Create a Desktop or Printable Calendar with Photoshop

This Adobe Photoshop CS2 tutorial will demonstrate how you can create a beautiful photo-based calendar. Depending on how you want to display your calendar, you can either create one for your computer's desktop, or you can create a calendar that can be printed off on your inkjet printer. The only difference between the two will be the size and resolution of the document. 

NOTE: This Adobe Photoshop lesson was created with Photoshop CS2, but the same results can be achieved in other versions, as well.

In This Lesson

Along with demonstrating how you can create a calendar with Photoshop, this lesson will show you how you can:
  • Resize your photographs
  • Add text to your photographs
  • Use Photoshop's Text properties
  • Change the orientation of text
  • Align objects on different layers
  • Draw basic shapes
  • Change a layer's opacity

Choosing a Photo

The choice of which photo to use for the background of the calendar is important. You'll want to find an image that lends itself to having a fairly large corner covered with the calendar information. The image seen in the following figure, for example, is a good choice. Note how the calendar takes up a bit of room, but doesn't really interfere with the overall photo.

Photo Calendar

You can see that I've decided to go with an image that was photographed in landscape mode (wider than it is tall) rather than portrait mode (taller than it is wide). I've done so as this format obviously works better for displaying on a computer screen, my intended destination for this image. If you're going to be printing your calendar, though, and have an image that works well in the portrait mode, don't hesitate to use the image. As long as it looks cool pinned to your fridge, everything's good :)

Once you've chosen the photograph you'd like to use as the background for your calendar it's time to move on to resizing it.
Resizing the Photograph
After choosing an appropriate image for your calendar, the next decision is where you'd like to display the calendar. You could, of course, create multiple calendars and print or display them in many different ways. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Use the calendar as your computer's desktop background
  • Display the calendar on your web pages
  • Send copies of the calendar via email to friends/family (you could circle an important date in red, for example)
  • Print the calendar and pin it up at work or stick it on your refrigerator

Resizing for the Desktop

Before you resize your photograph to display it on your computer's desktop you need to know the size of your computer's screen. I don't mean as in 18inch or 20inch monitor. What I mean is how many pixels your computer displays. To find this out in most versions of Windows, right-click on the screen (outside of any open programs) and choose Properties from the pull down menu that appears... In the dialog box that pops up choose the Settings tab (see figure 27.1).

figure 27.1
figure 27.1

Your dialog box may differ in appearance from the one you see in figure 27.1, but there will be an area that displays the current screen resolution (circled in red in figure 27.1).

You can see in figure 27.1 that my screen is set to 1600x1200 pixels. Some common screen sizes are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200, but there are many possibilities. The best way to discover what your screen's resolution is set to is to right-click on the desktop and see what the settings are. When you find the settings make a note of them so that they can be used to resize your photograph.

NOTE: You won't change or hurt anything in your settings if you make sure you click "Cancel" and NOT "OK" to exit the dialog box.

With your photograph open in Photoshop choose Image, Image Size... Doing so will bring up the Image Size dialog box which can be seen in figure 27.2.

figure 27.2
figure 27.2

There're quite a number of options in this dialog box. When resizing for the screen, as in for your desktop, or for the web/email the important settings are the Width and Height under the Pixel Dimensions options. Setting these values to those you discovered would yield a photo calendar that will exactly fit your computer screen. For example, if your screen size is 800x600 then set the Width to 800 and the Height to 600.

When resizing for the screen you can ignore the Document Size options.

Because we haven't, and won't be adding any styles the Scale Styles option can be left as is. Usually you can leave Constrain Proportions, as well, but you may have to uncheck this option if you have an oddly sized image or screen. For example, you may have a newer screen that's set to a wider size than normal.

To make sure the image gets resized, leave a checkmark in the Resample Image option. We have plans for a lesson on image resizing, but for now leave the default "Bicubic" setting. Bicubic is a powerful algorithm that does a great job of resizing photographs.

Finally, click OK to resize the photograph you've chosen for your calendar.

Resizing for Print

If you'll be printing your calendar (I like to stick one on the big cabinet in my home office, for example) you still may need to resize the photograph. When you open the Image Size dialog box (choose Image, Image Size...) you can ignore the Pixel Dimensions and concentrate on the Document Size instead.

Depending on your printer and the size of the original photograph and how large you want to print it, you can go a number of ways... As a good starting point, set the Width and Height to something fairly standard, such as 8.5" x 11". You can see in figure 27.2 that the Resolution of my photograph is set to 240 pixels/inch. This works well for my printer, but you may want to try different values. Something between 200 and 300 will work in most cases, though.

As with resizing for the screen, you can leave the default settings for the Scale Styles, Constrain Proportions and Resample Image options. Bicubic is still the way to go, as well.

Once you're satisfied that the settings are okay for the photograph you've chosen, and for the paper size that your printer uses, click OK to resize the image.

Creating the Calendar

One of the biggest pains when it comes to creating a calendar is typing in all of the dates. The cool thing about this tutorial, though, is that all of the calendars are available below ready to be copied & pasted into your photograph.

    ~ Calendars ~

 S  M  T  W  T &nbspF  S
 1  2  3  4  5  6  7
 8  9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31
 S  M  T  W  T &nbspF  S
    1  2  3  4  5  6
 7  8  9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31
 S  M  T  W  T &nbspF  S
       1  2  3  4  5
 6  7  8  9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31
 S  M  T  W  T &nbspF  S
          1  2  3  4
 5  6  7  8  9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31
 S  M  T  W  T &nbspF  S
             1  2  3
 4  5  6  7  8  9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
 S  M  T  W  T &nbspF  S
                1  2
 3  4  5  6  7  8  9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
 S  M  T  W  T &nbspF  S
 2  3  4  5  6  7  8
 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31

All you need to do is figure out the day of the week that the particular month you want starts on. For example, June 2007 starts on a Friday and that means that copying & pasting the sixth set of dates will work just fine for creating a June 2007 calendar.

Here are a couple of tips for copying and pasting the dates into your own:
Make sure you copy the spaces before the '1'.
After you paste the dates in remove any dates that are not applicable, i.e. remove the 31st for June.
Leave the letters that represent the weekdays... It's best to add these by hand.

Adding the Days and Dates

To copy and paste the dates:

  • Use your mouse to highlight the dates on the web page
  • Right-click the highlighted text and choose Copy from the pull down menu that appears
  • Click the Photoshop title bar to activate Photoshop
  • Select the Horizontal Type Tool (it's about half way down the Toolbar on the right)
  • Click anywhere in your photograph and hit CTRL-V to paste in the date info (see figure 27.3)

figure 27.3
figure 27.3

As you can see in figure 27.3 the date info is a little larger than it should be and some of the dates are completely off the edges of the photograph. To drag the text into place, select the Move Tool (it's the topmost tool in the Toolbar on the right) and click and drag the text into place. I'll drag the date info text into place in the lower right because that's where it fits in best with this image, but you may want to drag the date info to one of the other corners.

With the text in place, at least for the moment, it's time to resize it so that it fits in with the photograph a little better.

To adjust the size of the text, select the Horizontal Type Tool and click and drag the text so that all of it is highlighted. Don't forget the spaces in front of the '1'.

With the text highlighted and the Type Tool still active you can adjust the size of the date info. You can see in figure 27.4 that I've set the size of the type to 30 pt.

figure 27.4
figure 27.4

You can also see from the Options bar that I'm using 'Minion Pro' as the Font and 'Regular' for the Font Style. It would be best to leave the Style set to 'Regular' because we'll be using Bold for the Days, but feel free to try out different fonts.

Just to the right of the Font Size menu you can set the Anti-aliasing I've set it to 'Crisp' which is a good setting for screen-sized images. You can try the other settings to see the effect they have on your text. Anti-aliasing basically helps smooth out the text. If you want to know more you can read our Web Graphics - anti-aliasing tutorial.

Now that the dates are pretty much set it's time to add the days. This is simply a matter of typing in 'S M T W T F S' using the Type tool.

With the Horizontal Type Tool still active click anywhere to de-select the date info.

Click above the date info and type in S M T W T F S. Use the Type Tool to select the text and change the style to 'Bold'.

If there is no 'Bold' choice available you can use Faux Bold. To do so, with the text selected, click the 'Faux Bold' icon. It's located in the Character palette. If you don't see the Character pakkete open, choose Window, Character.

You may have noticed that the dates are not lined up correctly. To line up the single-digit dates and the letters you added for the days you will need to add some spaces between the numbers/letters. Click anywhere in the text with the Horizontal Type Tool and use the arrow keys to move around. Start with the bottommost line that has single-digit chacaters in it. For June 2007 that would be the line '3 4 5...'.

Place the cursor just before the 3 and tap the spacebar once to move the 3 over the '0' in the number 10 in the line below.

Use the arrow right arrow key to move between the 3 and the 4 and add a space there, as well… continue on adding a space between each of the numbers on that line.

The line with the 1 and the 2 will need a few more spaces added before the 1. I found that adding 12 spaces moved the numbers into place.

For the day letters, I simply added another space between each of the letters.

With the spacing of the letters and numbers done, the two separate pieces of type can now be aligned.

To align the dates and the days, select the Move Tool and select one of the text areas. To select the other, hold down the shift key while clicking the text area.

With the two areas selected click the Align Horizontal Centers icon in the Options bar. It's the fifth icon to the right of the 'Show Transform Controls' option.

I'm going to add the Month and Year to the right side of the date info so I'll take the opportunity now, while they're both selected, to nudge the two text areas over to the left so that I can squeeze the year and month in.

Adding the Month and Year

To add the year and moth info select the Horizontal Type Tool and click anywhere in the image.

After clicking in the image, type in the current month and year. I'll be using 'June 2007' for this lesson.

Don't be too concerned with the size, yet. For this layout I want to turn the year and date on its side to add some visual interest to the calendar info.

With the year and month typed in, select the Move Tool and move it towards one of the corners of the selected type until the cursor changes into a small curve with arrows at each end (see figure 27.5).

figure 27.5
figure 27.5

While holding down the shift key click-and-drag the text box until it's turned over on it's side. Holding down the shift key helps to line up the text correctly (see figure 27.6).

figure 27.6
figure 27.6

Using the Move Tool, move the month and year into place to the right of the date info. At the same time, you can use the Move Tool, by clicking-and-dragging one of the corners of the bounding box that surrounds the text, to resize the text. I like the text to line up with the top and bottom of the date info (see figure 27.7).

figure 27.7
figure 27.7

You may have to nudge the date info and the month and year around a little until you're happy with the final placement.

TIP: With the Move Tool selected you can actually nudge the selected object pixel by pixel using the arrow keys. You can make larger nudges by holding down the SHIFT key.

At this point the calendar is pretty much complete. You can make some enhancements if you'd like, though. For example you could change the color of the type used for the month and year to match some of the colors in the photograph. You can see what that would look like if you sneek a peek back to the completed calendar that was displayed at the beginning of this tutorial. In that image I used one of the colors from the old barn as the color for the month and year.

To change the color of any of the type you've entered, select the type with the Type Tool and click the Color swatch in the Options bar. Doing so will bring up the Color Picker diaog box. You can choose a color from the dialog box, or you can choose a color from the image. Moving the mouse over the image will change the cursor to an eyedropper... click over any area in the photograph to set the text to that color. Pretty cool stuff :)

Adding a Background Shape

If you find the dates a little hard to read because of the photograph you're using as the background for your calendar, you can add a shape between the photograph and the calendar.

To add a shape behind the date info, activate the layer with the photograph on it. To do so, click the layer that has the background image on it in the Layers palette.

The Layers palette is along the bottom right of the main Photoshop window. If you don't see the Layers palette choose Window, Layers.

With the photograph layer selected in the Layers palette select the Rounded Rectangle Tool (see figure 27.8).

figure 27.8
figure 27.8

Place the cursor near the upper left corner of the calendar info, making sure that you're outside of the text. Click-and-drag down and towards the right. As you drag you'll see a rounded rectangle shape being drawn.

Once you release the mouse button, the shape will be filled with the color that has been set in the Options bar. The Color and the Radius are both options that can be set in the Options bar. The shape I drew is filled with one of the colors from the grasses in the photo's foreground and has a 50 px. Radius. Depending on the size of the photograph you're using and how you set up the date text, you may want to try different values for the radius. To do so, use CTRL-Z to undo the shape, set the values in the Option bar and then draw the shape again. I set the color of the shape using the same nethod as coloring the text that I mentioned above, that is, by clicking the Color icon in the Options bar and then choosing the color from the photo using the mouse.

One thing that you may notice about the shape... it's completely covering the photograph behind it. Even though this makes the text more readable it's not the best solution. A nicer compromise would be to turn down the opacity of the shape so that some of the photo can be seen behind it.

To adjust the opacity of the shape set the Opacity value in the Layers palette. You'll find it in the upper right corner of the palette. I set the value to 50%. You can see my final result in figure 27.9.

figure 27.9
figure 27.9

Saving Your Work

Now that your calendar is complete you'll want to save it. Whether you're going to print your calendar or use it as a background for your computer screen, you should save the file as a .psd file. Doing so will mean that you can go back at any time and change anything that we did to the image in this tutorial.

If you'll be printing your calendar that's all that you need to do in terms of saving your work. If you want to e-mail the calendar or use it as a computer background, you'll want to save the file as a .jpg file.

To do so, choose File, Save for Web...

Doing so will open the Save for Web dialog box. There are many options available in this dialog. In fact, there are too many for me to cover here (I do plan a tutorial for this topic, though). For now, simply choose from the Presets. If you want to use the image for your desktop, set the Preset to JPEG High. To save the file, so as to send it to someone via email, choose either JPEG Medium or JPEG low. You can see the quality in the window on the right vs. the original, which is displayed on the left. You can also see the resulting file size below the right window. I can't tell you what is acceptable in terms of file size for email, as it will depend on your ISP and the ISP of the person you'll be sending the file to. Anything under 1MB should be okay, though and that will still be a fairly large image... large enough for someone to use as a background.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson and that you'll create some great calendars using your digital photos. It's a great way to display your work.


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