Sunday, 22 April 2012
In summary, I am quite pleased with my project outcome. It was one of my aims to find an outcome that would maintain a strong sense of my style as an illustrator, and this project has given me an opportunity to draw and have fun with the design aspect as well as having to think practically while accomplishing more technical tasks. The lasercutter, which was a process I found quite difficult and intimidating before, has actually facilitated my idea quite effectively and easily, and I would use it again for future projects if I came up with an appropriate idea.
This is the document I used to produce the plastic shapes for the Battlepuffs. The circular shapes are the bases, which have a width of around 4-5mil and a depth of 2milimetres - the same as the thickness of the material I chose to use - HIP, or high impact polystyrene. It's a thermal plastic that I was advised to use by Lol, as we thought normal acryllic sheets would be too bulky to fit in a standard fun-size box of cereal.
Each box, as well as having a base and outer extremeties, comes with a small rectangular piece of plastic with two holes in it that attaches to the legs of the figure from the inside of the box. This gives the structure much more integrity than if it was supported by just two prongs from the legs stuck into the bottom. The pieces were all carefully measured so that they would slot together tightly, allowing for the cutting thickness of the laser and the slight melting of the plastic at the edge.
This is the net I have produced that will become the box for the Battlepuffs. It's based on the existing standard for fun-sized boxes of cereal, although I have modified it so the front panel of the box will be slightly larger than the rear. This will hopefully give a slightly exaggerated, cartoonish effect to the characters once they have been assembled. I produced it in Illustrator and will lasercut it on a fairly thick card.
It was important to me that the 'Battlepuffs' had a sense of fiction to them, as I wanted them to have a strong Saturday-morning cartoon vibe. I wrote some biographies and fiction to flesh out the characters and give me a better sense of how to design the final outcome.
The Battlepuffs live in a dimension called Orn, on the planet Zirn. The fighting elite of Orn travel to Zirn from all over the galaxy to take part in the legendary BattleFights. It is the dream of every Zirnian to triumph in the Triennial BattleFight Arena Tournament, known colloquially as the Dools. The Doolmaster is the Zirnian who can best all other challengers in the Dools. No food is consumed in Zirn but cereal, because a nutritious bowl of cereal is the only way a true Dooling champion starts their day.
Half game cartridge, half kitty cat, Gamecat is King Ding, Exalted and Most Honourable Lordy Lordy and undefeated Doolmaster of the Battlepuffs’ dimension of Orn, where no challenge can be refused. Gamecat lives in a castle a mile high shaped like a FunBit, a handheld pinball gaming device popular on Zirn. Gamecat’s stately composure and casual-yet-deadly fighting style have made him the most celebrated leader in all of Zirn’s history.
Steely and suave, he holds every gaming high score on the planet. He consumes a dozen double White Russians in a day, claiming his fondness is only for the milk, and he has a weakness for the Zirnian equivalent of snuff, nip. Gamecat’s only true passion, besides carousing and Tetris, is honourable victory in the Dools. To this end, he trains for 122 hours in a day, the standard Zirnian day lasting 123 hours. When asked why he trains so hard to be Doolmaster, Gamecat often quips, ‘how else would I afford my nip?’
The Zombie Shoe from 4002
The Zombie Shoe from 4002 is an undead interdimensional being from 1000 years in the future, and is totally unique in Orn. The Zirnians are divided as to whether it is to be reviled or revered. The green flames that lick from its unholy tongue are said to bring dead flowers back into full bloom, yet the stench from its inner sole will kill a Zirnian instantly. This is the eternal paradox of the Zombie Shoe from 4002.
The shoe is mute, but its arrival was foretold by mystics at the dawn of Orn itself. It can fade in and out of existence in the blink of an eye, delivering crushing kicks from all angles as if at once. Only the most agile and wily Doolers can avoid severe injury from its razor sharp spurs. Zombie Shoe fans, known collectively as the Ornian Inners, wave rattles at the Shoe’s Dools, to imitate the deathly click of the spurs. The Ornian Inners hold the belief that the shoe will be able to return to 4002 when it triumphs in the BattleFight tournament, but it has yet to best presiding Doolmaster Gamecat.
Pondris Loris is a philosophising Loris from the biggest jungle on Zirn, known as the Deep Dark. Pondris is an introspective creature who is in a constant state of meditation, even whilst seeming to engage in other activities. He knows truths that are too deep to be spoken aloud, and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all Zirn’s philosophies and religions. Pondris wishes to win the Battlefight Arena Tournament as the winner’s speech is broadcast live to the entire population of Zirn, who listen avidly. It is at this moment that he believes Zirnians will be most receptive to his philosophical revelations, and he refuses to impart his wisdom until then. He says that this moment will be the dawn of a new era, and will come to be known as “The Epiphany.”
A measured and nimble fighter, Pondris’ Dooling skills are a result of a lifetime spent in the most perilous jungle in Orn. As a Loris, his fangs contain a deadly poison, and his innate grace and poise make him a keen martial artist. Pondris’ only limitation is an unusual sense of mercy and guilt in battle, which some Dool experts believe indicate that his philosophy may be the most of radical of all on Zirn – that of Pacifism. It is likely that Zirn will only know the full extent of Pondris’ fighting ability when he has finally resolved his deep inner struggle.
Luchamallow is the son of the greatest marshmallow wrestler in Zirn’s history, the notoriously underhanded and vicious Senor Puff. Senor Puff was a grizzled stalwart of the wrestling scene, who preferred ad-hoc, illegal brawls in underground locations rather than the strict and official BattleFight Arena matches. Puff was merciless and strong, and was known for never giving up on a fight. He lost his life in battle in old age. It was always his intention.
Luchamallow has much of his father’s fighting spirit, but wants to prove his honesty by triumphing in the Dools. He has been unable his whole life to shake off the stigma of being his father’s son, and relishes entering a match as the underdog and emerging with a clean, just victory. Luchamallow is a fine, assured Dooler when he is sober, but unfortunately, a foggy head from too much tequila has undermined his true potential on more than one occasion. Every day, he remembers the vow he took as he watched his father roast on the ceremonial toasting stick. To become Doolmaster by just means.
The first thing I worked on for my project were the characters I wanted to use for the box designs. It was important that they each had a unique silhouette and a simple form. The 'Battlepuffs' are a set of characters who live to fight each other, but I wanted the designs to be quirky and carry a strong sense of my aesthetic as an illustrator.
The characters I decided on were called Doolmaster Gamecat, Pondris Loris, Luchamallow, Forbes, Demon Puppet, the Zombie Shoe from 4002, Terror Byte and Deathmaster Doomcat. As the project is partially about a sense of nostalgia, I remember from childhood that it was important for everyone to have a different favourite character. I wanted to have as much variation as possible, so the potential for people having differing favourite characters was as high as possible.
I decided early on in the project to change my idea. I had originally intended to produce a range of objects in lasercut plastics as an exercise in self-promotion as a mock brand, under the name 'YY design.'
The idea I changed to was for a range of cereal toys. The fictional cereal would be called 'Battlepuffs,' and would allow me to find an outlet as an illustrator as well as apply problem-solving and design thinking to a laser-cutting brief. The first concept was that the toys would be entirely plastic and would slot together, but I thought that accurately producing inlayed pieces of plastic would have many limitations and be very difficult.
The final idea I went with was that the box of cereal would actually become the toy. The 'Battlepuffs' cereal would be 'sold' as an 8-pack of fun-size boxes rather than one large box, which meant that I wouldn't have to produce a structure with the integrity to support a mostly-full regular size box of cereal. The limb designs could be created in Ilustrator and would be slotted into the box after it was empty. Each box would come with a base and a set of limbs unique to the character design on the box.