12 days of Christmas in a Paper Wonderland

Most people are familiar with the Christmas
song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. To most it’s a delightful
nonsensical rhyme set to music. As I recently discovered, it is a good deal more than just a repetitious
melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.

12 Days of Christmas Paper Cut Motifs

To give you a brief background on
the history, Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when
Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from any
practice of their faith by law – private or public. It was a crime to be a
Catholic.
“The Twelve Days of
Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism
songs” to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith and used as
a memory aid.
Today, this famous song was chosen to partner with our very
popular ecard of the same name; the 12 days of Christmas paper cut card.

As an artist it is only natural that I draw inspiration from my own Danish heritage in my work.  In Denmark it is common to cut and display paper cuttings in windows all year round, but especially during Christmas.   They are also used to hang on Christmas and garden trees across all seasons in the form of paper hearts or stars. 

Common Christmas designs include sleighs and reindeer, flora and fauna, nativity scenes, villages etc. Contemporary designs modern silhouettes, cityscapes and famous sayings. 

And what better idea than to bring this famously silly series of gifts from the carol to life than in 12 ornaments in a paper cutting window scene.

 
To begin, I created paper cut motifs following the lyrics
of the song. Each motif starts its life as a hand-drawn sketch and then is
scanned and rendered on to the computer as a vector illustration.  The digitalized images then come to life in
frame-by-frame animations. Turtle doves flutter, ballerinas twirl, swans glide and
pipers play their flutes in celebration of the festive season.
Rather than being a static two dimensional setting, I
designed the ecard to have visual depth and dimension.  To achieve this I placed the paper
cutting within a window and adding a snowy background, adding contextual depth and dimension, resulting in a dynamic moving picture.

Who’s been naughty AND nice?

This year I wanted to develop a theme inspired by our pets
as they are so much part of our families, as our human children are. For this
new Christmas ecard, the idea was to inject a bit of fun into the festive
season using three little mischievous kittens.
Digital kitten engaging with scanned images of water coloured objects forming a rich background
Anyone who has observed cats and boxes (or even young children and boxes), will have seen how they are always more interested in the box itself, rather than what is inside.  They like to try to find any way possible to get inside a box, no matter how small or impossible it may seem. There are tons of You Tube videos that play testament to that.
This card is a series of vignettes
of three little playful kittens getting into the Christmas presents which kind
of represents the suspense that we all feel when we see the boxes under the
Christmas tree. They create a bit of mayhem as only cheeky furry creatures can, before finding a perfect cozy spot in a box to snuggle and settle in for
Christmas.  I think this embodies the idea of getting warm and comfy for
the holiday season.
The formation of the card involves different elements, using hand painted objects and animated digital characters. After developing the idea for this card, the basic tale is story-boarded.
Next, the elements making up the scene, such as the wrapped presents, boxes and a Christmas tree, had to be sketched, painted in water colours then scanned into the computer via Photoshop. The result is a more illustrated feel and look to the overall card.
Hand painted water colour stuffed elephant toy prior to being scanned 
The cheeky kittens were rendered and animated using Adobe Flash, but key frames are usually hand sketched first like traditional animation, so you have more control over
plotting the movements of your characters. The sweet kittens stalk, pounce, climb
and jump amongst a flurry of gifts and boxes in a delightfully natural manner. We wanted to capture the naturally curious nature of these playful
cats.
Check out the finished product:  www.ojolie.com/index.php?ec_id=208
Can you relate to this ecard?
I would love you to share your experiences here about how your pets also enjoy Christmas.
Please feel free to post any pics you have of your furry creatures getting into the Christmas spirit and let’s enjoy the inquisitive nature of our darling pets.