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So...how does one compose a great concept?


tBBP

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I think it's high time we all have this discussion...

Several times in the past, I've been asked by several of you all exactly how I go about concocting concepts. And I'm sure there's been other concept-makers in thic community who've been asked the same. Well...it ain't the easiest thing to try to explain to someone...and sometimes it's really based on one's level of experience and/or expertise with design elements, not to mention overall design in general. In addition, not all of us have have the same methods--in fact, I'm just about positive all of us have different methods we use and/or criteria we go by in order to create our concept designs.

(And oh by the way...I had the toughest time deciding whether to create this thread in the "Concepts" forum or in the "Lounge" forum...but, this seemed like the more logical location. However, mods, if any of you feel this thread should be moved to another location, then, by all means, go ahead and do so.)

SO...let's get on with this, shall we?

My aim in generating this thread here is for those of us who've been doing this for a while--concept-making, that is--to share our thoughts, ideas, creative processes, and anything other potentially useful information that the aspiring concept-makers in this community (not to mention those who peruse this forum often but may have never actually set out to create a concept before but still have the itch to do so) may think is helpful. I also get the feeling many other people could benefit from this, as well.

So...with that being said...open up your thinktanks, folks--and let's share some ideas, shall we?

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I'll go first, since I started this thing. I'll take my Carolina Panthers concept and use it as an example.

Generally, whenever I embark on a concept-making journey, I take the team's nickname and write out every connotation I can think of that is associated with that name. Now, when I think of a panther, for connotations, I think, first and foremost, "stealthy" (because those darn cats are quite, well, "stealthy"), but I also think "swift" and "agressive".

Next, I think "visuals". Firstly, if the team is already established, I write down the team's colors, which should already have some kind of relevance in relation to the team nickname, but we all know sometimes, they don't, or they may be a stretch. In this case, we already know the team's colors---black, "panther blue" (or as I like to call it, "Ericcson cellphone blue"), and silver. Now, as for visuals, we all know that most panthers are black--although not ALL panthers are black (some are some kind of tawny color). So that justifies the black. I still am not sure exactly how the franchise thought up that shade of blue to use, but it is unique. (I'll be honest: with the stadium being named Ericcson stadium, I seriously thought that the Panthers chose that color because it was a popular cellphone backlighting color in those days, and that's how I came up with the "Ericcson cellphone blue" name. I take FULL credit for that. ^_^ ) In a different instance, if it was a team I was creating, I'll think of what colors best represent the nickname (for example, midnight blue and silver for a fantasy team of mine I call the Knights, or sea blue, coral, and sand for a team I call the Barracudas--hey, I from a beach town). Kinda get the gist?

Next, if a team has an established "tradition", I start doing research into that team's tradition--how it came about choosing its colors and/or mascot (namely for the college concepts I do), the team's "glory years", past uniform sets, particularly those worn during those glory years, and then i really start studying all that with the goal of extracting some of the best elements of those uniform designs and/or history from that research, which i then add to my notes. (Now obviously, this step didn't, nor does it, apply to the Panthers, since their set has remained unchanged since their inception.)

Next, I consider typography. Now, those of you who've followed my concepts closely may have noticed I hardly ever use standard block numerals unless i absolutely HAVE to do so. Being that I'm an avid fan of typography, I sorta already have a good idea in my head of what typeface would look good with a certain team, or what typeface would help translate the overall "feel" I aim to generate with my concepts. In the case of the Carolina Panthers, I chose Serpentine Bold because a/ it has that "stealthy" look to it, and because b/ it's relatively unused in sports, as far as numbers go (outside of Texas Tech--if they still use it--and the Ottawa Senators alt jerseys, I can't recall having seen any sports squads use that typeface for their numbers). I also went and used that same typeface for the wordmarks, as well, because to me, the wordmarks and the uniform typography should, if possible, be somewhat related.

Finally, I consider any other decorative element I can think of that would help translate the overall look and feel I aim for. In the case of the Panthers, my overall goal was "stealth"...and that's why I went with the silhouetted striping throughout that concept. (The other thing I kept in my mind during cocnstruction of that concept was, quite literally, my old Kyocera phone I used to have, which was black, but was backlit in that very same shade of blue--most of you know exactly what I'm talking about. I kept thinking of someone seeing the phone moving at night while it was illuminated. Close your eyes and envision it, and you can sorta see what i was going for with that uniform concept. Now, it's important to note...that sort of thing doesn't always work with every concept.)

I then set out to sketch out something that best combines all these elements. And I can't tell you how many different sketches I go through just to get some solid combination ideas. After that is done, and I have a good idea in my head, not to mention on paper, for a pretty solid look and feel, that's when I start playing with the computer, mixing and matching elements, moving, removing, adding and subtracting, until I come up with a design that best achieves my goal. Then, I run through every possible color combination I can, and choose the best out of the lot, compose them in one of my finalized templates, save and export it, and wa-la--completed concept for display.

(On another note: for those of you who wonder why my intros are so long, it's because it became habit during school...and anyone in here who's ever taken part in "critique" during art class knows EXACTLY what I am talking about--getting up in front of the class, telling the class your idea, sharing your goal for the completed piece, showing the piece, then explaining how you came up with the idea as well as why certain features were added or certain techniques were used--you know, all that jazz. Well, that's exactly what I do with my intros, to give readers an inside glimpse into my mind's eye. The only difference is that I show the concept piece after I explain it, and for two very good reasons: a/primarily to try to get the reader to envision the concept idea in his/her own head, and then see how well, if at all, my concept matches up with the visualization in order to gauge whether or not the reader believes I met my objective in designing the concept; and b/ half the folks who view concepts don't take the time to read anything anyway, rather, they opt to shoot straight for the pictures...and that's when you get all kinds of questions as to why this is such-and-such a color or whya particular element was changed or wasn't added and all that jazz. Follow me here?)

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Well...that's just one example of my creative process, at least for my Panthers concept, anyway. Who else is willing to share?

Come on...don't be stingy, guys!

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I ignore whats been done before. Recoloring an existing logo or changing the font isn't very original. I see a lot of design talent here that can't think outside of the box what's already been established. I tend to approach things from the aspect that someone from the team (that I'm doing a concept for), asked me to create a new logo or a complete rebranding. This involves studying the city and it's history. There's no need to keep the same logo, colors or typeface. I think more designers need to show thier creativity. Putting a secondary logo on the front of a hockey jersey isn't very creative. Creating a whole new logo - now that's creative.

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Look at past concepts of the team, find what you like, what other people like, then I look for elements that have never been used and find a way to make this really my own work and combine all of that. That's what I'm doing for the team I'm working on now and its coming along nicely.

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Wow... very good thread here

Now, I have to ask this though. (This has just been burning up for awhile now) "Boring" vs. "Traditional".

I've noticed that a "boring" is normally done in rasher/paint where as "traditional" or "classy" is done in vector.

I can't get my mind around it.....

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I usually already have an idea in my head. Then (using hockey since that's what I make 90% of the time) I put whatever logo I choose as the crest on the template...and go form there. Then, simply, I try and idea and try different stuff with it. I don't create logos because, with paint, I cant. I know, lame overused excuse, but its true. Its very very difficult to make a paint logo anything near a vector logo. I draw logos by hand, but never on the computer.

Very simple process...maybe thats why mine never get very popular. :P

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Wow... very good thread here

Now, I have to ask this though. (This has just been burning up for awhile now) "Boring" vs. "Traditional".

I've noticed that a "boring" is normally done in rasher/paint where as "traditional" or "classy" is done in vector.

I can't get my mind around it.....

I'll see if I can unscramble your circuits...

I think "boring" and "traditional" are used interchangeably, and so, understandably so, can easily get confused. To me, anyway, a "traditional" look is one that has carried on through many generations. It is one that has remained, generally, unchanged due to connotations of notoriety (and the easiest way to gain notoriety, or noticeability, I should say) is to WIN. There's a reason why Michigan's winged helmet is so popular and traditional: the program just won. So when people see Michigan's winged helmet (even though the design originated at Princeton), they see a tradition of a winning football powerhouse. To take that further, look at programs such as Alabama and Oklahoma. Both schools have been winning programs for a very long time (as well as Michigan), and the uniforms they wear have come to represent that winning tradition.

However...aesthetically speaking (meaning the look of the uniforms themselves), all three sets, at least to me, are plain as hell, or, as you say, Krock, boring. There's nothing visually appealing to me about any of these three sets outside of Michigan's winged helmet. BUT...some people prefer simply bland looks such as Alabama's look, Oklahoma's look, Penn State's look (quite possibly THE MOST BORING set in all of football right now), not to mention the Oakland Raiders. Now that's not to say I favor the piping-crazy looks such as the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, and the Atlanta Falcons, but they do have a little bit more chutzpah to them, that I will say.

As far as raster and vector goes...that really shouldn't even be a factor in determining whether a uniform looks boring, traditional, exciting, or whatnot--that all depends on the execution of the concept and the cleanliness of the presentation. And both are perfectly possible in the raster world and the vector world.

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Wow... very good thread here

Now, I have to ask this though. (This has just been burning up for awhile now) "Boring" vs. "Traditional".

I've noticed that a "boring" is normally done in rasher/paint where as "traditional" or "classy" is done in vector.

I can't get my mind around it.....

Many people who have paint are new to design and those with vector programs are able to do a little bit more and have a little bit more experience. It takes a person like Roger Clemente to make a good paint concept, and there are many others who can do it, its just he's most known and is damn good so I'm using his name. That's what I always figured.

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Good thread, as always bucco_b. For me, I go thinking that the concept is going to be the last uniform they ever wear. I look at what the team has now, and I try to correct what is wrong with it. For a school like Michigan, they have a pretty solid football uniform identity, so I wouldn't have very far to go. For a school like Duke, the only identity they associate with football is losing. So I look at their uniforms, and I try to correct what is wrong.

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I haven't made and don't make many concepts, and I've only shared one of them on these esteemed boards, but I'll share my story.

I don't make concepts for existing teams. Why? Usually because I'll get stuck with what has been done before. My brain is funny when it sees something that works that's all I see (regardless if it is the best possible option). For me, it's very hard to develop a truly original idea for an existing team. I also don't have as discerning of an eye as others on these boards, so I'll miss some of the very minor changes that people make with their [insert popular concept team here] ideas.

Instead, I make up concepts that are fantasy teams. First, I decide on a locale. Second, the nickname. I try very hard to incorporate some history or cultural reference in the nickname (generic nicknames are boring y'know?). Some are cliche (Cooperstown Legends), some are quite original (Chattanooga Dynamos). Once I have the name, coming up with an identity is next. This is the hardest part. Coming up with a good, original logo is incredibly difficult (for me at least). I hash out ideas on paper. If possible, I'll scan it into the computer (I don't have a scanner, but if I have access to one, I'll take advantage). Then I'll load it into Inkscape and vectorize it. Given the benefits of vector I can do it without scanning. Then comes the continual adjustments to get it right.

I try to incorporate colors that tie into the nickname. (The Legends' colors are historic yellow and "legend red." The Dynamos are red, orange, and white.) Ultimately it just needs to look good. I'm not much for designing new fonts, so I scour the internet for a font that looks like what I want. Keeping with my previous examples, the Legends have a scripty, old-timey font and the Dynamos have a bold, futuristic font. Finally, I design the uniforms. If you looked at my concepts side by side, you'd see they are pretty cookie-cutter. I like "traditional" layouts and typically don't stray from that. Occasionally, I will update to jazz it up a bit, but I don't go all-out crazy.

Long story short, I really do the same thing as Bucco_B here, only less elegantly.

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Interesting take from one of the designers who puts more thought into his concepts than possibly anyone in this community. I have learned more about non-sports things from Bucco's concepts than I ever thought I would.

One quick take about the pairing of "boring" and raster programs: absolute bull. While I am a proud MSPaint user, my concepts have never been tempered by it. Some things I've done are relatively traditional, but only because that is what I considered to be most proper for the team in question. I've done things that are more out-of-the-box using the same MSPaint program I used on traditional concepts. So I am not sure where that comes from, but I am not buying.

As for my thought processes when making a concept: I try to do some background research, both about the team and the city/area where they play. Special attention gets paid to traditions - why the Sabres' buffalo is white, or why there are spoked on the Bruins' crest. After that, I try and incorporate my ideas into that history to make something that is both novel and at the same time in keeping with a team's culture and tradition. For example, one of my favorite concepts was trying to apply the "city colors" of Philadelphia (electric blue and gold) to the Phillies' uniforms. I wound up changing around more than I thought I would, but it came out OK - sort of the love child of UCLA and the Phils. I try to avoid simple recoloring whenever possible, and I absolutely avoid the "mix & match" approach of slapping logos and wordmarks from all different eras onto the same uniform without any concern for how those logos don't go well together.

After that, I take it to the people, and look at what they see that I don't. Any suggestion that is worth looking at is added, and those that make it better to me are kept. Repeat until satisfied*.

*yeah, that's what she said. I know. Ha.

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Research is the key to creating a good identity and a fashionable look, but beyoned that, I just let design aesthetic and personal tastes dictate the style of the mark, the uniform, the colors and everything else. Even the most savvy software users can still cook up some pretty terrible logos and uniforms. There simply is no substitute for artistic talent and design knowledge. The product is consistently good if you have a nice workflow and creative process going on in your studio.

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It's nice to see what some of you have come up with in here while I've been doing warrior training in the field this past week.

The aim of this thread was for people to share wits and ideas about their own processes, as well as to throw out some pointers for the less experienced or aspiring designers on the board. And I hope that this thread is achieving just that. From the looks of things, that seems to be the case.

BUT...let me echo something Tempest hit on, and expound on it further:

NO SOFTWARE PROGRAM OUT THERE WILL SUBSTITUTE FOR LACK OF DESIGN KNOWLEDGE OR ARTISTIC CREATIVITY.

I should have mentioned this a long time ago: too often people are so quick to take an idea out their head and take it straight to a computer. True, that's what we all see designs on, but, remember this (for the aspiring and lesser-experienced members of the board): the computer is just a TOOL that graphic designers use. There are others...such as a pencil and some paper. Or some pencils (preferably those of the colored variety) and some paper. Sometimes ideas will come together a lot easier than others. Some ideas come together real quick; others gon take a REAL good long while to mash out and mesh together (which is why you all ain't seen any concepts from me in a while...I got about five in the works that I've spent the past three months trying to put together, as well as two others that even after nearly a year I STILL ain't got figured out. Sometimes it just go like that...)

The moral to all this: the sketchpad is your FRIEND!!!

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The moral to all this: the sketchpad is your FRIEND!!!

I couldn't agree more. I have found that my concepts, whether they be logos or uniforms, almost always turn out better if I start on paper. Lately all of my logos have started on paper. I usually sketch quite a few ideas, then take one or two I like best, and expand on them.

Also, like epiphanic said, it is hard to stray too far away from a teams current identity, for me anyways. This is a reason I have been doing fantasy teams lately. I don't think all concepts have to be way different than what a team actually uses, I think it is good to keep something from a previous uniform. It sometimes takes more thought to make something look good and new, but at the same time keep it looking like something the team would actually wear, and something you would immediately relate to that team. Everybody has a different opinion though.

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