Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Art of Barry Bones


UPDATE: Barry Bones book now on sale! Just $10. Order yours now!

I always love creating stuff for GUTS. If you aren't familiar, GUTS is the pumpkin carving contest put on by the firm I live at, Hawse Design. This year, I had the opportunity to expand the Barry Bones character created for last years event. The result of that work ended up being produced into a 24 page activity book. More on that later.


The previous design for Barry Bones & Co. (left) was flat and too cold. I needed to update the characters with more depth and warmth (right).

Last year, I spent about a week or so on the development of Barry Bones, and I feel the art reflects that. It's over-simplified and the colors are very flat. This year, I wanted to redo that artwork into a more vibrant and "alive" set of characters. I wanted Barry Bones to have a lot more personality this year and appeal to a wider ranged audience.


An example of some of the pencil drawings done for character concepts.

I also wanted to surround Barry with a larger cast of characters. What does his neighborhood feel like? Who is his best friend? What attitudes and personalities does he come in contact with. All of these ideas would help design new characters.


Barry got a whole new crew of friends for 2011.

Since this work would need to take place in and around real client work, I still needed to keep the character designs simple. I like to think of them as vector puppets. This would help me keep this project on schedule. Overall, from sketch to final production art, this book took me about 3 months.


Of course he gets a logo.


The storyboard on the left shows my rough ideas for the layout. While they are super crappy, I'm surprised that the final art (on the right) was pretty close to my original idea.

The storyboard process took about a month. The story seems like such a simple one, and I was surprised at how long it takes to craft a simple story. I wanted the story to be entertaining and create a world around Barry Bones, but also act as a promotion for the GUTS event we host every year.


The original concept for the mummy was that he was an exercise buff. I thought that was funny since his arms would keep falling off. Didn't have time for that in this story though.

I also named several of the characters after the people I work with at Hawse. Barry is named for my environmental design director, Barry Becker. Rob the mummy is named after my boss Rob Hawse, with Brandy the witch being named for my AE Brandy Newton. Of course my friend and creative director, Matt Stevens, would appear as a bat… a nod to his obsession with the caped crusader. I enjoy working with these people in real life, and felt Barry should get to be with them too.


I had to work in a coffee shop. I even did a version of the Starbucks logo for the story.

I always enjoy having my characters appear in places that I like to visit. Every single character I've ever created loves coffee. I just think it's funny.


As Barry gets closer to finding a pumpkin, the colors begin to turn orange.

I wanted color to help tell the Barry Bones story as well as the scenes and characters. "Color Scripts" are tools I see folks like Pixar and Dreamworks utilize in their storytelling, and wanted to emulate that practice here with Barry. As Barry gets closer to his pumpkin, the colors in the background begin to turn orange. Also, it's rare to see such candy-coated colors used with a Halloween story, so I thought it would be a neat idea to see it in action.


I love drawing grocery stores. Even though it appears as a detail on one page, I wanted to make it feel just right.

I love grocery stores. I love shopping at grocery stores. I don't know why. I just do. So, the Barry Bones story would need to have a grocery store. Fresh Slurch anyone?


Did I mention I enjoy drawing grocery stores?

Not only would this book be a story book, but it would have big activities in it as well. Once of the more detailed adventures was a "seek and find". I decided it would be cool to have a seek and find where you had to help Barry find groceries in the cluttered aisles of the monster grocery store. In the image above, you can see the sketched version and how it compared to the final version shown just below it.


The final art for Bodean and Barry's house was very close to my final sketches.

As a kid, I always enjoyed seeing where characters lived (part of the concept behind Disneyland was that Walt wanted to show where the characters lived) and Barry would be no exception. I wanted to pair him with Bodean the Redneck Werewolf because I liked how opposite they are. Bodean is a circle, while Barry is a rectangle. Barry talks a lot and Bodean never says a word.


Of course I would find a way to draw some sort of truck.

I enjoy drawing vehicles and since this year the goal is to deliver 200 Barry Bones books and t-shirts to children at Levine Children's Hospital (you can read more about this over on the official GUTS site), it made sense to me that Barry should drive a GUTS delivery truck. Beep beep!


And let's not forget the Bonesmobile. Barry Bones demands sweet rides!

Of course, when he's not working, Barry needed a ride that suited his fine taste in style and his obsession with all things fancy. While I haven't quite decided if the Bonesmobile is haunted, it does get good gas mileage.


Every element has to be created. Even lawnmowers. Here are some props designed for the story.

Whenever you create a story, you have to design the world around your characters. Mailboxes, lawn mowers, trashcans… none of these things exist until you create them. The example above shows some of the elements created for the Barry Bones book.


Barry Bones even got specifically designed food packages. No detail is too small.

For the grocery store scene, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to create silly food packages. Matt helped a lot with the names, but I take credit for the REALLY funny ones. Whichever those are.


You can send a Barry Bones shirt and book to a kid at Levine Children's Hospital!

"So how can I get my hands on a Barry Bones book?" Well, currently all printed copies are being donated to Levine Children's Hospital. It's for kids that are too sick to come to GUTS. This book is specifically for them. That's not to say we won't make them available for sale in the future, but currently it's not in the works.


Don't forget to come to GUTS and bid on the pumpkins.

If you live in the Charlotte area and are looking for a Halloween event that's fun for the entire family, then please come to GUTS. You'll have the opportunity to see some really fantastic designs and even bid on your favorite ones. You can really impress all of those trick-or-treaters with an amazing pumpkin. Find out more about GUTS on the official site.


This poor guy never made it into the story. There is always 2012.

In closing, I wanted to personally thank my family at HAWSE for allowing me to create this book the way I wanted to do it. I also wanted to thank Metrographics for graciously donating their time and resources to print it FOR FREE. They rule.

Please consider pledging $25 to GUTS, so that a kid receives this Barry Bones book along with a Barry Bones t-shirt. This is a project I believe in, and have spent nights and weekends to make it good and to make it feel special. I appreciate all of your support.

Happy Halloween!