Every year Fumi and I get holiday cards from our friends and every year we say we’re going to make our own, but November slips up on us and by then it’s always too late. This year, we decided to do things the Japanese way to give ourselves a bit of a “grace period”. If we send out New Years nengajo cards, people can enjoy them and leave them up a tad longer than Christmas cards, right?

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In Japan, New Years Day is the biggest celebration of the year and most friends, family, and coworkers send out nengajo which are similar to how we send Christmas cards here in the states.They can be personalized with family pictures, messages, notes on what you’ve accomplished, birth announcements, etc. If you put them in the mail on time, the post office in Japan actually holds and delivers them on New Years Day. Families sit around the kotatsu and look through them together and read the messages. It can be a lot of fun to get them at once like this and I kinda wish our post office could do something similar.

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The thing is though, here in the states it is SO hard to find cute New Years post cards. Christmas steals the show. And that’s fine, I love Christmas! But I’m too lazy for Christmas cards. This year, with a little help from Photoshop, we made our own nengajo. 2017 is the year of the “rooster”. I like to say “Year of the Cock”, but Fumi tells me to act my age. No.

With a little help from the old Wacom tablet and photoshop, we were able to create our own.

 

Here’s how to make your own nengajo (or any type of post card/ printable) in Adobe Photoshop:

 

 

Step One: Create a new “custom” image at 4.25″ x 6.25″–the extra .25″ is important! Your postcard needs to be slightly oversized so the picture bleeds all the way to the edges in printing. Don’t skip this step! Set resolution for 300ppi and RGB for best quality. (4″x6″ isn’t the standard nengajo size, but it’s pretty close. If you mail them to Japan from the states, I recommend mailing 3 weeks ahead.)

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Step two (optional): Add new guides at .125in and 4.125in vertical, and .125 and 6.125 horizontal. This will show you how much of your image will be cropped in printing.

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Step 3: Create a new layer for your background. I put everything on its own layer in case I mess up and need to fix something quick. Next, draw some boxes or shapes with the shape tool. This will become your little picture window.

photoshop-4-stepStep 4: Make a new layer and fill in your shape with a different color. This will allow you to easily see your picture placement so you can drag and adjust.

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Step 5: Drag and drop the photo you want to work with onto your canvas. This should automatically create a new layer for the image. Drag your image on top of the shape you made.

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Step 6: Go to your “layers” window and right click on the layer your photo is on and select “create clipping mask”. This will snap your picture right into your shape. You can still drag or resize the picture, but it’ll peek out from behind the shape you just created.

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Step 7: Add words, more pictures, etc. When you finish, save as a high quality JPEG, and now you can take your image to  have it printed!

 

This is our end result:

nengajoI chose to have ours printed online with Vistaprint. They make it easy to upload and design your own post cards and have lots of beautiful finishes and papers to choose from. Give it a try!