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How to Create a Fun Birthday Card Design in Photoshop


In this tutorial I will be showing you how to create a fun and playful birthday card design in Photoshop. To do this we will be using elements from Creative Veila’s Fabric Kingdom. This pack is a part of The Inspiring Creator’s Artistic Bundle and is a very fun and versatile toolkit with actions, brushes, graphic styles, and a wide variety of vector elements to design with. In this lesson we will be making use of a small handful of these elements along with a few free typefaces to create our card design. If you are all ready to begin then let’s head over to Photoshop and get started!

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Here’s a look at what we’ll be creating:

Birthday Card Design

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Birthday Card Design

Step 1: Birthday Card Design

Let’s start by creating a new document in Photoshop. Make your document ‘5’ inches wide by ‘7’ inches tall. Let’s also go ahead and make sure our ‘Resolution’ is set to ‘300’ dpi with a ‘Color Mode’ of ‘RGB’ and then let’s give our file a name – here I’ll enter the name ‘birthday-card-design’ and then click ‘Create’ from the lower right.

Birthday Card Design

Now you should have your canvas with a single ‘Background’ layer filled with white as shown below:

Birthday Card Design

Step 2: Lights, Camera, Actions!

Before we dig into the design we want to set up our workspace and load a few of the files from the Fabric Kingdom creator. To start, let’s go to the Window menu and choose ‘Actions’ from the dropdown menu.

Birthday Card Design

Navigate to the freebies folder for the tutorial and go inside the ‘Creative Veila’ folder. From here we’ll go in the ‘Stitch Brushes’ folder and then select the ‘Stitch Action.atn’ file. This action will help us later on in the tutorial to produce a realistic looking stitch effect.

Birthday Card Design

Now in the Actions panel you should see the action where we want to click on the small arrow to the left of the action folder to reveal the playable action inside. With some actions there may be several inside of the folder, but for the purposes of this tutorial we will only be working with this one.

Birthday Card Design

Step 3: Preset Manager

Next, go to the Edit menu and choose ‘Presets > Preset Manager…’ from the list.

Birthday Card Design

Once the Preset Manager panel appears, check to make sure that the ‘Preset Type’ is set to ‘Brushes’ and then choose ‘Load’ from the right side of the panel as highlighted below:

Birthday Card Design

Return to the ‘Stitch Brushes’ folder nested inside of the freebies and select the ‘Stitch 6 Long 21.abr’ brush file and choose ‘Open’ from the bottom right.

Birthday Card Design

Now you should see the new brush folder that has been added to the bottom of the presets as shown here:

Birthday Card Design

Let’s now select the top brush folder – ‘General Brushes’ and then hold the Shift key and select the ‘Special Effects Brushes’ folder just above our new brushes so all of the other folders are selected. After that, click ‘Delete’ from the right side of the panel interface to get rid of these brushes. Doing this will make it easier for us later when we use the Brushes panel as we will only be using the brushes from Fabric Kingdom.

Birthday Card Design

You should now just be left with the ‘Stitch 6 Long 21’ brush folder.

Birthday Card Design

From here let’s select the ‘Preset Type’ tab and now we will switch from the ‘Brushes’ to ‘Styles’ as shown here:

Birthday Card Design

Step 4: Graphic Styles

Select the second graphic style shown in the first row, and then hold the Shift key and select the very last style in the panel and then click ‘Delete’ from the right side of the panel interface once again.

Birthday Card Design

Now that we’ve removed all of the initial presets, let’s go to ‘Load…’ so we can bring in some of our own.

Birthday Card Design

Going back to the ‘Creative Veila’ folder inside of the freebies, we want to go to the ‘Photoshop Styles’ folder where we can select the ‘Stitch and Fabric Styles (300dpi).asl’ file before clicking ‘Open’ from the bottom right hand corner to open the styles.

Birthday Card Design

You will now see four new styles that have been added to the panel, and these are the fabric textures we will be applying to our shapes and graphics to give them a fun, hand made feel. Now that we’ve loaded up our Action, Brushes, and Graphic Styles, we can choose ‘Done’ from the right side of the ‘Preset Manager’ panel to close out of it.

Birthday Card Design

Step 5: Customizing Our Panels

Return to the Window menu and choose ‘Styles’ from the list to open the Graphic Styles panel.

Birthday Card Design

Now that we have our Styles panel open, and we already have our Actions panel on screen, let’s stack both of these panels above the Layers panel so they are stuck together. Doing this will make things easier for us once we begin creating our design since we will be using these and the Brushes a bit.

Birthday Card Design

Step 6: Fleece Background

Press ‘U’ on the keyboard to switch to the ‘Rectangle Tool’ and then click on the ‘Fill’ swatch along the top toolbar as shown in the image below:

Birthday Card Design

Once you’ve clicked on the swatch you will see a menu with a variety of color swatches, but what we want to select is the ‘Color Picker’ from the upper right corner of this panel, which allows us to select a custom color of our choosing. Once we select that rainbow colored icon we will then be able to enter the hex value ‘2A568E’ in the ‘Color Picker (Fill Color)’ panel before choosing ‘OK’ to proceed.

Birthday Card Design

After choosing our shape and color, let’s click and drag out a large rectangle that fills the entire canvas as this will serve as our new background. Next, make sure the ‘Rectangle 1’ shape is selected in your Layers Palette and then choose the third Graphic Style which is the ‘Fleece’ option. You will notice immediately after clicking this that some Layer Styles have been added to the layer – these are the ‘preset’ effects that result in the fleece-like appearance of the texture.

Birthday Card Design

Since we have our new background set up we can select the original ‘Background’ layer and then click on the trash bin from the bottom right corner of the Layers Palette. You may be prompted with a dialog box asking if you’d like to ‘Delete the layer “Background”?’ Where we can simply choose ‘Yes’ or press ‘Return’ on the keyboard to remove the layer.

Birthday Card Design

You will now be left with your single, blue, fleece rectangle layer that is going to be our background going forward.

Birthday Card Design

Step 7: Waves and Hills

Go to the File menu and choose ‘Open..’ and navigate to the ‘Vectors_Waves_Hills.psd’ file. Once you’ve opened the file, click and drag it into your working document.

Birthday Card Design

After dropping in the waves shape, press Command/Ctrl+T and then drag outwards from any of the four corners of the bounding box while holding Alt/Option+Shift to scale the waves up from the center until they span across the entire canvas as shown below:

Birthday Card Design

Click and hold your cursor over the Pen Tool in the Layers Palette to reveal and select the Convert Point tool. After selecting this tool, click and drag around the points running along the bottom edge of the shape and then hold the Shift key and down arrow to extend it down to the bottom. Here you may need to also select the far left or far right points and nudge them over to fill out the bottom of the canvas as well.

Birthday Card Design

Press ‘U’ to once again switch to the Rectangle Tool and click on the ‘Fill’ color followed by the rainbow colored icon in the upper right highlight below:

Birthday Card Design

For the hex value, enter ‘#3071C1’ and then press ‘OK’ to apply the color changes.

Birthday Card Design

Now that we’ve changed the color, let’s go ahead and apply the third style for the fleece texture.

Birthday Card Design

Step 8: Happy Days

Create a new layer and type out the word ‘HAPPY’ using the free typeface ‘THE MINION’ which can be downloaded here from DaFont.com. For the settings let’s open the Character Panel and make the text solid white, with a size of about ’56 pt’.

Birthday Card Design

Use your Type Tool (T) to click inside of the text box and then press Command/Ctrl+A to select all of the text. From here, click the ‘Create warped text’ icon from the top toolbar shown here:

Birthday Card Design

For the settings, make sure the ‘Style’ is set to ‘Arc’ and then apply a ‘Horizontal’ orientation. Let’s now enter a ‘Bend’ value of about ’22’ and then click ‘OK’ to apply the warp.

Birthday Card Design

Step 9: Happy Textures

Hold the Control key and click on the ‘HAPPY’ text before choosing the ‘Convert to Shape’ option from the menu that appears.

Birthday Card Design

Once you’ve converted the live text into a shape we can apply the first style from the panel shown below:

Birthday Card Design

Step 10: Happy Outlines

Select the ‘HAPPY’ shape layer and duplicate it by pressing Commnand/Ctrl+J on the keyboard. After that, press Command/Ctrl and the left bracket key to move the copy below the original.

Birthday Card Design

Double click on the duplicate layer to bring up the Layer Style panel and then click the small ‘fx’ icon from the lower left of the panel. Once the dropdown menu appears, we want to choose ‘Stroke’ from the list.

Birthday Card Design

For our settings, let’s apply a stroke ‘Size’ of ’40 px’ and then change the ‘Position’ to ‘Outside’ with a solid black fill. Once you have done that, press ‘Return’ or click ‘OK’ on the keyboard.

Birthday Card Design

After applying the outline to the text, hold the Control key and click on the layer before choosing ‘Convert to Smart Object’ from the menu.

Birthday Card Design

Step 11: Outline Textures

Double click the ‘HAPPY copy’ Smart Object layer.

Birthday Card Design

Once inside of the Smart Object, hold the Control key and click on the layer before choosing ‘Rasterize Layer Style’ to merge the stroke and fill together. Next, hold the Command/Ctrl key and click on the layer thumbnail icon to activate a selection around the whole layer.

Birthday Card Design

From here, click on the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette and choose ‘Solid Color…’ from the dropdown menu.

Birthday Card Design

For the fill color, enter the hex value ‘#CF5151’ and then press ‘Return’ or click ‘OK’ to apply the changes and close out of the Color Picker panel.

Birthday Card Design

You should now have a solid fill over the entire area of the outlined text with a layer mask applied to the Adjustment Layer. Let’s now press Command/Ctrl+S to save the Smart Object and then Command/Ctrl+W to close the window and return to our main document.

Birthday Card Design

Now that we’re back in our main file, apply the last style to the ‘HAPPY copy’ Smart Object to give it a nice canvas texture.

Birthday Card Design

Step 12: Fabric Patch

Go to the File menu and choose ‘Open…’ before navigating to the ‘Vectors_Shape_31.psd’ file from the freebies folder.

Birthday Card Design

Click and drag the shape into your document and place it below both of the ‘HAPPY’ layers. Scale the shape up by holding Alt/Option+Shift until the shape looks like this:

Birthday Card Design

After positioning the shape, change the hex value to ‘#98BC5E’ and then press ‘OK’ to apply the changes.

Birthday Card Design

From here, let’s apply the first style – ‘Felt 2’ to the shape.

Birthday Card Design

Step 13: Vector Grass

Go to the File menu and choose ‘Open…’ before selecting the ‘Vectors_Grass_2.psd’ from the ‘Assets’ folder within the freebies for the tutorial.

Birthday Card Design

Click and drag the shape into your document and scale it up a bit by dragging any of the four corners of the bounding box outwards while holding the Alt/Option+Shift keys. Place this copy on the far left side of the canvas, below the hills and waves. After that, press Command/Ctrl+J to duplicate the grass shape and move this copy to the opposite side. Press ‘U’ on the keyboard to select the Rectangle Tool and then change the fill color to the same green we used earlier – ‘#98BC5E’. What we are going to do next is what we did earlier when we extended the waves and hills by first selecting the Convert to Point tool and then selecting the points on the right side of the left copy and extending it to the opposite side. You should now have something like this:

Birthday Card Design

Press ‘U’ on the keyboard to switch back to the Rectangle Tool and create a long green rectangle below the two grass shapes that fills the entire bottom portion of the canvas as shown below:

Birthday Card Design

Select the top grass shape, hold the Shift key, and then select the green rectangle shape so all three of the grass layers are selected simultaneously. After that, hold the Control key and click on any of the three layers and then choose ‘Convert to Smart Object’ from the list.

Birthday Card Design

After merging the three layers into a Smart Object, go ahead and apply the first style to add a felt texture to the grass.

Birthday Card Design

Step 14: Birthday Text

Create a new layer and type out the word ‘BIRTHDAY’ in all caps using ‘THE MINION’ typeface we used earlier on. Let’s make this text about ’49 pt’ in size with a solid white fill as shown below:

Birthday Card Design

Hold the Control key and click on the text layer before choosing ‘Convert to Shape’ from the menu.

Birthday Card Design

Apply the first style to the white ‘BIRTHDAY’ text shape.

Birthday Card Design

Press Command/Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer and then move it down below the original and then double click on the copy to open the Layer Style panel.

Birthday Card Design

Once the Layer Style panel is open, add a Stroke like we did earlier using the same settings shown below:

Birthday Card Design

After applying the stroke, press ‘OK’ to close out of the panel and then hold the Control key, click on the ‘BIRTHDAY copy’ layer and choose ‘Convert to Smart Object’.

Birthday Card Design

Step 15: Stroke Textures

Double click on the ‘BIRTHDAY copy’ Smart Object to go inside and then hold the Control key, click on the layer and choose ‘Rasterize Layer Style’ from the menu.

Birthday Card Design

Hold the Command/Ctrl key and click on the layer thumbnail icon to activate a selection around the whole merged text shape. After that, click on the Adjustment Layer icon and add a ‘Solid Color…’ layer from the dropdown menu.

Birthday Card Design

For the fill color, apply the hex value ‘#CF5151’ that we used earlier for the ‘HAPPY’ text. From here, click ‘OK’ to apply the color. Save the Smart Object by pressing Command/Ctrl+S and then Command/Ctrl+W to close the tab and return to the main file.

Birthday Card Design

Once you have returned to the main document, select the ‘BIRTHDAY copy’ Smart Object and apply the ‘Flax Light’ style from the panel.

Birthday Card Design

Step 16: Big 10!

Create a new layer and type out the number ’10’ using ‘THE MINION’ with a size of ‘169.79 pt’ and a solid white fill.

Birthday Card Design

Hold the Control key and click on the text layer before choosing ‘Convert to Shape’ as shown below:

Birthday Card Design

For the fill color, apply the hex value ‘#FBEB66’ and then click ‘OK’ to apply the color.

Birthday Card Design

Once you have returned to the main document, select the ’10’ shape and apply the second, ‘Chintz’ style from the panel to add some texture.

Birthday Card Design

Step 17: 10 Stroke

Select the ’10’ shape layer and duplicate it by pressing Command/Ctrl+J, then move the copy below the original layer. After that, double click the layer to open the Layer Style panel.

Birthday Card Design

From here, apply a ‘Stroke’ by clicking the small ‘fx’ icon in the lower left of the panel like we did earlier, and add a ’65 px’ stroke set to ‘Outside’ with a solid black fill. Once you’ve done that, press ‘Return’ or click ‘OK’ to apply the changes and close the panel.

Birthday Card Design

Next, hold the Control key and click on the ’10 copy’ layer and choose ‘Convert to Smart Object’ from the menu as shown below:

Birthday Card Design

Double click the newly created Smart Object to go inside, and then hold the Control key, click on the layer, and choose ‘Rasterize Layer Style’.

Birthday Card Design

Hold the Command/Ctrl key and click the layer thumbnail icon to activate a selection around the shape. From here, click on the Adjustment Layer icon from the bottom of the Layers Palette and choose ‘Solid Color…’ from the list.

Birthday Card Design

For the fill color, apply the hex value ‘#81CFA0’ and then press ‘OK’ to apply the color changes. After that, save the file and close the tab to return to your main document.

Birthday Card Design

Select the ’10 copy’ Smart Object layer and now apply the forth layer style to give it a canvas texture similar to what we used for the red portions of ‘HAPPY’ and ‘BIRTHDAY’ earlier on.

Birthday Card Design

Step 18: Stitches

Select the main ’10’ shape layer and then duplicate it by pressing Command/Ctrl+J. Hold the Control key and click on the layer and then select ‘Convert to Smart Object’ from the menu that appears.

Birthday Card Design

Next, press ‘D’ on the keyboard to reset your default colors and press ‘X’ to toggle the foreground and background until white is your foreground color. Press ‘F5’ on the keyboard or open the ‘Brush Settings’ from the Window menu. From here, select the stitch brush and reduce the ‘Size’ of the brush to ’30 px’ as shown below:

Birthday Card Design

Next, select the ’10 copy 2′ Smart Object layer, open the Actions panel, and play the ‘Stich Action’ inside. Once you run through the steps you may be prompted with a dialog box that says ‘The command ‘Apply’ is not currently available.’ The reason for this is that one of the Graphic Styles from the full bundle is not currently loaded, but we can easily modify an existing style to get the same look so let’s just go ahead and click ‘Continue’ to let the action finish. Once the action is complete we can apply the second or third style to the new ‘Stitch Stroke’ layer that has been created.

Birthday Card Design

Let’s double click the ‘Stitch Stroke’ layer to open the Layer Style dialog box. From here, click on the small ‘fx’ icon and add a ‘Bevel & Emboss’ effect from the list.

Birthday Card Design

After adding the effect, check off the ‘Contour’ box nested below the main ‘Bevel & Emboss’ and leave the settings as is. We don’t need to tinker with these settings much as we just want the stitches to look slightly raised in addition to the style that we’ve already applied. From here, click ‘OK’ or press ‘Return’ to close out of the panel.

Birthday Card Design

Step 19: 10TH

Add a new layer to the top of the Layers Palette and type out an uppercase ‘TH’ and apply the third style to it. Let’s make the ‘TH’ rather small in size and rotate it a bit just above and to the right of the number ’10’ as shown below:

Birthday Card Design

Step 20: Clouds

Return to the File menu and choose ‘Open…’ once again. This time let’s open ‘Vectors_Cloud_1.psd’ and also ‘Vectors_Cloud_5.psd’ and bring them both into our document. Scale the clouds up and place them on opposite sides of the number ’10’ and apply the fleece style from the panel. Here I have placed ‘Vectors_Cloud_1.psd’ in the lower right of the number, and ‘Vectors_Cloud_5.psd’ in the upper left as shown in the image below:

Birthday Card Design

Step 21: Sky Full of Stars

Return to the File menu and choose ‘Open…’ and select the ‘Vectors_Star_1.psd’ file before choosing ‘Open’.

Birthday Card Design

Bring the star shape into your main file and fill it with the same yellow we used for the number ’10’ which was ‘#FBEB66’. From here, apply the fleece style to the shape highlighted below:

Birthday Card Design

Duplicate this star about five or six more times and scatter them throughout the design. To add more variation we can also play with the scale a bit by using a Free Transform to resize and rotate the stars. Once you are happy with the size and placement of the shapes, select the top shape, hold the Shift key, and then select the bottom star shape so they’re all selected at the same time.

Birthday Card Design

With all of the stars selected, press Command/Ctrl+G to put them into a folder and double click the ‘Group 1’ text to rename the folder ‘STARS’ as shown here:

Birthday Card Design

Let’s go ahead and group the other layers by placing them into folders to help keep things organized.

Birthday Card Design

Step 22: Jupiter

Return to the File menu and choose ‘Open…’ and select the ‘Vectors_Jupiter.psd’ before opening it and bringing it into your main document. You will notice that the planet is made up of two different shapes, so for the main circular part of the planet let’s fill it with the hex value ‘#EB9D41’ and for the rings we will use the same blue from our waves and hills – ‘#3071C1’. After changing the colors, let’s apply the first style to get a felt texture on each of the two shapes that make up the planet. Here I have scaled and positioned the planet between the ‘TH’ and the clouds, overlapping the number as shown in the image below:

Birthday Card Design

Step 23: Rocket Ship

Go to the File menu and choose ‘Open…’ and then navigate to the ‘Vectors_Rocket_1.psd’ file in the freebies folder and click and drag the whole folder into your document. Here I have scaled and rotated the rocket counter clockwise a bit, placing it just above the ‘B’ in ‘BIRTHDAY’. If you expand the contents of the folder you will see that the rocket is made of several different shapes. The first thing we want to do is to go shape-by-shape and apply the ‘Felt 2’ texture which is the first style in the panel.

Birthday Card Design

Next, let’s change the color of the wings, outer circle, and inner flame to the same orange value we used for the planet – ‘#EB9D41’.

Birthday Card Design

For the body of the ship, change the fill color to the hex value ‘#0E3F68’.

Birthday Card Design

For the outermost part of the flame, let’s use the fill color ‘#C13030’.

Birthday Card Design

For the shape containing the bars of the ship we can use solid white for the fill ‘#FFFFFF’.

Birthday Card Design

And lastly, for the inner porthole of the ship let’s use the same light blue from the waves and rings of Jupiter – ‘#3071C1’.

Birthday Card Design

Step 24: Lions

Go to the File menu and choose ‘Open…’ and then navigate to the ‘Vectors_Lion.psd’ file before opening it in Photoshop. Drag the folder into your main document and use the Free Transform (Command/Ctrl+T) to scale the lion up a bit. Place the lion in the lower left hand portion of the grassy area and then expand the folder to reveal all of the other shapes inside.

Birthday Card Design

For the lighter areas of the lion let’s use the fill color ‘#FEE3C9’ and then apply the fleece style to each of the three shapes as shown here:

Birthday Card Design

For the mane and the tip of the tail, apply the Flax Light style and change the fill color to ‘#FF873D’.

Birthday Card Design

Step 25: Save the Date

Add a new layer and switch to the Type Tool (T). Type out the text ‘SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 @ 3PM’ and then hit the ‘Return’ key to create a line break and on the second line type out the words ‘1275 WILLOUGHBY AVE, VT 05401’. For the font we will use the free typeface ‘Hogfish’ which can be downloaded for free by clicking here and downloading the file from DaFont.com. What we want to do is use the Character panel to set the text size to ’12 pt’ and make the ‘Leading’ or space between the lines ’16’ or so with a solid white fill. Let’s also click our cursor at the start of the second line and press the spacebar a few times to offset the second line of text a bit as shown in the image below:

Birthday Card Design

Hold the Control key and click on the text layer and then choose ‘Convert to Shape’ as shown here:

Birthday Card Design

For the texture, let’s use the second style from the panel.

Birthday Card Design

We have now finished our fabric birthday card design in Photoshop! To create our card we’ve used a small handful of design elements including graphic styles and brushes along with a few free typefaces. Remember to check out The Inspiring Creator’s Artistic Bundle to gain access to over 30 high-quality fonts, tons of illustrations, graphics, effects packs, flourishes, vectors and more!

Birthday Card Design

Remember that whether it’s your outcome for this tutorial or something new you’ve made, we’d love to see your designs on our Facebook page.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions. I always look forward to hearing from you!

There’s still time to check out The Inspiring Creator’s Artistic Bundle featuring some awesome creation packs that work beautifully together, meaning that you can create gorgeous works in no-time, all for an unbeatable price of $29!

10 Lovely Comments from our Community:

  1. kmclarkson77 says:

    Your tutorials are always amazing! I do have a question about this one. When creating the text “HAPPY” you have the font size as 56 pixels, but when I do that the text is much smaller than what you have in your example. Am I missing something? I feel that I am. Help please! Thanks!

    • Annabel Smith says:

      Thank you so much for your comment and we’re so glad to hear that you fin dour tutorials really useful!

      I’m so sorry for any confusion caused, rest assured I have popped you over an email to help!

  2. drjaymissdiana says:

    Rad tutorial (as usual)! I always learn something (more like, somethingS) new with each tutorial! Thank you!

    • Annabel Smith says:

      Thank you so much Diana, we know that Eric will be really pleased to hear that you love this one too 🙂

      We feel so glad that we can help show you some new tricks to use in your own creative projects, happy designing!

  3. dmtalbot2000 says:

    How much fun was that! Learned some great new techniques. Love the stitch outline action. Thank you!!

    • Annabel Smith says:

      Aww we’re so glad to hear that you have had lots of great fun working through this tutorial Deborah and hope that these new tips and tricks that you have picked up come in handy with your own creative projects 🙂

  4. Kimberly W says:

    That was very fun! And I learned a lot! Thank you so much!

  5. One of THE best tutorial videos I’ve seen. Voice was clear, and explanations were quick and precise. Great job!

    • Annabel Smith says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment Chelsey and we’re so thrilled to hear that you love our tutorial 🙂

      We hope that you have picked up some great new tips and tricks to use in your own creative projects 🙂

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