The Fox UnleashedFeb 16 2013 · 5 comments · Branding, Illustration ·3
Yesterday finally saw the release of a project I had been working on for quite some time last year. Commissioned by Wolff Olins I created a series of nine fiery foxes as part of the total branding concept for Mozzila’s new Firefox OS for mobile devices. Very proud to see these guys finally roam free.
SketchingWhenever I get a call from Mike Abbink (creative director at Wolff Olins) asking me if I can do some explorations I know I’m about to embark on a journey. This sounds a bit pedantic but it is the only way to describe the way the design process always seem to twist and turn in ways and directions I never really see coming. So when Mike phoned me up in August of 2012 this project turned out to be no exception.
The way I always start work for Mike is based on the loosest of briefs. He usually doesn’t bother me with too much background and just lets me get on with it. It being sketching. A lot of sketching. And after a ton of sketching… some more sketching. As broad and wide I as can possibly go. All based on: “we want to let the fox roam free”. Of course it was a little more than that, but not much. The fox needed to be fun and friendly, supportive, protective, fast and powerful, superhero-like even.
The style, the pose, the level of abstraction; it was all to be determined.
So sketch is what I did… (these are only a few).
In the meantime of course the team at Wolff Olins in New York were developing the brand that these illustrations were going to become a part of. So some of these were put into vector early on. To test and hone integration with brand as a whole.
It was also necessary to see in an early stage how we could keep all this technically feasible.
A Fox on Fire vs. a Firey Fox
Exploring the ‘fireyness’ of this fire fox presented soon us with and interesting problem. When does a fox made of fire turn into a fox on fire… The more firey he was the more agile and ‘free’ he could be, but at the same time lost more of his foxyness. People started seeing a resemblance with a dragon or just a woefully tortured animal.
This needed to be turned back. It had to be a fox that, only through his movements would be more or less firey. Most of it would have to end up in the tail. This was incidentally also the way the fox in the existing FireFox logo was built up.
Because of the all the freedom Mike had allowed me in exploring the foxes, I had drifted away from the existing logo quite a bit. This was all part of the plan of course. In not letting ourselves be limited by the logo in style, we had all the freedom to thoroughly explore all the possibilities… now however the time had come to steer it back to the existing FireFox logo as not to allow for a rift to develop between the two.
Besides all this we also needed to work towards a more singular look. It all had to become the one FireFox in nine different poses freed drom the globe of the iconic logo. So we needed to look at its face, and fur. And the abstraction style on the flames need to be pulled together.
And after some more sketching, drawing and layering vectors and a LOT of tweeking of details this is what the fox turned out in all his new found freedom… The illustrations were all built up with different layers using different blending modes to achieve nice depth of color.
The foxes and their tails were also built in segments, each of which was in their own layer so they could be easily combined with other photographic element and type.
With all of the nine different illustrations done it was time for them to take their place in the brand expression and be released upon the world. It was a proud moment to see them go free, and as expected a great journey to get them that far.
They appeared on everything from billboards to websites. The foxes were even brought to life by the people at Dress Code in some amazing animations.
Even though there was all of the Atlantic between the Wolff Olins team and I, it felt really smooth and comfortable working together. This was one of those projects I was not only proud to be a part of, but was also an inspiring and educational experience.
It was great working with people I’ve got a lot to learn from. They did a great job on this as always and I was happy to be involved.
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