Alt_Text Blog Feature Image: Graphic: Design Decisions, Look Closely, Which Design would you choose? Graphic contains three versions of the same search-and-find illustration mocked up on an artist trading card. Version 1 contains the most figures, version 2 and 3 zoom in closer. You can find an exact description of the images in the blog.

Small Images, Huge Impact. Hireillo Artist Trading Cards

Which Hireillo Artist Trading Card Image Is Your Favorite?

Author: Kimberley Hoffman
Estimated Reading Time: 12 Minutes of entertaining enlightenment, plus an especially fun challenge for you!
(Note to the visually impaired and to the immensely curious: I’m including a detailed image description of my original Artist Trading Card motif down below)

Design Decisions Are My Daily Bread

Being an independent illustrator means making critical design decisions, understanding what works best in a certain medium and why. Sometimes it means slipping into the client’s seat. This is especially true when creating self-promotion materials. In this case, I needed to choose what image to promote my work with in Hireillo’s quarterly Artist Trading Cards. It means understanding how size plays a role in image perception.

Size Matters

The size of a Hireillo Artist Trading Card is similar to a business card, featuring the illustrator’s name, website, and a QR code. The illustration area is even smaller, making creative design decisions crucial.

In this trio, extracted from my search-and-find book, »Die Kurpfalz wimmelt**«,I experimented with these size restrictions. As a Hireillo member, I participate in their curated packs of Artist Trading Cards sent to registered clients every three months. These packs vary based on what clients have bookmarked and expressed interest in.

A Lot of Work For Such Tiny Pictures

If you have ever seen my portfolio or my books, you’ll know that I illustrate friendly, fun search-and-find images, also known as »Wimmelbilder« here in Germany.

A double – page spread can take anywhere from 60 to 150 or more hours, depending on how detailed it is and how complex the theme is. I work larger than the print scale to ensure detail and also at a higher resolution than the final print. My illustrations can have upward to 600 layers of detailed drawings. And the final print size for a double page spread is 32 x 48 cm (about 12.6 x 18.9 inches).

A Huge Palm Sized Bit of Joy

The size of the Hireillo Artist Trading Card is about the size of a standard business card. So, you can imagine, it’s much smaller. Tiny, really. It’s a visually delicious palm-sized bit of joy.

In choosing an image for the upcoming, soon-to-be-released Artist Trading Card, I slipped into the role of being my own client. I really care for this scene of Koller Island on the Rhine. It is so full of fun and loving details, which I wanted to feature in the next Artist Trading Card pack.

Drastic Design Decisions

So the design decision here is: how much to show? How much to edit? What to include? I had to move some of the elements of the original illustration around to include them. And once having included them, I had to brutally edit some out. The screen is great to zoom in on, you can see everything, but in a small print size, legibility has priority.

If you are curious about the Hireillo Artist Trading Cards, and which one I chose, contact or drop me a line.

If you are curious about how many images you can pack into a little space, just read the description of the original excerpt image, Version 1,

Ready For This Fun Challenge?

Take a good look at the motif of Version 1 of my Artist Trading Card. Now close your eyes and describe what you saw. Did you remember everything?

Now take a close look at Versions 2 and Versions 3. What has changed? What is missing? Was there anything added or moved?

For answers, read the description of Version 1 below. How did you fare?

If your curiosity about the power of whimsical search and find illustrations to capture and captivate your audience is growing, then e-mail me or contact me using my contact form.

**Pronunciation for Non-Germans: »Die Kurpfalz wimmelt« is spoken »dee kur-pfalts vee-melt« The German »die» is not like the English word »die«. I wouldn’t want to say »Die, you Palatinates! Never.« The Electoral Palatinate is teeming with fun 🤩.

🖼️ The Original Hireillo Artist Trading Card Illustration, Version 1 🖼️

In the original »Die Kurpfalz wimmelt«, this scene covered an area of 15 x 10 cm (w/h) In the upper right-hand corner it shows a stall of horses with a cow and four horses, who of course are all chatting to each other, of a blonde white girl on her caramel colored horse jumping over an obstacle, of a dark-skinned boy on a brown horse. There is also a blue tractor with a load of hay. A little bird is sitting on the hay.

A sailboat is in the background on the right (a nod to my relative M. who’d gotten/was getting his boating license 😊⛵️ at the time), and behind it, you can see two otters, one with a beach ball and one with »swim wings«—a flotation device for children. If you have good eyes and look very carefully, you will find two maroon colored fish in front of the sail boat, playing in the water.

In the foreground you can see two circus wagons, used as vacation homes, a small and a large tent. Around the larger tent there are chairs, a grey-blue plaid suitcase, a purple bag with a stuffed mouse in its outside pocket, a squirrel holding an acorn and a grey, blue bird who is seated on one of the white chairs. Behind the structures there are tall, narrow, dark green trees. One even has a rubber duck hidden in it. Two large trees are to the right of the big tent and there is a little rickety wooden fence sectioning off the FKK beach (where the people enjoy sunning and swimming in the buff). A grey-wooden sign declares the area as such an FKK beach.

The Nudist Beach In A Children’s Book 😱🙈🙀😱

Fun Fact: I once accidentally wandered onto an FKK (Freikörperklub – or free body club) nudist beach at the North Sea where my mother-in-law lives, and as a proper prude American, wondered why all these people were naked 😂. »Oh those Europeans!« I think FKK is definitely a German thing. Really, entire families go there. Go figure.

Two boys on the FKK side are in the water playing with a beach ball, an elderly woman suns herself while reading from her tablet and an elderly man is walking with a towel over his arm. Will he sit down on the empty chair that has a red towel draped over it? Or is that chair saved for someone else? What do you think?

On the beach behind the boys there are three canoes, one red, one yellow, one blue. And there is a red sand bucket and a little sand castle.

The Corn Mice

Going clockwise from here in the water, you can see my character, Sarah, the corn mouse, paddling with an oar on an orange paddleboard. You’ll find her in the right-hand corner. She is the one in the pink t-shirt wearing a beige rucksack.

In front of her are an elderly couple, enjoying the water. The woman is wearing a swim cap decorated with flowers—I think that came from a swimming cap that my Tante A. gave me to wear the first time I went to a public pool in Heidelberg.(I was 17 at the time). Her husband (the woman’s, not my Tante A’s.) is floating on his back using a flotation device, which is a net mattress with a red bolster pillow at the ends.

Simon, the corn mouse and Sarah’s friend, is balancing on one leg on his orange paddleboard in a yoga pose. By the way, each paddleboard has a different design. Sarah’s has three thin blue stripes, and yellow and red decorative elements, Simon’s has a solid blue rectangle with red and yellow elements at each end of the board.


In the lower-left corner, there is a blond haired father with a snorkel mask on his head (like a headband) and holding a snorkel. He is standing behind his little blond daughter, who is snorkeling in the water. Her bathing suit is magenta, as is her snorkel. The father’s snorkel is deep, rich green.

There are two surfboards on the beach, one dark blue with an anthracite color fin, one magenta, with a maroon collard fin. Just behind them, you can see an orange cat going up the steps to the red circus wagon.

The blue circus wagon has a red children’s bike in front of it. One stork, holding a cooking spoon, is looking out the window up to the other stork who is sitting in the nest. What do you think they are saying to each other?

Oh, No! Is That A Peeping Tom? Or Just A Boy With Binoculars?

On the little wooden patio/balcony of the blue circus wagon is a boy wearing a green and navy blue t-shirt, blue sorts, a green and a blue beach sandal. He is holding a pair of binoculars, that have an »eyes-a-popping« element.

But what is he looking at?

Is he observing the butterflies?

Is he bird watching? There are birds flying around the picture, you know.

Is he watching the woman with the pretty curly brown hair and coffee colored skin flapping a towel? She is wearing a yellow and blue striped crop top and a pair of blue shorts with yellow trim.

Or is he peeping at the people who are enjoying the FKK beach? Are you?

In My Books, All Answers Are Possible

Is the woman in the crop top about to lay the towel down next to her little daughter’s towel on the beach? The little girl is wearing a yellow bathing suit with blue polka dots, and she is dancing with her Blue Bear. My sister had one almost like that, also with a blue skirt with a white trim on it. But the heart on the bear’s chest is more like my other sister’s Care Bear she had when she was little.

Is the woman picking up the towel, to hang it over the little tent? Maybe her little son, who is building a sand castle on the beach using a red shovel and yellow bucket, spilled water on it. He is wearing blue swim shorts that have a yellow plaid design on them.

No beach scene would be complete without a picnic table and a grill. You’ll find this and a little barbecue grill in front of the circus wagons and next to the small beige pup-tent. And guess who’s coming for dinner? Three otters! Will they eat the bratwursts or the fruit in the basket on the table?

Artist Trading Card Design Version 2 und Version 3

I’ve scaled each version from the lower left hand corner up about 150% each time. In Version 2, the horses, the stalls, the riders, the blue tractor, the swimming otters, fish and sailboat disappeared from the scene. I’ve moved the mice in to be on their paddleboards in the lower middle.

In Version 3, I focused on the area between the mother, the otters, the father, and the swimming couple, and on the Corn Mice. You see, designing for such a small space is asking a lot, so I’ve axed a lot.

The Final Design Choice

After test prints scaled to final size, I did choose Version 3. But along the way, I decided I want to animate the first version at a later date. I am looking forward to seeing my first Artist Trading Card. And you?

If you are, contact me today.