Santa’s little helpers

Much like advent calendars and watching Home Alone on telly, the Spindogs Christmas card has become somewhat of a festive milestone for both our team and our clients. After the steady streak of excellent cards we’d created over the last few years, the bar was set pretty high for the 2017 edition.

With the Spindogs family having grown quite a bit over the past year, we had to think bigger than the Christmas morning and dinner scenes from the past. After some careful contemplation and we decided the best way to depict the fact that our team is expanding and we have been busier than ever, much like Santa’s elves, was by taking on that very mantle (quite literally).

Step one: The plan

With more team members and a more complex scene, this year’s card took a bit more planning. First order of business was to find a centre piece. Once we settled on the Santa’s sleigh, we then proceed to plan everyone’s actions around it. In fact, we included some call backs to last year’s card - can you spot them?

Step Two: Perspective

Last year’s card dealt with a single vanishing point, which meant with a little bit of camera trickery we were able to create the illusion of depth fairly easily. However, this year our task was a lot more challenging, as the card had to include people at various heights and distances. We teamed up with Luke from Magenta Photography and formulated a plan to split the setting up into foreground, middle ground and background. This way we could shoot each area from the appropriate angles to give the illusion of a 3D scene.

04.2.jpg

Step three: Photoshoot

On the day of the shoot, just like last year, we shot each group of Santa “helpers” (we use the term loosely, as most of our elves were getting up to mischief) individually on a white background. Since this year’s photoshoot required full body shots rather than just from the waist up, the team made their way down to Magenta’s studio and got into character.

Step four: Ears

To give everyone that realistic elf look, we photographed some pretty gross looking rubber elf ears at various angles. Then we matched the angle to each person’s head and adjusted the colour to the individual’s skin tone. 30 elf ears were individually cropped, resized and recoloured, all in the name of realism!

Step 5: Props

As the Spindogs team were taking on the parts of Christmas elves, we decided that some props should be abnormally large to give a sense of scale. As giant permanent markers or oversized carrots are not readily available in ASDA, a little bit of acting, imagination and Photoshop magic was employed to add in these elements. Sparks were added to Dan’s angle grinder, Gaz was given a giant whiskey glass and Ben can be seen eating an abnormally big chocolate coin*.

*However, the chocolate on his face is completely authentic – the sacrifices we make in the name of art!

Step six: Finishing touches

Little touches like shadows can make all the difference to a photo compilation like this. To make the scene feel tied together, we added shadows to each individual, as well as reflections where applicable. We finished off with a light dusting of snow over the top of the scene and adjusted the colour of the entire card to knit the image together.

As always, the end result is a collection of festive spirit and masterful graphic design, which really shows in our 2017 card! Now that we are done getting up to mischief helping Santa, we can get down to planning next year’s masterpiece. Watch this space!

Rhys Ashman
About Rhys Ashman

As one of our designers, Rhys takes our client’s ideas and turns them into a visual reality. His ambition to design started at school, as after a week’s work experience at a design studio he realised that he had found his future career.

View all blogs
More Blogs