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Creating a Graduation Card with AI tools

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This is the final mockup of the graduation card.
April 2023

Project Overview

I created this graduation card as part of the admissions process into the Snap Design Academy. I was prompted to create a hallmark style card for someone and document the process. Since my sister was graduating from her nursing program the next month, I thought I would take this as an opportunity to celebrate her and all of her hard work.

My Role

Design, Concept to Delivery

Duration

4-5 hours

Client

Part of the admission process for Snap Design Academy

Tools

Midjourney AI, Nightmare AI Upscaler, Adobe Photoshop

The Solution

The front of the graduation card with a nurse jumping for joy!
The inside of the card and delivery of the joke's punch line. Get 'it'?

My Design Process

Discovery

As with most projects, I started with looking to see what was already out there. Both to gain inspiration and to also understand the structure of your typical "Hallmark card."

I liked the 'hype up' tone to this one.
The colors and text of this one was fun.
I really liked that this one drew your eye line right into the "Happy Birthday".

Most of the cards were simple and didn't highlight a lot of what I was looking for. But It made me realize that the design needed to have a simple color palette, and that I would have to make it snappy - quick to the point and impactful.

Sketching

I knew that I wanted to hype up my sister and make her proud of all that she's accomplished, but I wasn't sure how to capture the trials, tribulations, and everything that she overcame to get to that point.  I had two ideas - one that highlighted the ups and downs of her journey, and one that make light of the journey.

I decided that it was best to keep the mood light. This was a moment of celebration after all!

I played around a bit with the wording until I brainstormed this one, "Congrats grad, you killed 'it'!"
I sketched out the rough design of the interior card so that I knew what I was aiming for. This was where the punchline pays off, so it had to deliver.

Using AI

I was under a time crunch. I only had a span of 4 hours that I could dedicate to completing this project and I knew that I wouldn't be able to achieve the level of fidelity that I wanted if I hand drew this or made it in Illustrator. I decided to turn to AI tools to get me as close to what I was looking for as possible, and then I knew I could finish the rest.

Generating the Nurse

I turned to Midjourney AI to help me create the image of the nurse.

<> Prompt </>
an illustration of a nursing student studying --v 4

This option didn't capture that 'hype up' feeling that I was searching for. So I altered my prompt a bit.  

<> Prompt 2 </>
an illustration of a nursing student celebrating after graduating, very excited, jumping for joy --v 4

It was getting closer, but was still lacking the level of detail that I wanted. So I continued...

<> Prompt 3 </>
an illustration of a nursing student celebrating after graduating, very excited, jumping for joy, holding a paper in her hand, wearing scrubs and a stethoscope around her neck --v 4

These were much closer to what I was looking for. After a while of regenerating this prompt and generating variations of image #4, I decided to move onto the inside graphic.

Generating the bed with 'it'

I knew Midjourney wasn't very good with text, but I still decided to give it a shot.

<> Prompt </>
an illustration of the word 'it' is injured and sitting in a hospital bed, head bandage --v 4

Nothing close to what I was looking for! And surprisingly gory. So I changed up my approach - I decided I would use Midjourney to generate a 3D model of the word "it" and I would also use it to generate a bed image. With those two assets I knew I could composite them together.

<> Prompt 2</>
a 3d illustration of the word 'it' --v 4

Still wasn't close to anything I was looking for, so I decided I would have to hand draw it myself. But I could still use Midjourney to create the bed.

<> Prompt 3</>
an illustration of an empty hospital bed at an angle --v 4

The last image worked for me, so I went with it. I knew I was going to have to do some heavy editing in Photoshop, so I took my photos and put a good alt rock playlist on.

Total Time Spent: 2 Hours

Compositing In Photoshop

With raw photos in hand, I started the compositing journey in Photoshop. I used Nightmare AI to upscale the images to 8000x8000px and then imported them into Photoshop to make my edits.  

I had to clean up the image and extend multiple parts of it to make it work.
The interior needed the most work. I hand drew the word 'it' into the design and painted/composited areas of the bed to make it all blend.

Total Time Spent: 3 Hours 30 Minutes

Final Deliverables

The last step was to place the designs and format everything into a PDF to be send to the Snap Academy admissions team.

Once I submitted my PDF deliverable, I had to wait a few weeks to hear back from the Snap Design Academy.

Total Time Spent: 4 Hours 30 Minutes

Ordering the physical card

The work for the Snap Design Academy was over. Now it was time to put this card to the test and deliver the final product to my sister.

She loved the design. She didn't realize that I had made it for her until she saw the back of the card. I wanted to add that personal touch so that it would open the conversation, and it sure did. My sister didn't expect me to create a custom card for her and it made it all that more special for her. This was a great project that let me flex my problem solving skills under a time crunch. If I had more time, I would have liked to add more details to the image of the nurse. If you look closely, the nurse is missing teeth, so I would have spent some time filling out her smile as well as some smaller details on the nurses outfit. Even though these finer details are missing, no one noticed!  

This card also helped me get accepted into the Snap Design Academies! They were thrilled with the design and loved the use of various tools to make it come to fruition.

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