Sunday, 31 July 2011

Case: Finncon/Animecon 2011 (Part 2)

Took me a while to continue this post, didn't it. Never the less, here it is, the rest of the visuals I did for Finncon | Animecon 2011. The first part can be found here.

After finishing the web layouts I started working on the advertising for the con. The first plan was to make two different sized ads, but in the end it was decided that half a page is enough. So I started working on those right away.
I had already made the first version of a Finncon ad while making the web layouts but I was not at all happy with the result. The pic used was just a quick sketch I had done for one of the business card designs for Finncon Ry.

The original business card design
It was far from perfect and too close to the edge of the paper for it to work as a magazine ad. I knew beforehand that it will end up in the fold but as the customers liked it, even after being warned about it not working, that's what we went with.

original ad

Thankfully the ad only ran in one magazine that came out a whole lot earlier then the others. I got to the new ones in time for the rest of the advertising. I started to make the new ads from scratch. The idea stayed the same though. Android girl looking upwards and feathers flying. The first meeting between the characters.

Final Finncon ad

I was still struggling with the Animecon style at this point. The first version just didn't work. I disliked everything in the character and it just did not match the picture of her I had in my mind.

The first Animecon ad.
So I did a new one. It is very important for me to be able to stand behind my work and with the second version I could.

The second version of the Animecon ad.

Funnily enough not many people have even seen these ads. In the end every magazine wanted a full page ad and had mostly no use for the half page ones. By the time I learned about the problem there just wasn't time left to make new ones. Time was running out fast.

The flyer design was supposed to be not clearly either Animecon or Finncon so that the flyers could be given to people both in Anime and Sci-fi/Comic happenings. Hence I originally designed the flyer around the Phoenix. As the bird wasn't nearly as distinctive as the android.

But after all the client wanted to use the android. So I designed a picture that hides the anime or western influences as well as possible.

Final flyer
I also did Animecon and Finncon versions of the flyer, they were used for advertising at selected places.
Animecon flyer

Finncon flyer
At this point I was itching to get properly started with the poster and knew I'd have to be super fast to get them done in time for the print. The poster was the biggest picture I got to make for the project and because of that it was a big thing for me.
But for some reason the poster was a problem child right from the start. The client couldn't decide on the design and finally I had to return to the poster still weeks after finishing it to fix the android somewhat to the customers liking. Still the poster became the most used and loved one of all the visuals I did for the happening. The same illustration is in posters, full page ads, modified in the t-shirts and on the program cover.

Early version of the Finncon poster.
You can easily see in the early version of the picture how I work. After finishing the line art I add the background colors and start coloring characters and things with low opacity on top of it. That way the characters colors interact constantly with the colors of the background in a subtle way.

Painting for the Animecon poster
Painting for the Finncon poster
Final Animecon poster
Final Finncon poster
For the t-shirts and bags I was asked to just use the android and feathers to symbolize the phoenix.

One of the guests of honor Mr. Richard Morgan made my day by wearing the Finncon t-shirt for most of the con weekend. He's also a lovely guy and a brilliant writer so I suggest all of you run out to get his books. And if given the opportunity do yourself a favor and go listen to him speak. Brilliant stuff.

A picture of me failing to take a quick pic of Richard Morgan wearing the shirt without him noticing.
I shall post more pictures of the actual products as I get them. The bags, buttons and shirts simply look best when worn by someone, not as a boring picture file.

And finally, here is the origin story. You can see how the pictures were designed to be used in the story. I'll try and translate the text as soon as possible and post it in english too.

As the final work I fixed the con program for print. Of that I must say that I fought to the end as I felt it would not work the way the client wanted it done. But in the end the client is always right and I did what asked. Sadly, people had a very hard time understanding the idea of the program, even if the design of it seemed to be generally liked.

And there you have it. One of the biggest projects I've ever done and most definitely one of the most trying ones. I'm still more than happy with the outcome. Seeing thousands of people wearing and carrying your designs is an insane feeling and wonderful enough to wash away all the problems in the project.

I hope you all liked this little look to the project. I might still some day post sort of "directors cut" versions of these but I'm fairly sure you've all seen more then enough androids for a while :)

My better half, partner in crime and co-creator of the backstory Sippo Mentunen wrote a con report about the happening itself. It's well worth the read and opens the projects background a bit more. So go check it out

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Batgirl by Adam Hughes

I'll just post this Batgirl coloring first and then get on with the Finncon | Animecon 2011 posts.

The for posting this is that I again bumped into this pic online, credited as an Adam Hughes original. Which the line art obviously is but the colors are 100% done by me. I finally gave up and added a signature to the pic. This is one of the first pics I ever colored so it is pretty messy. I just don't feel this is anywhere near the level of coloring Adam Hughes does so I'd hate people thinking this is also colored by him.

Original post in DeviantArt

Monday, 18 July 2011

Case: Finncon/Animecon 2011 (Part 1)

Finncon | Animecon 2011 for which I made all of the visuals (graphic design and paintings) was held in Turku last weekend. I thought it's high time I post all the stuff I did for the Con. Better late then never, right?

I've been meaning to do it for quite some time but found out that tiny things like writing your thesis, graduating and starting a new job and running a business takes quite a lot of time. But now I'm officially student no more and have settled at the pace of waking up at 6am to go to work (instead of working until 6am and hitting the bed in the various hours after that) it's finally time to get the show on the road.

I have posted some stuff before but never really went through the whole project. So here's an infodump for the beginning.
 "Finncon-Animecon 2011 is a cultural event held 15th to 17th of July 2011 in Turku university facilities. It is Europe’s biggest free, non-profit, and volunteer-organized convention for aficionados of speculative fiction and Japanese popular culture, and it is expected to have more than 10,000 visitors of all ages, from Finland as well as abroad during these three days. As the name suggests, Finncon/Animecon is formed by two jointly organized events, Finncon and Animecon." -
What was my job then? I was asked to do this tiny list of things:
  • Logo
  • Web layout
  • Advertising
  • Flyer
  • Poster
  • Business card
  • T-Shirt
  • Bags
  • Program
  • Buttons

Yeah, that is a lot of stuff. Especially as I had to do all of it twice.
The idea was that all the advertising would be done in two different styles. Finncon was western (american comic) and Animecon was Japanese (Anime / Manga). As the theme of the happening was technology meets mythology there were two characters portraying these concepts. Finncon Ry who commissioned the work from me had the idea of using a phoenix. As I felt that only portrayed the mythological side I suggested adding an android for the technology. They liked the idea so that's what we went with.

I started the project like any other, by doing concepts and figuring out the backstory. When same characters are used in all the marketing it is very important ot know them inside and out. It is impossible (at least for me) to portray personality or any kind of feeling in characters if I don't know what makes them tick. Quite quickly I realised that the story would be a perfects backdrop for all the pictures. So all the pictures I did for the project can be put side by side and like that tell the story of how the android and the phoenix met. I shall post the whole story (sadly still only in Finnish) later in this post. But now, concepts.

Early android concepts
The final Finncon android concept
Early Animecon android concept
I am really NOT a manga artist so as I you can see I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning

Final Animecon android concepts
Early phoenix concepts. At this point I was just trying to figure out bird anatomy.
Final phoenix concepts
Phoenix color concept

I didn't really have as much time for the concept stage I would have liked to and had to do most of the color testing when making the web headers and designing the layouts for both the Finncon- and Animecon pages. I decided early on that I wanted the bird to land on the androids reached hand in this picture.

Here are some early color tests.

This one has the original Anime version. Later on I realised that anime characters are rarely showed from the side and tilted the head more.
The final Animecon lineart but the colors still need tweaking.
The final Finncon lineart but the colors still need tweaking.
Final Animecon header.
Final Finncon header.
The final layout for Animecon
The final layout for Finncon
As you can see I had at this point also designed the logo and decided the color schemes for both cons. All through the marketing Finncon is black and Animecon white.

To prevent this text from becoming the longest post known to man I think it's best that I divide it to few different posts. And well, because I need to get up in a few hours to go to work :D So this is the end of part one. If all goes well part two will follow soon.