“Produce a series of illustrations for packaging to be used for a new range of organic biscuits for children. There are three varieties in the range Raisin, Choc Chip and Ginger biscuits. The client specifically wants three illustrations featuring extinct animals interacting in some fun way with a biscuit to be used on the boxes. The drawings should be in full colour, and the client would like the colours to reflect the ‘flavour’ of the biscuit.”
To begin this exercise I looked online (due to covid) to find some examples of packaging that is aimed at children.
The next stage was more tricky than I thought. I started by doing the obvious and googling extinct animals and was met with a long list of creatures. I think the go-to idea for extinct animals is dinosaurs, so I wanted to try and take a different approach and see if I could work with something recognisable but not overused.
Looking further into my options that strayed from the usual dinosaur theme, I realised that there were limitations to what animal I could use. I’m obviously not going to use a creature that has been made extinct due to deforestation or hunting, so they would have to be exciting and recognisable.
I started to think about a trio of characters and put them into categories such as strong/powerful, large/gentle and Wise/majestic
My three chosen animals were:
- Sabertooth Tiger
- Wolly Mammoth
After deciding on my three animals, I wanted to go back and research what was in the market place (if any), for these specific animals. I was not going to tie myself down to the brief and wanted to explore a broader range of food marketed at children.
After researching other brands, I realised that there were not too many to compare. I decided to open up my search to the specific animals as branded foods. I found only a few examples for the Dodo, which led me down a Russian pizza internet wormhole. Others included a brand of sugar cane and a cookie dough company. Each offered a new outlook as to how this animal was used to promote the packaging/franchise.
Next was the Woolly Mammoth in which I found the most material. From crisp bars to energy bars, the Woolly Mammoth looked great as a branded character. I also found a Mexican local chocolate cookie which used the depiction of the animal very well and playfully sold the product to the intended audience.
There was virtually nothing I could find that incorporated a Sabertooth Tiger within its packaging. The only thing I could find was a very old mass-produced cereal box from the film Ice Age, which only just featured my chosen animal on the front. This resulted in searching for its closest cousin, a Tiger. I found a few examples, some obvious and others that where branded for a single location/shop.
Before I felt I had enough research and material to sprout some ideas from, I wanted to revisit my animal choice. Upon researching, I thought, why not look at Dinosaur packaging as I wanted to see if I was missing any design idea opportunities.
I felt I needed to revisit my original choice of animals as I thought they didn’t line up together. I wasn’t sure whether there would be an odd one out. The Dodo seemed like the weaker of the three options. As a branded trio of biscuits, my thoughts were to ditch the Dodo and replace it with an animal that resembles a similar size to the others and may be more recognisable to the audience.
I liked the idea of a Megaladon replacing the dodo, so I started to look at different artist impressions for all of my selected animals. I knew that I wanted to create a cartoon like character for the packaging, keeping it eye-catching but not too in your face.
I think the age group to which the biscuits are aimed at does not hold any bearing on gender boxing. I think that my animal choices would be fitting for a boy or girl at that age. My daughter, who is four holds the same excitement as my six-year-old son when a packet of monster munch, gets offered from the cupboard.
I feel that something gets lost when there is so much going on, so I was looking at a more minimalistic style. Below are three images I found in the style I would like to reproduce.
Having children myself and knowing the heath concerns of what sugar bring, I am much more likely to pick up something like this:
Rather than this…
I completely understand how “pester power” works, but there are more and more modern-day examples of companies selling to the parent rather than to the child. As the world realises more each day, the health situation around sugar, the more pressure is on manufactures to lower these nutritional values and package their product to represent these changes.
Below are some examples:
Finally I looked at colours needed to represent each flavour.
To begin my illustration, I sketched out some rough ideas as thumbnails to try and get a feel for the layout of the packaging. I originally liked the idea of the biscuits being visible through the packaging as seen in my research. I sketched some examples of how my animals may be able to interact with the contents in order to promote the sale.
What I found was this method would work for one animal but not so well for another. I even had an idea of the Megaladon swimming up from the depths like the Jaws poster but would probably hit some copyright issues…
As you can see my first ideas (clockwise) looked too mature and would not look like a children’s snack. I liked the second sketch but this would prove difficult for my other animals. The third sketch is where I started to change direction and think of a smaller more cartoonish illustration, It was also where I decided to ditch the Megaladon. I felt that it did not fit in with them very well, and as you can see from the next sketch, it was hard to place the animal in the frame of the packaging. So I reinstated the Dodo and continued clean up my sketches into some final line work.
I pushed forward in refining my cartoon like idea from my previous sketches and played around with potential body shape ideas. The line work on the right is ditched attempt at creating the animals in illustrator. I was looking at a very clean lined version but soon lost interest and it was far too modern for the idea I had in my head.
This is where my sketches reverted back to my original three animal choices. I quickly sketched each animal, interacting in some way with the product. I thought the idea of the Mammoth sucking a biscuit into his trunk was quite funny and cheeky looking. The Smilodon looks entertaining with a biscuit stuck on his giant from teeth and the Dodo I thought might look good perched up on top of a pile of biscuits (they don’t really do much).
I then refined the sketched further to create some clean line work.
Once I had my illustration ready to detail and colour, I created some titles for my illustrations to sit within. They type I settled for in the end was the hand-drawn style font called Frederika the Greatest. I felt that the font as well as looking fun, gave a sense of homemade value to the product, almost like a children’s book cover. I added the wording “delicious low sugar snack” as I wanted the illustrations to target parents as well as catch the child’s eye.
Below are my three final packaging covers.
I feel that the Mammoth came out really well. I am pleased with his interaction with the biscuits and feel that it looks fun and engaging to both parent and child. Earlier I mentioned the children’s books cover feel to this design as it holds some resemblance to Axel Sheffler’s work (unintentionally).
(Self Reflection: Reproducing this image, I would have changed the Mammoths facial expression to make it look more of an effort to get the biscuit, maybe a squinted eye and blushed cheeks…?)
The Dodo was a bit trickier. My original sketch looked a bit lonely when placed next to the others, plus just having “Dodo” as the title looked out of place to the rest of the packaging line. To fix this I added an extra bird sitting on an opposite pile of biscuits and changed the title to match. This filled the white space in the original design and put the title type in proportion with the other designs.
The Sabertooth or Smilodon as I changed the name to was fun to draw and I think would intrigue a child to ask about the name and what it is doing in the image. The name change came about after I had a similar problem to the Dodo situation. There were only two more letters but it had to be cndensed down so much that it looked like two sub text titles. This is the actual name of the Sabertooth tiger and that the latter is just a popular nickname. This might be the reason that a child engages with the packaging and asks the question, so I didnt see too much of a problem with this.
All three packaging images together.
I created a few renders using Adobe Dimension. A co student had used this software to produce mockups of the same project and it allows a great way to showcase designs as they would look in the real world.
After shelving this exercise for a while due to a creative block, I was very pleased to return to it with a fresh mind and see it through to the final design. I am trying to take my tutors feedback on board and really push the research of my ideas. I’m still aware that my sketchbook needs improving and I am inconsistent with my thumbnailing techniques when trying to generate ideas. This said I feel that the final design for this exercise works really well and covers the brief clearly and accurately.
I appreciated the way sketching and research pushed my ideas into a different direction and contributed to the end result. It was interesting to see my initial sketched change and morph into a completely different image through trial and error, from the change of animals to the title type.