Saturday, September 30, 2017

How to Create Your Own Printable Stationery Set Part Two: Stuff the Box

So, now that you have learned how to create a nifty, if not somewhat small, gift box for a stationery set.  The next step is deciding what you want to put in it - other than just paper and envelopes, that is, or even it you want to add extras.  There's nothing wrong with keeping the sets simple :).

For my sets, I decided that, in addition to 2 paper sizes, I liked the idea of adding a bookmark and journaling card insert but, to be honest, that is in part because I sell what I make.  Both of those items translate into products that I can create without having to make separate designs like the Journaling Card Insert Set below.  More dimes for my time and all that :).

And, finally, to complete the sets, I also tossed in some gift tags and decoupage bits to decorate the boxes with.  A gift box needs gift tags and, well, people love to add interest to their crafts using decoupage bits; so, why not?  Other things you may like to include are note cards, seals, address labels, etc.  If you don't know what size to make the extras, a simple search for dimensions will let you know and using those dimensions to create template will save you a ton of time.

For this tutorial, I will only cover the items that I created, but the process is essentially the same, regardless of what you are making.

Part Two: 
Creating the Stuff - How to Make Stationery
Since we are creating papers specifically for the gift box, the size will be A6 so,
File > Open a New Raster image at 1238x1763px at 300 ppi
Select the images that you want to use, open them, and then minimize them.

There is no right or wrong way to do this but, I will share my process with you, just in case it helps.  If I don't already have an idea in mind when I begin, I start by searching through my "Inspiration" folder to get one.  This folder contains other people's creations that I like so much I wish I had thought of them first along with new layouts or patterns that looked fun to try.  Everything and anything that I've come across in my hours of searches that sparked my imagination.

My next step is to search the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of backgrounds, public domain images and design elements that I have saved in other folders. Truly, if my hoarding wasn't digital, I'd have to buy a separate house to put it all in! And, this is why: If I can't find what it is I want in those folders, then I head back to Google and start looking for it. hahahahahahaha

OK, enough rambling.  On with the show!

I think the hardest part about creating stationery in a graphics program is adding lines to the writing paper.  I honestly  think that's so many people opt not to use them in their creations: Because you have no real way of knowing what they will look like on the printed page without actually printing a page.  I think customers prefer lines, though.  I know I do; so, lucky for you, I have already done all that and you can download my stationery lines for free :).

Add your images to the A6 Raster in layers (Copy & Paste, Flood Fill, etc.)
Arrange, colorize, tweak and otherwise edit them until they look how you want them to - in layers.

your layers until you are sure that you are finished and, even then, do so on a duplicated image so that you can save the original.
  - The only exception to this rule is the merging of an element's adjustment layers (blend modes, effects, etc.).  You'll thank me later.
And, remember, Save often.  I save after every change that makes me happy.

After the background is finished, add a new Raster layer directly above it.
Flood Fill this layer with white and then reduce the opacity to about 25-35% until it looks the way you want it to while making sure it appears writable.
- Layer Properties > Opacity
  - I just double-click on the layer in my layers palette to open the Layer Properties window, then adjust the Opacity level, with "Preview on Image" selected and all other settings as shown:

Copy & Paste the lines as a new layer directly above the translucent white.
Create the writing space.
- There are many ways to do this, but here is one of my favorites:
Duplicate the background.
Add a New Raster layer on top of the duplicate
Selections > Select All (Ctrl+A)
Selections > Modify > Select Selection Borders ...

Select "Preview on Image"
For this border you will select "Inside," but you may with to use the other options when creating the next one.  
Set the Border width.  I usually use either 5, 10 or 15.
Play with the settings until you get what you want, then click "OK."

Flood Fill the border with a gradient, solid color or coordinated pattern or just promote the selected area of the background to a new layer and play with the Blend Mode.
Selections > Select All (Ctrl+A), Selections > Modify > Contract
Untick "Preview on Image"
This is going to be a big contraction and, if you don't, it will take a while to load.  Save your image before proceeding.
Contract the Selection by 30-50 pixels, then click OK.
- If the Selection is not the size that you would like it to be, then leave it in place and Contract, again, in increments between 5 and 20 until you are happy with it.
Note: I have a pretty powerful computer and contracting or expanding by more than 50 pixels can cause my program to crash.  I usually only do 20 or 30 at a time, just in case but, sometimes I'll chance a 40 or 50.
Selections > Modify > Select Selection Borders ...
Fiddle with the settings, select OK and then fill in your new border.
Selections > Select None (Ctrl+D). Your image will now have borders like this:

Both of your borders should be on the same layer.  If they're not, Undo (Ctrl+Z) and fix it. hahahahaha
Activate your Magic Wand Tool, untick "Use all layers" and then click the space inside of the first border.
Selections > Select All, Selections > Modify > Expand by 1
Right Click on the translucent white layer in your Layers palette and Promote Selection to New Layer.
Delete the layer that you created the promotion from.
Select the Lines layer in your Layers palette and repeat this process.
Select the promoted Lines layer in your Layers palette and activate your Selections Tool > Rectangle.
Click & Drag a rectangle around the top 1-3 lines and then delete them.
Click & Drag a rectangle around the bottom 3-5 lines and delete them.
- You can either leave the lines as they are or color them to match your borders.  To color them:

Select the promoted Lines layer, Select All, then Selections > Float (Ctrl+F), Selections > Defloat (Ctrl+Shift+F)
If your background is patterned, Select the translucent white layer in your Layers palette, Float, Defloat, then select the background and change it's appearance.  Flood Fill, Blur, or do something else to replace the pattern with something smooth.
Merge the writing area and Lines layers, but not the backgrounds.
Duplicate the image, Merge all layers and save in your favorite format: .png, .jpg, etc.  Close the image.  Your paper is new complete :).

Here is an example of what colored lines look like:

Design Idea: Instead of creating a rectangular bordered interior, you could also apply a Mask to the translucent white layer and lines. Just use the same Mask for both.  If you need a tutorial, here is one for Applying Masks in Photoshop and one for Applying Masks in PSP (for a much older version, but steps are still the same).

Creating the Stuff - How to Make an A6 Envelope

First, we will create a template using the same method that we employed for creating the Gift Box, but with fewer layers and steps.  Please refer to that tutorial for screenshots, if needed:
File > Open a new A4 raster image (2480x3508px) at 300 ppi
File > Open a new A6 raster image (1238x1763px) at 300 ppi
Flood Fill the A6 image, then Copy & Paste it into the A4 image as a new layer.

Duplicate the A6 layer and change it's Blend Mode to Multiply.
Rotate the original A6 layer by 90 degrees.
Move the Duplicate up until you have created a flap to your liking, about 1"-1.5;" longer if you want it to be tucked into the envelope, rather than sealed.
Duplicate the flap layer and Objects > Align > Bottom

Move the Bottom layer up until it is about 3/4-7/8 the height of the center rectangle.
Duplicate the original layer; the Rotated rectangle; Change it's Blend Mode to Multiply, Move it about 1/2" to the right.
Duplicate this layer, then Move it to the left until it, too, is extended by about 1/2."
Merge > Merge All.  Save as either a psd or pspimage.
To create a template for a larger sized folded card or paper, use the full width x half of the vertical length of your stationery's background (or up to the fold in a card) as the center piece and follow the steps above.

Duplicate your template.
Select All > Float > Defloat
Fill with the colors that you used in the stationery's border (or something complimentary).
Add a New Raster layer.
Flood Fill white, then reduce the opacity to 25-35%.
- If the envelopes are created with mailing in mind, then the whiter the better; otherwise, you can just leave them colorful.
Add one or more of the decorative elements from your stationery to the corners of envelope or paste one in the center and reduce the Opacity to 15% or less so that it's barely visible.
Design Idea: Before merging, use a shape to add a fancy edge to the envelops flap.
As an example, here is what the envelope for my Watercolor Phoenix Stationery Set looks like:


That wraps up this segment of the stationery set tutorial.  I hope you are enjoying it, so far.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  Tomorrow I will wrap up this series with the instructions for creating the bookmark, gift tags and other extras that you would like to include in your sets.

Happy Crafting!

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