Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Written Proposal - Christmas Cards


Our first task in Semester 2 was a six weeks project when we were asked to design an animated Christmas card for the University of Winchester.

The peculiarity of this was that the BA-s and the BSc-s had to work on it individually, which was good because everyone has a different conception about Christmas.
We were given the option to choose whatever software we want, to produce the visuals and the final version of the card.
Our client is Saffron Grover who composed the brief for us.

Project description

The brief stated that we have to come up with four ideas from which we’ll choose the better ones for production. Also, we were asked to draw these in a vector based program and to produce a storyboard showing the animated sequence.

From this week our job is to make up two of the ideas to completed animated cards in the format specified by Saffron.

The specifications from her were to produce the cards in a format that would work across web and mobile as well. Furthermore it should represent the University, because these will be sent to people next Christmas. The duration specified in the brief is ideally to last no more than 20-30 seconds.

Later the brief changed a bit, we got more accurate description of what the University wants.
The cards should be religious in content, showing the nativity, the 12 disciples, instead of abstract things like robins, Christmas trees or presents.

We also had to take in consideration copyright issues, which meant we can only use free, widely used, system fonts, music or sound effects.

The targeted primary audience of our cards are the students of The University of Winchester and the staff. If we produce something really interesting and original, these people will send it to their friends or family, which means they will be then our secondary audience.

Project objectives

My objective was to produce ideas that would be visually appealing, festive but elegant, calm and furthermore unique.
First, I did a research on Christmas E-Cards. Due to the fact that it’s January, it wasn’t so easy finding them. John’s initial idea was an interactive card, but none I found were religious, they all showed Christmas trees, presents or Voodoo Santas (

 The Christmas E-Cards I liked the most were the following:
  • Snow globe:
  • Lovely winter landscape:
  • Interactive Christmas puppet:
  • Advent Calendar:
  • Feeding someone:
  • A farmer band playing festive songs:
  • Santa dancing with his Reindeers:

  • Interactive make your own family portrait:
For me it represents love, snow, angels, ornaments, Christmas lights and bulbs.

I really liked the idea of making an interactive “Make your own family portrait” using celebrities and cartoon characters. It would have been really funny and would have been fixed in peoples mind, but I also realized I couldn’t code it.
I also found another inspiration: I have a wind chime with an angel hanging from it.
My next step was to review the other cards, finally I mace up with four ideas (from which, as we found out sooner, some aren’t religious, so they are not good).

1.      Angel and Snowflake decorations

My wind chime inspired me so much that I decided to use it for my first idea.
I looked on the internet for similar looking charms as a base for the illustrations.

After I found them I used Adobe Illustrator to draw them. At the beginning people would see Angel hanging from strings. They would either spin or move up and down. After a few seconds some of them would change into a Snowflake. At the end a message would appear saying: Merry Christmas.

Some cultures don’t have a Santa Claus, for example in Transylvania angels bring the presents. I think this card can be considered religious, because Archangel Gabriel was the one who delivered the news about Jesus to Mary.
The purpose of my card is similar to Gabriel’s, I want to send joy and a smile to people.

I used the University’s colors for my idea: blue, white and golden-brown which give the card an elegant touch. The shades might not be on my illustrations the same, I have to ask Saffron for the details. Also I’m not sure if I put the logo to the right place, maybe it’s the upper left corner, I have to check that as well.

2.      Advent Calendar

As a child I used to have a hand made Advent Calendar, so this was my next Christmas card idea. First I wanted to draw a house, but because the brief states that the card has to be University related, I found that the Cathedral from the logo is a better choice.
The date would appear in the window and each day as you open it a photo would appear revealing an event. I put some Christmas lights on the Cathedral to give it a festive feeling.


3.      Winmas Tree

My third idea was really the extension of the previous one. I decided to draw a “Winmas Tree.” I used the Cathedral from the logo and I decorated it with lights and a star which would twinkle.

First I wanted the window to twinkle as well, as if light was coming out of it, but I found it exaggerated. John suggested that I should change the background, instead of a solid color I should use a gradient one. He thought I should try recreating the winter sky, the bluish-grey-pink.

I was in a doubt that this idea could be considered as religious, but I did some research and came up with the following information:
The star on the top of the Christmas Trees symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem, which led the three wise men to the cradle of Jesus.

Furthermore the Christmas tree is a religious symbol as well. According to folk belief during the winter time the demons and bad spirits were rambling free in the world and only those were protected of them who stood under a tree. The first one setting up a Christmas tree was Martin Luther, in honor of Jesus’ birth. ( )

4.      Dancing Reindeer

My last idea is a dancing Reindeer. This was inspired by one of the cards I found on the internet:

Later I found out that we can’t use this, so I cast off this idea.

Overview of the research

My major research was about interactive and animated Christmas E-Cards. I found 10 which I really liked and would have enjoyed creating. I mentioned these above. Although they are good, some have cons.

  • The snow globe seamed a good idea, but others thought of it too,so it’s not original.
  • The words and letters making up a bell shape are beautiful, but it’s not too interesting for students.
  • The Scrolling image of a Christmas table is interactive, but it isn’t religious.
  • I can’t see how I could animate the lovely winter landscape.
  • I would need more Actionscript knowledge to do the puppet.
  • I kept the Advent Calendar idea, because it remind me of my hand made one I used to have as a child, but it’s not religious.
  • The feeding someone with Christmas food seams a funny idea, but this would need more Actionscript as well.
  • The farmer band playing festive songs, the dancing deer and the “Make your own family portrait” is comic, but they don’t match the brief.

My second research was about religious symbols, and the story of the Christmas tree.

Overview of the expected outcome

I hope Saffron will like them and they will be used this Christmas.

I’m planning to produce these cards with a large volume of work, to a consistently high standard so that I can add them to my portfolio and so that we can show them at the End of Year Show.

Key solutions

The only problem I faced so far was that I wasn’t sure if my Winmas Tree fits the brief, but as I already mentioned, I did a research and found out that people set up Christmas trees to honor Jesus’ birth.

Overview of the technical development and the technologies used

The brief stated that our ideas had to be more than sketches, they had to be drawn in a vector based program, so I used Adobe Illustrator to produce it.
I’m planning to animate the cards using Flash. For easy streaming the finished files mustn’t exceed 1.5 Mb and should be kept to a minimum, additionally they should be published for a Flash Player 7 or earlier.

The typical dimensions for a landscape form are 540 pixels wide by 410 pixels high, which should leave the bottom 15 pixels for a credits-bar.

For the angel and the snowflake I used the pen tool and the circle object tool. To decorate the angel’s clothing I used the brush tool.
I used the same tools for the advent calendar and the gradient colors for the lights.
The Winmas Tree was based on these tools as well, but John suggested to use Blur tool for the star.
The dancing deer is mostly built of different shape and size of circles.


  • First week (16/01/12): We were introduced to the project and we discussed the cards we found on the internet and what Christmas means to us.
  • Second week (23/01/12): I did more research and found my main inspiration, my wind chime. I started illustrating the cards and producing the storyboard for it.
  • Third week (30/01/12): The brief altered, but it didn’t affect my work. I had a discussion with John and decided to change the background of the Winmas tree to a gradient one.
  • Fourth week (06/02/12)): I want to start doing the animation using Flash and search for sound effects.
  • Fifth week (13/02/12): I’m planning to finish animating.
Sixth week (20/02/12): I want to debug the animations if necessary. We have to present our ideas to Saffron.

Outline of all accessibility , legal and copyright issues

The University of Winchester has its own brand identity.
The outward expression of a brand - including its name, trademark, communications, and visual appearance is called brand identity.
The colors of the logo are white, blue and golden. In order to comply with their brand, I have to ask Saffron their color scheme. Also the logo has to be in the right place, we’re not allowed to rotate is or put it in an inappropriate place.

I’m planning to ad sound effects to my animations, but they will be free in order to avoid copyright issues.

On the University’s website I found the following about their copyrights:
The University of Winchester and its content is copyrighted, this covers and includes all original material published on the website by staff or students.

Terms of site use:
     By accessing and using the University of Winchester website you are agreeing that the use of the content is for personal, non-commercial reference only.
    At no time can part or all of the University of Winchester site be reproduced by any means or medium unless otherwise stated.
    We do give permission for hard copies of pages to be printed for personal non-commercial use only.
    We do give permission for content to be referenced for personal use as long as the University of Winchester of website is acknowledged as the source of the material.

Unless already outlined any other use of the University of Winchester site content is not allowed without our express permission.”

Regarding accessibility, my cards would be easy to access for anyone who has a Flash Player installed. Because the University’s IT will probably develop my cards further they will also ensure about it.
 “The University of Winchester site has been designed to be as accessible and inclusive to the widest range of audiences as possible. Our site has been designed to adhere to a range of web standards and guidelines and we are committed to meet at least AA compliance. We continually monitor the content to ensure it meets as high a standard as possible.
Site compliance:
We make every effort to ensure our site conforms as much as possible to AA compliance. However, we cannot be held responsible for third party content which is held externally to our website and guarantee it conforms to the main standard of our site.

Browser compatibility
The website is accessible in:
 Internet Explorer 6+
  Mozilla Firefox 3+
  Opera 9+
  Google Chrome
  Safari 3.2+

Ensuring accessibility:
Our website is built using a content management system and style sheets, this allows users to adjust the appearance of the page to suit their needs.
Editorial content
Our content has been written in line with our editorial guidelines and we make every effort to ensure it uses language appropriate to the subject matter. We have taken care to ensure content is written and produced with clear sub-headings, contextual links, links, to clearly signposted content on each web page.

Page display:
Most modern browsers allow you to control the way pages are displayed and some will let you define a 'user style sheet' to have even more control over the way pages are displayed. The text size can be changed by altering the browser settings, this is usually done under ‘View > Text Size’.

All the images have descriptions applied to describe what is on screen for audiences using assistive software.”


So far in this year I enjoyed doing this Christmas card project the most, it gave me the opportunity to try myself in this area. Also, I learnt new things about Illustrator, which helped me to produce a better artwork.
I hope, in the future there will be more similar projects.


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