Designing Letterpress Cards with iPhoto

Unplggd Test Lab

Product: iPhoto '11 Letterpress Cards Price: $3 per card (+ iLife '11, $49) Rating: Recommend

Now that you've survived Thanksgiving, it's time to get ready for the holidays. While gift giving is a big part of Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza, holiday spirits easily fit within small envelopes. Sending greeting cards to family and friends is one of the least expensive ways you can let someone know they're a part of your life. Many of you may opt to send out e-greetings instead, but we think real cards offer something special that one just can't get from clicking an email link. That's especially true when it comes to custom designed letterpress cards.When Apple released its latest iteration of iLife, it included an upgrade to iPhoto that allows you to use your own photos to create letterpress cards. Now, don't get too excited. This doesn't mean that your own image will be letterpressed into card stock, but instead you can have your photo laser printed onto a card featuring a letter pressed design of your choice. There are currently 27 designs to choose from.

The process works as so:

  1. In iPhoto, choose the photo you want to turn into a card and click "Create" at the bottom of the window. We chose a snapshot of our cat Pookie dressed up in her adorable chicken hat.
  2. From there you're taken to a gallery of cards, each featuring your image within one of the 27 designs. Scroll through until you find one to your liking. Some designs feature full letterpress on the front, leaving your image to be printed on the inside of the card. Since we wanted our Pooks to be the spotlight, we chose a card that let us put her front and center.
  3. With a card chosen, you can then tweak text where appropriate as well as image position. You can even change text font, size, and position.
  4. Once you're happy, select "buy card" and proceed to the check out, where you can decide how many cards you want made. Finished greetings arrive via FedEx Ground, unless you select expedited shipping.

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While the process is relatively straightforward, there are a few kinks we hope are ironed out in an upcoming software update. The first is within the gallery. It's great to be able to see how your photo looks within a certain design, but the ability to preview a card is pretty limited unless you actually select the card and take a look in the next stage of the process. The gallery has a fun interface where you can flip through a merry go round of cards, but it isn't very convenient when you want to really take a look at what each card has to offer. We would especially love to get a better glimpse at the interior of each card within the gallery. As of now, you only get an oversized thumbnail at the bottom of the window. This is especially frustrating if you're looking at a card in which your image would be printed on the inside of the card.

The second kink is with the card's customized text. Changing fonts, size, and justification are quite simple, but undoing a mistake can be difficult. This is only really an issue if you muck up the formatting within a section of text, which we unfortunately did almost immediately. While we were working out our greeting, we decided to copy a section of text from one area of the card and paste it into another. Problem is, each section has its own text color and properties. When we pasted the section of text we also pasted its font properties, which in turn changed the original properties for that section of the card. If we had remained in the text box we would have been able to undo our mistake by hitting command-Z, but unfortunately once you click outside the text box you can't undo your mistake.

Since we didn't want a card filled with gray text, we did some sleuthing and discovered that by right clicking the text and then selecting font>more colors, we could adjust the text colors. Unfortunately, unless you are exceptionally talented at deciphering hues, it's hard to pinpoint a hue choice on the color wheel.

Two software kinks, but just kinks – nothing that will totally ruin the experience. Now on to the results.

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We gotta say, we are impressed. While the printing process for the design and the image are different, the matte finish on the photo prints compliment the subtle hues and designs used in the letterpress. One word of unsolicited advice, we think the key to creating a card that looks tied together is using photos whose color palette are rather reserved, or at least match up with the hues used in the letterpress design. You want an effect that looks blended together rather than cut and pasted.
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Pros: An inexpensive and easy way to make letterpress cards with some customized flair.

Cons: A few software kinks still need to be ironed out to make this a foolproof and seamless service.

Our Ratings:

Strong Recommend
Recommend
*
Weak Recommend

Don't Recommend

Apartment Therapy Media/Unplggd makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.

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