Von Glitschka’s Holiday Cards: Hand Drawing + Digital Illustration


Holiday cards are extremely popular among businesses and individuals looking to reconnect with friends, family and customers. Americans buy about 6.5 physical billion cards a year, the vast majority around Christmastime. After years of e-card frenzy, millennials are also avoiding e-cards in favor of the nostalgic print cards and going to creative sites like etsy. In an increasingly saturated market, creatives can get an edge — and make a profit — by providing unique, creative and personal options. Here, professional graphic designer Von Glitschka shares how he combined his hand-drawn illustrations with Adobe Capture CC and Illustrator CC to create his holiday card this year.

Holiday Cards: Combining Digital with Hand-Drawn Illustrations

by Von Glitschka

Even in the digital age, I still love to begin my creative process with a pen and paper. I’m an illustrator by trade, and I love sending custom holiday cards to friends with a variety of illustrations. The challenge is usually time – hand-drawing and coloring a series of cards is not usually feasible, so the project idea often ends up getting scrapped each year.

This year, I worked with Adobe and used new mobile apps that helped me bring to life the quirkiness of my illustrations and sketches, but with the convenience of digital to mass produce, tweak and get custom cards out to all my friends and family. Here are my steps for creating my illustrated penguin cards.

This design started off as a rough sketch to work out the main art for the overall theme for the design. Working from the rough sketch, I inked the final line with a brush pen to imbue it with clean, thick and thin lines.


When I was happy with the sketch, I used Adobe Capture CC to transform the sketch into a digital vector image by using my iPhone camera to take an image of my art within the app. Unlike the old method of scanning an image and then retracing in Illustrator, Capture CC captures the item as a vector object, so I’m able to tweak or edit things as I like without tracing. It’s also really easy to share the file to Creative Cloud Libraries, and it’s then instantly available when I open Illustrator CC on my computer.


I have a daughter who loves anime patches and the colors on them really inspired me. Usually I’d take a photo and later try to match the colors manually, but Capture CC includes a feature to capture color themes from the real world.


These colors appear as palettes, which I can edit more in the app or on the desktop. Once I opened the colors in Illustrator CC, I began to add colors to my penguin. What I like about this is that I have the ease of experimenting with color that doesn’t require re-sketching my penguin over and over. Initially, my plan was to color the penguin black and white, but when playing around with the colors, I ended up liking a blue for his body to make the drawing more playful.


Related: Adobe used the recent Adobe Max conference to unveil major changes to its lineup of Creative Cloud mobile apps and desktop software. Read about it here.

Even though there are a lot of fonts built into Illustrator CC through Adobe Typekit, I love the look of hand-lettering. Similar to how I initially sketched out my penguin character, I went back to my paper and played around with tracing paper to lay over my penguin sketch. I wanted to get a sense of how large I should scale the letters, although in hindsight, I could have simply adjusted in Illustrator CC! Once I liked the letters, I inked them and used Capture CC to bring them into my CC Library to place in the vector drawing.


The thing I miss the most about digital illustration is the texture you can add with raw brush strokes or different kinds of paint. For this design, I wanted authentic-looking brush strokes, so I used an actual paint brush and black acrylic paint to create a custom brush with Capture CC, which was awesome. Adobe Capture CC allowed me to test drive the brush within the app so I could see how it would look once I accessed it in Photoshop CC or Illustrator CC via CC Libraries.


Once I saved my brushes to a CC Library, they automatically appeared in my CC Libraries panel in Illustrator CC. I drew a stroke and applied the new brush design to it. The results look authentic and add a lot of organic flair to the overall aesthetic.

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My initial color composition for the background was blue, but creativity is all about exploration. I played around with the color themes to develop three separate color iterations. I settled on the green color scheme for my final holiday card design. The final card design is fun, as was the process to create it using Capture CC and Illustrator CC. In total, this project took me about 3 hours.

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