Christmas Eve is upon us, so we thought it would be cool to walk you through the process of creating the artwork for our Beautiful Exchange Christmas series at Catalyst Church. Heres the big picture view of our process:

Concept/Creative Meeting

Every series of ours starts around the kitchen table at our Lead Minister’s home. At Catalyst, lines between staff and family begin to blur so we always end up there. Our worship leader had brought the song “Beautiful Exchange” by Hillsong Worship to the table. He loved the idea that Christ’s birth is the beginning of this beautiful exchange and that God gave up his Kingship for a relationship with his children. This really connected with the passages in Isaiah 7 that our Lead Minister was already planning and the series “Beautiful Exchange” was born. Something to learn from this is that you don’t always have re-invent the wheel. Our inspiration from the lyrics penned by Hillsong is a great example. Rick Warren put it pretty frankly, “We all want to be innovators and thats why we all suck.” Well said Rick; well said.



Being a San Diego church, our style tends to be pretty casual using a fair amount of handwritten typefaces. Each of our series will have a totally different look, but you will tend to see our DNA present in all our work. For this series we wanted a calligraphic, hand written look. We do use handwritten fonts, but for this project we could not find anything that worked for us. So we decided to hand write a custom typeface.

This process begins with sketching. After a few hours of researching 17th century fonts and a couple more with a sketch pad, we came up with a character style and lock up we were happy with.

Digital Process


Now having our sketch, we scanned that in and brought our work into Adobe Illustrator. Now begins the slow process of creating a vector version of our sketch. To some this is like watching water boil, luckily our designer enjoys the mediative process and by the end of the eventing we have our first vector version of our type lockup. After a few printouts and markups we have our final digital version of “Beautiful Exchange.”

Fun in Photoshop

3Fun in photoshop

The hard work of sketching and vectoring is behind us. Next we brought our vector file into photoshop and created the final image. We paired it with background of a snow laden tree. Then using dust layers and color overlays we were able to create this classic looking Christmas coloring and feel. We did some subtle shading where the letters crossover each other. Though a subtle addition this goes miles for creating a dimensional feel for our lock up.

That was our process from the kitchen table to the finished product.

  • There is no right process.
  • Every team is unique.
  • The road to a finished piece is always different.

Remember that you can get this design’s free resource kit with everything from banners to presentation slides for your Christmas services by clicking here. And as always, we’d love to hear about your process in the comment section or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook!