The Hudsons’ 2011 Christmas Letter
Parody. LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies
which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.
This card was made... from Lego. Everything is genuine Lego (except for the picture on the Lego box). So, unlike in previous years, there was very little photography and Photoshop but a lot of set building.
Making the Minifigs
I first tried Photoshopping our faces onto Lego minifigs, but that looked silly. Researching minifigs, it seemed that most of the characters were made by the addition of hair, clothing, and accessories. So I hunted online for suitable hair, clothing and accessories.
Most of our characters come from existing Lego minifigs. For example, my gray Christopher Walken hair comes from Count Dooku, and Redford’s hair and Roxy’s soccer trophy come from the Lego soccer player.
Fortunately, Lego also makes a coffee cup, a turkey, a soccer ball, a black piece that looks somewhat like a video game player, brown dogs, and a camera. A little eBay buying spree procured them all.
Deciding the Theme
Originally the card was going to be just the minifigs. But that was a bit dull and didn’t have a seasonal look. We could be outside in the snow throwing snowballs, but that was mainly white when we wanted more red and green in the background. So we moved indoors. What started as a “Night Before Christmas” theme ended as the “morning of Christmas.”
Making the House
My first attempt was way over scale. I started with making the fireplace, using all our clear and flame pieces plus a flashlight to create an inferno. Then I got carried away with the architecture, which started as Moderne and morphed into a Craftsman-meets-Medieval mansion approach, with Art Deco flourishes. I even built a carpet, a hard-wood floor, and an entire window-seat area which can’t even be seen on camera. This guy needs to get a real job.
Definitely over the top.
Taking the Photo, version 1
After spending a week building our dream house in Lego, I took what I hoped would end up as “the” photo. Well the people were just drowned in the background and it was hard to distinguish what the theme was supposed to be.
So in a whirlwind of destruction, what took a week to build was pulled down for a tighter, simpler, more intimate grouping.
Taking the Photo, version 2
Things were coming along. The gathering was still a bit messy but potential was there. I set up a mini photo studio on our kitchen table. It was great to take a family portrait without people getting fidgety, moving around, and getting in a fight. Finally I had perfect children!
I thought I could be clever by adding colored overhead spot lights (with little LED finger lights). But no matter what I did, the photo had flat color and too many reflections, which were distracting and un-Lego like.
So I needed a real studio.
In the Studio
Our friend, photographer Donna Coleman, had a studio which she kindly lent me. I positioned four white lights around the Lego set and quickly had the final shot.
Tidying Up in Photoshop
Studying the photo on my computer, I noticed a few things that needed improvement. Our faces had a distracting reflection, and there wasn’t much separation between the people and the background.
To improve the faces, I colored in the reflection and enhanced the black outlines of the eyes and mouths. For the background, I added a blur and darkened the edges.
To add a slightly magical look, I added some sparkles on the tree lights. And I had forgotten to take the white snow pieces for the window sills to the studio, so I recreated those in Photoshop.
I made a quick “HUDO” logo in Illustrator, and added white Helvetica text in Photoshop. Then I added a copy of the card to the red box in the front, to represent the excellent Lego set we were getting as our Christmas gift.
And that’s our Christmas card for 2011.
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