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DIY Photo Invites Using Gimp

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posted: 07/27/12

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
DIY Photo Invites | Make photo invites at home with this tutorial!
Don’t want to download GIMP? Check out this updated tutorial!

I looooove, photo invites, birth announcements, photo Christmas cards . . . in some other version of my life I would love to quadruple cantouple my knowledge of graphic design and create my own line of all of the above. But . . . for now, I am busy scraping dried oatmeal off the underside of the table (don’t ask, I don’t know), reading about Heffalumps (we started our first chapter book!), and instigating tickle fights.

I have, however, found a way to make my own birthday party photo invites on my own computer and then uploading them to Walgreens and ordering as many as my little heart desires. It’s especially awesome, because I can almost always find a coupon for Walgreens online.

I use Gimp. {Insert ominous music here.}

It is true. Gimp is a little tricky. It is definitely not the most user friendly program I’ve ever used, but after about six months, I have a handle on the basics. Okay, maybe a little more than the basics. I really love all the different things that you can do with it. And it’s what I used to make the infamous Rainbow Party Invite.

However, after the photo shoot debacle, I neglected to take screen shots of the process of making the invite. Worry not! I created a fake invite for Gavin’s second birthday party. (I had briefly considered a dinosaur party for him when he was turning two, since he was a dinosaur for Halloween, but got derailed to Elmoland after I saw Bakerella’s Sesame Street Cake Pops.)

First thing’s first. Download Gimp. It’s free. Yay!

{Here come my screenshots. Beware. There are approximately 5,324 of them.}


Once you have Gimp downloaded, open the bad boy up, and click file, new.

Now pick your dimensions. If you are going to print a 5×7 (which is what I did and what I would recommend), you will want your length to be 2800 and your width to be 2000.

Now you can add some text. On the right hand side you will see an A. Click it. Click it again. Yeah, for whatever reason, my computer makes me click it twice to type. Then click where on your image you want to type. If you notice, off to the right you can pick what font, size, and color you want the type to be. You should be able to use any of the fonts you have on your computer.

To make the dinosaur background, I used a font from dafont.com called Ding-o-saur. They have a ton of different dingbat fonts that you could use for invitations . . . I see a butterfly party in Quinn’s future.

Once I had two rows of funky orange dinosaurs (if you are wondering what letter does what dinosaur, click on the dafont link above), I decided to change the second row to green. One of the things I love about Gimp is that you have so many color options! You can make something the exact color you want.

Once you have the second row the color you want, go up to the menu, choose layer, and then pick to make a duplicate layer.

I know it doesn’t seem like it is there, but if you look off to the right, you can see that there are now two layers there. One of the things to know about Gimp, if you are just starting to use it, is that it is all about layers. If you are frustrated that piece of what you are making isn’t moving or changing or doing what you want, it is possible that you are working with the wrong layer.

Go to the move tool, and pull down the second layer.

This is essentially what I did with Quinn’s rainbow invite. I created new layers (I will show you how to do that in a moment), and then I duplicated them so they would be the same size, and changed their colors, so they would make a rainbow. And that became the rainbow backdrop to her invite.

Keep duplicating dinosaurs until you have the whole backdrop filled.

Does all this seem super annoying? Have you always dreamed of having a green and orange dinosaur backdrop for a photo invite? Click here.

Whew. Almost done. The rest is easy. Ready?

Now, add your favorite dinosaur photo by going to the top and clicking file, open as layers.

Select the photo you want, and click open.

As you can see, we got a little backdrop on our photo . . . which now that I look at it, I kind of like. It kind of looks like Gavin is hanging out with dinosaurs! Anyway, you can see your layers off to the right. Just drag the picture layer to the top.

Now make it smaller by using the scale tool, first red circle.

The other option is that you can put a number in, giving the pixel by pixel size you want it to be. Either way, you probably want to lock the pixel ratio (the second red circle). That way your photo won’t go all wonky.

Once you get it the size you want (make a note of the dimensions), move it where you want it to be. One tip about moving things in Gimp. Sometimes when you go to move one little thing, like your text, or a photo, the whole thing moves. What you need to do is click “Move the active layer.” Shown below you can see the tab where you find this, and the button you need to click.

Okay, moving on. Anyone still with me?

Now, you add another layer. Go to the top, choose layer, new layer.

Now put in the dimensions and make it the same as your photo. (Remember you made a note of the dimensions of your photo?)

Now add text to your new layer. I like to make a new layer for each line. It makes it easier to change size, color, and font.

And before you know it, you’re done!

Now you want to do two things. One, file, export. That way you are exporting it and saving it as a jpeg so you can upload it to Walgreens or any other photo processing site you love. Now do file, save as. That way if you have finished up and come back half an hour later and realize, “Oh no! My son’s name isn’t Jack! It’s Paul!! What have I done??” you can change the invite without starting over. If you don’t do save as and only do export, when you open it in Gimp again, you are basically adding to an existing photo. You can’t really change it.

Anyone else out there make their own photo cards? I’d love to see them!

Let me know if this was clear, or what else you’d like to do in Gimp but can’t see through the tears of frustration to figure out. I’m not saying I’ll know how to do it, but I’m happy to give it a shot!

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Toya says

    What a great tutorial! I am making baby shower invites and so far so good. I am having trouble though with the font and some of the images…they are blurry when I print them out. What am I doing wrong?

    • Lisa says

      There are a few things I can think of in terms of blurryness. If your over all image isn’t enough pixels by enough pixels, then it could be that the image is getting stretched when you go to print. Are you printing them at home or with a photo service? The other issue could be that you aren’t saving them at a high enough quality .jpg. When you click export, there is a little box that pops up. Mine always assumes that I want to save my image at only 93% the quality, so I have to manually bump it up to 100. Does that make sense? Feel free to email me at lisa (at) wine and glue (dot) com. I’d be happy to try to help you further. Good luck Toya!

  2. Jana says

    Thank you so much for the tutorial! Just wondering… when I export it, it wants to save it as card.png. Do I just change that to .jpeg? I want to be able to print it at costco.

    Thanks!!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I think that you can print them with the .png, but if you want to be on the safe side, just export them as .jpg. One of the things I love about Gimp is that it is so easy to decide how you save them :)

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