2012 Christmas cards: All is calm / All is bright

One of the things I’ve noticed about how I approach a creative project, whether it’s a comic or illustration or whatever, is that I like to think about content and form in tandem. That is, thinking (experimenting both in my head and in mockups) about the concept/ideas of the piece and the execution/production/final format together, with both guiding and informing each other constantly. It’s hard for me to think about creating a book, for example, without thinking about binding method and paper and production from the very beginning, which as with anything has its pros and cons. (This is potential fodder for a post for another time, probably …!)

Anyways, since 2008 I’ve been handmaking my own Christmas cards each year, and it’s always a fun creative exercise and immensely satisfying (though not without its stresses since it’s such a busy time of year!). Here are some work-in-progress photos of the watercolour angel I painted, along with assembly!

I’ve always liked the idea of transparent/translucent overlays, and the last time I did something like that was my Suikoden I/V doujinshi perhaps. For my Christmas cards this year, I wanted to tackle that again, and I had the idea of a bookmark-like format with some ribbon or interesting textured yarn, and using overhead transparencies for the overlay.

Simultaneously, I had the concept of an angelic portrait surrounded by/nestled in multiple wings. I started sketching some heads.

2012 Christmas Cards 1

2012 Christmas Cards 2

I quickly decided I like the idea of a sleeping portrait playing with a “heavenly peace” theme a la Silent Night, and using the overlap to include some of that thematic text without obscuring the artwork itself. I drew a cleaner sketch on watercolour paper, to the proportions needed for layout out a certain number of prints multiple-up on a single sheet.

To be honest, I thought originally that I was going scan the pencil sketch and then digitally paint in Photoshop, and overlay various textures and colours on it. But I ditched that idea after a few days of fooling around with it because I’ve become so much more comfortable painting with traditional watercolour, and I was starting to run out of time as I work slower on the computer. I might post some of those tests sometime though.

2012 Christmas Cards 3

2012 Christmas Cards 4

2012 Christmas Cards 5

The final cards themselves were digitally printed, corners rounded with a corner rounder I picked up while in Tokyo, and then hole punched and tied with some multi-dyed stranded “mini-curls” polyester needlecraft yarn. I loved the interesting, tattered texture of it, it was less expensive and more flexible than ribbon, the colours matched the palette of the painting, and the only real downside was that it kind of shed everywhere. Oh well …

2012 Christmas Cards 6

2012 Christmas Cards 7

2012 Christmas Cards 8

Silent night
Holy night
All is calm
All is bright

Sleep in heavenly peace, and a warm Merry Christmas and New Year to all!