Now that the 2015 card has been released, I’ll post the 2014 holiday card for University of Arizona Student Affairs & Enrollment Management. To get the best experience, click on this link with a mobile device as the snow globe shakes and new scenes appear when you tap it. Nerd fact: the original animations all had to be under 200k to flow through the mass email system, and that ain’t much. cool fact: won a Silver Addy for this.
Gold medal design left on the blocks
All AlphaGraphics are owned by franchisees, with the AlphaGraphics headquarters in Salt Lake City [though it was founded in Tucson], and there was a great promotion planned for a trip to the Olympics. After going ’round and ’round on getting the franchisees to buy in, the promotion never got off the blocks though it did hear the gun. The final design of the medals were beautiful, with a nice cloth texture for the ribbons. Are we allowed to give ourselves a medal for what is literally a gold medal design? Yes we can. Leading up to this design were several comps in Adobe Illustrator to get the composition fine tuned before pulling it into Adobe Photoshop to build the 3D portions and add the textures.
The following promotion never happened, though I wish it did, and I wish I could have won it. I’ll have to settle for winning the VISA contest instead.
Here are some of the ideas for the composition of the final piece.
Once again Oro Valley and Tucson host the USA Triathlon Duathlon Championships on April 28, 2012 and we’ll be there with a T-shirt design. In case you were wondering, a duathlon is run-bike-run not swim-bike-run for a triathlon. I suppose that makes my bike riding just an athlon. I have yet to see the completed shirts and their may be embroidered shirts as well. TriSports.com is sponsoring the championships, just as they most every race in Arizona. Not only are all of athletes very appreciative of their investment into our sports, they are also highly involved with our community, our environment with their huge water harvesting barrels look like missile silos and their solar energy panels providing shade for their entire parking lot – smart move there. I could go on, but it has to be mentioned that the entire company is made up of [and owned] by great people. Below are less than half of the ideas I came up with for the t-shirt design. I’ll be cheering on a teammate who already has multiple state cycling championships as he races tomorrow, adding his 4 minute mile skills to his riding. It would be great if he pulled off a podium finish.
All in all, it is a win-win-win-win-win for our cities, athletes, TriSports.com and other local businesses – and for those of you that pick up a commemorative championship t-shirt.
I started of simple with some imagery specific to the southwest [saguaros and chilis – suprise!]
With the course up in Oro Valley, adding the backside of the Catalinas with Table Mountain helped tie in the location a bit more than just cacti, and a runner and cyclist were added. The shirts need to appeal to both women and men so I kept the feel right down the middle.
A quick two color version for embroidery was created, and dealing with thread always comes with limitations.
When it was all said and done, 3 designs were chosen and I am waiting to be surprised on which was used [all 3?] when I pick up a shirt. The logo was changed to include location and date. Of course I am hoping they sell out of them, but only after everyone that wanted one got one.
This activity page will make my wife happy, as she is a special ed teacher and would always like more activity pages. Mixing Irish and Mexican heritage is always an easy hit. Two free versions for download are provided. I am okay with the one where it backtracks, but cutting those out and ending up with just 17 numbers is just as good. Hey, 17, March 17th…
I just had to color one for myself.
A connect the dots and coloring page? Seriously? Just go back to second grade for a moment and you know that right about know your teacher would be handing this out and you would be eating it up. 100 years – some thought that Arizona was too crazy to make it that long, but it did and we have. Have fun connecting the dots, and have fun coloring. If you like it, I might make more and make them funny [some may say Arizona is funny, but nah, really funny ones and not just off-kilter].
Click on the image below for a printable PDF that is just dying for you to complete and color. I am already coloring my third activity sheet. So much for getting work done today.
Here is a quick calendar I drummed up as there has been a lot of work the past few weeks and not a lot of white space to do much else [always a good thing]. Now if Tucson’s weather was cooperating, it would fit the mood, but so far we have been very warm this winter. Usually there are great storms rolling through and Tucson can get the crazy dark mountains with the sun still shining through onto parts of the desert. Instead we have shorts and flip-flop weather, which is exactly what was predicted from Roadrunner day. Once again he outran his shadow, and once again we will have a winter that requires us to wear a sweatshirt for the first 2 hours of the day [and maybe closed toed shoes] and after that it is perfect weather.
You have a choice of 3 desktop calendars, two of the stormy Catalinas [one without the roadrunner] and then one of just the roadrunner – click on the image to download a desktop-sized version – enjoy!
Destination Southern Africa [DSA] was started 10 years ago, offering tailored vacations to Africa. They have plenty of travel packages, and unfortunately we all missed out on going to see the FIFA World Cup in 2010 through them. Next time…
As most companies do, DSA started small and created their own logo. It makes sense – with any new business, cash is tight and spending money a logo is not usually one of the top 10 things clamoring for the business’ money [phones, maybe chairs – those things are important]. Of course, I would say seeing a logo is often the customer’s first interaction with a business, along with the human side of things, but I won’t go that route, at least not today. After 10 years, logos can get a little stale as well as not showing the same level of professionalism that the company now holds. This is where DSA found themselves, needing to sharpen their logo a bit, and I set to work on redesigning it. Below is the original logo, which had a few modifications of type and color over the years. It could be an awkward logo to put into use in material, and the name didn’t stand out as much as it should..
The initial conversation had me going with something similar, trying to keep with the sunset and the silhouette, both the most recognizable parts of the logo. A new Land Rover D110 was also in the mix as that is the safari vehicle most frequently used. Other animals were brought up, and though the focus is to be southern Africa, it is not the most recognizable shape – at least compared to Italy or Japan. Below are some of the quick notes and doodles that came of that first conversation.
After some mulling over of the concepts in my head [there is always mulling] I ran out several dozen ideas [not all of them are shown]. I stuck with the circle from the original logo and added the bottom as a place to anchor the logo and the text. A few different sunsets, a potentially rough hand-hewn logo, and a double ring to bring the logo into focus seemed to help keep the look while giving the text a prominent place. The 3 logos with check marks were chosen by the customer as ones to develop further. I did have in mind an old stamp or sticker that would have been found on travel trunks in the 1800s, but the push was for something clean and new and easy to use.
Another large part of logo design is the typeface and potential modification of the letterforms. I pulled a few dozen from our 10,000+ typeface library, ranging from the very clean to the playful. Three of them stood out to the customer, and they all happened to be part of the same family.
More logos were created, this time with a square bottom to give the text more room, and a giraffe was added in as they are highly recognizable. A few trees were created, but what I really wanted to do [and did] was create a far more dynamic sky and sunset. It really helped make the logo alive while retaining the same general look as the original logo.
Two logos were chosen from that group, and people were added into the Land Rover as well as baby giraffe.
I took both of these and dropped them into an image just to see how the logo would fit, and the transparent edges seemed to work rather well, though I was a bit more fond of the first pair with the darker background.
At this stage in the game, the design is getting pretty tight with only slight modifications, and with that in mind, the client pointed out that the word “Destination”, though equally important in the name, had lesser prominence than “Southern Africa”. The round sun was called into question, and that was squared off as well with a few versions of how the sunset would work. I moved the background over to a rich earthy burgundy to add more warmth to the logo.
I had forgotten that the silhouette had just been a quick doodle and it was pointed out that the last person in the vehicle looked like a babboon. That might make the safari a bit more exciting, but the vehicle needed an overhaul.
That was it – a little sliding around of the text and DSA has a logo to last at least another 10 years, all created as vector are in Adobe Illustrator [100% Photoshop free!]
A friend asked me to create a logo for her swim instruction, but her swim credentials are a bit higher: 4 time US National Champion [18 time US Nationals finalist], Olympic Silver Medalist, 3 time NCAA Champ and 4 time All-American. She won her first national championship at 13 [or was it 12?] and she has a wikipedia entry. Any thoughts of her ability to instruct should have long since evaporated. If you are in Pensacola and want to work on your swimming [and fall somewhere from beginner to competitive swimmer/triathlete] I’d suggest giving her a call. She is a great person to be around – I believe I have started to swim faster just by talking with her. Visit her Swim Works site on Facebook.
She provided an apt name for her by playing with her last name [Barr] and adding a little “acuda” to spell out one of the fastest and most tough looking fish int the ocean, the BARRacuda [go check out some photos if you don’t know what one looks like]. I set to work on some sketches and what follows is the step by step process I use for most of the logos I create. Lots of sketches, then plenty more versions cleaned up in Adobe Illustrator.
This is not how they swim, but it should.
They always seem to be smiling, with a mouth full of nasty teeth.
Swim goggles? Maybe.
A little more doable, with the dynamic swirls [somehow it needs to scream SPEED].
Head on? Maybe a pack?
Maybe from living and training in Florida helped conjure up some NASA rocket imagery. Rockets are fast, too.
One version was narrowed down, and after several more renditions, one particular logo was chosen, but it needed a bit more energy. For those wondering why it was done in black and white vs. beautiful color, it is that color makes it too easy. A color logo or image contains more information, but it needs to be a good logo to survive as black and white. Black and white always comes first.
Once one was chosen, the text was introduced.
And the final black and white logo was produced.
Next came the color version, and both color and texture could be added.
That last purple barracuda with the glowing yellow eyes was the one.
It easily lends itself to banners, postcards, business cards, etc. Here it is as an 8 foot long poster. Don’t worry about the website – that should be coming soon.
ESPN Magazine contacted one of our sister companies, a printer of temporary tattoos, and asked if we could design a tattoo for one of their articles. They asked for an 8″x10″ white tattoo made up of all sorts of NFL plays to put on a players arm for an article about them. Which player? I’d love to know, and an 8″x10″ tattoo would pretty much wrap my bicep. I suppose that means it could have been any player in the NFL [wah wah wah]. In the end, they must have gone with another idea, though it would have made a great photo. I went through a half dozen versions to end up with this one that was approved, but never was used.
Tucson is well known as one of the best cycling communities in America. Pro cyclists [and triathletes] come to train here, and many move here for the year-round training that our weather provides. Well, we’ll take a ding for the summer, but you just need to get out early in the morning to get in your miles. The Perimeter Bicycling Association of America Inc. [based in Tucson] puts on several events each year, with November’s El Tour de Tucson being the largest. With about 9000 cyclists each year, there is a mix of top-level athletes as well as thousands that set the 108 mile event as there goal and spend the prior months getting into shape to reach that goal. Starting in August there are more and more cyclists out on the roads on the weekend, all in their brightly colored jerseys. Being a cyclist myself, I applaud everyone for making the effort to get into shape. Being healthy is a good thing.
Starting with the Lance Armstrong poster in 1998, I have designed 6 El Tour de Tucson posters and 2 Tour de Phoenix posters. Some are painted traditionally, some have been done entirely on the computer, and the poster for 2006 was a bit more of a line drawing. Every year the process is mostly the same: work on coming up with some promising sketches, and once approved, complete the poster and then make modifications from there. I have always wanted to make some miniature cyclists riding on a cactus, so that is where I started, trying out a few color variations.
The colors seemed to be okay, but the sketches didn’t strike anyone as all that impressive, even though the thought was to paint the poster. That would be hard to mock up without completing the poster – far too many hours on the chance that it may be accepted. I moved on to pencil sketches for the composition and this was chosen — not a whole lot of detail. [click image for a higher resolution version]
Taking that sketch, I made a quick series of color mock-ups and I was given the green light to go ahead. As a side note, that is always a good thing to get, especially when there is not that much to look at.
I redrew the branch and inked it in for a clean-but-rough line, scanned it in at a very high resolution and auto-traced it in Adobe Illustrator. Then came the fun of keeping the art to 5 spot colors and coming up with an attractive design [more on the 5 color limitation in a bit]. After a fair amount of work, 5 colors that worked well together were chosen and the artwork grew into a warm/sunlit side and a cooler shadow side. [click image for a higher resolution verison]
Here is an enlarged version of the nine cyclist bugs, which I also printed out as die-cut stickers on our large format printer. For the kids race, my kids had these stickers all over their bicycles and helmets. There is a bit of a petroglyph feel in these bugs.
The mountains around Tucson were added with the same warm/cool color selection, and because of a time crunch all three branches were the same illustration with the branches recolored. That would be the one thing I would change if I had a chance: the branches and the bugs all needed to be unique. No two bugs alike. Ah well. Most people don’t realize they are all the same until I point it out [I am sorry if I ruined the magic].
After several attempts to fit all the text on the poster in an attractive manner [I love my typography – I believe that is what sets my poster design apart from many of the other posters] I matched the curve in the text at the top with a blue notch at the bottom. It was a hit. But I wasn’t done…
The El Tour folks needed the clothing to match the poster, which is why there was a 5 color limitation. Granted, I was allowed to blend the colors together which was probably a bit of a nightmare for the production artist at the clothing manufacturer. Several comps were created and this one was selected way back at the beginning of the process. Rough, but it was a good direction.
Once the poster was complete, the design had to be reworked to fit into all the different sized patterns. The mountains were too busy so they were dropped out and just the ocotillo branches and bugs were left.
Here is a close up version of the jersey pattern. The art had to fit the smallest jersey as tightly as possible so that the text wouldn’t look like it was floating in the middle of branches and thorns. Pockets were taken into account, and on the front there was the issue of the zipper.
This shot was sent to us from Squadra, the clothing manufacturer. Jerseys, jackets, shorts, and socks were all part of the package — and they sold out, making it one of the most successful jerseys ever. That means I did my job — it was both an attractive design and a successful product for Perimeter Bicycling. As a bonus, I get to see my jerseys being worn all over town. They are most definitely bright and eye catching. [click on the image for a higher resolution version]