Updated: May 14
Designing a character whether it be a cartoon mascot or a logo always starts with lots of sketches. Here’s a look at the process I used to design the Mr.Chewy cartoon mascot for on-line pet food giant Chewy.com.
The assignment was to develop a mascot to represent Chewy.com. The main character would be Mr. Chewy, a dog, who would most likely have a sidekick and several friends to help him. Since we determined Mr. Chewy to be a dog I naturally thought a cat would make a fun sidekick. The direction for this project was very open to creativity and allowed me a great deal of freedom. Knowing I had a lot of room to experiment I quickly grabbed my sketchbook and got to work.
Putting together sketches helps me think and come up with lots of ideas. I like to try as many different directions as I can before narrowing the focus. Eventually, something will grab my interest and I begin to refine. My strategy is to take an idea far enough so I can easily discuss it with my client and then begin on another new direction. I repeat the process several times until I have exhausted my ideas. Once I’m done with the process I pick my winners that I will share with my client. Sharing sketches is one of the best parts of the process. It allows us to see possibilities and become even more creative.
Cartoon mascot sketches for Mr.Chewy
Developing a mascot or logo character is an evolutionary process.
Discussing direction early in the process allows us to think things through. Knowing how and where the characters will be used will make a big difference in the design. Does he need to hold an object, or does he walk on all fours? Will he appear on a website, the side of a bus, a business card, or all of the above? Paying attention to this kind of stuff in early development helps us avoid pitfalls later on. The last thing you want is a character who has to be redesigned because he can’t do the things you want him to.
Once the initial sketches are submitted I review them with my client. Sometimes the final character direction jumps off the page, sometimes it’s a combination of a couple of different directions… and sometimes nothing sticks at all. In this case, we found a few characters we liked but unfortunately, the Mr.Chewy character just wasn’t right. So it’s back to the drawing board but I’m not worried because after our conversation I now have a clearer idea where we need to be headed. My client and I are on the same page and we’re both having fun. We have plenty of new ideas for this character. We’ve had a blast talking about possibilities and we’ve added a few new characters to our line-up. I can’t wait to get back to my drawing board so I can explore some of the new directions we talked about.
Round two – More cartoon mascot sketches
We have a winner. One of the sketches catches my client's eye. He asks for a few changes but overall he’s thrilled with the direction we’re headed and is excited to see more. I refine and tighten my sketches up then resubmit. The client gives me approval and lets me know the tight sketch is right on the money. Time to finalize.
Finalizing the Characters
My client has a great sense of humor and we joke about all the fun we will have with our new Mr. Chewy character. Our discussion opens the door to working up the additional characters.
Finished cartoon mascot character Mr.Chewy. Done in Adobe Illustrator.
The new characters are a hit
They will all be featured on the website in an upcoming online campaign. We’ve had a great time developing them all and laughing about the fun scenarios we will be placing them in. It’s always cool to see a project come together like this.
Since I began working with Chewy.com they have grown from a small start-up to a household name… practically overnight. The Mr. Chewy character has appeared in all kinds of ads, from greeting cards to a Facebook marketing campaign. It’s been amazing to see how successful this company has become in such a short amount of time. If you Google the Mr.Chewy character you can find him just about everywhere and thanks to the good folks at Chewy.com he is loved and well-received by all their customers.