Spreading Your Wings-Toy Design-Part 2
Last week we talked about the fact that the same skills it takes to conceive of and create a children’s book bleeds over into other related fields. (See article) These related fields are also potential employment and freelance possibilities that we should consider exploring. In this day and age it can be beneficial to be as diverse as you can. Many of us can attest to how hard it is to find work. So being able to look at other employment opportunities that don’t lead you too far astray from your general interests may be a smart option to explore.
Also know that this is meant to be a basic overview. A jumping in point. This is what you would use to get your foot in the door at an entry level position. The art of developing toy lines and the specifics in regards to production and manufacturing can take a lifetime to learn.
If Toy Design sounds like a possibility to you, then the first question you may have is;
What do toy designers do?
As with any job that involves creating a product of this nature, the creation of a toy does not rest solely in the hands of one person. There are many positions and jobs that encompass the creation of a toy from concept, to sculpts, to the final product. The portion that overlaps the most with what a Children’s Book Artist does is the initial conceptual development phase. This will focus us mostly on the 2D portion of toy design. At this stage being able to sculpt may not be required but can extremely beneficial to the realization of your design. This would not only be beneficial for you, but for your potential employee as well. Since your final product is going to be an actual 3D object rather than a 2D one.
The conceptual artist comes up with initial concepts for new toys and new brands. The sketches are well, sketchy initially. In much the same way your roughs would be on initial illustrations. These are done more to convey an overall idea and concept and may not take into consideration how the toys would function. That portion comes at a later phase.
As we noted in the previous article once the concept is approved we move on to a tighter turn around sheet, or as it is called in the industry, a control drawing. The toy is drawn to scale and from multiple viewpoint including; front, side and top views with accurate measurements listed. Colors will be called out and listed using Pantone Colors. Why? Pantone Colors provide a universal method of making sure that the colors used by one source remain consistent. With them inaccuracies that can occur with Printers or Screen Calibrations tend to be rendered moot. (See examples)
Once these are approved they are then transferred out for sampling to the manufacturer. In many instances the Director or a liaison overseeing the product may take over at this point if you are working on a freelance basis. But don’t be surprised if it is asked of you to address any issues with the product with the manufacturer. In fact you should be prepared for interactions with the company’s development, marketing, and sales departments. Each Department will have its own concerns, issues and quotas that need to be met before a product can be completed. Prepare to learn a great deal.
What do you need to include in your portfolio?
In much the same way that your Children’s Book Portfolio is reflective of your ambitions and the type of work you want to solicit, you’ll follow a lot of the same rules here.
- Know the market. Go to toy stores and walk the aisles. Learn the various types of products available and who produces them. They are even more varied than the genres or publisher types in publishing.
- Decide which market(s) you’d like to do. Is it action figures? Is it plush toys? Is it dolls and clothes for them? Is it robots or cars? Figure out which draws you in the most and are the ones you want to explore or freelance in.
- Start creating works that are reflective of the type of work you want to get. Act as though you have been assigned to create a new line of Barbie fashion, or plush toys. If you want to do licensed toys, like Barbie, Marvel, or Disney then orient your works in that direction. (See image examples in article.) But always show your creativity and myriad of skills.
- Show your process. Many potential employees will want to see your skill levels throughout your process. Show how you come to your final products! Show your process as described in “What do toy designers do?”. From sketches to tight sketches, to color comps including dimensions and color swatches. Remember you are the initial creative stage of development. You are the idea person. They want to see your imagination at work. Show it to them. Let what makes you unique and stand out shine!
- Be sure to include 10-15 images.
- Start with your best, end with your best. Show your best.
Be sure to check in next week for even more details and answered questions.
If you are still curious to the type of work to include in your portfolio do a search online for toy designers and browse their portfolios. My personal suggestion is that you start with the amazing examples from the artists who did the examples shown in the article.
See you next week!
Click their names to view their websites and work.
As always you can click on the images for a larger more detailed view.