The Christmas of The Little Snowmen – part 1 · 3dtotal · Learn | Create

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Christmas is one of the most popular holidays across the world, with lots of images based on fantasy characters, like Santa Claus, his reindeers, or families  having amazing moments, but… what about the snowmen? The snowmen have a family too? If yes, can they celebrate Christmas? Well, these were my questions for my concepts. A little weird, yes, but it can work!

We’ll see the first part of the process, the concept creation, references, blocking, and the first details.

Final illustration

Investigation & moodboard

Like other projects, before starting with any concept, we need to introduce a lot of information to our mind about the topic to interest us. Often we don’t research  text information, only images, but text can help us too understand what the background of the tradition is.

In my case I researched images and a little information about snowmen, Christmas villages, decorations, and people playing.

The moodboard can have many type of images, even other illustrations, because the purpose of it is reference.


Creating a blocking is the easiest way to start any project, because you start to project the ideas that exist only in your mind. A blocking does not need to be time-consuming. The most important thing to do is to understand the composition’s purpose and the main components, which are usually represented by basic forms. Later, these will be replaced by other detailed props.

It’s important to be happy with the result of the blocking, it’s true, maybe it can’t look like our final illustration, but it works as a starting point.

Adding details at the blocking

With the first approach ready, it’s time to add some extra details to polish our composition by adding a purpose to our objects, like the floor, searching dynamism, or the house searching the traditional village houses. It’s important to advance since the general things until the polish and detailed things. Don’t forget the purpose of adding details is to help the storytelling and add environmental context.

Adding details is one of the most stressful things when we don’t know what to add, but going back to your moodboard can help.


Basically polish will be our task in all the illustration process, but in the first steps it is fundamental, because it will give us the base, without a good base we can’t continue creating.

This polishing can be moving some objects a little, or more elaborate changes, like the floor case. For the floor, our natural lines were confusing and guided us out of our composition. On the new floor I needed do to this lines to work as guides towards the main object, the Christmas tree.

When we’re making our blocking it is important to think of our natural guides and the direction of our image, the rest of our assets will be supported by these guides.

Main props

To create the main props we can make little sketches of them but it isn’t necessary, the main characteristic for these props needs to be more detailed than another secondary prop, which can usually take us more time, but it’s necessary to have a good visual hierarchy.

The level of details always is a way to stand out any prop or character, but the size, an unusual shape, and bright colors can work too.

Don’t forget to search for more inspirational images, they can help you to identify the details you’ll add to your main props.

Final blocking

To finish the blocking stage, we’ll add our main assets to our composition, thinking about the directional flow. For example, the house doors are pointing to the tree, because it is the focal interest point now. This could change a little in the next illustration steps, but the central action will be in that focal area.

At this point, you’ll need to add the details thinking about the read direction and natural lines of your illustration.

Details & more details

The blocking process is ended, it’s time to add the extra details, but we’ll see it in the next chapter.

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