Zebra custom die-cut hangtag

I’ve already posted a couple of times about the Grevy’s zebra character design process. But now I want to share the process of designing the hangtag that the zebra character was developed for. The idea was to create something that would hang from a plush animal, and would show the illustration of the animal, its name, some good facts about it and its endangered status, and present the WWF logo and proceeds line and a barcode.

I printed the thing and actually hung it on a zebra plushy I have and took a few snaps of that, and it’s adorable, so those will be included too. But first things first: the original concept sketches for the tag.


Not the most exciting tag shapes, I know. At this point, I was primarily concerned with getting some idea of how to incorporate the Ethiopian tibeb patterns, which can be very simple or very complex and use lots of colors. Traditionally, they are patterns made in a strip at the hem of a garment, and can be of varying widths. The most common patterns I saw used in my research were based on diamonds, and that’s what I used.

A couple of examples from good old Google of authentic tibeban:

Figuring out a better die-cut shape came later. It was made by uniting several elongated diamond shapes (it’s everywhere!) stacked over each other.

custom die guide

The magenta guide shows the shape, with the general location of the zebra character. I like its funky angles, and I think people would be more inclined to physically touch it because of its odd and irregular shape. Cute zebra on the front is a bonus.

Onward. Doing the tibeb patterns was really the trickiest bit. The goal was to use several rich and vivid colors in the patterns (in keeping with tibeban Google found for me to draw from), but not too many different colors, and lay “hems” of various patterns next to each other, but have each pattern be distinguishable next to the others, and use bold zebra black and white for text/text-boxes so they would stand out, AND not do anyone’s head in with a crazy jumble. Et voila.

It works! I think. Shown here with die guide and bleeds, which were cut off by my handy X-ACTO blade after printing to some cardstock.

My home printer is a basic inkjet, so there was some color quality loss, but not too bad. Gluing two funky shapes back-to-back while trying to get the edges and corners lined up just right was way harder than I imagined. Which reminded me a) why I don’t do a lot of fiddly crafts (I have big fingertips and no patience) and b) that I need to make myself learn paper cutting (I need more dexterity and patience). Sisyphean task? Only time will tell.

Finally, for the best part of this whole project: the plushy with the hangtag on it. Just to be clear, I did not go to a store and buy this plushy just for this occasion. I already had it. Yep.


Zebra character final

The finished version of the zebra character is here! Changes made between the WIP2 version and this one are kind of minimal, but I think they make her look better overall: the right arm was pulled away from her body to be less likely to “disappear” from the arm and body stripes blending. Accordingly, the stripes and shadows were adjusted.

Also, green background this time, just to be different. Actually, the three background colors I’ve shown so far are, funnily enough, the three main colors I’m using in the patterns on the hangtag, which I will post here when it’s done.

And now for the zebra!

character final

Project 1 – Real Problems, Real Solutions, pt 2

Here are some of the campaign materials in progress, in the first stages of designing. At this point, I had only gotten the button and pillow box/seed packet done with color in Illustrator, and the brochure, info card, and plant card into preliminary layout in InDesign. I didn’t even have a layout for the print ad yet!

But that changed pretty soon. I started developing the brochure first, figuring that would set the tone and theme for all the remaining items, and I could adjust the button and pillow box as needed after that. The illustrations were done in Illustrator and the layout finished in InDesign. Same for the print ad, which followed the brochure.

I narrowed the fonts down from the comps stage, to 3, which I’m way more comfortable with than 4, especially if they’re all different. And it’s pretty clear I’m reusing whole chunks of the floral pattern. For some reason, this felt like cheating at first, but saved SO MUCH TIME over generating different patterns for each doc, which was my original dumb idea.

Using the patterns and the other motifs, I filled in the layouts of the two cards, and I ended up doing them in Illustrator completely, no InDesign finalizing. The pillow box and the button were last. The pillow box had a re-color and font update, and the button didn’t really change beyond having the side print font updated.

Overall, this was a really fun project, and the first time I’ve done most of these items. Hoping at least a few of them will end up in my portfolio.

Finally, here they all are mocked up for extra viewing fun!

Blog Goals

Hi again, Internet. I’m revamping this here blog for another class I’m currently taking, and just laying out some thoughts about what I want to do with it, realistically. In the blog’s earlier incarnation as a repository for drawing class assignments, I posted some aspiration along the lines of wanting to continue putting up sketches and arts-in-progress once the class was over.

Did I do that? No! Why? A bit of the lazies. Also, I kinda forgot about it. Also also, there were shinier things over there.

But instead of making yet another blog for this other class, I’m just gonna juice up this one again.

What I aim to do now is kind of the same as what I wanted to do before. Aside from posting class assignments, which will all be tagged “GRD241” (as this one is!), I want to post…well, sketches and arts-in-progress.

I’ve truly never been good at maintaining a blog of any kind. I get bored easily. But keeping a little digital sketchbook doesn’t seem so hard, if I think about it that way.

What’s different this time, you ask? Me, in various ways. Some things in my life have settled out a little, and I’m more committed to it this time. Last year, post-drawing class, I somehow found extremely little time to do what I love most, which is illustrations, and that sucked, so this year is not going to see a repeat of that. I just turned 30 on the New Year, so call it a birthday revelation, or a New Year’s resolution, or any and all of the above.

So this will be a sketchblog. Hence the new and improved(?) name of it, “Sketchblah.”

(The previous name was something really pretentious. Oh, 29-year-old me, what were you on?)

To wrap up, a little about how I approach the design process: I tend to start by foraging, by which I mean I go looking for lots of examples of the kind of thing I’m working on, and I gather them up and stare at them. Then I start doodling, going off what’s in front of me at first, just to get my hand around what’s possible. At that point I start taking it apart and seeing if I can mess it up (in a good way). A lot of early sketches are really illustration-y and full of details which almost never (need to) make it into the final design.

That was supposed to be insightful, but yeah.