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? I had several ideas this year, but figuring out which one to use was difficult.

STEP 2: THE SKETCH

Next came some sketches. I had several potential ideas, so I drew up some quick sketches and then asked around to see which one worked best. Here's the original sketch of the winner. You can see that the final image didn't differ all that much from the initial idea.

STEP 3: THE DRAWING

Next came the actual drawing. I drew the image (very roughly) in pencil on tracing paper in order to work out the proper placement of figures, as well as to make the image proportional to the card that I would be using.

Once the basic shape was in place, I needed to figure out how the characters would look. I wanted them to look a little confused.

It was at this point that I decided that the camels needed to be more involved in the scene. After all, they have to schlep these guys around!

Now it was time to commit the image to paper. I drew out the scene using a very hard lead pencil on a heavy paper (Bristol).

STEP 4: INKING

With the pencils done, I next 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 (for example, I put a thick line around the wise man in front in order to make him appear closer). I used a pen on the angels, because they were pretty tiny. Inking helps make the image look more polished; and it makes it easier to reproduce. Unfortunately, it can also remove some of the "spontaneity" of the image.

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

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

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 tones. With Illustrator I created the word balloons and the holly border. I also created the back of the card.

At this point, I checked in with Jo. She said, "make the star bigger!" What can I say: the woman knows funny. Bigger it was! Of course, that messed up all my margins, and I had to rework a bunch of things in order to get the image to fit on the card, but all in the holiday spirit...right?

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 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!