Behind the scenes on a very beachy Christmas

Behind the scenes on a very beachy Christmas

Christmas gives us an opportunity to create something unique – something to celebrate the season and the year that has been, and the year to come. Each year we try to create something engaging, fun and different.

Some years these ideas flow easily, others take a little more time. The KRD Christmas project is put on the WIP list on 1 July, and we keep a file of ideas. These then tend to be formed into a single direction later in the year.

This year’s theme ‘a very beachy Christmas’ developed to combine the shared European (winter) history of Christmas with the Australian experience of a summertime celebration.

Starting point is the end format

Our starting point is knowing the formats we want to produce. In years past, this was mostly printed with a simple digital accompaniment. This year we started with the knowledge we wanted to create an animation as the primary piece. We also need a suite of material for social media, emails and our website. In the studio it gets a job number and treated like a client project, and is worked on incrementally as workflow allows.

Our starting point for this years animation sequence was Australian flora and beach landscape imagery. This becomes the overarching theme and narrative.

This is the point where we create (now digital) mood boards to capture the type of imagery, colour, vibe and aesthetic for the project. Initially we work on simple sketches to communicate ideas within the team.

 

Inspiration

When deciding the graphic style of the pieces we find a lot of varied inspirational images for both techniques and styles. The beach theme brought the broad brush stroke textures to our rendering, reminiscent of sand. The illustration components are simple shapes that get their personality from the colour and textures used.

Sometimes along the way, there are happy accidents. In this case, when storyboarding an animation of a flower made from beach themed icons, it was noted that the final frame looked a lot like a snowflake. And so, the idea of a summer snowflake began.

The idea that a traditional motif from a European Christmas could be flipped to an Australian summer theme was the hook needed to bring the project to conclusion. Taking the motif of the snowflake, we altered this to apply to summertime.

Thematic colour choices

Initially we were working with the traditional Christmas colours, but this was not creating the look we were after. Changing the colours of a piece can do so much to change the feel and the messaging.

To really push this to an Australian theme, we needed to find a colour pallet that communicates ‘Australian’ and ‘summer’ that was also beautiful and sophisticated. We drew inspiration for our colour pallet from Bluey, which so wonderfully illustrates the Australian landscape using tertiary colours for nuance and feeling.

Final storyboarding and test animation

The next storyboard was made to show how we could bridge the two vastly different Christmas environments together. This included how the scenes would transition, how the individual elements would move and the timing. Also, how this would incorporate our Christmas messaging. An idea of a scene was developed for the summer snowflake to morph into, including an iconic seagull who would become the star of the production.

All elements were then built and illustrated as separate components to be synchronised within the animation, with final testing focusing on the speed of transitions and incorporation of sound effects and music to complete the scene.

Reaching our audience

To serve a business purpose, the animation must also incorporate important dates and information. The end credits are a signoff to the animation, but are also covered elsewhere to ensure consistent messaging. From a business perspective, it would be nice to think everyone in our audience will watch all of our video. We know however, that audiences are fragmented, and consume media and information from varied sources. As such, it’s important that vital messaging is repeated in different formats and locations.

The final step in what becomes our ‘Christmas Campaign’ is to ensure that our messaging is distributed effectively. That means sending the video as part of an eDM, incorporating matching messaging in our email signatures, posting to socials, and even putting this article up on our recourses page. Ensuring that messaging is across as many touch points as possible to reach our audience how they like to consume information.

What makes designer’s tick?

What makes designer’s tick?

Graphic design is a profession with eclectic influences. There are strands from fine art, from pop culture, from all forms of media, throw in history, aligned occupations, a dash of experimentation and wide-ranging interests from outside commercial work. Constant curiosity about the world is vital to keep imagination firing and updated on industry trends. Each designer will have their own set of topics, ideas and activities that intrigue them.

We highly recommend student and entry level designers have a broad range of interests to visually energise their thinking. It might be as simple as a daily walk through a park to experience the weather and its ever-changing patterns. It is important never to limit your visual horizons. All designers should aspire to life-long learning.

Niche collections

Designers from all professions are known for quirky personal collections. Some may seek out obscure album cover art. Some hunt around for historical packaging of one specific product category. There are collections of original Penguin book covers, matchbooks, Matchbox® cars, hats, shoes, figurines, menus from cafes, postcards, watches, and jazzy tea pots. Literally as broad as the limitations of time and budget. The important take out, is always seeking and curating, learning about the world beyond daily parameters.

Wide ranging artistic activities

Creative outlets are not limited to collecting. Some designers apply their skills to cooking, making fancy baked goods or complex recipes, admiring the culinary art of chefs. Some will collect and grown bonsai, immersing themselves in the intricate patterns and small cuts required. Fine art painting, printmaking, illustration, calligraphy, and life drawing are also popular. Many designers will take up gardening, starting with a few pot plants and increasing the scope throughout their life. Visiting art galleries, museums, architectural landmarks are also high on the list of engaging activities.

Music and musicians

A cursory search will demonstrate the close and inextricable link between all forms of music and graphic design. The interchange is obvious, and the trove of cover art is a testament to this. There are many celebrated musicians who studied at art school, and in particular, graphic design, prior to their musical careers. Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones, David Byrne and Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads, David Bowie, Pete Townshend and Freddie Mercury, to name a few. In turn, many designers have music as another creative pursuit. For example, playing an instrument, joining a band, or going to gigs, not to mention, listening to music while working.

Non-commercial work

If you question a designer, many will have a non-commercial outlet for their personal projects. This is the space where their creativity can run free. We are going to share some of ours here.

Kym Ramadge / Design Director: in my spare time I pursue fine art photography, primarily working in black and white, focusing on long exposure, minimalism, detail, texture, and pattern. First introduced to photography during high school and codified during tertiary studies, in the last 10 years have reached obsessive levels of interest, as time permits. Working as a professional graphic designer has meant collaborating with many talented commercial and landscape photographers. I’ve learnt something from each of them along the way. The difference with my personal work is, I am not under pressure to get the shot on the day, I can take my time, refining, re-shooting and re-visiting locations. Working primarily with digital, I have also joined the current Zen wave, slowing down and again shooting 35mm film. I was humbled to have three of my images commended in the 2022 Mono Awards.

500px.com/kymramadge
Instagram.com/kymramadge

Emma Echter / Lead Designer: in my spare time I alternate between illustration and quilting. During the Melbourne lockdowns, I invested a lot of time honing my illustration skills. As a young girl I dreamed of being a professional illustrator – creating illustrations for all my school projects. I started quilting about 15 years ago, and quickly fell in love with it – it is tactile, versatile and when hand-pieced, portable. Quilting is a way of illustrating and creating graphic patterns that is as close to 3-dimensional artwork as I can get. The next step in my creative journey is to find a way to combine illustration and quilting, and with the availability of digital fabric printing, the possibilities are endless…

Instagram.com/boldarcher.au
Instagram.com/emmae_illustration

Our practical tips for illustrators

Our practical tips for illustrators

Here are our tips for all illustrators, both traditional and digital. If you are starting out, these should help you on the way. If you are experienced, you might pick up a new idea or two.

Tips for all artists:

Number one is to thumbnail your concepts. Keep these rough, you are trying to get an idea down. Once you find something you connect with, explore the idea more by refining it. The time you spend on thumbnails will be tailored to the project brief. It will vary between 5 minutes and much longer, depending on complexity and elements required.

Tips for digital artists:

  • Firstly, split your windows. Set up one window for you to work with and another to view, scaled to the size of that window. This way, when you zoom out your artwork, you will have kept what you have drawn to scale.
  • Secondly, it is important to check your drawing by duplicating and mirroring it. This will help you check the shapes are even and/or correct to the physicality of the subject. Some illustration programs have a setting to allow ‘canvas flip’. The important point is to do this early and frequently. This tip also applies to branding or icon development in Adobe Illustrator®.
  • Layers are one of the handiest tools for digital artists. Make as many of them as you need. If the file processing slows, save a new version of your work, merge and remove layers no longer required.
  • When incorporating program effects into your work, keep experimenting and check the effects enhance your visual. Don’t be afraid to try these effects, used with skill they can add great depth to your work.
  • Save your work regularly. This cannot be stressed enough. If you are using lots of layers and effects, the last thing you want is a computer freeze or crash resulting in hours of detailed work being lost.
  • Create a layer/new document for your palettes. If your art program doesn’t allow you create colour palettes, then make your own. We suggest creating a layer or a new document and place a rough circle of the colour in use. Then if needed again, use the eyedrop tool to pick it up.

Final thoughts for all artists: