My company Seed & Bean was licensed to produce the official chocolate at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, and commissioned me to create illustrations for the packaging and associated promotions. The brief was very open, allowing me the freedom to explore a variety of ideas that could be developed at an unhurried pace.
The design needed to reflect the vibrancy of the festival – colourful, contemporary, bold. The illustrations were to be used with the existing layout of the packaging, so I had to create imagery that’d work best within the available space.
01. Getting started
Before developing the design, my initial ideas focused on creating patterns. These consisted of a variety of image elements – stars, clouds, rainbows and other shapes, repeated across the whole wrapper. After creating a number of drawings and experimenting with their placement within the packaging design template, it was apparent an all-over composition wasn’t going to be the best route forward.
As part of feedback, the client highlighted ideas from previous works in my portfolio and I decided airships and dirigibles would be perfectly suited to the brief. These vehicles were fun and whimsical, while at the same time had a retro appeal that alluded to a sense of journey and imagination.
02. Putting pen to paper
Drawing is a means of exploring ideas. When working to a brief, I’ll create imagery in response to key words or themes. I prefer to draw and see what happens rather than think too far ahead. The act of drawing in itself is a means of problem-solving, so it’s not long before the ideas start flowing.
In Illustrator, I trace drawings by hand using the Pen tool. This allows me to simplify the stroke lines with as few anchor points as possible, resulting in clean shapes and outlines. By using File>Place to insert the drawing, the layer can be locked and dimmed before creating a new layer above to start tracing in.
04. Tone and hue
The Live Paint Bucket is a great tool for quickly filling shapes with colour. I use this with the Colour Guide panel to select palettes and combinations of tone and hue. Often, I use images from a personal library of favourites to inspire the colours. I try to fill the colour in as quickly as possible as it’ll be edited later.
05. Colour edits
I spend lots of time editing colour. Recolor Artwork offers a wealth of tools to edit individual colours and explore alternative palettes or combinations of existing ones. This is important when working in CMYK as edits may result in mismatches or dulled hues. Compared to RGB palettes, colour may appear limited.
06. The jigsaw effect
I create a collection of image elements, using these to construct the composition of a design, like a jigsaw puzzle. I move things around, build layers, adjust scale. I work this way at various stages of the brief, and do the same creating layout scamps from drawings. This way, I can explore the most outcomes possible.
07. Simple can be difficult
The creative development of this work was one of simplification. The final project used the best image elements to arrive at bold and essential designs. Simplicity is not something common to my way of working, so I had to doggedly follow this process of reduction to arrive at my choices.
08. Primary colours
In keeping with the theme of simplicity, and to ensure differentiation between designs, I chose primary colours for each background. I also outlined the image elements with thicker strokes to provide some variety of line weight. Type, layout and final placement of each design was left to the client.
Words: Matt Lyon
Matt, aka C86, is a London based graphic artist. With motifs that explode with colour, Matt has found clients in the likes of Nike, AOL, AT&T and Microsoft, creating indelible designs through his distinctive use of shape and pattern.
This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 218
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Did you see Matt's designs at Glasto? Tell us in the comments!