Shiny Cards Tutorial

Ever wondered how to make your cards look vivid, shiny and utter joy to look at? With just a few steps, you can make amazing looking cards, and here's how.

Step One: Cropping and Resizing

This is pretty basic. When you get an image, crop out the area you want to use. So let's say you have this image here : (its huge, so click the link to see it!!)
You crop it to look like this.

Once you do, resize it. If your card is 90px wide, then resize it to 90-93px.

Step Two: Sharpening 1

The key thing to do after resizing is to sharpen. For Photoshop, there's an option called Sharpen under the filter menu. The options are Sharpen, Sharpen More, Sharpen Edges, Smart Sharpen and Unsharp Mask. Select SMART SHARPEN. Set the amount to 150%, radius 0.3, and select Gaussian Blur. This works best for me, but feel free to play around. Smart Sharpen works best because you get to select the intensity of the sharpening. If you just do a regular Sharpen, you may end up with an image that looks too sharp. Do Smart Sharpen just once. You may not see the difference yet, but this helps!

Step Three: Curves

Next, you have to adjust the curves! Doesn't your image look really dull right now? Curves will help brighten it up! The curves function can be found under Image->Adjustments->Show All Menu Items->Curves, or you can just hit Command+M. If you are on a Windows, hit Ctrl+M.
This box will appear.

Raise the line by dragging it till it looks something like this.

Remember to turn on PREVIEW so you can see exactly what you are doing to your card. You should achieve something like this. It's up to you to decide how bright you want the card to be. Something like this should work fine:

Step Four: Levels

Next, LEVELS! My favourite step of all, because it completely transforms the card. I mean it, this step is utter magic. To go to the levels menu, go to Image->Adjustments->Levels. Command+L for the mac shortcut and Ctrl+L for the windows one.
You'll see this box.

You see the little triangles there? You need to pull them around. Select the very first triangle. I've circled it above.
Drag it to the right. Your image should start to transform in front of your eyes. Remember to check the preview box! Play around with the first two triangles. You can drag the second triangle to the left to brighten the image if you find its too dark. In the example below, I've adjusted both the first and the second triangle.

The result? Beautiful!

Step Five: Sharpening 2

Next, smart sharpen it again, and voila. Beautiful. Paste/Drag it into the card template and you have a truly awesome card. :) TADAH!

Once you get used to doing this it becomes a kinda routine, and you can do it without thinking. :) Especially if you master the shortcuts! For the sharpen tool, you can use Command+F as long as you don't use any other filters in between.

See the difference? Questions? :) Feel free to send me an email if you have any. This tutorial can work for any image whatsoever. Never post a dull picture online again!