We had a great time at the 2013 Akron ADDY Awards on Friday night, and we’re super proud of our team and our accomplishments last year. We walked away with a total of 10 ADDYs, plus Best of Show and the Best Use of Paper award. This was our second year in a row winning Best of Show and our third winning Best Use of Paper.
Best of Show and a Gold ADDY for our Flite Test Poster
Gold for the Hudson Farmer’s Market Campaign
Gold for the Matco Tools Calendar Illustrations | Silver for the calendar
Thanks again to AAF Akron and congratulations to all the other winners. We’re already hard at work on next year’s entries!
It’s always a challenge for us to design pieces for ourselves — it’s hard to find the right balance between wanting to entertain our clients and friends, while also injecting the piece with our personalities. Our Christmas card this year was actually two years in the making for this, and other, reasons, but we’re super excited to finally debut the finished piece.
We had the idea last year to do an homage to 1965′s A Charlie Brown Christmas, and we knew immediately that it had revolve around the dancing scene. Equal parts ridiculous and charming, the characters dance so distinctly and we wanted to remain as faithful as possible to the original. But of course, instead of the usual cast of Peanuts characters, we are the ones doing the dancing.
As with a lot of projects, the animation was deceptively simple. What might look like two or three frames turned out to be many, many more in some cases. Here’s a sneak peek into our process:
Everyone who has ever turned on a TV in the month of December knows of A Charlie Brown Christmas — 47 years later, there’s still a Charlie Brown balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We didn’t want to parody the classic characters, rather, we wanted to remain faithful and respectful to the original. This meant doing our research, and painstakingly capturing the scene frame, by frame for static reference.
Turning Peanuts into 427 Design
Our illustrator, Joe, took those reference frames and turned them into sketches — one-by-one modifying the Peanuts gang into the 427 Design crew. We chose characters that were close to our own personalities or with which we shared a physical characteristic: Joe is holding a jacket instead of a blanket, Allie and Sally are both blondes, and Andrea added a blazer and pants to her pink shirt.
Hundreds of Frames
After each character was born, Joe illustrated their dance sequence, frame by frame. Some were more complicated than others, but he drew hundreds of frames for the final animation. These line drawings were then colored and animated in After Effects.
In addition to the actual characters, we wanted the entire animation to feel like it took place in the Peanuts universe. We illustrated our office building for the beginning, and a snowy field for the ending. Everything you see is custom and hand-done, from the individual borders at the end, to the ribbon type “Merry Christmas”.
We hope you enjoyed watching our card as much as we enjoyed creating it! Merry Christmas from all of us at 427 Design!
This year, we had the pleasure of working on the Matco Tools calendar for the second time (check out last year’s calendar here). We once again had an amazing time with everyone involved, and we hope it shows.
We decided (with Matco’s blessing) to pursue a pin-up theme, and we wanted to be extra careful to remain faithful to the artform. This meant hiring an artist to create one-of-a-kind illustrations for each page of the calendar — every image you see in the final is hand-illustrated, even down to the tools.
Here’s a peak into our process, from start to finish:
Assemble a Team:
We knew finding the perfect illustrator was key — not only someone talented, but also familiar with the pin-up style that we had in mind. Kelly X not only met those criteria, but she put us in touch with some of today’s top pin-up models, including (eventual calendar girls) Claire Sinclair, Sabina Kelley, Bondi Holly, Angela Riccio and Jessamyn Rose.
We still needed one more girl to round out the year (each girl represents two months), and from the minute we saw Miki Black, we knew she was it.
Lastly, we had worked with Studio Martone (photography) and Dresden Buras (stylist) on 2012′s calendar, and they were happy to reprise their roles for 2013.
Find a Direction:
We knew we wanted to remain faithful to the pin-up style, but what does that mean, exactly? We did weeks of research, poring over the greats: Elvgren, Buell, Ekman, Vargas, Armitage, Ballantyne, and D’Ancona — to just name a few of our favorites.
We found pages upon pages of reference, and began planning our shots based on scenes and situations commonly represented in pin-up artwork. We then had to find a way to plausibly relate each girl/scene back to our common theme of Matco Tools.
In the end, we had more than 20 scene ideas that we narrowed down to the final six.
Find a Style:
Using our pin-up research as a guide, we assembled a minimum of three outfits for each model. We tried to represent a variety of styles, while maintaining a similar look and feel. You may notice that we tried to primarily stay within the Matco color palette (red, white and blue).
We found our clothes/props from many different places, including a mix of modern clothing retailers and vintage sources. In the final product we managed to include three dresses, one jumpsuit, two bikini tops, one bikini bottom, one pair of teeny-tiny boy shorts, two lacy bras, one racing suit and a ton of stockings and garters.
Shoot Reference Photographs:
Much like a lot of the pin-up art of the 40s and 50s, we began with photographic reference. We spent a day with each model at Studio Martone, shooting with as many of our props in place as possible.
The fact that these were eventually being illustrated, allowed us a bit of freedom with our final compositions — for example, we actually shot Bondi Holly next to that 1953 Mercury, while Claire Sinclair was shot separately from the P-41 Warhawk.
Turn Photos into Pin-ups:
After a bit of Photoshop work (light retouching, composition, etc.) we sent the photos over to Kelly X, who turned them each into beautiful illustrated, one-of-a-kind works of art.
Starting with a pencil sketch based on each photo, Kelly painted layer upon layer until each girl was ready for the calendar. She also worked her magic on six classic Matco tools, illustrating each one so that the entire calendar would feel cohesive.
Make a Calendar:
We knew from the beginning that we wanted the 2013 calendar to be all about the girls, so we went with a full-page format, spiral-bound at the top (instead of the saddle-stitched bi-fold in 2012), and reserved 2/3 of the layout for the illustration. The other 1/3 was kept simple with the dates for two months, a featured tool and the Matco logo.
We are super happy with the final product, and hope you are too — you can see the entire calendar on our work page. We’re excited to finally be able to share all of our hard work with you, and we’re already looking forward to next year. If you’re interested in getting a 2013 Matco Tools Calendar to hang in your own shop or home, contact your local Matco Distributor.
We recently had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with our talented friends at TRIAD Communications on a poster project for Tuesday Musical Association. Both agencies came up with concepts, and a design from TRIAD was ultimately chosen.
The final, four-color poster was then screen printed in our print lab with help from both firms, as well as members of Tuesday Musical. You can watch the making of video (complements of TRIAD) here and read more about the process here.
A big thanks to the wonderful people of TRIAD and Tuesday Musical for allowing us to be involved in this wonderful collaboration — we hope it’s not our last!
It’s that time of year again — time for our annual open house, that is. This year our theme is “Showdown at 427” and you’re all invited! If you haven’t been to one of our five previous events, you can catch up on years one, two, three, four and five before you experience no. 6 on April 27th (4/27, GET IT? HUH?). Of course if you’ve been here before that’s no excuse not to attend, and if you’d like to RSVP you can do so by clicking this here link.
We’re already in full-prep mode, screen printing posters, pressing buttons and collecting taxidermy. We even had a custom branding iron made, but you’ll have to wait until 4/27 to see how it gets used.
So put on your boots, saddle your horse and hit the trails (er, Route 8 would be fine too) — we hope to see you there!