How to Wrap a Present

This tutorial will show you how to make a wrapped present from scratch.

Making a present from scratch really isn’t that difficult once you know a couple tricks of the trade!

We are using two stock photos for this tutorial from Stock.xchng.

Step 1: Creating the Box

We need a simple a package silhouette with a little perspective on it to give it a little more style. To do this, I’m just using the Polygonal Lasso Tool and draw a simple shape, filling it in with black since we don’t know what color our wrapping paper is going to be yet.

Once we have our silhouetted box, we’re going to add a little bit of a poof to it, keeping in mind what wrapping paper looks like when it’s wrapped around a box. Typically, wrapping paper does not lay perfectly flat on the box as it has folds in it. We’re adding a little detail to a couple corners, and a slight bulge on the bottom right where the paper would be folded and taped on the end.

This probably looks a little strange to you right now, but it will be much more convincing after a few steps. Oh, be sure to lock the Preserve Transparency button for that layer.

Step 2: Creating A Brush for the Paper Pattern

Most wrapping papers have patterns on them of something cute or ornamental. We’re going to turn our picture of the penguin into a Brush so we can stamp the wrapping paper (and use our adorable penguin in other projects later too if we want).

We open the penguin, go to Image>Threshold and play with the settings there until you get the penguin looking just right, hit okay.

Everything white in our file is going to become transparent when we change it into a brush, so we are going to make extra sure everything else is white around the penguin. Once everything is just right, go to Edit>Define Brush. Super simple! Name the brush, confirm and there we go, it’s in our brush library!

Step 3: Making the Wrapping Paper

We’re going to make our wrapping paper red. We don’t want something too bright, we’re trying to make this somewhat realistic. Once we’ve chosen our color, we’re going to add it to our black box silhouette we made earlier. To do this, selecting the layer is a good start. We’ll then either use a paintbrush, or hold down either CTRL or ALT while hitting the delete or backspace button on the keyboard (this will fill your box in with whatever color you have selected in your palette).

We’ll add a layer above our now red package. Select black, select our Penguin brush, scale it down, and start doing single clicks, however we want our wrapping paper to look. We’re only going to add the front of the package’s pattern at this point.

We need to crop the penguins onto the package, and then change the perspective of the two penguins in the middle there to make them look like they are actually on the box.

To crop the package, stay on the penguin layer, hold down CTRL and click on the layer with the red box on it – this will select the box. You don’t want to erase any of the penguins in the middle, so invert your selection: CTRL+SHIFT+I or to the menu, Select>Inverse. Hit the Delete key to remove all of the exterior penguins.

Now we need to alter the perspective of the penguins’ heads. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (selection box), and draw a box around the penguins where the edge of the box is. Transform CTRL+T the penguins by holding down SHIFT and dragging the anchor points around. You’ll have to play with a little bit until you’re happy with how it looks. You may have to line their little bodies up again when you’re through.

Add another layer. Scale your penguin brush down again, and continue the patter at the top of the box. We are going to crop these penguins after we’re through with their perspective.

CTRL+T on your new penguins and change their perspective as we did with the previous penguins (only you’re going to alter these entire penguins). Once you’re altered them, you’re going to want to crop them like we did earlier with the other penguins. CTRL+click the layer with the box, CTRL+SHIFT+I to invert your selection, and then the delete button.

Merge your new penguin layer with your previous layer.

We officially have our wrapping paper!

Step 4: Make the Box Shine

Create a new layer above your penguins. Change the Blending option to Lighten, in your Layers window. Get your Rectangular Marquee selection tool, and change the feathering on it to 10. Draw a box around the “front” of your box, along the line where the edge would be. Once you’ve drawn your shape, select black as one of the colors and white as the other. Click on your Gradient tool, and then the Bars.

Start clicking and dragging the mouse at angles until you get the one that is just right. With your layer blending option on Lighten, it will cancel out all of the black on the layer, and look like shines on the wrapping paper. You can also do the same thing on the “top” of the box to give the top a little shine as well.

Step 5: Add Some Homemade Ribbon

When making a piece of ribbon, making it longer than what you’ll need is always a good idea. It’s kind of like cutting actual ribbon – better to have too much ribbon than not enough to make it around the box.

The piece of ribbon is thin, and ribbed. Making it ribbed gives it a little more life, and makes the perspective more realistic.

We’ll want two layers, one with a vertical ribbon, one with a horizontal ribbon. In my example I have the vertical ribbon as the upper layer.

Okay, remember how we gave our penguin wrapping paper perspective? We’re going
to do the same thing with the ribbons. Be sure your change your feathering on your selection tool back to 0, you don’t want a 10px feather when you’re doing this step.

Once you’ve changed the perspective of both ribbons, do your little inverse selection thing on the box again and crop the ribbons.

This would be a good time to do some Hue/Saturation CTRL+U adjustments if you don’t like how the ribbon matches at the moment.

Now, we also want the ribbon to shine! Make a new layer above one of your ribbons (you’ll be repeating this section for the other ribbon as well). While on your new layer, CTRL+click your ribbon layer so it creates a selection area around that shape. Either use your gradient tool or a Soft Round brush to do your shiny highlights. Change your blending option on this layer to Lighten. Then, repeat these steps for the other ribbon.

Step 6: Add More Shadows and Highlights

Add a layer above your penguins, and below your highlights and ribbon. Select your Soft Round brush and using black and white. Use black in some areas where shadows should be, and white where you want it to be brighter. Once you’ve done this, change the blending option to Overlay, and this will make your package more intense.

Step 7: Top it Off with a Bow

On the very top of all of your layers, you’ll want to place the bow. This is our final touch to the package. You’ll notice how huge the bow is and how bad the color looks with our new present we have made. First, you’ll want to scale it down and alter its perspective like we did previously with the penguins and the ribbon.

Position the bow about where you want it, adjust the Hue/Saturation CTRL+U to the color and intensity you want, then adjust the Levels CTRL+L to give the bow a little more depth. You’ll likely want to go back in again with CTRL+U and adjust the Saturation so it’s a little less vibrant.

Duplicate your bow onto another layer, below your current bow. Preserve Transparency, color it black. CTRL+T to transform its perspective (we want this to look like a little shadow. Once you’ve got that done, change the Layer opacity on it to somewhere around 40. There you go! If you want the darkness and highlights on the bow to be a little different than what they are currently, make another layer over top of the bows, and make it an Overlay layer like the previous one we made, and repeat those steps.

We’re done!

I know, a long tutorial for a Christmas present, but now you know how to make them, and you can make a few more a lot easier now!

By Kirin Knapp

Kirin Knapp is a graphic designer for the iEntry Network, publishing company of FlashNewz. A flash animator and illustrator, she is the creator of her home site,

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