Thursday, May 27, 2010

120 [m ] : Ben 10 Alien Force DVDs

Right on the heels of the Cartoon Network premiere of the animated action show "Ben 10 Alien Force" (2008-2010), itself the spin-off/ sequel of the popular "Ben 10" (2005-2008), the network's licensing group started rolling the plans for the consumer line of DVDs.

16 concepts for "Ben 10 Alien Force" DVD, vol. 1.

"Ben 10 Alien Force" DVD vol. 1
Final illustration.

Digital painting by Brian McGee.

For any given project like these, as few as three and as many as 24 iterations of concepts might be generated, usually on the "more" side when clients are involved. Past that, the illustration might be tweaked multiple times before it's called final.

With the first volume, I, as part of a team designing the packaging, was proposing not just one cover, but also the elements for the "Alien Force" line look - the visual bits to be carried through all the property's like packaging. Initially, the chosen concept was based on what is shown above here in the second row, second from the left.

Some thing like a week before work on the final illustration was to start, the white border was decided upon to go on all Carton Network DVD packaging starting in 2008. As a result, the entire illustration had to be redesigned. The three concepts to the right on the second row are part of that redesign as well as being proposals for the first three volumes' illustrations .

Three concepts for "Ben 10 Alien Force" DVD, vol. 2

"Ben 10 Alien Force" DVD, vol. 2.
Final Illustration.

Digital painting by Brian McGee.

Each volume in the DVD series as separate design projects, were spaced roughly about 3 months apart, meaning the delivery dates of the final packaging art were about 3 months apart.

The second volume would have featured Echo Echo, the small self-replicating guy shown in the first two concepts, until after research of the DVD's five episodes revealed that the guy just didn't have much to do in them. Four-armed Spidermonkey was chosen based on his presence on the DVD and his popularity for the 3-month old show.

With volume 2 as a type of template, volumes 3 through 6 would feature Ben and one of his alien hero transformations, and as a whole the decision to stick to that "template" would have its ramifications. Looking at the 9 different illustration concepts of the initial 16 concepts (the other 7 feature line look design explorations) and then looking at 5 of 6 covers featuring only two characters with logo centered at the top, does not at all display a straight line logic to the process, unless you follow the limited design and composition formula of "big main character in the center."

My theories regarding DVD package art, all of which which I have yet to convince my licensing clients, are these: a) be true to the property/ show; b) make it for the fan; c) don't try to win over the uninitiated, the person who has never heard of the property; and d) literally make it attractive.

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