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.)

Pizza Game Concept


Earlier this year I was hired by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to help them pitch an ad to a national pizza chain. The name of the chain needs to stay confidential but it’s a well-known brand.

The idea was to have a full-page spread featuring a pizza-themed board game, something the whole family could play while waiting for the pizza delivery guy or while enjoying their fresh, hot pizza. To help them pitch the idea I sketched up a preliminary board game layout. We even took some of it to full-color to help sell the concept. After I turned in the art someone put it into a layout and added text, instructions, etc.

I’m told they liked the idea and seriously considered it but ultimately they passed. I’ve been given permission to include the art in my portfolio, provided I remove any references to the pizza brand (which I’ve done). It was a really fun project. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

Toy Design – Educational Slide Projector

Last year I was contacted by the Quois Corporation, a toy company in China that specializes in technology-based toys. They wanted to create an interactive slide projector and hired me to work up some ideas. The toy needed to have a projector lens, a slot for inserting cartridges and/or a thumb drive, and a method for advancing the slides.

Here’s a few of the initial rough thumbnails I came up with, just to get the discussion going (click to enlarge):

Projector toy design thumbnails

After some discussion the client decided to move forward with the snail idea. My next step was to develop some detailed sketches of possible snail designs. (Click to enlarge):

snail concept sketches

The client chose the first design (upper left). Here’s the final control drawing turnarounds I created (click to enlarge):

snail toy control drawing turnarounds

Eventually the project was killed and the toy was ultimately not manufactured. That kind of thing happens sometimes in this business. Regardless, I really enjoyed working on the project, the client was terrific, and I was still paid for my work. Even though the project didn’t get across the finish line I was grateful for the opportunity to take a crack at helping them out.