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Holiday card animation

A :30s animated holiday card that honours the indigenous practice of the Winter Solstice, sent out by ThoughtExchange to their valued clients. They wanted to encourage their customers to reflect on the traditional territories they live on and acknowledge the traditional territories of their HQ in Rossland, BC.

My role was art direction, illustration & animation (after effects + cel)

This was such a dream project to work on - not only were the humans at ThoughtExchange WONDERFUL but I had 10/10 full reign on art direction (Seriously WOW!)

The Brief

Winter Solstice

I took out the sand dune mountains and replaced them with a simple atmopheric perspective set of mountains. I kept the playful clouds (omg those textures 🤩 ) and also added a Sun that will set into the horizon as the animation moves through Summer & Autumn. Some faint stars appear high up in the sky. A silhouette of trees illuminated by the setting sun also felt appropriate, with a summer-y colour palette of greens, yellow & peach.


The sun continues to set, the text moves downward with it, and stars appear in the sky. The colours will fade from shades of green to shades of ochre. The clouds blow out of the sky by a strong gust of autumn wind, illustrated by both movement of the clouds and leaves. (seriously, I’m in love with the texture of those clouds 🙂)


And finally the sun sets entirely, darkening the scene to the deep rest of winter. Northern lights illuminate the sky as reflections dance on the snow. A light coral lights up the skyline graduating to a deep dark purple.


final illustrations

ThoughtExchange envisioned a mountain scene that changed colours to showcase the changing seasons to visually represent the winter solstice.

They had sent this over as a jumping off point, and were very open to seeing what I might come up with as well. They gave me a 10/10 full creative freedom (DREAM PROJECT!!)

Rough visual concept from the client


ThoughtExchange had a strong concept that I was honoured to work on. Not many companies honour indigenous culture or practices, so this project really aligned with my values.

early explorations

Concept & art Direction

Process video coming!

Atmospheric perspective - darker values in front, lighter values in the back to create the illusion of depth

The Northern lights were created in After Effects and then rendered out as a still, and overlayed onto the illustration using a blending mode to help establish the art direction for the winter scene.


The challenge with this was that 1. the aesthetic wasn't where I wanted it to be, and 2. how was I going to animate the Northern lights?

All kinds of Nope...

When I started to colour block out the mountains, all I kept seeing were sand dunes, and not mountains. So I made a pivot to a more atmospheric perspective type of illustration and added a sun setting throughout the scene that would eventually disappear in the winter as the Northern Lights dance across the sky

Art Direction Pivot

I initially played around with some of the mountain sketches that TE sent over, and was loving the idea of a gradient sky, trying to figure out what colours would best suit the different seasons.

intial sketches & art direction

behind the scenes & process

BTS & process

cel animation

Sr. Video Producer

Brent O'Hagan

Kelly is also a fantastic communicator, setting expectations early and providing timely updates throughout the project.

Kelly is a wonderful person and working with her on our animated holiday video has been a true joy! I highly recommend Kelly as an illustrator and animator and am looking forward to our next project together!

Kelly's an incredibly talented illustrator and animator and she took our project way beyond our expectations, all while staying on time and on budget. 

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