A few of my friends have photoshop elements, but aren't photographers, so they really don't use it enough to know the ins and outs of it. One of the MANY, MANY things that PSE allows one to do is to create custom cards using photos (or not!). The process is fairly straightforward, but it can be daunting if you've never done it, and without the knowledge of the little "extras," they can appear kind of flat.
In no way am I pretending this is a fancy example, but it's just to get those of you who want to play around comfortable enough that you can start creating your own cards!
Wyatt's piano teacher rewarded him recently with a carton of ice cream and sugar cones, so a "thank you" card is in order...here's how it was done:
1. Open a "new" file in Photoshop. I typically know what size I'm going to print it (in this case, 4x6) so I format the size of the file accordingly and set the resolution at around 200 (so it doesn't pixelate on edges of the shapes). Also open any photo(s) you plan to use in the card.
2. Next, I hop over to the tab where I usually see all of my effects and actions, and select "CONTENT." You can use that little drop down to further filter (by color, season, activity, etc), or you can click one of the little icons to filter by type (backgrounds, frames, shapes, etc).
Since this is for a piano teacher, I picked a sheet music background...double click, and voila!
3. Next, I wanted to create a window for the photo I chose. On the left hand margin, I selected the shape tool (looks like a heart, but if yours looks like an ellipse or rectangle, right click it, then pick the heart from the pop-out menu). Once you select the shape tool, the shape tool bar appears at the top of your screen (see photo below).
Click the drop down and scroll through the shapes until you've found one you like. Once you've selected your shape, simply click and drag the shape onto your background. You can resize or reshape it by selecting the "move" tool (looks like a 4-way arrow) from your tool box on the left margin.
I selected two shapes: one large rectangular shape to be my picture window, and one elliptical shape to serve as a plaque for text.
Let's say that you're NOT using a photo for a particular shape...
Photoshop's default foreground/background is white on black. If you click on the top box (foreground), you can select any color from the little pop-up box, and THAT will be the color of the shape you make.
If you want to reset it to default, click the teeny tiny boxes at the bottom left of the boxes...the double arrow swaps them, in case you're wondering.
4. Once you've made your shape, you might want to add dimension to it. Reselect the shape tool, and make sure that the shape-you-want-to-work-on's layer is highlighted in the layer box on the bottom right hand side of your screen (that shape's box will be black, while the rest are gray).
With that shape highlighted, go to the top toolbar on your screen and click the style drop-down box. From here, you can add bevels, shadows, glows, patterns, etc to that shape! The teeny double arrowhead on the right corner will pop out another list of options so that you can layer.
I added a bevel and a drop shadow.
5. Now that your shape is all 3-D and junk, you can do the fun part: add text or a photo! To add a photo, highlight that shape in the layer box, then, click and drag the photo of choice from the open files at the bottom of your page (remember that one you opened right after you created a new file in step 1?). It'll be all the wrong size and in a totally idiotic place, so you'll have to resize and move it. Select the MOVE tool from your toolbox and work with it until it's the right size, then move it directly over your shape. Next, click the little green check mark that pops up to signify that you like that placement. Now, to set the photo to the new shape, hit CTRL + G. Voila! If you need to move it around again, just highlight the photo layer in the layer box, select the move tool, and nudge it until you like it.
Although usually my insistence on "eye-balling" everything works out just fine, it was obvious that I didn't have anything centered, and it was bothering me. If you need help lining stuff up, go to VIEW and click GRID. It'll give you a nice little grid to measure off of, and you can turn it off the same way when you're done with it.
6. Next, I wanted to add text to the ellipse shape. Select the text tool from your toolbox (it's a capital "T") and choose the font, size, color, and any effects...bold, italic, centered, etc...from the toolbar at the top. Click the cursor on the shape where you want your text. DO NOT freak out if you can't see it...it's on the background, not the shape. See...mine did it, too:
What you've got to do is go over to the layer box and click the eyeball for that shape's layer to turn it off. Now you'll see your text (sometimes, you have to turn off two or three layers if you've gotten really ambitious!). Right click your text and select "bring forward" or "bring to front" depending upon your situation...in this case, bring to front. Then click the shape layer's eyeball again to turn it back on!
7. I was feeling all artsy-fartsy, so I used the shape tool again to add little music notes and base/treble clefs to the card as well...I just reset the foreground to black first, then I used the move tool to place them.
Like I said, this is a very simple example. You can go all crazy, layering shapes and textures and adding banners, yada yada yada. At least now you know how to get started!