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How To Make Your Own Postcards: Cheap!

how to make your own postcardsI’m Benjamin and am a hitchhiking photographer. In my travels I quickly realized a need to make my own postcards for my friends and family.  

I wanted unique and personal postcards at a cheap price. Here is the result of that quest. This is a post for those whom aren’t familiar with Photoshop and editing their photographs. You should be able to make postcards that are one-of-a-kind and appealing at less than the cost of buying a postcard.

Read on and when you are finished, please share this post with others, whom would benefit from it. Also, check out my journey hitchhiking around the USA, sharing stories of the Goodness of People at my blog, Create Our World

Here we Go!!!

What You Need:

  1. A digital camera.
  2. Access to a Computer and the Internet.
  3. About 15 to 30 minutes.
  4. A Free Picnik Account
  5. About 30 cents for the card and 44 cents for the stamp.
  6. A Zip Drive.

Make Your Own Postcard (here is a photograph I took of my friend, Nai, in Austin, Texas)


1. Take a Photograph and Upload it to a computer

I love to photograph people. I love to remember places by the people I am with, so my postcards are of friends, either new or old. What do you want to remember about the place or what do you want to share? Be personal and be yourself. And take that shot and upload it to your own laptop or upload it at a computer lab.

After Editing

After Editing

2. Edit your Photograph. (Optional.)

If you are a Photoshop expert, you can skip this page and just do what you do. Or if you don’t care about jazzing your photograph up a bit, then skip it as well. But with a few clicks, you can really improve how your image looks and trick your granny into thinking you are a professional photographer.

Open up your photo editor. I use iPhoto for my Mac. I have also used Picasa by Google, which is a free download and is easy to use. You can also do this in Picnik, which I am going to explain in the next step.

Here are two easy steps you can take to making the photograph look more vibrant. One increase the contrast of the photograph. Usually there is a little pointer that you can just drag. Contrast makes the darks darker and the lights lighter. The second step is to increase or decrease the color saturation. You can make the colors a little richer to improve the photograph or sometimes by lessening the colors, it will catch the eye more. Fool around with these two settings until you have a photograph that you are happy with.

3. Upload your photograph to Picnik

Picnik is an online photograph editor. Picnik is free for the basic edits and it has a lot of options to use. Sign up for a free account and follow the instructions to upload your photograph.

After the LOMO filter, adding a Border, and the 1960's filter

After the LOMO filter, adding a Border, and the 1960's filter

4. Create Your Postcard

Here we are going to jazz our photograph up a bit more, add borders, and add our message. (Picnik has lots of options, so feel free to add any options that you want)

A. Open up the CREATE tab along the top of the border.

B. Click on the LOMO Filter under EFFECTS. (This simulates how a LOMO camera would take a photograph, which is toy camera.)

This increases the saturation of the photograph, adds a vignette (a dark shadow around the border), and blurs the outside of the photograph. Mess around with the settings until your photograph looks as you want.

C. Add the Border in Frames.

Every good postcard has a border. Choose a color for the border that goes well with the photograph. Go with black, if you can’t decide. Then, make it look like a postcard, by increasing thickness of the OUTER COLOR and leave the INNER COLOR alone. In my photograph of Nai, I decide on a Dark Orange and Black (University of Texas colors). Finally, increase the CORNER RADIUS too to give it an interesting look.

D. Go back to EFFECTS and chose the 1960’s effect.

I love the look of old film photographs. This adds a slight reddish tint to the photograph and also curves the outside edges. Tweak these settings again, till you like the look of your postcard.

E. Add Your Personalized Message in the TEXT tab.

Here is where you add your message. Anything you like works. “I love Mom!” or “Wish you were here!” are good. I am a huge fan of the “Greetings from…” postcard series that was popular a long time ago. There is a host of different fonts to chose from, so chose one or more that fit your style. For my photograph, I chose PANHEAD for “Austin, TX”, which is a western-looking font and then a bold font, IMPACT for the “Greetings from…” I keep my color theme similar as with the border colors.

F. SAVE your photograph & SHARE it.

Now you can save it to your computer or Zip Drive, share it on Facebook or email it.


Save your postcard on something that is portable. I bought a Zip Drive for 15$ and I upload my postcards to this and head to a local store with a photograph kiosk. Walmart, CVS, Rite-Aid are very common options. However, more and more stores have a place that you can print your digital photographs on location.

Upload your postcards to the kiosk and chose the quantity, before hitting PRINT!

NOTE: Make sure your postcard fits and the border will not be cut off. Sometimes, I will lose my border by how the machine cuts the photograph, so you may have to make little edits at the machine.
Print off your new postcards!

6. Write on the back and Send it!

Write on the back like any postcard and send it off with a stamp in the top right corner. Your Mom and Granny will love you and tell all their friends!

Finished! Enjoy making your postcards and share this post with your friends. I will be blogging from all over the USA on my hitchhiking journey. I usually write about the people I meet and about the goodness of people, but I also share budget travel advice on my website, Create Our World. 

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