Here are the steps to creating this year's annual christmas card. I've been doing this for my mom's business for about 6 years now. It's cool seeing my progression as an illustrator. Here is the process for this year's card:
PENCILS & LINEWORK: Sketched out in pencil then scanned into illustrator. At the time i did this, I was in India, so had no scanner. I just used my iPod, and tried to get a straight picture. Hey, whatever works. Then dragged it into illustrator and constructed each line using the pen tool.
COLORS: After the line work is done, I expand the lines to make them shapes and fill them in using the paint bucket tool, then go back and adjust gradients. I then take it into Photoshop as a smart object and configure the background.
BACKGROUND: I wanted to reference some black photos because backgrounds are not really my strong suit. I took some sample photos off google images to sample their colors and then paint it using a few layers that I merge later. I toggle between visibility of the vector image to see where to place shadows and bring the vector image and painted background together. I try to make the two cohesive.
FINISHING TOUCHES: This is probably the most painstaking part because I want to make sure everything is cohesive and buttoned up. This is adjusting subtle details like the glow on Rudolph's nose, shadows in the background, and stuff like that. I could do that forever but there's a point where it's just done and it's time to move on. I then dragged in a royalty-free image of some faded wood, to give it that "tiki" beach look. And 16.5 hours later, it's done. I had fun with this piece. Happy holidays.