How to Create That Last-Minute Holiday e-Card in Photoshop

Step 1

Create a new document. Using a Layer Style, apply a Gradient Overlay, using a dark red to a black.

Step 2

Using the the Line Tool, let’s create two lines as shown. This will be our reference for the Christmas tree.

Step 3

Let’s place our Santa Claus Icon in the center of our tree. Using the Pen Tool, draw some lines like I’ve shown below. In order to do that, we need to change the way we will create our lines. Instead of using the Shape Layer, let’s choose Paths.

Step 4

Now, still using the Pen Tool, let’s round our lines choosing the Convert Point Tool.

Step 5

Next, create a new Layer Folder and name it “Star Tree.” Change the Blending Mode to Color Dodge, then create a new layer inside this folder and name it “Stars path.” Next open your Brushes Palette (Window > Brushes) and select the Brush shown below. Then set it at the values shown below in the screenshots.

Step 6

With our brush created, let’s choose the Brush Tool and make sure that the brush we created is selected.
To create the star tree, make sure that you have selected the “Star path” layer. Using the Path Selection Tool (A), Ctrl-click Stroke Path. A dialog box will appear, and in there choose Brush. Make sure that the brush you created is selected.

Step 7

As you can see, the stars follow the path we created and they change size, rotation, and opacity. Now let’s choose another brush, and in a new layer still inside the “Star Tree” folder, let’s add some lighting effects. Select the brush shown below and paint a star over Santa’s glass.
Next, in a new layer, paint a big star at the top of the tree.

Step 8

Select the “Star path” layer and double-click the layer to open the Layer Style dialog box. Select Outer Glow as shown below, and add some glow to the stars.

Step 9

Next we’ll add our text. Choose the Horizontal Type Tool (F) and type XMAS (or whatever word you would like). Double-click the layer to open the Layer Style dialog box.
Now let’s add some effects. I learned this technique from a very nice tutorial I found online, and I have just changed it a little bit.

Step 10

To create the water floor-effect, just duplicate the text layer and flip it vertically (Edit>Transform>Flip Vertical). Move it right bellow the XMAS text and apply Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. After that, choose the Gradient Tool (G), set the colors to black and white, and fill the mask with it.

Step 11

Add the Merry text and some more icons and repeat the previous step to create reflections for all of them.

Step 12

Let’s add a bit of snow.

  1. Set the colors to dark gray and black.
  2. Create a new layer and go to Filter>Render>Clouds.
  3. Apply some Gaussian Blur.
  4. Go to Filter>Pixelate>Mezzotint
  5. Add some Motion Blur
  6. Change the layer’s blending mode to Overlay at 30%.


This is a very easy way to create a beautiful Christmas wallpaper or even an e-card to send to your friends or clients. However, the best thing is that it shows a bit of what we can do with the Brush Engine, in my opinion one of the best features in Photoshop.
Happy holidays everyone!


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