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Sep 25

Photo Realistic Illustrated Business Mascot

This article is about a project I recently completed. The client wanted a photo-realistic business mascot illustrated. You might ask “Why illustrate a photo-realistic business mascot and just use photography for the business mascot instead?” The answer is really very simple; because he needed the business mascot doing something that is not normal behavior for the animal.

The client is The Shaved Ice Bar located in Naples, Florida and they had given their business mascot a great deal of thought. They had determined many aspects of the mascot which would be used in their logo, signage, and all around The Shaved Ice Bar’s interior.

The Business Mascot Requirements

First, the animal to be used for their new business mascot would be a “green sea turtle” similar to the one shown below.

green see turtle model for business mascotSecond, the business mascot needed to be holding a Hawaiian ice (with the client’s logo on it). Third, the business mascot needed to be looking at the viewer.  Fourth, the business mascot needed to be happy and excited. And fifth, the business mascot needed to be licking the Hawaiian ice so we could see the transfer of color from the Hawaiian ice onto the turtle’s tongue.

The client wanted the illustrated business mascot to resemble the live animal as much as possible…but we would need to take creative license on several aspects of the animal’s normal anatomy. Read on to see how I worked through this process.

Prey vs Predator Anatomy

green sea turtle's face as model for business mascotPredator animals are similar to humans. One unique identifier for predator animals is that they have eyes facing forward on their heads. Forward facing eyes allow for binocular or stereoscopic vision, which allows an animal to see and judge depth.

Turtles are prey animals. Meaning, they are sought, captured, and eaten by predators. One unique identifier for prey animals is that their eyes are located on the sides of their head. The side eye placement allows for greater peripheral or side vision and thus enables the animal to see predators approaching from the side as well as behind. side view of green sea turtle as model for business mascot

The Challenge

The challenge became clear at this point…in order for the turtle to be looking at the viewer, with his eyes located on the side of his head; we would have to turn the turtle’s head to the side. If I did that, we would only see one eye and the turtle would not be looking at and facing the viewer as the client instructed.

Further, turtles in real life have large brows which make their eyes look a little sleepy. And a mouth that turns downward into somewhat of a frown. This was counter-productive to the client wanting the animal to be excited and happy about eating his Hawaiian ice product.

Additionally, we could only see the transfer of color from the Hawaiian ice onto the turtle’s tongue if the turtle was facing forward as well…clearly we needed to take some creative license with the sea turtle’s eye placement, brows, and mouth!

The Business Mascot Result

closeup of illustrated green sea turtle business mascot's faceAnd the result is below. I lessened the brow and moved the eyes forward a slight bit, and moved the eyelids back a little. This allowed me to illustrate the head in a three-quarter front view to accomplish the turtle facing the audience, and looking at the viewer and enabling us to see both eyes.

The last challenge with the turtle face was to upturn the ends of their mouth into a smile and give the animal a tongue that could reach the Hawaiian ice. I illustrated more of a human-type tongue.

closeup of green sea turtles mouthThe final requirement was the sea turtle holding the Hawaiian ice cup. This was actually the easy part. Since sea turtles have flippers, I could fold the flipper similar to a human wearing a mitten.

The last step involved working with the final coloring. You see the green sea turtle in their native environment appears to be different colors depending on the depth of which they are photographed and the quality of the photographic equipment used. Fortunately the client was extremely knowledgeable about the green sea turtle and their natural coloring and I followed his lead for coloring the business mascot.

green see turtle model for business mascot showing natural coloringAnd here is the final photo realistic illustrated business mascot:

final illustration of green sea turtle business mascotThe end result was that the client was extremely pleased with their new business mascot. They felt it resembled the actual animal (above) as much as we could and took the necessary creative license to fix the problems associated with the real life animal’s anatomy to mimic what the client wanted the animal doing in the final pose.


About Malane Newman Design
Malane Newman is a professional cartoonist, graphic designer, illustrator and website designer. Prior to starting Malane Newman Design, she was the Visual Communications Director for Andersen Consulting (now known as Accenture, Corp.). She now works directly with clients to design and develop their websites, company mascots, product packaging, and just about everything else that falls into the four service areas; cartooning, illustration, website design, and graphic design.

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