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Hallmark AR

The Brief

Changing the world happens one caring step at a time. To reduce plastic waste, Hallmark is developing AR activated cake toppers. Gone are the plastic wedding figures and birthday numbers, now the cake comes alive with even more emotional impact.

The Pitch
Emotional Takeaway

Trip Around the Sun is a cake topper designed for first birthday parties. The target demographic is young parents who are social media savvy and interested in sustainable alternatives to traditional cake toppers.

The user/viewer should recognize the high-quality standards of the product. The imagery is sophisticated and expressively animated. The sentiment feels sincere and genuine, not cliche.


I pitched three directions and the first direction, Trip Around the Sun was selected.

My proposed design direction was a mobile of 2D paper cutouts in a simple illustration style appealing to children. However, due to the AR requirement, it was decided that 3D would work better and be just as simple to design.

One note from the pitch was to find a way to incorporate a customizable name element as part of the mobile.

First Round Animation

The first pass of 3D animation went smoothly enough, however, first impressions were that the colors were washed out and not exciting or playful enough. This sentiment was applied to the animation as well.

Since it's AR, and not real, the elements don't need to actually rotate like a mobile. They can follow whatever motion path they want to!

Second Round Animation + First Steps into AR

The deliverables for the next round were a composite of the animation in a still photo, ideas for an activator, and proof of functionality in AR.

I used Spark AR with my iPhone to test out my animation and make it activate with a specific image. The idea is that Hallmark can sell printed wafers to put on top of cakes, that once scanned with a phone camera, will activate the cake topper animation. 

Final Promotional Video

The final promotional video sets the fun and playful tone of the product. It shows proof of AR functionality, and sells the topper to the target demographic of young parents. 

The product meets Hallmark's high-quality standards and celebrates the special moment that is a child's very first birthday party!


Employing self-directed learning to make a functional AR experience involved a great deal of trial-and-error, compromise, and research. AR is still an emerging technology that has its limitations. Figuring out whether technical issues- such as importing textures- was a shortcoming on my side or the software's side was an added challenge and something I learned to work around. 

I see AR products such as this cake topper becoming popular in the near future. I feel a sense of accomplishment in knowing that I'm on the front end of this emerging technology, and confident in my ability to learn new skills quickly.

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