Making a Simple Holiday Card with Adobe Lightroom

Cards printed with Lightroom

Using Lightroom's greeting card template in the Print module, you can make a simple card from your images. I'll detail the following steps using Lightroom CC:
  1. Gather the images
  2. Choose the printer and paper size
  3. Select the template
  4. Add the photo
  5. Adjust the layout
  6. Create a template
  7. Print the cards

1. Gather the Images
Begin by selecting one or several images in the Library module that you want to use for your holiday cards (or any card). Do any processing you want in the Develop module. Then put the finished images in a Collection. I called my collection "Holiday Cards." Be sure you have selected the collection before going to the next step.

[Click on images for a larger view.]

Images in Collection


2. Choose the Printer and Paper Size
I am working on a Windows computer with an Epson R2400 printer. If you are working on a Mac or with a different printer brand, some of your screens will look different but you need to make the same choices.

Go to the Print module. Click on the Page Setup button at the bottom of the left panel.

Windows Page Setup in Lightroom

Select the correct printer. Choose Letter size paper (8.5" x 11") and Portrait for the orientation. Then click OK.

Windows Page Setup for Epson Printer

3. Select the Template
In the Template Browser in the left panel, expand the Lightroom Templates if they are not already visible. Pick the 2-up Greeting Card template. You can see a preview of this layout at the top of the panels in the Preview section.

2-up Greeting Card Lightroom Template

4. Add the Photo
Below the layout is the Use drop-down menu. (If you don't see this, press T to turn on the Toolbar.) By default it is set to "All Filmstrip Photos". I like to change this to "Selected Photos" instead. 

Use All Filmstrip Photos

Use Selected Photos

From the filmstrip choose the photo you want for your card. This can be either a vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape) image.

Vertical photo added to template

The template is set up for a vertical photo, but you can also use a horizontal one. To get the correct orientation for the landscape picture, open the Image Settings panel on the right and check the box for Rotate to Fit.

Horizontal photo with Rotate to Fit turned on

Two copies of the same image appear on the page because the Repeat One Photo per Page box is checked in the Image Settings panel. You can leave this as it is or turn it off to make just one card for each photo you select.

Repeat One Photo per Page turned off
Two different images selected

If you want to have a variety of cards, just pick additional photos from the filmstrip by Ctrl+clicking (Windows) or Cmd+clicking (Mac) on the additional photographs. Lightroom creates a new page of two cards for each picture or one card apiece if you turn off Repeat One Photo per Page. If you are laying out two cards per page, click the arrows next to "Use" to see the other card pages.

Two different photos selected
Each appears twice on one page
Use arrows to see other cards

5. Adjust the Layout
It is easier to see how the images are arranged on the page if you first open the Guides panel and turn on the Show Guides box. The lines that appear are just for reference; they will not print.

Show Guides turned on

Depending on your printer's minimum margin settings, you may want to make some changes in the Layout panel. The left margin (4.22 inches) is very big to be sure the photo is positioned on the right side of the paper for folding later.

On my Epson R2400 printer, the minimum margin is 0.13 inches. Lightroom has used this amount for the right and bottom margins but has set the top margin to 0.35 inches. This means there is less margin at the bottom of the second card than there is below the first card.

To make the margins even, I changed the bottom margin to match 0.35 inches. This makes the photos a little smaller.

The space between the cards is quite wide. There only needs to be enough space to have 0.35 inches below the top photo and above the bottom photo, plus a little extra for cutting the cards apart. So change this by adjusting the Vertical Spacing to 0.75 inches (or a little more than double the top and bottom margins). This lets the pictures get a little bigger again.

Margins and Vertical Spacing adjusted

No Printed Greeting
Unfortunately, Lightroom has limited type features. You could use a custom Identity Plate in the Page module for your greeting. But you can either have it appear once on the page, meaning one card will not print with the words. Or you can tell Lightroom to place the Identity Plate on each photo. However, that puts the words right in the middle of the picture and doesn't allow you to reposition the words. So you will need to write your own greeting either on the front or the inside of the card.

6. Create a Template
If you adjusted the original greeting card template from Lightroom's settings, you may want to save your version to easily use in the future. To do so, click the + next to Template Browser in the left panel. Lightroom gives you a window where you can name your template. You may want to include the printer name in your title. When you are done typing, click Create. Lightroom saves your templates in the User Templates section. The next time you want to create a card, you can go directly to this custom template.

Saving a custom template

7. Print the Cards
Now you're ready to print the cards. Turn on the printer and load a plain piece of paper. It's a good idea to perform a nozzle check and then print a test card first to be sure the layout is as you want it. If everything looks good, then you can load the photo paper. I recommend a quality double-sided paper so that it is easy to write your greeting on the inside.

In the Print Job panel, choose Print to Printer. Leave Draft Mode Printing off. Turn on Print Resolution and set it to 300ppi.

Turn on Print Sharpening and select Standard. Match the Media Type to your paper, in this example Glossy.

For this article we'll keep it simple and set Color Management to Managed by Printer. If you know how to print using profiles, feel free to select the appropriate printer profile from the list. Leave Print Adjustments turned off until you have made a print and checked your results.

Print Job settings

Then click the Printer button and pick the matching paper type in the printer windows. Click OK to print.

Printer settings for Epson R2400 in Windows
When the print comes out of the printer, let it dry overnight. Then cut the page in half and fold. These cards will fit a standard A2 envelope. Just address, stamp and mail your handcrafted cards.