Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a sports mascot, part 1, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
Welcome to drawing vector graphics laboratory. The project I want to take you through in this movie is creating a sports mascot design. Consider this a mini-course covering key areas of design and development for this specific genre. So let me take you through it, and deconstruct the process we use to create our final design motif. That is a mascot character for Timberline High School, my alma mater.
Now, when we look and audit the current identity system being used by Timberline High School, it's very fragmented. The top left motif with the shield and the hands dates back to when I went to high school there. Now, that's pretty old, that's a long time ago, and it's just not very engaging. It certainly doesn't fit the modern aesthetic for sports mascots as is today. Now, the motif right below it isn't bad, that's probably their best graphic they use, but I think we could improve upon their sports mascot a whole lot more, and the image on the right on the uniform just doesn't look good at all.
Now, Timberline High School's name are the Blazers. So it's Timberline High School, but their title for who the student body is are Blazers. And Blazers is represented by the mascot of a lumberjack. Now, they have used a lumberjack, so if we go in here, and I turn this on, you can see a graphic they've been currently using for their mascot, and there's no nice way to put this, this is just absolutely horrible, and we're here to improve it, to give them an identity that's going to work great for them moving forward, and it's going to be a whole lot better than what they're using now.
The process all starts with drawing, so here's some thumbnail sketches, and when I worked on these and started drawing these out, these are a lot bigger on screen than they are in actual life. They're about two by two inches on most of these, and I'm not trying to refine anything, I'm just trying to encapsulate and capture ideas before - like, I doodled these on a notepad when I was outside my office somewhere just sitting waiting for something, so I just explored how could we possibly approach this? What poses, how should the aesthetic of the character be? And I just wanted, when I was done with this, I knew I wanted something bold, strong, and durable.
So that's when we turn to reference, and we start looking at how do people think of a lumberjack in terms of a theme, in terms of a concept? Now, there's brand characters out there like Brawny, who's technically a lumberjack, and he's wearing a plaid shirt. Most iterations of a lumberjack, whether they're sculptures or photographs use a plaid shirt in a stereotypical point of view to reflect that it's a lumberjack. Now, our brand colors for the school are green and gold, so red won't work for our color scheme, we won't be using that, and I certainly don't want to use a plaid, it's too complex for the type of genre and usability over a broad spectrum of usages to use something like that, you're just asking for problems.
But, this is going to guide us in terms of, okay, we know we want him to be strong, bold, muscular, he's going to have a beard, and he's going to be carrying the tool of his trade, which is an axe, so we're getting reference on all of those points, and we use this to go back to the drawing board, and start working out our initial pose. I usually sketch out roughly, I have a vellum overlay here that I'll bring down, and then I start working out how thick will this be, what will the shape specifically be when it's refined down into an image that we can then build from? So this is the process I use, an analog to facilitate everything I'm going to do in digital.
I really do believe that analog supports digital, and makes digital better. Now, I decide to give up on this pose because I thought it was too lackadaisical with his, just, it was too casual in my opinion, and it made this arm problematic because, well, what do we do with this arm, then? Well, we could have it, like, posed on his hip, but, I just didn't like this pose. So I kind of stopped at this, gave up on it, and started on a new pose, and I like this one a lot better.
It kind of encapsulates everything into one distilled image, and he's just holding really strongly his axe, ready to do his work, and I thought this was going to work better, and then on top of it with vellum again, I just start drawing out the shapes as I intend to build them. I try to figure out exactly how the shape should be so when I go to build it in vector, it just serves as a roadmap for my building. I'm not doing a lot of second guessing, I'm just following what I've already predetermined is going to look good.
And that's exactly what you want to do when you come up with a refined sketch like this. I'll select it, I'll then set it to 20%, and I'll lock the layer. We'll go ahead and scroll up here, and I'm going to turn on the base layers, let's go ahead and zoom in on this so we can get a little closer. And this is where I'll segment out my artwork. I don't try to build with large shapes covering everything, I itemize as I build, meaning, if I'm working on this left side with his arm, instead of building one shape to create this entire piece, I break it into separate pieces, as you see here.
And I do that because it just makes it easier to construct artwork. It's not hard, it's certainly easier to build shapes like this, just taking circles and punching them out to get a general contour, and then loping off the ends. So once I have this, I can select various shapes, like the hat up here, we'll select this hat, we'll select his collar shapes down here, and maybe all the shapes of his arm on the left-hand side, and maybe this breast type of shape here.
And with all these selected, I can go to pathfinder and unite, and it's that quickly to fuse them all together. Now I'll do this process on everything to form the base artwork, and that leads to my base black and white artwork. Now some people might be thinking, well, I wish I could see that, you know, going from how do you bridge from this point to get to this point where you have a background that's just nothing but a black shape, and everything on top are just white shapes.
Well, there's a previous DVG lab where I covered that, so make sure to look at those, and you'll see exactly how I did that. I just don't want to spend the time to go over that, but there is a specific movie that you can watch where I do cover that, so make sure to watch that. And it's at this point that I'll usually print this out and I'll use that to just look at it for a while, and figure, is there anything I can do to improve it? And I'll take a black pen and I'll color in things, maybe it needs a little more black here and there to make it work, and that's exactly what I did.
And if I turn on this one, compare this art, this is pre-art directing yourself, and after art directing yourself. Notice the shadowing under the axe going over the shoulder and under the arm on the left-hand side. This improves, if I toggle on and off, how previous, it's okay, a lot better with these details added. So I'm adding some thickness over here, shadowing here, shadowing here, and I improved the beard up here as well, so watch the beard.
Previous, that didn't look bad, but I figured it's going to look a lot better if I edit it. So these are the art-directed decisions you want to do moving forward so you have really solid base artwork. And it's at this point I can now start thinking about color. Now, when I think about color for this guy specifically, the school colors for Timberline are green, much like this, an evergreen type color, and gold. So these are definitely going to work its way in. So I'll select everything I intend to be gold, which will be these shapes, and I'll color that gold.
Instead of black, we're going to use this evergreen. And then we'll go ahead and color the skin, and we'll color the handle of the axe, and then we're going to use this gray on the blade. We'll select the front part, get rid of this outline, and this is simply going to become white. And so that's how easy it is to establish the base colors, and that's probably the hardest thing. Some schools have some pretty weird colors, and so you might introduce other colors in order to get a mascot to work, like a black outline, because maybe their school colors are both, neither one is a darker color, so it's not going to work good for baseline work.
But in this case, Timberline did, and I think this is going to work good moving forward. Now, I showed you how I'll print out a black and white, and I'll actually draw with an ink pen on it to figure out areas to bolster the blacks and improve the image, but I also use that same printout to work out my shading. So this is in analog how I'll print it out, and I'll start drawing on it to figure out the shading, to figure out the highlights, and then I scan this back in and lay it over the top of my artwork here, and if we zoom in on this you can see how I have that shading is now going to define how I create those shapes.
And that's exactly what I do, I use the same process and I focus on creating those, in this case, shadowing and highlight shapes on the face, on the hat, and everywhere else in this composition so that when it's all said and done, it's going to end up looking like this, which is looking really, really cool. So let's go a head and zoom in on this guy, and I think this character is going to work really well. We now have established our fundamental, base sports mascot character encapsulated in a very nice motif.
Now, regardless of what theme a mascot would be, this is the distilled creative process we'd use to create it. But we're not done with this project, so in the next DVG lab we'll lock up this mascot character with the logo type and continue to refine the design, and I'll show you how to deliver the final art, and how that final art is going to be used in context of usage. Thank you for watching DVG Lab, and until next time, remember, never stop drawing.
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