Superhero week has come and gone in a flash. Thanks to everyone who followed along with me and thanks to those of you who came and found me on Instagram. You guys are total rocks stars. Today I wanted to take a look at what the process looks like when developing characters for an actual client. Sure it’s fun to draw whatever comes to mind but what happens when you’re doing it for a real live client? Lets take a look at the process.
Step one sketches:
Concept sketches. Step one is always sketches. My client is Chewy.com.I’ve worked with them for many years. We designed a set of characters together to help them market their online services. The main character Mr. Chewy is a lovable dog character who is sort of the guy in charge. He’s had lots of different adventures from vacationing on the sunny Florida cost to sled rides in the frozen north. Once he even ran for President of the United States of America.
The assignment for Mr. Chewy this time was to become a superhero. Does this guy get around or what? Anyhow I discuss the project with the creative director and we’re uncertain if we’re looking for an action pose or a hero pose. I throw out a couple of quick sketches of each.
Step two tighten up:
The superhero pose is the winner. So it’s time to tighten up on the sketch. Because I know this character so well and I’ve drawn him so often I find tightening up the sketch in Illustrator is the cleanest fastest way to go.
Step 3 color:
The tight sketch is approved. Time to move onto color. In my head I’ve thinking this guy is definitely a red, yellow white kind of superhero. Kind of a Flash/Shazam color scheme. So I find my colors and submit my art. The client however was thinking more of a blue red yellow combo like Superman. Superman is arguably a much more popular and recognizable figure so I switch things up and resubmit. We don’t want to do a direct ripoff of the color scheme so we change the combo up a little. To help the artwork pop we keep Chewy mostly in red and yellow and add a little blue for accents. High fives all the way around! Job well done.
Here is a quick look at a little cartoon logo project I did for my good friends at Rock and Lou’s Pizza. If you happen to live in southern California keep a look out for this truck and be sure to tell them that Bob sent you. Happy motoring!!!
How to Buy a Cartoon Logo – A look at the Design process.
Is it time for a new logo? There are a lot of different directions you could go. Do you play it safe and try to look like your competition or do you take a chance and design something you know your customers will really love? How do you stand out in a crowd? A cartoon logo can do all those things and more. Ever wonder how to buy a cartoon logo? I design cartoon logos for lots of different companies large and small. Here’s an article I wrote to hopefully take a little of the mystery out of the design process.
Designing a logo – The BBQ Dawg
My old friend Bill called me the the other day and asked if I could help design a new logo for him. Bill is a certified BBQ expert, I’m not just talking about Sunday afternoons with the wife and kids, Bill’s the real deal. He has a BBQ trailer and cooks for all kinds people throughout the south and southeast. So when Bill called and asked if would create a BBQ logo for him I couldn’t wait to get started. Here’s a look at the design process I use here at Bob Ostrom Studio logo Design World Wide Headquarters.
Step one – Need a Logo, Bob Ostrom Studio’s got you covered.
The first step in the process is mainly about gathering information. The more I know about your business, your demographic, how you plan to use your logo and where you plan to use it the better job I can do designing something you and your costumers will both love. A lot of my clients are not quite sure what they want to do and that’s OK too.
For those who are not sure think of it this way… a logo should be much more an just a pretty picture or something you drop in at the top of your newsletter each month. Your logo should work for you. It greets your customers and helps build your identity. It is a visual representation of your company and helps your customers remember who you are and helps differentiate you from your competitors. A good logo goes a long way.
Talking with Bill is always fun, he’s a great guy and even though it’s been a while it feels like just yesterday we were hanging out together playing football, flipping burgers and being high school buds. I keep a short list of logo designer questions handy when we talk so I don’t forget to ask all the important questions. Bill and I talk for a while and he tells me he would like to feature his best friend Charlie in the logo. I love the idea because aside from being Bill’s best friend Charlie is also Bill’s dog. As I hang up the phone it dawns on me that this is going to be a bit of a challenge. Bill’s dog is super cute and super cute is not the first thing that pops into my mind when considering Bill’s demographic, but that’s good. That means if we get this right Bill’s logo is going to grab a lot of attention. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a cartoon pig wearing a chef hat but if you hop over to Google and do a quick search for BBQ logos you’ll begin to understand what I’m getting at.
At the beginning of each project I start a shared folder on Dropbox with my client. I don’t know about you guys but I loveDropbox. I find it to be one of the most efficient ways to share info with my clients. I’m not affiliated with Dropbox in anyway and they aren’t paying me to say anything, I just like sharing what works and Dropbox works for me. Once I have a folder set up I send a link to my client and I keep copies of all exchanged files there. Anytime my client wants to share with me all they need to do is open the folder on their desk top and drop it in. A simple work flow means better communication and better communication means a better product.
Step two –Concept and development.
Each new project starts with me, a big block of paper and a sharpie marker. My first job is to throw down as many ideas as I can. I keep the drawing loose and simple. That keeps the ideas flowing and stops me from overworking things. These are concept drawings and the only thing I’m concerned about at this stage is getting my ideas on paper. I rarely share this initial stage of drawings with my clients (but since your reading this article I thought I’d share them with you). As you can see sketches are pretty rough and hard to follow but that’s OK because I plan on refining them before I share with Bill.
After a while I’ve exhausted all my ideas. Now its time to step away for a bit. I know if I keep working any objectivity I might have about what is good and what is not will go right out the window. I know when I come back later I can review my work with a fresh set of eyes and pick out my best ideas. Those ideas will be refined and presented in a PDF file along with a few written notes and ideas we can explore as we move forward.
Step three –Tightening up
I make it a point to go over everything with my client on the phone or by Skype so we can look at it together. This is especially important in the early stages. Nothing kills creativity like email. Talking live allows us to interact and trade ideas as we brainstorm. Without direct contact the majority of those thoughts and feeling are lost, leaving me to guess at which direction to take… plus I always enjoy talking with Bill and catching up on old stories from our caveman days.
Once we have our concept nailed down I take all the input from our meeting and begin refining my sketches. This step is a much more polished presentation and is a lot closer to the finished product. This step is less about ideas and more about, what’s my finished logo going to look like? I resubmit and we go over things one more time. Our ideas are set, now and it’s up to me to make sure they come to life. If I’ve done my job well there are very few surprises and the client is usually thrilled with the drawings. It’s important to note that occationally there will be some refinements needed and this is always the best stage to make them. Making changes early in the design process is easy, cheap and quick, but as we advance it becomes much more work. That’s why I require an approval sign off at this stage before moving on. That way there are no surprises and I know everyone is happy.
Step four –Color.
The next step usually involves a little bit of time and a lot more precision. I hate to rush this step because rushing means cutting corners. I prefer to take some time to make sure everything looks the best it possibly can. Occasionally a client needs their work yesterday and I understand that. Depending on how great the need I’m happy to make arrangements. There is of course an additional charge to put my other projects aside and focus 100% of my time on their project but Bill isn’t in a rush and he knows that by allowing me the time I need he will receive the best work I can possibly give him.
Once the final art is ready I send a quick snapshot to my client. This is what I like to refer to as the wow stage. It’s when the vision finally comes to life and becomes a reality. If I’ve done a good job my customers response is usually…WOW!
I invoice my client and save the art to a shared folder on Dropbox. There might be a few minor tweaks to the colors but for the most part we are done and all our hard work has paid off. I try my best to anticipate where the logo will be used and to provide all the proper formats. I am always happy to talk with vendors and make sure they have exactly what they need. I’ll keep this logo on file for the next couple of months and then eventually archive it in case my client mistakenly loses their copy. One thing I stress to all my clients is to make sure they save several copies of their new logo and archive them. That way no matter what happens they’ll always have a copy.
Step Five –Now what?
Now that you’ve got the coolest logo in the world what do you do with it? This is where the fun starts. If you’ve got a great logo and a great company like Bills’ why not give your customers the opportunity to help you spread the word? Merchandising your logo is a great way to let your customers show you how much they love you and you cool new logo. Design some fun shirts and hats and let the world know you’re open for business (*disclaimer – this works best when you have a great company and a great logo)
Now that your customers know your brand, it’s time to get your logo working for you. Designing a marketing campaign around your logo is a great way to stand out from your competition. If you’ve got a business like Bill’s your character can help you sell items on your menu and help get your customers excited about upcoming events. Need more ideas for your cool cartoon logo give me a call. Don’t have a cool cartoon logo? I’m happy to help you with that too.
Designing a character whether it be a cartoon mascot or a logo always starts with lots of sketches. Here’s a look at the process I used to design the Mr.Chewy cartoon mascot for on-line pet food giant Chewy.com.
The assignment was to develop a mascot to represent Chewy.com. The main character would be Mr. Chewy, a dog, who would most likely have a side kick and several friends. Since we determined Mr. Chewy to be a dog I naturally thought a cat would make a fun side kick. The direction for this project was very open and allowed me a great deal of creative freedom. Knowing I had a lot of room to experiment I quickly grabbed my sketchbook and got to work.
Putting together sketches helps me think and come up with lots of ideas. I like to try as many different directions as I can before narrowing the focus. Eventually something will grab my interest and I begin to refine. I take an idea far enough so I can easily discuss it with my client and then begin on another new directions. I repeat the process several times until I have exhausted all my ideas. Once I’m done I pick out my winners to share with my client. This is always my favorite part of the project. Sharing sketches allows us to see possibilities and get even more creative.
Developing a mascot or logo character is an evolutionary process.
Discussing direction early in the process allows us to think things through. Knowing how and where the character will be used will make a big difference in the design. Does he need to hold an object, or does he walk on all fours? Will he appear on a website, the side of a bus, a business card or all of the above? Paying attention to this kind of stuff early in developmental helps us avoid pitfalls later on. The last thing you want is a character who has to be redesigned because he can’t do the things you want him to.
Once the initial sketches are submitted I review them with the client. Sometimes a character jumps right off the page, sometimes it’s a combination of a couple of different directions… sometimes nothing sticks at all. In this case we found a few characters we liked but the Mr.Chewy character wasn’t right. So it’s back to the drawing board but I’m not worried because after our conversation I now have a clearer idea where we need to be headed. My client and I are on the same page and we’re both having fun. We have lots of new ideas for this character. We’ve had a blast talking about possibilities and we’ve added a few new characters to the line up. I can’t wait to get back to my drawing board and explore some of the new directions we talked about.
We have a winner. One of the sketches catches my clients eye. He asks for a few changes but overall he’s thrilled with the direction we’re headed and is excited to see more. I refine and tighten my sketches up then resubmit. The client gives me approval and lets me know the tight sketch is right on the money. Time to finalize.
My client has a great sense of humor and we joke about all the fun we will have with our new Mr. Chewy character. Our discussion opens the door to working up the additional characters.
The new characters are a hit
They will all be featured on the website in an upcoming online campaign. We’ve had a great time developing them all and laughing about the fun scenarios we will be placing them in. It’s always cool to see a project come together like this.
Since I began working with Chewy.com they have grown from a small start-up to a household name… practically overnight. Mr. Chewy has appeared in all kinds of ads from greeting cards to a Facebook marketing campaign. It’s been amazing to see how successful this company has become in such a short amount of time. If you Google the Mr.Chewy character you can find him just about everywhere and thanks to the good folks at Chewy.com he is loved and well received by all their customers.
If you’d like to hire Bob for your next project you can contact him directly at 919-809-6178 or through his rep Deborah Wolfe LTD at 215-232-6666.
This cartoon logo is based on a real life character. I’m not really much of a caricature artist but when this project came along I couldn’t resist. I took one look at the reference photo and I knew we were going to have some fun. This is my favorite of several versions done of this logo.
You can find out more about vintage knives by visiting the website at: VintageKinves.com