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Makalu Christmas Card Design Process

Last Friday my batch of MakaluMedia Christmas cards for 2006 arrived from and I couldn't be more pleased. The quality of the paper and printing are excellent, and I think the design turned out quite well.

Here's a photo of the cover of the card:


You may recall mention of my inspiration for the snowflake design in late November, this is how it was used on the cover of the card design. In this article, I'll explain details of the design and printing process, implementing the snowflake design.

I chose the smaller card size of 4.25" x 5.5" folded — it's not too large and not too small. It's quite reasonable to print a smaller quantity in 4 color, since the size is not too large, and since envelopes are a standard size in the US.

Cover Design Notes
On the cover design, the high-res background was created in Photoshop from the same snowflake design, applying a glow of lighter blue over the darker blue background. The dark texture provides a canvas for the card's cover, while at the same time being subtle enough to not fight with the white snowflake overlay.

In Adobe Illustrator, I created the card document, then placed the Photoshop-generated background on the base layer, followed by the light blue glow and sandwiched on top by the white snowflake emblem and "Merry Christmas" text. The back cover also featured the company logo and locations.

Here's the card cover design (click for larger version):

Interior Design Notes
I wanted to carry the theme to the inside of the card, but also leave room for writing personal notes to clients and colleagues. On the left you can see the large, light gray "ghosted" snowflake design, which crosses the fold onto the right inner panel. It's dark enough to see yet light enough to write over.

On the right, the snowflake appears once again, smaller and in the same bright blue color as the glow and Makalu logo on the cover. Below the snowflake, a simple greeting in dark blue.

Here's the card interior design (click for larger version):

Printing Notes
Because the file was created in Adobe Illustrator as vector artwork, with a placed Photoshop background, my prep for printing was relatively painless. I checked all of my colors, and made sure the page sizes and bleeds for the art were correct.

Next, I converted the text on the cover and interior to outlines with Illustrator. Converting text to outlines is a feature that converts fonts into vector artwork on your document. This ensures your fonts, sizing, positioning are maintained, while eliminating the need to make sure the printer has the same fonts on hand.

Finally, I uploaded the file with my order specifications at and let them handle the rest. A day later I had a PDF proof of the art, then approved the production and shipping. With this project I chose a medium weight card stock, and added an aqueous coating over the entire cover to help protect the heavy ink coverage and add a nice shine.

PrintingForLess handled printing, cutting and folding, then shrink wrapped the cards and paired them with matching white envelopes. PFL even split the order and shipped a portion directly to our main Makalu office in Darmstadt, Germany and the remainder to me in my Milwaukee office.

Overall, the design was a fun one, from concept to completion. I'm very pleased with the final product, due in large part to the quality work by, and their wonderful customer service.

I hope I've provided some insight into the process of designing and creating a 4-color card for printing, especially for those readers who may not have direct contact with design and printing processes.

Order Free Samples — Check out the quality of PrintingForLess by requesting a free sample pack, including multiple printed samples on various paper stocks.

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Reader Comments (1)

Mike, nicely done -Crazy - I'm reading your post while proofreading your cards!Merry Christmas!Kerry
December 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKerry Woo

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