Since it was very last minute last year, I made sure to spend a bit more time to this year's Christmas card, and here it is! The artwork was created entirely in MyPaint and GIMP (switching back and forth between these two FOSS painting programs), within Ubuntu 11.10. I wanted to create a winter landscape, and found some inspiration on google images (1, 2, 3, 4).
The initial sketch, lining out the basic features in the landscape.
I added some reflections in the water, some animals and details in the foreground. I wasn't sure about the lighting yet at this stage. The sketch suggests a misty setting enlightened by a full moon.
Colouring & detailing
I changed the lighting concept at this point, and started laying down some colour.
Added some snow flakes and a lighting flare. I really like doing this with a central light source. You can find another one here. I drew only one tree in MyPaint, and used the GIMP clipboard brush feature to fill in the entire forest. Also, an Eskimo entered the scenery, paddling in his canoe.
I used Fraqtive to create some fractal image of the Mandelbrot family, for one of the custom brushes I used in GIMP. The river pebbles were done similar to the trees in the former step. The painting of this custom brush was recorded (see speedpainting).
The Eskimo drifted out of the picture, and some more white came in: snow piles in the foreground, and snowy mountains in the back.
The river was done in this step. The reflections of the trees were done with the vertically flipped tree brush, and the mountains were just copied. Also, some water motion is suggested using some streamlines in the river (lines drawn on a new layer, with a special blending mode).
In this step, I increased the colour saturation a bit, and played with the levels of the tree layer. The wolves and reindeer were also finished here.
If snow is everywhere, it should hang in the trees too of course. Santa Claus was added to the sky with his sleigh and reindeer herd.
Some motion blur was added to the sleigh, and red/pink and green highlights were added, to make the colour palette a bit more interesting.
The final image was overlain by a half-transparent single colour copy, a random cloud rendering with special blending mode, and the artistic canvas filter was applied to the base image for some general texture.