Friday, December 1, 2006

Personalized photo holiday cards


By Marcelle Costanza

Before I purchased my first computer in 1995, I was pretty much like everyone else. Near the end of the year I would buy a few boxes of Christmas cards to send to family and friends. But once I got that first PC and I discovered clip art and a desktop publishing program called Printmaster, the holiday season changed forever!

That Christmas season in 1995, I designed my first humorous holiday card featuring my husband in a starring role. It was a simple plain-paper, quarter fold card and I used a photo I had scanned into my computer, added a text balloon and digitally signed our names. Everyone -- including my amazingly good natured husband -- got a huge kick out of that card and a tradition was born.

Each year the cards became more elaborate and some more "active" designs had me starting on construction right after Labor Day because they were so labor intensive -- no pun intended! One action card involved my husband's face peaking out from inside a chimney when the card was opened; another featured a Christmas tree popping out of the card with my husband's face hidden in the branches. It took a lot of work and I wound up with some pain in the aging wrists, but it was well worth the effort.

As my photo editing skills increased, the nature of the cards began to change and my husband now has to pose for each individual card design. Even he doesn't know what the card will look like or why I have him getting into weird positions until the first draft of the card is completed and printed. But because he is so good-natured, he goes along with the photo shoot. He's a ham and enjoys being the star of the show.

DNA experiment gone bad

The card in 2004 sported my husband as a DNA experiment gone bad. The Christmas before, he was "elected" to play Santa for the little ones at his cousin's house. I wish I could show you the video of him attempting to get into that Santa costume. It was so comical, I laughed so hard I couldn't finish taping. He is truly a clown at heart. So in 2004, I used that hysterical incident and in the card we tried to turn him into the real Santa. Remember I said "DNA experiment gone bad" --he wound up as Rudolph instead! You can see him in Figure A.


A little creative photo editing with Photoshop and my husband became Rudolph, complete with a bright red nose. (click for larger image)

Snow globe

The card in 2005 was -- I think -- my best effort. I wanted to place him inside a snow globe. After some searching I found a wonderful tutorial by Sue Chastain on for creating a snow globe in Photoshop. I simply replaced the Teddy bear with a photo of my hubby and the card in Figure B was born. I printed this one on a high-gloss card stock and I can't tell you how many phone calls we received after that card was mailed out!