Nov 27,2019 PM 12:47
In 2018, a Chinese company called Tangeche launched its new mascot, Tange, a bright yellow rabbit that is nearly 1:1 humanized. Its sole purpose is to show nothing but friendliness and gentleness to customers, but in reality it actually had the opposite effect. Tange has thick human hair and dresses like an office clerk, which made it look quite creepy.
Tange, Tangeche's mascot
Pictures from https://www.cbnweek.com/articles/normal/21008
Tange, the creepy version
Pictures from https://www.digitaling.com/projects/45765.html
There's no doubt that this rabbit falls deep into the Uncanny Valley. All the features of this mascot look human, but it still appears deeply unsettling, like zombies and human lookalike robots.
Not every mascot is as scary as Tange (most are actually very lovely) , and they are also one of the popular marketing tools today. But do companies really need them? Companies typically use mascots to appeal to their customer base and establish close connections. They use mascots to emphasize the idea behind their product. Since mascots are an indispensable part of marketing, how can you design a quality one that doesn't leave you afraid of it?
STEP 1: BRAINSTORMING
Because mascots represent the company, we first need to figure out the ideas and values that embody the company's products and principles. One of Kellogg's most popular products is Frosted Flakes. It's cereal, everyday food, both for kids and adults. So the idea behind the "Frosties”are all ages and friendliness. But there are some companies that provide services, not a specific product. Like JD.com, one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China; its core value is to be loyal to customers.
STEP 2: CHOOSE THE CHARACTER
Animal? Human? Object? One of the approaches is to find the character that has something in common with the company's ideals. In 2018, XP-Pen launched its mascot, a fennec fox named Fenix. Fennec foxes live in the deserts of Northern Africa and their large ears differentiate them from other foxes. They are quick-witted, which represents XP-Pen's drawing tablets, and they respond swiftly. Some characters may have nothing in common with the company's values, but they can be transformed in accordance with it. Tigers usually symbolize ferocity and courage. However, Tony the Tiger by Kellogg's Frosted Flakes is always wearing a charming smile, giving his approval with a thumbs up on the cereal box.
STEP 3: FIND A REFERENCE
References can be pictures of real animals or objects. They can also be other mascots.
STEP 4: CHOOSE YOUR STYLE
There are several different cartoon styles; some are realistic; some are more flat and vector looking.
Picture from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Bear
Tony the Tiger
Ren-G, the Official Mascot for RWC 2019
picture from https://www.rugbyworldcup.com/news/307141
A company will usually have different versions of mascots to apply in different situations. Just like Tangeche, they also have a flat-style rabbit (which is way cuter than the humanized one).
Tange, the cute version
picture from https://xueqiu.com/2230969042/135800211
STEP 5: DECONSTRUCT THE REFERENCE
All objects are made up of basic geometric shapes, and this technique can be applied to human figures, animals, or vehicles. If you step back and look at the photo, this fennec fox's body forms an oval with its ears creating two triangles. Its legs can be represented as trapezoids.
STEP 6: DRAW IT
When it comes to digital drawings, we recommend you purchase the largest tablet or display you can afford. Small tablets (under 12 inches) for fun and game are OK, but for serious work, small active areas will make you feel constricted. The XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 is a very reasonable product for beginners to start their careers. It comes with a 10X6.25px active display area and is only 8mm thick. Its upgraded stylus, the P05, supports 60-degree tilt and has 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Deco 01 V2
Deco 01 V2
With graphic tablet and drawing software, such as Photoshop or Krita, you can modify or redo your drawing easily. But tools are just tools; learning proper drawing theories and practices are far more crucial. With realistic drawing, the typical adult body proportion is about eight heads in the total height of the body. But for a cartoon mascot, to show off cuteness, body proportions are usually between 1:1 to 1:2.
Rough Body Proportion
If the legs are shorter than the body, the character is cuter, or the character is more mature vice versa. The same principle applies to the mouth: the smaller the mouth is, the younger it looks.
When it comes to the eyes, there are several different styles. They can be as simple as two dots, or based on the realistic animal eyes, you can exaggerate the size and add some highlights to them.
Vinicius and Tom
picture from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinicius_and_Tom
After you finish these basic poses, you can draw other actions or outfits when you need them.
A mascot can boost your brand presence to a whole new level, but selecting the right one and implementing it correctly in your marketing strategy could be tricky.
I hope that by now you have a better idea of how to create a cartoon mascot. Follow your heart, draw different.