Over the years Dr. DJ Haeussler has always been a loyal client and a good friend, we did several projects together, especially in the field of mascot design. Our latest project involved the creation of three mascot characters, namely, the Halloween and his two staff, Brittany and Sarah. Coming up with designs like these entail a lot of things and being an experienced mascot designer, I would like to share with you the creative process involved in the production of such marvelous creations.
Here we have the 6 steps in creating a great mascot design:
Step 1: Introduction and Discovery
To begin the conception, DJ Haeussler sent me several photos for his new mascot character designs. He mentioned that he needed a Halloween mascot character and two additional ones that would be his staff, namely, Britanny and Sarah.
Just to add a little bit of background on this mascot design project, Dr. DJ Haeussler is a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist working at the Animal Eye Institute. He provides exceptional ophthalmic care to animals in order to prolong their vision and thereby making them feel more comfortable in their everyday lives. I am an animal lover and it is one the reasons why I am very happy to get the opportunity to work with Dr. Haeussler.
It is important to note that the reason why I am gathering these data is for me to be able to create a mascot design that would fit the needs of Dr. Haeussler. As a mascot designer, this sets me apart from the others; I give time in getting to know my clients and analyzing what they really need. This allows me to effectively channel and interpret the design, making them successful.
Once, I have gathered enough details to design Dr. Haeussler’s mascot I moved on to his 2 assistants, Brittany and Sarah.
Brittany’s main responsibility is to attend to the patients’ and clients’ needs, as well as assisting the animals during their eye exams. She has a dog named Bentley, to whom she dedicates most of her free time. Meanwhile, Sarah worked for a large referral veterinary practice as an ophthalmology technician and moved to work with Dr. Haeussler and The Animal Eye Institute. She has a cat named Fiona and handles all of the management work at The Animal Eye Institute.
Their colorful personalities give great direction on how to effectively translate them into art, which will make each mascot design unique.
Step 2: Sketch
After getting to know my subjects, its sketch time! All the characteristics presented to me are now considered and will be converted into a sketch. I use my Wacom Cintiq 13 hd to allow me to directly work on the screen instead of using pen and paper these projects. This way the production time will be greatly reduced.
For the Halloween mascot design, I decided to make a character inspired by Dracula, complete with the cloak and fangs to boot. He will have a dog; wearing a Halloween costume, and a spooky but cute cat beside him.
For Brittany I opted to dress her in a simple veterinary uniform, holding an ophthalmology equipment, to make it closer to life, I included her favorite dog, Bentley.
Meanwhile, because Sarah is also on the same level as Brittany, I made it sure that they have the same uniform, but added her favorite cat, Fiona. You could see how exciting this is, like melding reality and design in one form. A very artistic interpretation, if I must say so myself!
Step 3: Flat Color
After coming up with several sketches, I chose one that would best depict my interpretation of the characters ‘involved. This is the nitty gritty of mascot design, it’s not going to be perfect in one try, but rather a process of improvement and to come up with something that stands out.
A mascot designer always makes sure that the design is flawless; this is the same, for every artist. We have to make our art as perfect as we have imagined it to be. Once a sketch is chose, and approved, I start doing the flat colors. This is a fun challenge, as you need to do color matching. Dr. Haeussler gave me photos to work with and the first thing I did was to follow the sketch and make different kind of shapes and colors for layering.
Layering entails dividing the shapes, so that it would be easier to put shadows and highlights on them, to make them more animated, you can see the whole process in this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/EaRPiLDWqdw
Step 4: Shadow
As mentioned, once the flat colors process is complete, the next on my to-do list is placing shadows. Achieving the correct shadow placement is crucial in my work as a mascot designer, as this gives the form to the illustration. Once this is complete, you will definitely see the 3D animated feel of your mascot design.
Step 5: Highlights
Once the shadows are placed, it’s time to do the highlights. I make sure that highlights are placed on the opposite side of the shadows, adding little details like blood on the lips and whiskers of the cat should be done at this point. To make the design stand out, I put in several effects such as the color dodges and highlights needed for the coat.
Step 6: Vectorization
After all the hard work and rendering, I forwarded the mascot design characters for Dr. Haeussler to approve, which I am truly grateful for. Upon receiving his approval, it’s now time for me to vectorize the designs. Vectorizing the characters takes a lot of time and mastery. It could take about 1 to 2 days just to complete 1 character because it requires a substantial amount especially because the characters have a lot of colors. I need to trace the design from scratch and build it, layer by layer.
And there you have it! That’s a summary of how I process my mascot design. I know it does not look easy, and believe me, as a mascot designer, that it is definitely a lot of work. I hope you enjoyed reading and watching my design process, starting from conceptualization.
If you enjoyed my simple how-to, feel free to share it, through Facebook, Twitter and other social media. You could also follow me on Facebook, or subscribe to my Youtube channel for more ideas on how to do mascot design. Should you need any mascot design in the future, you could send me a message and start tossing ideas on your next great mascot design! I am definitely looking forward to that!
A compilation of the mascots I designed for my clients are over here.