January 12, 2014
Photoshop Your Postcard Design
Postcard printing is an excellent marketing tool, not just because they are cheap to mail and have a high return, but they are also easy to create. This means that if you do not have the money to spend on paying a designer every time you send out a postcard, you can easily create them yourself. The designing effects, colors, text, and more are up to you, but be sure to follow the right guidelines for printing and mailing so that postcard printing and mailing do not end up costing you both extra time and money.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to correctly create a postcard using Photoshop. Once you get to the design step in this tutorial, you can create your own or look up some nice graphic effects and other postcard tutorials online to get a unique look that matches your message and brand.
Go to PrintPlace.com and download the size of template you need. For this tutorial, we will be using the 4x6 size of template. Once you open the .zip file, you will see several options for front and back templates that include PDF, JPEG, and AI file formats. Since we are designing in Photoshop, we will be using the 4x6 - Front - Landscape.jpg and 4x6 - Back - Landscape.jpg files.
In Photoshop, open the Front file first by going to File>Open. Once you’ve selected the file and opened it, be sure to save your document as a PSD file (Photoshop file) and periodically save it along the way.
Once the template is open, you will see three colored lines surrounding the art space. The red line indicates the edge of the Bleed Zone. Any artwork that you want to extend to the very edge of the postcard, such as the background, should reach this red line. The blue line is the Trim Line and indicates where the postcard will be trimmed. Because cutting machines are allowed a small degree of inaccuracy, though, you will want to make sure that any important text or graphics you do not want cut off stay within the green line.
Your color mode may already be set to CMYK, but you will want to double check. Postcard printing companies cannot print in RGB, so if your colors are not CMYK, they will find the closest CMYK color match they can. Designing in CMYK, though, will give you a more accurate picture of how your postcard will appear when printed. Go to Image>Mode and choose CMYK Color.
Next you will need to turn on the Ruler so you can set up guidelines. The PrintPlace.com template colored guidelines will show to the sides of the postcard when you are designing but not on top. Photoshop guides will allow you to more accurately place artwork within the Bleed and Safety Zones. To turn on the Ruler, go to View>Ruler.
Now to set the guides, go to View>New Guide. You will need to enter the location in inches of each horizontal and vertical guideline on the PrintPlace.com template. Each vertical guide for this 4x6 postcard is as follows: .375, .5, .625, 6.375, 6.5, 6.625. The horizontal guides are .375, .5, .625, 4.375, 4.5, 4.625.
Before adding a background to your postcard printing design, you will need to Create a New Layer. This button is located at the bottom of your Layers palette and looks like a small box in front of a large box. If your Layers palette is not visible, go to Window>Layers to open it.
Now add a background. If you simply want a solid color that you can leave as is or add texture and other Filter effects to, first select the color you desire by double-clicking on the color boxes at the bottom of your Tools menu. Then select the Paint Bucket tool and click on the template to fill it with the color. You should now see your colored background with the guides on top.
If you would like to use a picture or graphic for the background, first open the image file you want to use in Photoshop. Then hit Ctrl+A and then Ctrl+C to copy the image. Go back to your postcard document within Photoshop, make sure your new layer is selected, and hit Ctrl+V to paste it onto your template. If you need to stretch the image to make sure it reaches the bleed line, hold down Shift while using the Move tool to drag the corners. Shift will keep your image in the original dimensions and keep it from warping out of shape.
Add text, a logo, and any other graphics to your postcard printing design at this point. Just make sure to create a new layer for each block of text and each graphic so you can easily reposition and add effects if desired. Do not crowd the front of the postcard with too much information. Usually just a headline and a brief description is all you need.
Before designing the back side of the postcard, you will need to prepare this front file to send to the printer. Save to your PSD file one last time, then drag the PrintPlace.com template into the trash can at the bottom of your Layers palette. Now click on the drop down menu in the top right hand corner of the palette (it looks like a down arrow next to lines) and choose Flatten Image. This will consolidate all of your layers into one. Choose Save As this time so that you keep the original PSD file for future editing if desired.
Now open the back template for your postcard in Photoshop. The blue areas in this template need to be left blank for the postage and mailing address.
Repeat the steps from the front of the postcard that are appropriate for the back. You may want to create guides for the blue zones to make sure none of your artwork crosses into these areas. Usually you will want to include your logo, company name, return address, and other contact information on the back. You can also include directions or other small bits of extra information if needed. Although it varies from font to font, usually you will not want to choose a text size smaller than 10 pt.
Do not forget to flatten the back of your postcard before sending it to the postcard printing company. And remember that if you need ideas for the design to look up some inspiration and tutorials online. Have fun!
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