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How to Create a Christmas
Holly Wreath
Photoshop Training

Tis the season and all that sort of thing. Put away the turkeys and pumpkin pies, and let's get ready for Christmas. I love this time of year. It brings me back to my youth. And now I get to watch my kids enjoy all of this fun stuff.

Of course Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without all sorts of decorations throughout the house. Digital decorations? Hey why not. Here is my rendition of a holly wreath.

I am going to start by creating a document that is 640 X 480 pixels. Next we will need to create a new layer by selecting Layer/New/Layer. Click OK. We will be using two shades of green for the holly leaf. You can use whichever two you like. I am using the hex# 00CC00 for the foreground color tile, and the hex# 339900 for the background color tile.

Now we need to grab the pen tool. This is one of the most powerful yet underused tools available. Especially by beginners. It does take a bit of practice to understand how it works, but it is an excellent tool for drawing and making selections.

We are going to click somewhere on the document. This gives you the beginning of a new work path. While holding the shift key, select a point beneath the starting point, about a third the height of the document. Holding the shift key wil make sure your line stays straight, as well as perfectly vertical.

We need to create a curved edge for the leaf. Click and drag the pen tool to create a curve.

While holding the Alt key, click on the last anchor point we created. This will allow us to pick up the path where we left off.

Now we are going to repeat this same process for our next curve, including the Alt click.

And finally back to the beginning. When you hover the pen tool over the beginning point there should be a little circle next to the pen letting you know that this will close the path.

And you should end up with something like this.

Now we need to change this path to a selection so that we can fill it with color. Click on the paths tab in the layers palette. Then right click on the work path, and choose Make Selection. The feather radius should be set to zero.

Your half leaf should now have the dancing ants indicating it is a selection. Choose Edit/Fill/Foreground Color, and click OK. Hit Ctrl+D to deselect it.

Next we need to make the other half of the holly leaf. Click the layers tab, and highlight the layer with the leaf on it. Duplicate this layer by selecting Layer/Duplicate Layer.

As before, we will need to change this into a selection. Click on the paths tab, right click the work path and choose Make Selection. This time fill it with the background color. Hit Ctrl+D to deselect. Click the layers tab to show the layers once again. Use the move tool and drag the top layer to the right so you can see both halves.

Now we need to flip this new half. Select Edit/Transform/Rotate 180 degrees. Now use the move tool to line it up with the other half, and you have your holly leaf.

Turn off the background layer by clicking the little eyeball next to it. From the layers flyout menu select Merge Visible. This will put our whole leaf on to one layer. Rename this layer "Leaf", and turn the background layer back on.

Highlight the background layer and select Layer/New/Layer and click OK. We are going to create a circle to use as a temporary guide for our wreath. We will be using the Elliptical Marquee tool to create the circle.

In the center of the document hold the shift key while dragging to create a perfect circle. You don't want it too big since the leaves will need to fit around it. Select Edit/Fill/Black. Deselect the circle, and move the leaf to the top of the circle.

Making sure the leaf layer is highlighted, select Layer Duplicate Layer, and click OK. We need to rotate this leaf, and place it on our wreath. Select Edit/Transform/Rotate. You should get a box around the leaf with some handles for pulling one direction or another. Instead of manually pulling and guessing which angle to use, we are going to tell it to rotate 45 degrees. At the top of the screen there should be some boxes allowing you to put in exact numbers. Put 45 into the angle box, and hit enter.

Now move this leaf to the right and place it as below.

Now duplicate this layer. Since we have already done a transform, you can hit Shift+Ctrl+T and it will use all the angle settings we used on the first one. You just need to be sure that you transform the duplicated layer. Continue this duplicating, transforming and moving until you are all the way around the circle.

The last thing we need to do is to make some red holly berries for accent. Highlight the top layer and select Layer/New/Layer. Name this layer "Berry". We are going to use the Elliptical Marquee Tool again to create a circle. The idea here is to make it small enough to fit along the edge of our circle guide without overlapping leaves.

Create your circle and fill it with a bright red. Select Layer/Layer Style/Blending Options. We will use some bevel and emboss to give the berry some depth. You made need to play with this a bit, but here are the settings that I used.

Now place your berry where you want it, duplicate the layer, place berry etc. until you are satisfied. Turn of the black circle guide, and view your creation.