DIY Hand-Lettered Photo Cards - Behind the Scenes of our 2013 Holiday Cards

anniemade // DIY Photo Hand-Lettered Christmas Cards

Many of you have seen our 2013 Holiday Cards that are a crazy blend of hand lettering and a photograph of me and Gus. Today, I'm excited to share a little behind the scenes of how I made this card in case you might like to create one too someday!

Here's how the final card looked before we get started with some step-by-steps.

Greatest Story Creative ( // DIY Hand-Lettered Photo Invitations // Tutorial!

I could have created these and the above with photoshop, but we didn't thanks to a great little website I'll share below. Really anyone could make these with a scanner, this new website, and a sharpie so get pumped - it's gonna be awesome card-designing time.

First things first though, you'll need the following supplies:

  • A large white sheet (we used a Queen)
  • Painter's Tape
  • A camera tripod and a camera with a timer
  • Photo props of any sort (we used a wrapped present and an ornament)
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie
  • Scanner
  • White Printer Paper


1. Create a Backdrop

To begin, get a strapping young man (or other helper) to assist you in using painter's tape to tape up a white sheet on a free wall or door opening. Ensure your placement of the sheet is a room with a lot of natural light. Having a white sheet as a background will lead to some magic shortly - don't worry if it looks a little weird in your photos, just make sure it's white.

Set up your camera on a tripod, turning it to the orientation you'd like your card (horizontal or vertical, ours were vertically so the camera is tipped to the right).

Oh, and don't let your husband eat the glass Christmas ornament. It's probably gluten-free though.

anniemade // DIY Hand-lettered Photo Cards - Tutorial!

2. Shoot your Photos

Next, you'll want to set the timer on your camera and take the most ridiculously awesome pictures you can think of. We probably snapped about 20 ranging from the fun, to the serious, to the seriously fun. This is why it's great to use a digital camera - just delete the randos.

A quick word on what to wear - make sure your outfits have a nice contrast to the white sheet. The closer in color to white you wear, the harder it will be to completely remove the white sheet from your background. Gus's khakis were definitely a challenge!

anniemade // DIY Hand-lettered Photo Cards - Tutorial!

3. It's time for Clipping Magic

From here, pick your favorite and upload it over at ClippingMagic is a great site (sister site to that will, as indicated by its name, allow you to "clip" the white sheet entirely out of the photograph.

anniemade // DIY Hand-lettered Photo Cards - Tutorial!

It's an easy, free online tool created by people that are a heck of a lot smarter than me. Basically, you follow the instructions and mark your original photograph with big lines in green and red. Green is for shapes you want to keep, red is for what you want to discard (the sheet).

ClippingMagic does the rest and removes what you don't want. In then allows you to download a transparent image with just what you want to keep in it (in our case just me and Gus). You can tinker with it to get it just perfect, or you can do what I did and cleverly cover up or crop out what parts weren't exactly perfect...

4. Lay out your Card

Next, you're going to download the file you created with ClippingMagic and drop it into any graphics software. You could even do this in Microsoft Word if you know how to navigate it well. Add any details you'd like (in our case, I added a red rectangle and some text), mostly to cover any spots on Gus's khakis that weren't cleanly cropped.

anniemade // DIY Hand-lettered Photo Cards - Tutorial!

5. Hand Letter Away!

You can do this however you'd like. I conceived of this car as a sort of year-in-review/highlights of our 2013.

To pull it all together, I made a few copies of the above card and sketched out what I wanted to say around us in pencil. Having extra copies allowed me to experiment. Then I lettered everything in pencil and went back over it twice with an extra fine black sharpie.

To clean it up, I went back through with an eraser to remove any pencil lines for the final cards.

anniemade // DIY Hand-lettered Photo Cards - Tutorial!

6. Scan and Print

The final step can be as simple or complicated as per your liking. I scanned the above hand-lettered piece back into the computer, sized it down to a 5x7 and cleaned it up further in Adobe Illustrator. While you could do all this, you could also just print color copies of your hand-lettered piece onto your choice of cardstock and be totally done-zo. Up to you!

And there you have it - from humble white sheet to stellar hand-lettered greatness. Hope you enjoy and get to card designing yourself soon!

Let me know if you create anything awesome with this DIY. Would love to see any cards you make!