A little bird told me … You are dying to know how it came to life!

Ever curious how a character in Ojolie ecards comes to life – from storyboard to digital canvas?

A very important step that might not seem immediately obvious is actually developing a palette for the card. This is not something I have always done, but with time I have found that this makes the process of developing a cohesive looking card much easier. Plus its actually quite relaxing and fun, not to mention a great way to remember how you mixed a certain favorite color.

 A bright watercolor palette for Autumn

The characters are developed via a set of quick sketches, which allows you to rework them until they are just right. For this card, somewhat unusual, the characters just seemed to flow pretty clearly onto the paper and Even though I only needed a few birds, I had to paint them in a variety of poses to be able to bring them to life as animations. This was the most difficult part and adding a design and details doesn’t make it any easier … but then the characters insisted this was how it had to be.

Character Sketches and illustrations of the little birds

For the little owl, layering was as always my friend, starting with the lighter colors and gradually building up the details and dark shades in the feathers. For all our feathered friends, having a clear palette and sticking to a mix of a few complimentary colors really makes it much easier to get a nice pleasant looking character, even when the coloring of the feathers is a figment of your imagination.

Fluffy little owl

After scanning the paintings and cleaning up the backgrounds on the computer, there are a few other little secrets to bringing them alive, but maybe I will share that another time.

Happy Autumn and Thanksgiving!

Follow up Sneak Peak: Character Paintings

It may seem like a long time from sketch to paint, but in between I have been working on a million other things … okay, not a million, but quite a few.  It is the irony of my line of work that we have to think in snowflakes in the middle of summer, but planning is everything.  I think about Christmas all year long and by Christmas I will be planning spring and summer ecards

But I finally got around to painting the characters for the Thanksgiving card and I promised to share an update when I did, so you can see the whole process.

I first paint the leaves and start some slight shading of the squirrel

As you can see, for these I wanted to keep a simple watercolor style, nothing too detailed, to give the card illustration style a relaxed and casual feeling.  I therefore limited my usual layering of primary colors to a minimum and instead just worked with colors premixed on the palette.  Quite relaxing for a change and fast!

Working in some shading and details before the final color washes are applied helps make the character pop

And voila – the first character is done.  You will have to wait until the card is released the see the rest 🙂

Since then, they have been scanned, cleaned up (white background removed) and are now ready to be used in animation.

I also painted a LOT of fall leaves and nuts and the centerpiece, an imaginary tree, that sprouts the leaves of a variety of trees.  If it sounds a bit strange, you will see that it works quite well visually, making for a nice bouquet of a tree.

I love Fall – can you tell?

On to key frame sketches for our little squirrel …

Sneak Peak: Character Development for Fall/Thanksgiving Card

Yesterday I started work on developing the characters for this year’s Thanksgiving/Fall production.

The card will have quite a few characters, so this part of the design phase is especially important.  Some will be painted in watercolors, and separated into different body parts after scanning them into the computer.  This way I can keep the watercolor style but still animate the characters.  I have not yet decided whether the squirrel will be hand painted for each frame of animation, or whether I will  render it on the computer, since it will need a full range of motions when jumping.

The main character is the woodpecker, so I started when him first.  Once his character was in place I build the other characters up around him.  I will share more photos as I start painting the various elements of the card …

Happy Thanksgiving and New eCards

As the holiday season is fast approaching, we have a bunch of new and exciting cards that are being added to the site in the coming weeks. We want to thank you for your continued support, constructive criticism, compliments and cheer.

This year we have added three new ecards for the Fall/Autumn and Thanksgiving to the site.


You can never have too many pumpkins for Thanksgiving, but the problem of course is how to haul them all home from the pumpkin patch. In “Pumpkins Galore” the kids help out and get problem solved. My two sons modeled for the animated characters and had a good time pretending to act it out. They are terribly proud to be featured in one of the cards 🙂

The other two cards are short and simple cards perfect for sending anytime and to just about anyone this time of year. These short and simple cards have been incredibly popular, as members tell me they often just need a card to send a quick note of “thanks” or “thinking of you”.

Announcing Our New Website

We are happy to announce that we have launched our new website, which Tim and I have been hard at work on in the past many months. We hope you will find it easy to use and enjoy the larger graphics and font, which should make it easier on the eyes.

The biggest change for existing members is probably that the member tools such as card history and cards pending has been moved to the “MY ACCOUNT” menu item in the main top menu. After signing in you will have access to all the same tools from that menu item.

It has been more than six years since we launched our first site, so it really was time for a new and improved site. Most importantly we have listened to your feedback in making improvements. Personally I always find it upsetting when my favorite shop has changed the location of everything in the store, so I tried to keep this in mind and not change things too drastically.

So far it has been a smooth transition to the new site as most users seem to have no problems using it. But in the unlikely event that you do have any technical problems using the site, please let us know, so we can get it fixed as soon as possible.

Time for Thanksgiving ecards

Now that Halloween is over, and the first snow storm has passed the east coast shores, it’s time to plan for Thanksgiving.

While Thanksgiving is associated with being thankful for generations past where Native American Indians worked together with the Pilgrims to share in a bountiful harvest, giving thanks and sharing blessings, the same type of “giving thanks” tradition continues even today. And with the evolution of technology and computers, even smart phones, this giving of thanks can be expressed by sending Thanksgiving e-cards or text messages to friends and family members.

Ecards today are available with beautiful full color graphics, animations and music. And they are offered via ecard subscription sites. In a nutshell, you pay one low price for a year’s worth of ecards for all occasions. Simply click the ecard you’d like to email, add your personalized message and an optional photo for some designs, and click to send it to the email of your friends or loved one. It’s that simple. And it’s safe, as recipients receive email notices and click a link to view the card or go to the site directly and enter a code to pick up the card.

Here are some of the Ojolie Thanksgiving ecards.

Food Coma? Eating too much? New Thanksgiving eCard

Our newest ecard “Food Coma” is a fun little take on our tendency to sometimes overdo holidays … in this case the cats have the run of the house while everyone else is having a little “cat nap” on the couch. It was created for Thanksgiving, but I remember plenty of other holidays that ended like this in my family 😉

Food Coma

Here are our other Thanksgiving ecards.

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy but don’t eat too much:-)

Happy Thanksgiving and Saint Nicholas Card

As many of our members in the US prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we have been hard at work on many more cards for other holidays which will be released in the coming weeks. If you have not yet sent your thanksgiving greetings, here is just one last reminder while there is still time. We have included links to a few suggested cards here for your convenience.

Indian Summer

Turkey Day

Culinary Masterpiece

Inventive Squirrels

We have also added a new card titled “Sinterklaas” to our site, which is the Dutch name for Saint Nick who inspired the modern day character of Santa Claus. In many parts of the world his name day on December 6th is an important celebration. I have fond memories of the festival from my childhood when I lived in the Netherlands. Because of this connection with Santa Claus, the card would also make a nice alternative season’s greeting even if you don’t celebrate St. Nick’s Day, especially for children who might be old enough to know the “secret” about Santa but might not be aware where the character originated from.

Saint Nicholas

The card is illustrated with the stories and practices of the celebration of Saint Nicholas Day as paper cutouts in a book. I have included a little bit of information about Sinterklaas at the end of the card. My favorite practice of the celebration is the creatively disguised and wrapped small presents that people go to great lengths to prepare as well as the poems poking some good natured fun at each other. It never seemed like an overly commercial holiday this way because the effort of penning the poems make the presents very personal and heartfelt.

Here is a picture of me playing the lead role of Sinterklaas in a play when I was just a young 12 years old a long, long time ago 🙂

Indian Summer Thanskgiving eCard

We have added a new card called “Indian Summer” to our growing selection just in time for the harvest celebrations, Thanksgiving and other general fall greetings.

Indian Summer

In the many years we lived in New England, this was our favorite time – the leaves become a feast for the eyes, the apples are ripe for picking and Indian summer is the icing on the cake. This card celebrates all this as one family comes together for their fall harvest.

Remember you can schedule your cards now so you won’t forget and have one less thing to remember closer to Thanksgiving. In addition to this new card, we have several other cards that are well suited for Thanksgiving, including:

Turkey Day

Culinary Masterpiece

Inventive Squirrels

Warmest wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday & fall!

We have added a new card called “Hellebore” for the upcoming holidays featuring elements hand painted in watercolor in great detail and a charming ensemble of little guests that inhabit our garden even in the depth of winter. Perfect for almost any occasion during the winter months or send it simply to spread a little color and joy.


In addition we have several other cards suitable for sending your Thanksgiving greetings, including the recently added “Turkey Day” card.

Turkey Day

Culinary Masterpiece

Inventive Squirrels

Thanksgiving eCard

We have added a new card inspired by the colors and bounty of the season featuring a little dachshund and his family, perfect as a general greeting for the fall season or for sending best wishes on Thanksgiving.

Canadian Thanksgiving is right around the corner this Monday, October 13, so please remember to send Your Thanksgiving Greetings as soon as possible to alll your Canadian friends and/or family.

Turkey Day