How Did You Make That Christmas Card?

Welcome! Thanks for asking.

STEP 1: THE IDEA Step one is probably the hardest step. How do you come up with an idea that is funny, original, and holiday-oriented when you have 2000 years (give or take) of Christmas Cards that came before? Plus, I like for it to be political, but not too political; because despite one disaster after another, 1/3rd of you still think Bush is the best president ever. And I don't want to spoil your holiday. Let me tell you, ideas ain't easy. Luckily, my lovely wife, JoAnn, provides me with inspiration: Where's our card? Have you finished our card? When are you going to get our card done?

STEP 2: THE SKETCH Next comes the sketch. I doodle around on whatever scrap paper is available, and I try to figure out how to present the idea. Normally, I wouldn't make a card with two panels, because that's a lot of information for a small card. However, I couldn't determine a layout that would work in one panel. Here are a couple of sketches: I also looked online for pictures of Laura Bush, because I haven't drawn her before. She never stops smiling.

STEP 3: THE DRAWING Next comes the actual drawing. I take an 11" x 14" sheet of Bristol (a heavy paper), and using a mechanical pencil, a sliding t-square, and 30-60-90 triangle, I draw a "frame" for the images. Here's a picture of my desk (it's usually not this clean) and some tools (not to scale):

Once the frame is complete. I draw everything out in pencil, trying to make as few mistakes as possible. I use a very hard lead so that the image is very faint if I need to erase. I still make a lot of mistakes.

STEP 4: INKING Next I go over all of the pencils with ink. Some people think this means "tracing," but it's not. Inking adds a whole different character to the image. Good cartoonists can add flair and depth to their drawings in the inking process. (I'm still working on the "good cartoonist" part.) I use a brush as much as possible, because markers tend to fade over time. For this image, only the panel border was inked with a pen. Once all the ink is dry, I erase all the left over pencil lines. In this case, the inked copy looked like this:

STEP 5: COPYING and SCANNING Next, it's off to the copy store. Because I work on 11" x 14" paper, I need to copy and reduce the image to normal letter-sized paper so that it will fit on my home scanner. Once I have the reduced copy, I scan it into my computer.

STEP 6: USING PHOTOSHOP I take the scanned image and open it in a software program called Photoshop. This program allows me to manipulate the image and make it ready for printing. With Photoshop I added some gray (for contrast), the text and word balloons, and the snow in panel one. I also realized that I had sized the image wrong, so I fattened it up with some holly that I stole from last year's Christmas Card. Then I saved it in a format that could easily be printed.

STEP 7: PRINTING Then it's back to the copy store to print the card. I had them print 2 images on a page of card stock and then cut the page in half.

STEP 8: MAILING Then JoAnn and I just address, stamp, add something pithy like "Merry Christmas," and drop the cards in the mail. See how easy it is! Anyone can do it!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Visions of Christmas Cards Past:

2004: 2003: 2001:

2000: 1999: 1998: