Create a Christmas Card in Blender.

Because it is not a long time until Christmas, I thought it would be a good idea to create some Christmas related images for my Stock-Image Portfolios. I posted my first attempt in a Facebook Group and I was asked for a Tutorial. I tried to keep it as simple as possible. Because if you create images for Stock-Images Agencies there are some simple rules. First rule is that the message of the image is clear and transports the message or story. The second rule is more for yourself and this rule is “Time” because the longer you work on an Image you wanna sale the lower is the ROI (Return of Investment). But I think that is a topic for another post.

So here it is – a Step by Step Breakdown of how the image was created. The Christmas Card is made completly in Blender.

The Background

As you can see in the image the Background has somekind of cloudy texture. Thats an really simple really straight forward task. It is just a plane. And the Nodesetup for the Material is as shown in the Node Setup.

As you can see in the Node-Setup above I begin with a Noise Texture. The Noise Fac output goes into the a ColorRamp. I used the Fac output of the Noise Texture because I needed just a black and white noise source. The ColorRamp is to adjust the contrast and smoothing out the Noise texture. I changed the standard black on the left side to a medium gray and the Interpolation to Ease to get a smooth transition between the medium grey and the white. The next Node is a MixRGB Node. The color output of the ColorRamp goes into the Color2 Input. Color1 is set to a dark red color. The Blend type of the Node is set to multiply and the Fac to 1.000. The Color output of the MixRGB Node goes directly into the Color Input of a Diffuse BSDF Shader Node.

The Stars

The stars are the essential part of this image. These stars are really easy to create, just add a 12 sided circle with no filling Face, go into Edit-Mode, press A to select all Vertices and press E to extrude and move the Vertices inwards. Then hit Ctrl+ M and choose “at Center2 to merge all the extruded Vertices at the center of the circle.

Now select every second verticies on the outher edge of the circle. Press S for scale and scale the selected Vertices inwards until you have the desired shape you want. Deselect all Vertices by pressing A and then select the Vertex in the center of the circle. Press 1 or 3 on your NumPad to change into a side view perspective and move the Vertex up until you reached the desired hight.

Create some different shapes of star by using different counts on the circle sides. Distribute the stars over the Background. You can copy them by pressing Shift +D. While distributing change the size and the hight and change the distance between the background as well.

The Stars Material

The material of the stars is a really simple Glossy Material

As you can see it is a really simple combination of a Diffuse Shader and a Glossy Shader. The only thing which is maybe a little strange for you is the Hue/Saturation Node which is connected to the color inputs of the Diffuse and Glossy Shader. This is just to power up the white by bringing up the Value Slider on the Hue/Saturation Node to 1.8.

The glowing Star Material is really really simple.

The Color is set to a yellowish white and the Strengh is set to 10.000

The Light Setup

The light setup is as simple as a walk in the park. I just used a Spot lamp in the Scene and an HDRI image in the world setup.

I placed the Spot Lamp on the right top side, slightly above the the stars. The Color is set to a bright yellowish white and the strenght is arround 1000.

The World Setup is as simple as the Lamp setup. For the World Lighting Setup I used a HDRI image from 

Just choose Enviroment  Texture in the World Tab under Surface and open the HDRI of your choice. I have set the strenght to 0.200. And to kick a little bit the brightness and better allover lighting I activated Ambeient Occlusion as well but with a really low Factor of 0.05.

The Compositing

The compositing part of this image looks complicated but it isn’t. First let’s have a look at the Scene settings.

Additional to the standard settings I checked Shadow and Emission in the Passes to have these Passes as Outputs in the Render Layers Node.

Now lets have a look at the first two Ouputs I have used, the Image and the Shadow Render Layer.

The Image ouput is connected to a Color Balance Node. Thats because I want to lift the reds in the Midtones a little bit. I know that this tiny change is bearly recognizable but it is part of the all over composition and even that small change helps. As next steps I connected the output of the Shadow Render Layer Pass Output to a Blur Filter Node. I selected as Blur method the Fast Gaussian method and for the “X” and “Y” I have choosen an amout of 4. This Blurs the shadows a little bit and makes the harsh shadows a little bit softer. To connect these two Nodes I added a Mix Node. The Blend Type is set to Multiply, the Factor of the blending amout is set to 0.455. The Color Balance Node is connected to the first Image input and the Blur to the second.

The Emit Output of the Render Layers and the settings are a little bit more work.

The fist Node is a Blur Node with the Fast Gaussian Blur Method selected. “X” and “Y” is set to 3. This is to Blur the lights a little bit to get a somekind of a  glow. The second Node is a Glare Node set to Fog Glow with a Threshold of 0.130 and a Size of 9. The first Mix node here connects the Blur and the Fog Glow and mixing them together with a Factor of 0.900. The next node is a Glare Node again but this time set to Streaks with a High quality setting. Iteration set to 5 and the Threshold to 0.400. The count of the Streaks is set to 8 and the Fade to 0.859. The next node is a Mix node again and brings all of the Emitting changing nodes together. The Blend Type is set to Mix and the Factor to 0.136.

The Last Node brings it all together.

Again I used a Mix Node with the Blend Type “Add”. The Image Part of the Compositing goes to the first Image input and the Light Part goes to the second Image input. The Factor is set to 1.000. The Node Image Output is connected to the Composite Ouput Node.

Thats it… this is how I created the Image. As you can see it is not really complicated to create a good looking Christmas Card. I have not talked about the text because it just an extruded text and it is optional to put a text in the image.

I hope you like this small Tutorial!

And as always … HAPPY BLENDING