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 will be fun and fit on a card? Some people get paid for that kind of thing--and here I am doing it for free. I had several ideas this year.

STEP 2: THE SKETCH Next comes the sketch. I doodle around to try to figure out what works and what doesn't. Step 2 is really just an extension of Step 1. You can see some of the ideas I had here:

A gift from the Dem
Friends are difficult to find… Geting goosed

I had some others, but I may need them for next year.

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, I sketch out the drawing. 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. In this case, one of my sketches was pretty close to what I wanted, so I used a light box to trace the sketch onto the Bristol paper.

Light box

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. I use a brush to vary the line weights (compare Bush's chin line to his nose line) and to add some depth to the image.

Ink & brushes

Once all the ink is dry, I erase all the left over pencil lines. In this case, the inked copy looked like this:

Inked version

STEP 5: SCANNING Next I scan the picture into my computer. This process turns the image into a digital computer file.

STEP 6: USING PHOTOSHOP and ILLUSTRATOR I take the scanned image and open it in a software program called Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These program allows me to manipulate the image and make it ready for printing. With Photoshop I added some gray tones and resized the image to make it card-ready. With Illustrator I created the word bubble and the text.

If you look closely at both the original and the finished product, you can see some of the changes I made:

  • Filled in dress with black
  • Made some black lines into white lines (dress)
  • Drew a few sprigs of holly, scanned them, and then copied them multiple times to create the top and bottom border
  • Used several different gray tones on the goose to give it additional depth
  • Copied the goose and put it on the back of the card

STEP 7: PRINTING Then it's off 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.

Click for larger view

STEP 8: MAILING Then JoAnn and I just address, stamp, add something witty 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: