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The Holiday Express

For our 2006 card, we decided to go all-out. Not like our boring ol’ cards from previous years.

2006frontJust like the previous year, we put a “teaser” image on the front of the card:


Below is the inside of the card. (Move your mouse over the picture to magnify.)


How we made it

As you can probably guess, this card was quite a bit more complicated to make than some of our previous ones.

Once we settled on the basic concept, designer John Redhed began a long process of determining how everything would be arranged.

2006bts01First was a series of sketches, which helped determine the camera angle and the general position of the main elements in the scene.


2006bts02Next was a digital mockup, using quick snapshots of the train, tree and presents. John used a specialized app to create copies of a generic figure, then positioned and posed each one.

We then assigned positions to each of our twenty-seven employees. Those who were a bit camera-shy were happy to be tucked inside the coach.


2006bts05With the design finalized, John photographed the tree, train and presents separately, then created the “Happy Holidays” letters in a 3-D app.


2006bts03Employee photography took place in late October at Hall & Company HQ. With the mockup as reference, John used a variety of props and furniture as he carefully posed each person.

In addition to the meticulous preparation, John photographed many employees in more than one pose, just in case he needed flexibility in the compositing process.


2006bts04This was the first card to include Huckleberry, the dog owned by Mike & Becky Hall.


Now that all of the elements of the scene had been created, John took them all into Photoshop and . . . Well, we don’t really know how he manages to take a menagerie of photos and blend them together so perfectly. He calls it “compositing.” We’re pretty sure that’s a euphemism for “black magic.”

2006bts06The image on the front of the card was an extreme close-up of the same locomotive shown above, modified in Photoshop.


This card turned out to be even more fun than we imagined. And the reactions we got from our clients were quite gratifying. We were already looking forward to making the next year’s card!