Branding Toontown | Backstage Toontown
Posted by The Toontown Team on November 8, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Hello Toons! Ever wondered how the art you see on the website, throughout social media, and at the conventions are made? You’re in luck, because today’s Backstage Post is about the joys of being a Brand Artist! My name is June, or Joyful Roxy in-game, and I am one of the Brand Artists here working with the Toontown Team. Also, I'm a big fan of writing fun facts down -- so you'll definitely get to see some fun facts about drawing.
What is Brand Art?
Brand Artists help create all the official illustrations you see on the website (such as the patterns & the website banner), at conventions, and on social media! As a Brand Artist, you are expected to know how to draw and replicate the Toontown style we have here -- and trust me, my personal art style is not like Toontown Rewritten’s. It’s crucial to be able to replicate the style in order to stay on brand. We love our consistency, after all!
How do I become a Brand Artist?
While it’s crucial to be able to replicate the Toontown style, there's more to it than just that! It’s also about understanding how art works. It’s ideal to have at least a few years of experience in drawing -- we need artists who understand the basics of shading, composition, color theory, and perspective. It sounds like a lot, but these are good fundamentals to even be a good artist in the first place. Being an artist for any position on this team requires collaboration and handling critiques, as well.
If you are interested in applying as a Brand Artist, we highly encourage you to send in more than just character drawings. We like to see characters in environments, and even some sketches so we know how you think in the creative process! We also require all Brand Artists to use Adobe Photoshop CS5 and newer. This is because as artists, we all collaborate and work together to create something unique.
As a Brand Artist, we also work using vector tools via the pen tool in Photoshop! No, it’s not “true” vector (Adobe Illustrator is shaking their fist at silly old Photoshop now), but it's able to help with resizing. Did you know the website banner is over 20 feet tall in real life? The source PSD requires a lot of computer power to even open with how complex it is! We do need the ability to upscale or downscale any files for any printing needs, so vector is always better there.
Speaking of printing needs, we want our Brand Artists to know the basics of printing from digital to real work. Don’t worry if you’re unfamiliar, as this won’t disqualify you from the position! We always help train our artists for things they don’t quite know yet. It’s easier to train technology than it is to train someone on how to draw. So for this, we look for people who already understand how to draw.
The Artistic Process
We do all sorts of brand work, but for today, I am here to talk in-depth about the ToonFest 2019 poster we created this year. This will walk you through a start to finish illustration. Fun fact: this took about 36 or so hours over the course of 3 weeks from approved sketch to final product. Yeah, I haven’t even gotten down to the MONTHS yet.
While character related drawings don’t typically go through a thumbnailing process, I wanted to focus on one where it’s creating a fully realized drawing. Without further ado, let’s hop to it!
The Thumbnailing Process
Most artists want to jump right into the sketching phase (I know I do!), but it’s easier to know what you are creating by working with small sketches called thumbnails. These are typically meant to get composition and ideas down. Don't worry about your perspective, or if a drawing is going to look good. I tend to spend about 5 to 10 minutes per thumbnail. Every artist works differently, but for me, I like to find my composition and depth of a drawing.
Convention season typically begins in the first quarter of the year. So in this case, I began working on the poster around early February until May. The Silly Meter was a really big task due to how complex it is! I was admittedly very nervous to tackle it. But thanks to the encouragement and teamwork of my fellow artists and non-artists alike, I was able to make it happen. For the initial concepts, I wanted to understand the silhouette of the Silly Meter so I began quickly doodling the shapes. I like to think in shapes rather than seeing something whole.
One of the tricky things was to avoid making similar perspectives to 2018 ToonFest’s poster. And that’s hard with something as wacky as this! Originally, I drew Doctor Surlee in, but we quickly decided he should be absent from it due to storyline decisions. Around this time, a team member suggested to have a special effect for the first Silly Meter Maxing, making every Toon float in the air. Inspired, I created a thumbnail for this idea which inspired the real in-game Silly Meter maxing! It’s like inspiration-ception or something.
Pro Tip: During the thumbnail process, if any work you are doing has text placement, find it now and work the image around it rather than trying to figure out afterwards.
The Sketching Process
When the thumbnail is approved, we come to the main part of creating a sketch. During this stage, I set up my canvas to ensure it will print correctly. This means changing the color settings to CMYK and creating proper bleeds, which is where paper will be cut so no white edges are visible.
This process alone is typically what takes me the longest time, because you go through so many revisions. The blue sketch was my first pass, but it wasn’t right so I asked my fellow teammates for assistance. And did it come! During this phase we do a process called “redlining”. Redlining can be any color, but it’s usually red, hence the name! Basically, it means that an artist will go over your drawing in red lines to add corrections to your work. When it happens, we have to remember it’s to better the art, not to insult your craft.
The Rendering Process
When a sketch is fully approved, the Rendering Process begins! Rendering happens to be my FAVORITE part of the Brand Art cycle! During the Rendering Process, colors and shading are applied to the drawing that actually will make it come to life. This process isn’t immune to feedback, however! A trick I love to do is to check my values. This helps make certain aspects of a drawing read better. I have a layer that is black and white so I can quickly check and assess. I usually don’t get a good read until the shading happens, but I also like to do it during the flat color process.
The finishing touches are made and voila! You got yourself a finished brand piece. After the critiques and hard work, of course. And it only took 3 whole months! That sounds like a lot of time, but it's all worth it when the final piece is done.
Got what it takes to be a Brand Artist?
Brand art is REALLY rewarding and challenging. You’re going to struggle and make mistakes. But our art department is truly one-of-a-kind and will help you through the struggles you face! We all are with the same mindset of making sure we deliver something professional. Interested in becoming a Brand Artist? Send an application in today!