‘Slinky Headz’ Toy Designs for Alex Brands

Last year the toy company Alex Brands hired me to work up some character designs for a new line of toys called Slinky Headz. Each toy is a cylindrical monster character with a slinky inside, with the idea being that the top and bottom half of each can be removed and mixed-or-matched. One tricky restriction was that each piece needed to look good upside up and also upside down (in other words, if you flipped the face upside down it still needed to look like an upside-up face).

I was asked to brainstorm several rough designs, which were then narrowed down to a werewolf, a witch doctor, a zombie, and an lizard alien.

The client was happy with what I did but ultimately the decision was made to change gears and go with a different style of artwork for the final product. Oh well, sometimes that happens. Still it was a lot of fun to work on.

Plush Hoodies

I was hired by Ontel Products to help them flesh out an idea for a new product: plush animals that can be unzipped and unfold into cozy hoodies for kids. They wanted some sketches of what those animals might look like.

I started by experimenting with some rough thumbnail sketches exploring various shapes and proportions:

After some back-and-forth we settled on a “look” and a template for the animals. Here are a few turnarounds of some of the animals I created to help guide the manufacturer:

Recently the client sent me some photos of the final product:

Shark Mascot

Recently I was hired by SwimKids USA to help them re-brand with a new mascot. They had a cartoon shark they had been using but wanted to refresh it. Here’s a few rough concept sketches I submitted along with the final design:

Animal Character Designs

Dr. John Trent is a best-selling author who runs a Christian ministry called Strong Families. On their website they offer a free personality test, the results of which sort people into four broad personality type. Each one is represented by a different animal (Otters, Lions, Golden Retrievers, and Beavers). Different versions of the animals have been used in the past, including classy black-and-white line art versions for their website and illustrated versions for a children’s book called The Treasure Tree. I was hired by Strong Families to design an updated cartoon versions of each of the four animals.

Style Exploration for Disney Figurines

A toy licensing company asked me to help them explore ideas for a line of Disney figurines. They wanted the characters to be recognizable but at the same time stylistically unique, almost as if the characters all belonged in the same world. It sounded like a fun challenge.

I started by noodling around just to see what might work and what wouldn’t. First I tried to see what I could/couldn’t do with Mickey Mouse, followed by Ralph and Vanellope from Wreck-It-Ralph:

After some client feedback we eventually settled on a “look”. Next I began exploring possible poses for the figurines. They asked that the characters appear to interact with each other visually, but with poses that would also work as stand-alone figurines:

Eventually I worked up sketches and turnarounds for twelve characters. I can’t show them all but here’s what we wound up doing with Dash and Violet from The Incredibles:

Unfortunately the plug was pulled before the project could make it across the finish line. But it was fun while it lasted. (Images are posted with client permission.)

Download My Updated Portfolio

It’s been a couple of years so I’ve updated my PDF portfolio with a some new samples. It contains fifteen¬†pages of illustration, character design, toy design concepts, webcomics, and misc. drawings. Download a copy to keep on file, take to a meeting, or email to a client or colleague.

Download PDF Portfolio