Friday, January 13, 2017

Norman Rockwell holiday card behind the scenes

This year's holiday card was quite last minute, but ended up being a crowd pleaser for all ages (unlike last year that seemed to generally perplex the older generation). It started with an idea I had of  recreating a famous piece of art and ended up being an obscure piece of artwork from an well-known artist.

This is the original image, a Hallmark card from 1954 called Christmas Surprise. This artwork lent itself well to copying because our staircase is almost a perfect match. We it would be easy to add another kid to the picture. They couldn't be looking through the spindles though, because the space wouldn't allow you to see their faces. The walls weren't white, but I could either paint them temporarily or put up paper.

Here is the photo from which it was based.
 
So we had to quickly gather a few items – a Santa suit, a vintage dress, an apron and some lights because this area of the house is a bit dark. Neighbors really came to the rescue and helped us with all of these things.

This was our first attempt at it. Our next door neighbor helped us figure out placement and took the pictures, but after looking at it I knew thought we could do better. I got the dress from a coworker and it just wasn't quite right. Also, my vintage apron was too distracting. You can't see the menorah that we decided to add in as the Christmas surprise, Santa's belt isn't quite right and I am not quite looking in the right place. Eloise is a bit obscured too. Also I realized that the floor needed to be white.

By the next day, our neighbor Sarina had brought over the perfect vintage dress from her collection. Could not have been better. Our other neighbor Jonathan Chapman, who is a professional photographer, came over and took the pictures as a big favor. I told him to just send me the images untouched because I was going to work with them in photoshop to make them look like a painting.

I first used this tutorial. But it wasn't quite as helpful as this tutorial since this one has images to go along with it. It took me two nights to finally get it right. Without getting too shop talky, part of the tutorial is unable to be executed because of an update to Photoshop (figured this out after many perplexing hours plus internet research) and so I devised a workaround. When I finally got it to happen, I was euphoric.  

I created this overlay and then put it back into the file.

I finished it up by doing some work with a number of different Photoshop effects and brushes and voila!

Then I added an image of his signature that I found online. I deleted the woodwork at the top since it was too distracting, faded out the edges a bit and it was finished! It was very satisfying to do a lot of problem solving and have a finished product that looked exactly as I had envisioned.

The backside of the postcard was supposed to looked similar to a Saturday Evening Post front page.

Another holiday card complete, but next year's is always looming.