The 2017 holiday season was a busy one around these parts. From prepping the house for a family visit to finishing up projects at work to squeezing in time to record our podcast, I felt like the end of the year was racing toward me with almost no time to do anything else. Luckily, a little commissioned illustration project came my way to force me to slow down for a bit.

The 2016 illustration

The 2016 illustration

For the second year in a row, my friends Jason & Jeremy commissioned me to illustrate their holiday cards. I’d created a first personalized card for them last year and they got so much feedback on the doodle that they wanted to make it a tradition with a unique drawing to represent each passing year.

My process for this kind of thing always starts far ahead of the holiday deadline and this year was no exception, as we started brainstorming ideas back in September! I have a long train ride to and from work every day, which gave me plenty of time to consider a lot of fun ideas and compositions. I wanted to bring a sense of whimsy and silliness to the scene with some kind of situation that would never happen in real life.

I tried several chaos-ensuing treatments from an out of control snowmobile trip to delivering presents while riding a tandem bike. Ultimately, though, we opted to go with a composition that allowed us to incorporate all of their animals and give each character some distinct personality.


Timelapse from Procreate on iPad Pro

I wanted to add more color and detail to this year’s drawing, so I played around with different levels of detail. With so many characters in the scene, it could get busy really quickly and I wanted to focus on the fun chaos rather than background details.

In the end, I think this year’s edition came out pretty fun. The guys loved it and they got a ton of fun feedback about it from their friends and family this season. It’s definitely motivated me to take on more fun illustration projects in the future, so we’ll see what 2018 brings my way!

One of many early thumbnails One of many early concept thumbnails Tandem bike composition thumbnail Runaway snowmobile concept thumbnail Definition of final composition The final illustration

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