Wednesday, October 16, 2013

21st Amendment Beer Project - "He Said/He Said"

I recently had the opportunity to work on a packaging project with 21st Amendment Beer, based in San Francisco. I was contacted by TBD Advertising in Bend Oregon to see if I was interested in the project. After talking to the Design and Interactive Project manager (Ben) on the phone about what exactly my role would be, I also talked to the production manager to work out the details of the timeline and the budget.

As it was explained to me, the beer company, 21st Amendment was debuting a new beer in their "Insurrection series". This series is in addition to their beers available year-round, and their seasonal beers. The insurrection series is comprised of beers that are available for a short, limited time, and may or may not be re-released again in the future.

One difference with this series, aside from the availability, is the packaging. There are 4 cans in a carrier, instead of the usual 6, the price is slightly more, and the beer is of a slightly higher quality than the norm. My job was to create an illustration for can and carrier. The illustration was basically the same image for both, but with slight alterations.

The first thing that was sent to me was a rough art-direction document showing the basic concept. This is what it looked like:

They included a sketch of how the can would appear, as well as examples of my work, pulled from the web, indicating the kind of look they wanted for the illustration.

So the idea was that there would be 2 different kinds of beer in the carrier, made by 2 different brewers (Dick and Shaun). Both beers would be a pumpkin flavored ale, but one would be a dark porter and the other would be a lighter tripel. The only way to know which is which would be to taste them. The basic design concept was to piece together the facial profiles of the 2 brewers, one upside-down and one right-side up. The porter beer brewer would have a darker color scheme than the lighter, tripel beer brewer. Then type would be added, telling the story of how the two guys met, each with their own version, hence the name of the beer "He Said He Said".

Before I even had the final art direction document, or any reference photos of the faces, I did a quick sketch just to test out this idea of putting together 2 faces in profile, like puzzle pieces. 

Here is my initial sketch:

The faces are very generic looking, and kind of standard for how I draw faces in a stylized way. Maybe that's why these look a tad creepy...but I digress...

Pretty soon I received a much larger more involved PDF from Ben that had all the specifications and a clarification of the concept.

It showed me the colors they were considering:
The basic layout of the box (below is a box from a previous beer, and below that, the mock-up of the beer I was working with):

They also provided me with some reference photos of the 2 men, plus the basic can designs:

Once I had a chance to look over this document and get a better idea of the concept, I quickly sketched out the faces, but trying to use the reference photos provided. I also requested some more reference photos of Dick, since there were not any close-up profile shots provided. They sent me these:

 Below is sketch #2 (Shaun is pictured on the right, Dick on the left):Below is the sketch #3. The faces look a little less weird this time, but still kind of off. I found trying to fit them together, while maintaining a likeness, to be somewhat of a challenge.

Below is sketch #4:

With sketch #4, I was trying a more angular look with the lines. You can see it emphasized in the hair and cheekbones. I also chose to do a profile type of eye here, unlike the frontal view eye in sketch #3. I wanted to give them some variety to choose from. Sketch #3 and #4 were the first 2 sketches I sent to Ben.

Here were the main points of feedback.

-Find a balance between softer/curvier version of Shaun in sketch #3, and the more angular version in sketch #4.

-Keep the overall look of the sketch more angular, rather than curvy

-add a lip snarl to one of the mouths to "make it less sensual". They inserted a picture of Elvis' mouth in the email for reference:

Taking all that into consideration, I came up with sketch #5 below:

I was pretty happy with this version of Shaun. I sofened his cheekbone a bit, but still tried to keep some angular lines in the wrinkles and nose and ear. The hair was kept textured looking, but slightly softened from the previous version. I also tried to work in the Elvis snarl, which is kind of tricky in profile. I de-emphasized the line of the top lip in Shaun (since he has thin lips in the photos), and also drew more a "suggestion" of teeth rather than each individual one. For Dick. I tried to keep a balance of angular and curvy. I softened some of his wrinkles and jawline, but tried to keep the hair angular. So this sketch was sent of to Ben, and I awaited feedback....

The only real change requested was that I add an open mouth to Dick's profile as well. So I erased his mouth and sent them this revised version. Sketch #6 below:

So the weekend went by, and the following week I received some more feedback about the sketch. Here were the main points:-Add an upper lip to both faces-Make the overall sketch more angular-Make their expressions more quizzical (they inserted some pictures in the email for reference, including one of Hugh Laurie...)

Taking those 3 main points into consideration, I made sketch #7 below:
Everything was angularized again, the hair, the jawlines, the wrinkles etc.  The main thing here was to work on the mouth, and the general look of "quizzicalness". I had some trouble with this, since I only had half a face to express this emotion. I played around with the eyebrows a little and made the eyes a bit more open. I'm not sure if the eyebrow alteration just made the faces look evil, but I couldn't think of a whole lot to do here. As for the mouth, I made the lips more angular on Dick and gave them both upper lips. While still trying to incorporate the Elvis snarl on Shaun, the added upper lip seemed to make things look awkward. His chin also looked funny, a bit too stuck out, but I was still trying to balance Dick's forehead. I didn't want him to have a caveman forehead. Regardless of not feeling completely happy with it, this was sent to Ben who then showed it to the client. This was the first sketch the clients saw. Keep in mind, the clients were the ones whose faces I was drawing...Ben emailed me back saying the client was excited about the sketch. It was a bit of a relief because at this point I was feeling less satisfied with my sketch with every subsequent version. They did have some things they wanted me to work on with the sketch.-Fix Shaun's mouth ("it looks smushed")-Make Dick's hair taller (reaching for the sky)-Work on Dick's face to achieve a better overall likeness.Even though it was mostly Dick that they wanted me to work on, I also made some alterations to Shaun. I pushed Shaun's forehead in a bit, and pushed Dick's forehead out a little. I reworked Shaun's cheekbone and mouth completely. For Dick, I changed the overall shape of his head, made his hair more into tall spikes, moved his eye and eyebrow down a bit, altered the shape of his nose, gave him a fuller jawline and thicker neck. Also, made his lips a tad fuller. For both guys, I added a bit of shirt. The necks seemed to be getting a bit giraffe-like at this point. I had to make Shaun's neck a  bit long to balance out the height of Dick's new "taller" hair. I emailed Ben the new sketch #8 below:
He emailed back requesting I play down the lips and reduce the shading so it didn't look like they were wearing lipstick. So I erased a bit and sent back sketch# 9 below:
His feedback points were:-Reduce the upper lip on both guys-Less bottom teeth showing
-Give Shaun his lip curl back (it had disappeared in the last revision in an attempt to make his mouth less strange looking).After talking to Ben on the phone, we decided to get rid of the bottom teeth altogether. Below was the sketch after the changes. Sketch #10:The sketch was shown to the client again, and was approved . I was able to move forward to the creation of the final drawing. At this point, it had been about 1 month since the start of the project, just to give you an idea of time. Using my dip pens (and 2 kinds of nibs), I drew out the final portraits on paper, which I had been itching to do for a couple weeks. Below, this is what the final drawing looked like. I had to scan the drawing in two parts and merge them together in Photoshop. I did some cleanup work (removed a big ink smudge from the middle of the drawing) and upped the levels and contrast.
From that point, I started to playa round with color in Photoshop. I was using my trackpad to do this, so it looked pretty crazy, but it was just to get an idea of different combinations. For the colors, we were limited to 6. I knew that we were required to use orange as a color because of the pumpkin flavor tie-in. Ben sent me this as a starting point for what they were thinking for colors:
So it looked like we would probably be using some kind of orange for Dick (the darker beer brewer), and a cream color as the main color for Shaun (the lighter beer brewer). Both faces would need some kind of monochromatic shading color (so dark orange and a darker cream or beige), plus black for the lines and white for the eyes and teeth and highlights. That was six colors, and no more could be added.I came up with these quick color study below, using the 6 colors and slight variations of them:
Ben said he liked the orange color from study "D" and the beige color from study "A", but wanted to know if I could add some beige/cream accents to Dick, and some orange accents to Shaun (crossbreed the colors a bit). He also requested I increase the line thickness of the overall drawing. At first I though the only solution to the line thickness problem was to redraw the whole thing/rescan etc...but I was able to find a way to this in Photoshop thankfully. So I did some more color studies (using the feedback given to me) on my now, thicker line drawing, and came up with these color options:

I used the shirts to try and crossbreed the colors a bit. But then I realized that the background would probably be similar colors to the shirts, so I tried to differentiate the shirts from the backgrounds with adding pattern to the shirts. I sent the 3 new color studies to Ben and he came back with the following feedback:

-Crossbreed the colors more (maybe add orange facial shadows to Shaun and some cream highlights to Dick

-Darken Dick's teeth to the beige color so they don't stand out so much

-Add a collar to the shirts ("they look like scarves")

Below is what the revised color study looked like. It was approved.

At this point, I could start to work on the final color file. I needed to work on the facial shadows though. To do this, I decided to place a piece of paper over my actual line drawing, and using a brush and black ink, paint in the areas I wanted to be shadows. I wanted the looseness of the brush to come through in the final work. So I did this process, and below is what the papers looked like:

I also had to draw the lines and shadows for the new collars, and the patterns on the shirts:

These brush drawings were then scanned in and converted to color layers which I could place underneath my line drawing. The large areas of color (like the faces, hair, shirts and backgrounds) were added in Photoshop just using the paint bucket, magic wand and paint brush tool. 
Above is how the final file for the can turned out. This image had extra space behind each head to be cropped off as necessary for each individual can design. 

I was then able to begin working on the images for the carrier (or box). This image was basically going to be the file as the cans, except that I needed to separate the faces so each guy could be featured by himself on the sides of the box. 

While the 2 faces looked okay when put together, they looked kind of off when separated. The foreheads needed to be pushed back, as well as the chins. This required cutting and pasting the original drawing, as well as selecting certain areas of the drawing and using the transform tool quite a bit. Once the line drawing was altered, I had to then alter the color layers so they would fit the now slightly different line drawing. This is how the faces looked once they were altered and separated. Dick had to have his profile flipped horizontally so the men could be facing each other right side up on the carrier.

The new profiles were then sent off to Ben for review. He responded with the following changes.-Remove the strip of hair alongside the forehead of Shaun (this was originally added to help connect the faces when they were attached).-Make the lips on both men protrude a little more.-Add bottom teeth back in. It was suggested these be taken out during a sketch revision earlier.The teeth were then added back in using Photoshop. This was not a big deal because so little of the bottom teeth are visible. With Shaun's mouth, I had to alter the original line drawing and make his lips protrude more. With Dick, it was more a matter of pushing his teeth back, rather than making his lips protrude. I also altered the area just below his nose to help with this. Below you can compare the before and after. It's subtle.....

After getting this approved by Ben, I went ahead and gave the same treatment to the lower half of Shaun's face. I was ready to send the final files, but Ben told me to hold off, as there seemed to be imminent further changes to the color scheme and Shaun's hair. Four days later I got an email that said we were basically good to go, except for the following changes:

-add the bottom teeth to the faces on the file for the can design as well
-add highlights to Shaun's hair, similar to that of Dick's hair

The reason the highlights needed to be added was because it had been decided the color scheme would be swapped. Dick previously had the orange skin/cream shirt color scheme, while Shaun had had the cream skin/orange shirt color scheme. Now it was reversed and looked like this…(the cream had been altered to a noticeably darker - almost tan color)

Because Shaun's hair was now orange and the background was also orange (albeit a darker shade) there was not much differentiation between the two, hence the highlights needed to be added. It took some time to change the colors because the file I had created did not isolate the colors into layers, the way they appeared in the newly desired color design. 

However, before I could start the changes, I got word from Ben to hold off on that. It sounded like more changes were possibly on the horizon. So a week went by before Ben emailed me again and told me that I was to go ahead with the requested changes to the hair (for the carrier/box file as well as the can file) and bottom teeth (for the carrier/box file). Basically, the highlights and bottom teeth additions needed to be consistent for the carrier and can.

I ended up having to redo the colors on 3 files because the can design was one file, and the isolated portraits of the guys for the carrier were two other files. The sizing of the highlights on the isolated portraits was not the same as the portraits on the can (remember, for the carrier I had to alter the profiles from their previous state on the can since they looked strange when not inter-locked). 

It took day or so to remedy that, and once I had it done I sent all 3 files off to Ben, who came back with an enthusiastic thumbs-up. 

These were the 3 final files (notice how the profiles of the isolated figures are slightly different than those on the can, especially the foreheads and jaws).

Later on Ben sent me some proofs of how the box would look, complete with the accompanying text done created by another illustrator.

Below is what I had initially envisioned for the layout of the box design (this was before the color swap)

So that was basically the end of the project. The start date was May 1st and the end date was July 2nd. It was definitely the longest project I had ever worked on, but it was really a nice change doing some packaging for food/beverage products. Ben was a great help throughout the whole process and always willing to talk on the phone about any questions or concerns that I had. So about 3 1/3 months went by and finally the beer was released in October. I started to see it around Portland in various grocery stores and picked up a box one day to try it. I found both beers to be quite pumpkiny, smooth but with definite spice, and rich. 

This is how the box turned out:

I thought cream color would be used on the box, however the natural color of the box seemed to be the main color. 

And here is how the cans turned out:

Big thanks to Ben for all his guidance on the project, and 21st Amendment Brewing for giving me the chance to work on this great project :)