It is hard to lay claim to the “Most Epic Christmas Card Ever,” but many of my friends and family are sending me text messages with those exact words in them.  I’ll take it 🙂

Every year this Rudis Family creates a Christmas Card filled with love, good cheer, and countless hours of work.  Of the many things we have been, here are just a few of the themes.  We have been the awkward family, the Lego family, the baked too many cookies family, and the tired on the couch after reading a Christmas book family.  This year, we decided to be the EPIC superhero family, and we had a TON of fun in the process.

I wanted to make this year more interactive for everyone.  Please take a look at the video, watch it till the end.  Matthew, my little man, makes the most priceless sound when he sees the card for the first time.  I also made an interactive version of the card below so you can see some of the elements that went into building it.

From our home to yours, I pray you have the Merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Year’s!

Hover over the yellow targets below to learn more about this project.
(Best viewed on a Computer or Laptop, the plugin doesn’t show up well on Mobile devices)

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The Inspiration

Back in July Sarah asked me what we were going to do about the Christmas Card. She mentioned something Superhero themed and I was on board in a heartbeat! We found this Age of Ultron Movie poster as we were shuffling through the internet and I knew instantly that we should base our card on it. The poses, the structure, the composition, all were perfect for a Rudis Family Christmas Card!

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Fake It Till You Make It!

Anytime I am making a composite there are always things that come up. In this case, my son Matthew, did NOT want to wear the Thor cape that came with his epic Baby-Thor onesie. So I had to improvise! Thank goodness for Adobe Stock. Yep, anytime I need something like this, I pay for it. Licensing it ensures you won't have any trouble somewhere down the road. Don't just grab random images off of Google! License them... even tiny baby capes!

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The Other Side is Just as Important!

Don't forget that most companies print two-sided cards! Do you know how hard it is to find a photographer that will A. make great images of my family and B. be willing to photograph us after they know what I do for a living ... haha. Missy Moore Photography does a phenomenal job as our family photographer!

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Custom Brushes

Many Custom brushes were used in the making of this card. I used some from the 7Styles Actions (particularly the Energy and Storm Effects). I also had to use some of my custom brushes for the atmospheric effect. Without these brushes, this card would be flat and missing a lot of character and detail.

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Don't Be Afraid to Be Creative!

A simple Outer Glow on a white Brush can make all the difference when you are trying to make energy beams. Do not forget to use Layer Styles to spruce up the elements in your composites. This little panel is the most overlooked yet most powerful helping hand when making epic designs.

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A Good Font Goes A Long Way, A GREAT Font Seals the Deal!

Every great Christmas Card has to have a great font to match. It took me a while to find this font, but I searched for "Avengers Font" on the web and found this one. I gladly paid $25 for it because it looked great and I wanted to show my support for the creator.

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Kansas City! I love MY city!

Kansas City isn't in enough movies. I say the next Marvel movie should be shot in our lovely town. The people are awesome, the BBQ is UNBELIEVABLE, and the city is so accessible. This horribly HDR'ed photo worked great as our backdrop for the card!

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A True Wonder Woman!

Not only does she cook, clean, rear our children, pay the bills, wash loads of laundry, and live with four boys, she also puts up with my crazy ideas for Christmas Cards. This is her typical face when I am directing her poses. She is a real trooper 🙂 Love you, babe!

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The Conservative Has a Wild Side

Michael is our most conservative child. He is extremely conscious of everyone's emotions and is usually very timid. The first several shots from our day were far less dramatic and characteristic of Michael. However, after a few shots of the other family members, he jumped in there and made this roaring face... perfect for the card!

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A Simple Setup

You don't need an elaborate studio or some crazy cash to make a simple Composite studio setup. I am using a budget backdrop stand that I spent no more than $40 on.

The Backdrop is swimsuit liner material and usually runs about $5 per yard at any fabric shop. Three yards will do. this material stretches and does not retain wrinkles when stretched making it perfect for a fold and go composite backdrop.

The continuous lights I use have 6 bulbs in each and are quite pricey, but that have lasted me nearly 5 years. The lights were the most expensive part and while I may recommend going budget on everything else, the lights are worth every penny. So spend what you can afford and buy a good brand once.

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Finally A Wearer Worthy of the Suit

Do you know how long I have wanted a full body adult Spiderman suit? For as long as I can remember, that's how long. I have been an avid Spidey-head since I was 6 years old. It was the first comic book I ever bought with my own money and it changed my nerdy little life!

To make this pose work with the card, I had to flip myself horizontal, I don't think anyone noticed!

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In Flight Was Best

William is our funny kid, he says extremely witty things without even knowing it, but he can be a little shy. Getting this look out of him took quite a bit of working with. It works for his Tony Stark attitude.

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Kids Can be Tricky!

This little guy had just woken up from a nap. We thought he would love the photo shoot and ham it up because he is our wild child. However, I think the lights may have been a little intimidating and he wasn't having it!

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it is less about the art and more about the process. He dives deep into difficult topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside the box thinking.
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