Even though the holiday season is behind us, we thought we might extend the Christmas joy and share some behind the scenes intel on our creative process for this past year’s fun holiday illustration design project.

Caramel Icing IllustrationEvery year, Forum partakes in a social media Christmas tradition of sharing a little bit about each team member and a connection of theirs to Christmas. This year, we decided to don our chef’s hats and take a stroll down the culinary lane of Christmas. Each member picked a recipe (or recipes) that carried some sentiment with it surrounding Christmas. Some were family recipes, others were tied to specific memories of the season. After we culminated these recipes, we thought about what images would accompany them and eventually landed on the idea of hand illustrating each dish. The result created a collaborative and cohesive look that expanded beyond just social posts. The effort of illustrating landed on two designers: myself (Elizabeth), and Regina. Below you will read a little about our creative process and the teamwork that made this possible.

Before jumping into any illustrations, Regina and I discussed what we wanted the overall look to be and feel like. We wanted something that was nostalgic and obviously hand drawn. We also wanted to use elements that would remind the viewer of an old school recipe card. We shared illustration inspiration photos and developed a strategy for tackling the various pieces needed. First, we decided on a color palette. This would rely on some of Forum’s branded colors, but we also decided to create a separate palette that would better suit the needs of a Christmas-themed design. I pulled in a warm burgundy red to be our main color and compliment our blue, gold, and green. Once the color palette was ready, it was time to sketch.


hand illustrated cinnamon rollElizabeth: For each recipe, I would first look at some reference images and decide how I wanted the food to be presented (in a dish, on a spoon or a fork, as a slice or a whole pie, etc). After deciding on the look I wanted, I would sketch out the food. Once I got the drawing to a place where I was happy, I outlined it in pen, took a picture of it, and pulled it into Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is where the digital magic happens. I can vectorize the drawing (i.e., make it expandable and editable in a digital format), clean up ragged lines, and (most importantly), change the color of the drawing.

Christmas post Forum 2023Regina:  Like Elizabeth, I helped with creating illustrations for the recipe images. After she set the tone for the illustrations, I used the same process for sketching and pulling the drawings into Illustrator. After the drawings were completed, we brought them into Figma – a software tool that helps us develop all of the digital designs for our clients. In Figma, we created a template for each illustration and then I decided to create some images that would serve as bookends for each carousel post. The first image in the carousel would be of the Forum team member the recipe was from. That would scroll into the recipe image (or images), and then the last image would say, “we hope you enjoyed our recipe collection”. The addition of these bookends made each post more meaningful as you could see the person behind the recipe and spend a little more time looking at the post instead of scrolling on.

animated holiday gif Forum 2023

In the end, what began as one social post per person developed into 50 total images, a website, a Christmas card, and an ornament. The magic of this project was that it reflected one of the things that I love most about Christmas: bringing people together. Regina and I got to collaborate on something really fun and rewarding, but also our teammates got to bond over sharing recipes, trying new foods, and simply enjoying a wonderful season. We are glad to share our recipes with you and hope to continue this tasty tradition for years to come!