How Did You Make That Christmas Card?

Click to enlarge.

STEP 1: THE IDEA

The first step was probably the hardest. How do you come up with an idea that will be fun and fit on a card? This one finally popped into my head.

STEP 2: THE SKETCH

Next came some sketches. I doodled around in a sketchbook, trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Step 2 was really just an extension of Step 1.

Once I had an idea of what I wanted, I sketched the image out “full size” to get a sense of how things would fit together for a card shape. When composing a card, it's a good idea to remember the rule of thirds.

STEP 3: THE DRAWING

Next came the actual drawing. I drew out the image in pencil, working out where things should be placed, but not really worrying about making mistakes (I would clean these up later).

I originally drew a more “realistic” image, but it just wasn’t working for me. The composition was off, and it felt way too stiff. On my second try, I went for a looser, more cartoony feel.

Pencil drawing

Next, I took a sheet of Bristol (a heavy paper), and using a light box, I lightly traced the image in pencil, leaving behind the mistakes.

Light box

Traced image

STEP 4: INKING

Next I went 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 used a brush to vary the line weights (compare the top of Santa’s tummy to his back) and to add some depth to the image. Inking helps make the image look more polished; and it makes it easier to reproduce. Unfortunately, it also sometimes removes some of the "spontaneity" of the image.

Ink & brushes

Once all the ink was dry, I erased any left over pencil lines.

Inked image

For the sake of comparison, here's what the first attempt looked like (sometimes you have to be willing to scrap it all and start over):

Original look

STEP 5: SCANNING

Next I scanned the picture into my computer. This process turns the image into a digital computer file.

STEP 6: USING PHOTOSHOP and ILLUSTRATOR

Next, I took the scanned image and opened it in a software program called Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These programs allow me to manipulate the image and make it ready for printing. With Photoshop I added the gray tone. With Illustrator I created the word balloons and the holly border. I also created the back of the card.

STEP 7: PRINTING

Then it was 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.

STEP 8: MAILING

Then JoAnn and I just addressed, stamped, added something witty like “Merry Christmas,” and dropped the cards in the mail. See how easy it is! Anyone can do it!

If you didn’t get a card this year it probably means we don’t love you we don’t have your address. Send it to us!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Visions of Christmas Cards Past:

2008: The Gift

2007: Merry Year End

2006: Goose

2005: Coming Down

2004: Naughty & Nice

2003: Peace on Earth

2001: Naughty

2000: Flakes

1999: WANTED

1998: Dreaming of  a White (Hot) Christmas