CoolSimulations logo, featuring the Scray Chicken, redesigned with improved character design, line art, and shading
Affinity Designer, Adobe Illustrator
The purpose of this logo redesign is to transition from a temporary logo to a refined, professional design that embodies CoolSimulations' evolving skills and design style. The shifting design style of illustrated vector art, particularly through the Chuck Yeetus project, has created a focus on elevating character design, varied line art, and layered shading. The foremost objective is to seamlessly integrate these design advancements into the logo. This includes the infusion of light highlight colours and the incorporation of a distinctive white dot for the illusion of shine. To maintain brand consistency, the logo will feature CoolSimulations' established colour palette, which is used across the website and various documents.
Central to this logo transformation is the Scray Chicken, not to be mistaken for a scary chicken. The Scray Chicken is a whimsical character, adorned with spikes and an insatiable appetite that results in burps that can knock over houses. Rooted in childhood imaginings, the word scray in Scray Chicken comes from the misspelling of the word scary as the character has scary qualities but is not actually scary. This character now represents CoolSimulations as its mascot. While the previous logo drew inspiration directly from original childhood sketches, the design seeks to explore meaningful shapes, perspectives, and character attributes. This undertaking aims to render the Scray Chicken not only relatable and appealing but also interesting as it reflects CoolSimulations' commitment to detailed, clean, and newfangled design.
The design process of the Scray Chicken character illustration involved an exploration of original childhood drawings which were then digitally sketched to recreate the essence of those physical drawings. The line art for the temporary logo was initially traced from one of these designs, so it could appear more authentic. However, the temporary logo fell short in several crucial aspects. It failed to align with CoolSimulations' established brand colours, the line art was uniformly flat and struggled to convey the character's depth. Shading was applied sparingly, leaving the logo visually understated. Most notably, the shapes appeared one-dimensional, lacking the captivating complexity necessary to engage the viewer. Moreover, the character's portrayal lacked perspective and emotional resonance, presented in a flat, inexpressive manner. The eye and beak, devoid of intricate detail, failed to evoke the intended emotions in the viewer.
For the creation of a new logo, still using the Scray Chicken character, reference images for the new design were curated. These references included both illustrated chickens and their real-life counterparts. They served as inspiration for shaping the character's forms, expressions, and personality. Particular attention was directed towards refining the beak and eye shapes and exploring various expressions, emotions, and perspectives. From these references, the decision emerged to forgo the inclusion of the red wattles and comb that are a part of a chicken's head. Instead, spikes would occupy this space, preserving the silhouette of a regular chicken while adding a unique twist. The reference collection also included cone-shaped spikes for shading and highlighting purposes. The new design would include detailed shading with edge shadows, light highlights, white shines, and line art with varying stroke thicknesses to impart an authentic, hand-drawn feel. The redesigned character would also have natural non-symmetrical shapes subtly tilted to unveil more of its face, thus avoiding flatness. These design choices for the character allow for effortless animation to convey expressions, much like emojis. Moreover, it remains flexible for the potential future attachment of a body, should the character require further development.
First in the development process was shaping the Scray Chicken's head, initially a simple circle halved, with the top part flattened and the left side squashed for perspective reasons. The beak was nestled into the head, its form overlapping in a tight, easily animated configuration for expressive open-and-close movements. Feathers followed next, arranged in an alternating pattern of small and large, their angles carefully aligned with the perspective of the head's turn. Next designed were the spikes in a cone shape, rotated to match the curvature of the head. Colours from CoolSimulations' palette were used with different levels of tinting creating the highlights, while for deeper shadows, more black in the CYMK colour profile was added, rather than mere tinting, to achieve the desired depth and richness.
In designing the character's line art, each line including the lower feathers, beak, and cheek was drawn with a pen and tablet to infuse a hand-drawn quality with organic, natural curves. The cone spikes received their distinctive bends post-placement, adjusted to conform to the spike's direction. Determining stroke thicknesses was done in Affinity Designer with its pressure option. Usually intended for real-time pen tablet control, was adapted post-design to add depth and dimensionality. The dynamic design of edge thickness conjured a sense of a brush's organic flow, with strokes tapering at the point of origin and widening upon the return curve. This technique, guided by perspective, ensured varying widths that lent the character depth and dimension.
Shading started with the beak with a highlight encircling the top, followed by a highlight to the right, a white shine, and a shadow to show depth into the lower half. The spikes contain a base lighter highlight to accentuate the curved edges, complemented by another highlight along the right side to emphasise the bend. A white shine was placed to accentuate the sharp tip. The head substituted the white shine with a darker highlight, lighter than the shadow, and applied to convey the curvature of the dome.
Expression was a focal point, particularly through the character's eyes. The final design featured black eyes, accentuated by a white shine. This design choice, without pupils, necessitated alternative methods for expression. Drawing inspiration from the Peanuts comic strip starting Charlie Brown, and its use of pure black eye designs, the character's expressions came to life. The absence of pupils required dynamic movement through subtle design changes in the eyes. For instance, the character's eyes could convey a range of emotions, from a line for blinking to a wavy edge for sadness, and surrounding brackets to signify concern. As seen in Peanuts, dots could transform into commas for an eye-rolling effect. Using shape in this design rather than adding complex details shows mature design and ingenuity. The Scray Chicken adopted these nuanced design choices, with a cheek-raising line beneath the eye communicating happiness through the illusion of a smile.
The redesigned Scray Chicken logo was a success, having met all the goals and included all the targeted design improvements. Notably, the new design was achieved with ease due to the intuitive capabilities of Affinity Designer, rather than the previous design created in Adobe Illustrator. This improved design now serves as a foundation for future expansion and enhancement including the addition of a body to the character or the introduction of facial animations. There is potential for expressive eyes that blink, a mouth that opens, or a transformation of expressions, conveyed through variations in eyebrows and surrounding brackets. These changes allow for a character with a range of emotions, making it a dynamic and relatable icon for CoolSimulations. Admittedly, the design of the feathers, while expressive and charming, may benefit from further precision and clarity. However, it's important to note that when these feathers are eventually attached to a body, their visual impact and intended effect may become more pronounced. The Scray Chicken's head resembles an ice cream shape, it strikes a delightful chord with audiences, establishing an instant and memorable connection. While the exact integration of this head shape into a body remains unknown, its current form is appealing for all who view it. The Scray Chicken, with its newfound look, embodies CoolSimulations' skills of creativity and design.