Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Making of the New SOTW Logo – Part 1

This is from Kim Pelletier, the resident Sax on the Web artist.
(Earlier Sax on the Web logos.)

With Sax On The Web’s 10 year anniversary behind us and now with its recent upgrade and new look, I decided that it’s time for a new logo. I have been pondering on this for quite some time and by now have a clear idea of what I want for the new SOTW logo.

I want the saxophone bigger among other things – his name is “Buddy” by the way – While his name has remained unknown for many years, Buddy, the main character and my other saxophone characters are certainly not unfamiliar to the SOTW community.

So for this new rendition of the SOTW logo, I thought I’d do something special and give you the making of the logo from the rough sketch on paper to the pixels on your screen.


~ Kim

So it all starts here, where I set-up the font, font size and come-up with an interesting and visually pleasing placement of the “Sax On The Web” and the “by Harri Rautiainen” typography in Photoshop – At this point, the colours are not important, I’ll change that later. I just want a quick layout of the text that I will print on paper in grey scale.

Here is the printout on the light table. Placing a blank sheet of paper on top, I will quickly outline the right edge of the right-most letters to indicate where the logotype ends. Then I draw a sketch of Buddy...

Okay, a very simplified sketch of Buddy

Once I’m satisfied with the placement – this is of course approximate – I proceed to draw the general shape of the body and the distinctive saxophone bell.

When I’m happy with that, I’m adding the details, keys, rods, pearls, eye, mouth and… sunglasses! That’s because saxophonists are cool and they hang out at this cool place called SOTW but Buddy is a saxophone, so of course he’s got to be the coolest.

Turning the light table on again, I position the arms in an attractive way with the blue pencil (That’s what animation cartoonists use. It’s easy to erase and a whole lot less messier than graphite pencil) Then I draw the hands. Buddy’s right hand (down) will be partly hidden by a talk-bubble but I still draw it anyway.

Once I’m pleased, I will draw over the arms and hands, and clarify details that are difficult to see in red pencil.

Now, on a new blank sheet of paper the final sketch is ready to be cleaned with black, permanent ink – this delicate operation requires assurance and is not recommended after drinking 3 espressos – If I mess-up I could always liquid-paper-it-out, but it isn’t very practical since I wouldn’t see through it on the light table.

The other option is to start over but no worries, that’s not going to happen.

I begin to clean up the arms first, exaggerating a little bit on the thickness of the line. This will be useful when I get to the thick-and-thin part. I’ll get to that part later but the general rule goes that arms, hands, legs and under the feet have to be thicker. That contributes to set-in the character in space and makes for a more dynamic character.

Once the arms are done, I clean up the rest of the saxophone, outlining the front-most shapes to the shapes behind and so on. For now I’m doing a simple clean line to get the line out down, making sure to close every lines that joins to another.

In this case, there are little imperfections in the line out, but nothing that can’t be fixed into the next step; the thick-and-thin – Simply put, that consists of going over the lines to make them thicker in some places and thinner in others – There are a certain set of pre-established cartooning rules to follow, like what I said about the arms and legs earlier, and a set of self-established rules that I’ve developed over time, setting a style for my saxophone cartoons characters.

Finally, Buddy is ready to be scanned and digitally coloured. We’ll see that in part 2 of The Making of the New SOTW Logo.

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