Many a designer out there dreads December arriving because it means one thing: time to design the company Christmas card!
I’ve designed quite a few Christmas cards in my time, including corporate Christmas cards, charity cards for Ganet’s Adventure School Fund/Think Malawi and more recently Christmas-themed social media graphics.
For the first set of my Christmas cards from my own freelance business, I’ve kept it local by using photos taken around Brixton, an area I’ve lived in and around for many years. I enjoy incorporating my own photography into my work, so went out and photographed red and green patterns, signs, objects and textures around Brixton’s streets, shops and market stalls. With a US hedge fund buying Brixton Village indoor market, and Network Rail’s refurbishments forcing out many arch-dwelling businesses, so I wanted to record the colour and visual character of Brixton before it becomes further homogenised by big business.
I then selected the best shots, colour corrected them to sit well alongside one another and combined them into a grid system. My budget is small so I’m emailing the cards out to my contacts, but still wanted to make them special and personal in some way. To do this I changed the combination of photos used in my grid for every person.
I added a simple ‘Happy Holidays’ frame animation in order to give the piece some movement, and exported as animated GIFs in order for the animation to play when viewed in email software (with the exception of Outlook on the PC).
I considered writing some code in Processing in order to output the necessary number of combinations. In the end though, as I needed under a hundred combinations I decided to output them one by one from Photoshop manually. This took a few hours and avoided me getting stuck with the coding, as my Processing skills are admittedly rusty. With the right coding, over 100 billion combinations of my Christmas images are possible, which should keep me going for the next few years at least.
Using a couple of rules of thumb in order to balance the amount of red and green, I have created a set GIFs which I will now send out to my clients and contacts. I also now have a bank of imagery that can be adapted for social media, animations or print graphics, and have some ideas for how to enable people to generate their own Christmas image. Watch this space!
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