I'll be doing more in-depth tutorials on the following subjects in the future, but I wanted to point out a few details on using card templates.
These files are layered Photoshop files that can be used in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. It's very clear how to place your image in the frame and how to change the personalized part of the text.
I like to use beautiful, professional fonts for the greetings, but I don't want to force you to buy an expensive font, so I create the greeting text and then I rasterize the type layer. The beauty is that you won't need the font, but once the type layer is rasterized, it can no longer be edited. You can however substitute your own greeting either using a purchased copy of the font I've used — or with an alternative from your own collection.
Some of the fonts I use will have stylistic alternative letters that can not be directly accessed via Photoshop. (Some can, but not all) See the curlicues on the Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in the card above? Those are made with alternate characters. Here's a nice article I found on Media Militia on Taking Type To The Next Level With Alternative Characters.
I use Illustrator to layout fancy typography because it's easy to use Illustrator's Glyph palette. InDesign and later versions of QuarkExpress also have a glyph palette. After creating my text in Illustrator, I then paste it into Photoshop as a Shape layer. (I could also use a smart object layer.)
What If You Don't Have Illustrator Or InDesign?
I turned to Laura Worthington, the designer of the font, Charcuterie that I used above to ask what other methods there are to access hidden characters.
"There's a workaround that can be used instead and it's different in how it works depending on whether you're on a Mac or a PC. I've pasted some links in here on how to do that. If it's a Mac, it's a bit of a challenge to learn the process, but worthwhile as you will find that any fonts where there are a lot of extras & alternates will require the use of this solution.
Laura also reminded me of a wonderful little software that I used to use all the time and had forgotten about: Popchar.Popchar will allow you to easily see, access and insert special characters into any application. I'm buying right away!