Developing A Mascot
I very rarely have the opportunity to work on character design, so when Benji Holroyd, founder of SB Studio in liverpool, asked me to develop a mascot for the new Piazza Tiles website, I bit his hand off.
The brief was refreshingly...well, brief! Over the years, I have become accustomed to scanning huge amounts of copy to find that spark of inspiration needed to create an image for an editorial piece, but this brief was only 4 sentences long.
Initially, I was anxious about the lack of information, but soon realised that I was being allowed the freedom to steer this character in whichever direction I liked. So, without really knowing where I was going, but with the brief fresh in my mind, I started to scribble down ideas in my sketchbook.
Pretty quickly, I had come up with a handful of designs I liked. I cleaned up the ones I thought might work best and sent them over to Benji for feedback. I also did a quick colour job on a couple of sketches to give a more rounded idea of where the character might be heading.
After the first batch of sketches, it was clear that the designs were too detailed. The character needed to be recognisable at quite small sizes and so needed to be as simple as possible, while still retaining the characteristics set out in the initial brief. Benji had also picked out a few design elements that he thought I should run with. Frank should be slightly overweight, have a bald head with hair on the back and sides, as well as those half-circle glasses.
With that in mind, I went back to my sketchbook with a clear direction of how Frank should look. I quickly sketched a couple of potential designs and put together a full character mock-up in Photoshop to give some idea of how i may use colour and texture in the final designs.
We're heading in the right direction! The body is good, but the head still has too much detail and there needs to be much more contrast so the elements are clear at small scale. I jump back into Photoshop and strip Frank's head back to the absolute essentials...
... and everybody agrees; it's so much better!
All that was left to do was design Franks body and his different outfits. The brief required Frank to be in 4 key poses, each representing the 4 stages of buying tiles online; Decision, Samples, Packing and Delivery.
I'm really happy with how this character turned out, and it is largely down to great Art Direction from Benji Holroyd at SB Studios. He had a clear idea of what was needed for the character but trusted me enough to give me full creative control. it was an absolute pleasure and I would love to do more work like this!
SB Studios have paired Frank with a simple type treatment that really compliments the simple illustration style, and I think he looks great!