star! If you don’t get a star, then the days in a row will be broken for your goal and that would be a shame!

When you make your goals become a reality, your soul will be happy. You will be bettering yourself, not only with the goal you are reaching for, but also for the simple fact that you saw it through. By doing this, you will be equipping yourself with the tools you need to take on even greater goals in the future. It is a wonderful cycle of blessings in your life and the lives of the ones you love, simply by sticking to the goal you have made! Let the cycle start this year!

My Goals for 2014
Following my own advice for step 3, after sharing them with my husband, I want to take it a step further still and share some of my goals with you and have you hold me accountable! I have huge goals for this year that I am very excited about:

1. I’ll be authoring and publishing two books to train individuals everywhere on (1) design (Spring of 2014) and (2) working online through platforms such as oDesk (Fall 2014)

2. I’ll be posting at least 2 posts a month on this blog site to help my readers learn what I know about graphic & web design, working from home, and living a life that they are extremely passionate about!

3. I will be finalizing the re-brand of my design business LUTZstudio and I will be polishing my website until it shines!

4. My husband and I have plans to save up and put a down payment on our first house together and move in just in time for next Christmas.

What do your goals for the new year look like for you? Feel free to comment below!

How to Design a Facebook E-Card for Christmas in 8 Easy Steps [2 FREE PNGs Included]

How to Design a Facebook E-Card for Christmas in 8 Easy Steps [2 FREE PNGs Included]

As we draw nearer to Christmas, sending out the traditional holiday cards may have somehow slipped through in the hustle and bustle of this holiday season. There’s no need to stress, because you can opt for a quick and easy new-fangled tradition of sending holiday e-cards to your friends and family on Facebook by posting to their timeline or through a personalized Facebook message.

Click here for an instant download! and you’ll receive a bundle of the following two e-cards for you to send as you please to all of your Facebook friends.

Download Your Own Holiday E-Card for Free & Send to your family and friends over Facebook!

Below I will show you how to design the first e-card within the 2 card bundle:

1. Open Illustrator and Set the Dimensions
Open Illustrator CC. If you don’t have Illustrator, you can download a free trial here. Set the dimensions to Facebook’s current timeline dimensions of 505px x 380px.
Facebook E-Card 1

2. Draw a Rectangle & Fill with the Color of Your Choice
Draw a rectangle to fill the full artboard you just created. I chose a soft blue color at RGB 139,187,187.
Facebook E-Card 2

3. Create a Decorative Text Frame for Your Text
The next thing I did was created a pretty frame for my text with the pen tool using a series of anchor points. I chose the RGB fill color of 249,244,225. I placed a stroke of 8 around the decorative frame in the background blue color.
Facebook E-Card 3

4. Insert Desired Text
For this e-card, I used the font Lavanderia and chose a deep red color with the RGB value of 187,57,57. I then converted the text to outlines.
Facebook E-Card 4

5. Design Decorative Elements
For the ground blanketed in snow, I created a slope using the pen tool and I filled it with the same creamy white I used for the decorative text frame.
Facebook E-Card 5

For the trees, I simple designed a triangle using the star tool within Illustrator and defining the number of points to 3. I then brought out the top anchor point until the triangle reached my desired shape I was after. I filled the trees in with the a soft green using the RGB value of 159,170,82.
Facebook E-Card 6

Facebook E-Card 7

Facebook E-Card 8

6. Design the Falling Snow Pattern Swatch
For the softly falling snow, I created a pattern swatch. To create a swatch, the first thing you need to do is select a pixel area that you would like to work with. To do this, simply draw a square with the rectangle tool and set the fill and stroke to none. Within this area, use the circle shape tool and place various circles of different sizes within this square. The idea of this area is that it will serve as the space that repeats itself as the seamless pattern for your whole card.

Facebook E-Card 9

Once you have the snow the way you would like it to look within the square you have drawn, go ahead and select the full square, including the circles and drag this whole set of elements directly into your swatches panel that is located at the right hand side of my workspace. This will create a new swatch in your panel.

Facebook E-Card 10

With the new pattern swatch selected, go ahead and draw a rectangle across your full artboard. You will see that the snow pattern you just created now spans across your full card as a beautiful seamless pattern.

7. Put on the Finishing Touches
For the finishing touches, I brought the text and text frame to the front of my art board so that the falling snow is set behind both elements. I did this by selecting both the text and text frame at the same time and then navigating to the top of my screen and selecting Object > Arrange > Bring to the Front. I then added a snowglobe-like base using the same red that was used within the text.

Facebook E-Card 11

8. Save and Export file as a PNG and POST!
The next thing to do is save your Illustrator file as the master file that you will then be able to come back to later if you would like to edit anything. To save the file for sending on Facebook all you have to do is navigate to the top of your screen and select File > Export. Name your file, checkmark the Use Artboard box, then select which artboard you are using (1), and then set it to save as a PNG file and then go ahead and click on the “Export” button. Select the resolution to Medium (150ppi) / and the anti-aliasing to “Art Optimized (Super Sampling)” with a background color of white. Click “OK”.

Facebook E-Card 12

Facebook E-Card 13

Congratulations! Your E-Card is now done and ready for posting to all of your Facebook friend’s timelines!

To be sent the 2-pack of e-card designs to send out to your family and friends, simply click here for an instant download!

Terms of Use
These cards are for your personal use only. They are not to be sold in whole or in part. The font is available for free personal use download and paid commercial use download here.

How to Design Your Own Holiday Card [FREE Template Included!]

How to Design Your Own Holiday Card [FREE Template Included!]

It’s that time of year again here in Kansas City! The wind is blistering, the lights are twinkling, people are excitedly hustling around to find that perfect present for everyone on their shopping list, and to top it all off, the Christmas cards are stuffing the mailbox full with holiday cheer! Have you sent your cards out yet? If you haven’t then don’t worry because it’s not too late! You could even go ahead and make your very own for an incredibly special and personal touch.

Today I’m going to be showing you how you can design your own Christmas card in Adobe Photoshop CC. I’m also offering you a free Christmas card template for you to customize, print and then send to all your family and friends this holiday season. You’re going to love it! You’ll be sure to have people ooooing and awwwwing all over your card at your next holiday gathering.

Example of Your Holiday Cards

How to Design Your Own Holiday Card in Adobe Photoshop

1. Open Photoshop
If you don’t own Adobe Photoshop CC you can download a free 30-day trial from Adobe’s website by clicking here

2. How to Choose & Specify Your Dimensions
Go ahead and specify the dimensions you would like for the card. For this tutorial, I have decided to go with a horizontal landscape format and have set my dimensions for a 5×7 inch card. Since I am designing a folded card, this means I need to set the dimensions for 10x7in so that when it is folded, the card will be 5x7in.

File > New > 7in width, 10in height, 300 resolution, CMYK color mode > “OK”

Step 1 - Set Your Dimensions

3. How to Find the Middle of Your Card
Find the middle of your card by first choosing the rectangle tool on your tool bar (left on my screen, 18th tool from the top), then click anywhere on your document and a box will come up that will ask you what you’d like the dimensions to be for the rectangle. Set the dimensions to 7in wide and 5in high. Click “OK”. Move the rectangle so that the top of the rectangle is flush with the top of your art space.
Find the Middle of Your Holiday Card

4. How to Bring Down Your Guide Lines
All you need to do here is first make sure that your guides and rulers are on.
Ruler: View > Rulers > Select / shortkey: Command + R
Guides: View > Show > Guides > Select / Shortkey: Command + ;

Go to the top of your page where your ruler is, click and drag down from the ruler to create your guide line. Drag it all the way down to where it “clicks” to the bottom of rectangle you have placed back in step 3.

Bring Down Guides for Your Holiday Card

Repeat this process 4 times so that each side of your card has a guide that is snapped to it.
Bring Down Guides for Your Holiday Card

5. How to Set Your Bleeds
Image > Canvas Size
A dialogue box will appear of which you should select the following: and then click “OK”
Create Bleeds for Your Holiday Card

6. Prepping your image
Determine which high-res image that you’d like to use. Bring the image into Photoshop by dragging it into the icon on your dock or desktop. Check the image size to be sure that the size of the image you are using is greater than or the same size as the desired output.

Image > Image Size

If the image you have selected checks out, then you’re set for the next step. If not, then it is recommended that you find an alternate image that is of a higher resolution. If you choose not to, there are chances that the image you have selected may turn out to be pixelated or blurry upon printing. However, you can usually get away with any resolution between 250-300dpi/ppi.

To change the image to the correct size for your card – use the crop tool which is located on my screen as the 5th tool from the top on the tool bar. Once you have the tool selected, set the dimensions and resolution that you would like to crop your image to. Since the image size we need is 7.25in width x 5.125in high, put those dimensions into the boxes and then specify the resolution to be 300dpi. Click and drag across the image to crop the image to your liking.

Step 6 - Crop

7. How to Insert Your Image

Copy the image from the single image photoshop file and then paste it into your card design file. Drag the image to sit flush against the bottom of your art space on top of the bleeds. Hit “ENTER” or the check mark on the top right of your screen.

Step 7 - Inserting Your Image

8. How to Eye-drop a Color and Make a Color Swatch
Now that you have your image in place, you can use a color from within your image as the dominant color for your card. Use the eyedropper tool that is located as the 6th tool from the top on my screen. With the eyedropper tool, hover over your image until you find your desired color.

Step 8 - Eyedropping a Color and Making a Swatch

Next, add this color as a brand new swatch to use it later on for your card.

Making a new color swatch is very simple to do. With the color you just eyedropped showing in the foreground color (3rd icon from the bottom in the toolbar), go ahead and navigate to your swatches panel and click on the square icon next to the trash can. Once you have done this, you can name your color and it will be added to your swatches panel.

I have chosen a maroon color that was taken from the sweater I am wearing within my image. This color will pair very nicely with the orange-gold color I will also be introducing later on.

Step 8 - Eyedropping a Color and Making a Swatch

9. How to Colorize the Back Side of Your Card
Make a rectangle that starts at the top left hand corner of your bleeds and drag the rectangle out to the bottom right corner of the middle guide you have set for your card.

Step 9 - Colorizing the back side of your card

10. How to Insert Decorative Elements from Illustrator into Photoshop
It is simple to add decorative elements into your card design from Adobe Illustrator. Open your pre-made .eps or .AI or .svg file in Illustrator. Next, select the decorative vector graphic that you would like to use and copy it into your Photoshop file. (Cntrl + C with the selection in Illustrator and then Cntrl + V into your Photoshop file). You will then have the option of pasting your image as a smart object, pixels, path, or shape layer. For your needs here, choose “pixels”.

Step 10 - Decorative Elements File

Step 10 - Place Element as Pixels

Once your decorative element is placed, you can move it to wherever you’d like within your design and then click the white check mark at the top right of your screen, or simply hit “enter”.

Step 10 - Drag and Enter

Repeat this process for all the imagery you’d like to bring in from Illustrator.
Step 10 - Add Bow & Tag

11. How to Make a Gradient
To make a gradient frame to put on top of your main image, start by making 2-3 lighter colored swatches by eye-dropping different shades of gold from the bow design. Once you have your swatches made, select the gradient tool which is located as the 12th tool from the top of the toolbar. Sometimes the gradient tool is hidden underneath the paint-bucket tool. To select the new tool, simply press down on the tool button and hold until the other tools appear of which you can then choose from. This applies to any tool that you need that isn’t currently being displayed on your toolbar.

After you have the gradient tool selected, you can make your own gradient. To do this, simply go to the top left of your screen where the current gradient is displayed. Double click on this box. You’ll then see a box that shows the gradient and the colors that it is made of. To change the colors within the gradient, click on a color swatch within the gradient, navigate to the color swatches panel where you saved your new gold swatches to that you just made, and go ahead and select one of those swatches. Do this until all the colors within your gradient are changed to how you would like them.

If any portion of your gradient has a low opacity, you can change this by clicking on the black arrow directly above your swatch and changing the opacity setting to 100% in the box labeled “Opacity”.

Once you have your gradient that way you would like, choose a name for your gradient and then click “New”. This adds your gradient to the gradient library for you to choose from.

Step 13 - How to Make a Ribbon

12. How to Make a Simple Frame
The next step would be to select the rectangle tool. At the top of your screen, you will see two options for the color of your new rectangle shape. For the stroke of your rectangle, change the color to your new gradient swatch (under the gradient option selected – this is the order of the selections to choose from: No Color/Solid/Gradient/Pattern). Once the gradient is selected, you can change the stroke size to 1 or 2 pts. The fill should be set to “no color”.

Next, proceed to make the rectangle. What I did was I started the rectangle from the edge of the curser marks within the inside of my bleed guide lines (so, in other words: I didn’t include my bleeds) and I extended the rectangle all the way out to the opposite corner. This should give you a nice, simple frame for your image.

Step 11 - Add a Simple Frame

13. How to Add a “Ribbon” for Your Text
Adding a ribbon is fairly simple. All that you have to do here is to have the gradient you made earlier selected for both the fill and a 1 pt stroke. Draw a skinny rectangle from one end of your design to the other. If it’s not quite right just yet, you can always adjust the size later to your liking.

Step 13 - How to Make a Ribbon

14. How to Add Text
Navigate to the text tool which is located as the 16th tool from the top on your toolbar. With this tool selected, draw a rectangular text box onto the ribbon you just created. Type your desired text. I chose “Happy Holidays”. With the text tool selected, you will have the option of changing the font and size of your text at the top of your screen. I chose the font “Lavanderia” at the size of 52pts. You can then choose the fill and stroke of your text. For the fill, you can change the swatch that is shown at the top of your screen by clicking on it. For adding a stroke, you can do this by double clicking on the layer your text is on within the layers panel. (for any panel that is not currently being shown, navigate to “Window” and you can then locate and select the panel you would like to see from the drop down menu. Once you have the layer styles box up, you can go down to where it says “stroke” and set your desired settings for the stroke. I chose an orange color from my swatches panel at 6pts.

Step 14 - How to Add Text

To add text to your gift tag, select the pen tool which is located as the 15th tool from the top. Set the fill and stroke both to o pts/no color. Place an anchor point by clicking at one end of the writing space within your gift tag and clicking again for a second anchor point at the end of your writing space within your gift tag. Next, select the text tool once again and click on the beginning of the line you just made. Type your name or family name here. I chose a font that appears handwritten “Hand of Sean“. For the commercial version, go here.

Step 14 - How to Add Text to Tag

15. How to Organize and Group Your Photoshop Layers
Naming, linking, grouping & color coding your layers is important to keep everything clean and orderly (and it keeps me sane!)

To name your layer, double click on its current name and enter the name you would like.
To link two or more layers together, click on each layer you’d like to be linked to the other by holding down the cmmd key on your mac (cntrl key on your pc). Link the layers together by going to Layer > Link Layers.
To group layers together into single or multiple folders, simply click on each of the layers you’d like and then go to Layer > Group Layers (or use the short keys: Cmmd + G).
To color code your layers: Right click (Cmmd + click) on the layer or group selected and the color choice will come up for you to choose between.

To move layers around to achieve the desire order of your design elements within your card design artwork, all you need to do is click and drag the layers to reorder them within your layers panel.

I created a grouping for all of the layers we just made and titled it “Front”

Organizing Your Layers

16. How to Design the Inside of Your Card
For the inside of your card, create a new grouping and title it “Back”
Take everything that we’ve gone over above to design the inside of your card how you’d like it to appear.

example 1 Step 17 - Designing the Inside of your Card

example 2 Step 17 - Designing the Inside of your Card

Step 17 - Designing the Inside of your Card 3

17. How to Save Your Card for Print
Congratulations! We are now done with the design! All that’s left is saving the file and then sending it over to your printer in a format that they accept.

The first thing you need to do is SAVE YOUR PHOTOSHOP FILE. File > Save or File > Save As if you want to save your file as a new Photoshop file than the file you started with. You may choose the location you’d like to save it to as well.

18. How and Where to Print Your Cards

I have printed with UPrinting.com with good results in the past.

You could also print professionally with a printer in your local area.

If you choose to do so, this is what you should specify:

I hope you are having a wonderful day. I am looking to have my newly designed Holiday Cards printed up.
I am needing a quote for what it would cost to have {PLACE # HERE}-count 10in by 7in (half-fold to 5in x 7in) cards printed up in CMYK full color, front and back. Scored and folded. 10pt (or higher) cardstock glossy or semi-glossy paper
Please let me know. Thank you very much!
-{Your Name}[/quote_simple]

OR if you don’t need a quote and would simply like to go for it – you can send them the following along with the file (you may need to upload directly to their site for a lager file transfer):

I hope you are having a wonderful day. I am looking to have my newly designed Holiday Cards printed up.
I need {PLACE # HERE}-count 10in by 7in (half-fold to 5in x 7in) cards printed up in CMYK full color, front and back. Scored and folded. 10pt (or higher) cardstock glossy or semi-glossy paper.
The Front and Back is specified within the Photoshop file layers. There is a .125in bleed set on these files within the .psd.
Please let me know the timeframe of which I can first expect to see the proof.
Thank you very much!
-{Your Name}[/quote_simple]

You can also feel free to print at home from your inkjet. All you’ll need to purchase is a stack of nice semi-glossy stock and a full color cartridge for your printer.

CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE DONE! Enjoy your beautifully designed Holiday Cards this Christmas season.

Click here to download the template I created in this tutorial. Enjoy!

Side Note:
Feel free to comment below or contact me with any questions you might have.

Terms of Use
These cards are for your personal use only. They are not to be sold or distributed either in whole or in part. The vector bow design can be found here. The font is available for free personal use download and paid commercial use download here.

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