Firstly, we gather ideas of which minifigure we would like to design, or, if we are focusing on a specific country or era (for example Repubrick Francaise), ideas to match the theme. For this release we concentrated on all French minifigures from WW1, WW2, and even some Modern uniforms. This was one of my favourite months because there was so much variety in the uniforms throughout the eras!!
So, you have picked what you would like to design. Now we need to know what the uniform looks like.
We use different reference materials to help us aid our design work such as Men-at-Arms Osprey Publishing (Shown in the above picture). These books are very handy for making sure everything we design is historically accurate and are designed to the best of our ability. These books have detailed photos and short paragraphs explaining about the uniforms. We do also use the internet to help get some photos that we can't really see clearly in the books. But make sure you get the correct equipment for the minifigure unless you want to design a mix and match figure, which does sound pretty fun to create! I might have to try that one time!
Once you have your reference material and gathered all the information you need, you're good to go and get started on designing your minifigure...
the design stage
Let’s move onto the good part!
For this part we have a design template that we use to help us design all our minifigures. This is the modern French Infantry I recently designed (shown to the left).
The programme we use to create all our design work is Adobe Illustrator. All our designs are in vector format, meaning we can make shapes bigger and smaller without them becoming pixelated. It also helps when sending artwork to the printers.
I place all my researched photos into the design file document. Then I always start with the clothing items first, even though you want to start with the equipment, but it turns out easier later on. Then I use basic shapes for the pockets, pouches, collar etc. Then, once you are happy with how it looks, add in shading and extra lines. This all helps the design look 3D and gives it a realistic feel.
As we have a wide range of minifigures some parts of the designs we can re-use or adapt when we start working on a new minifigure. So, once you build up your design work portfolio you can do exactly the same.
My Top Illustrator Tips:
Always use layers as your design may become very cluttered
Group the same objects together so it is easier to move if needed
Don't over complicate the design
Use the eyedrop tool to match colours
ctrl + Z is very handy when designing. I'm using it constantly!
I hope this has given you an insight into how here at United Bricks we create our minifigures. The next section will include the print and final touches to the products.
~ Mikaela - Creative Designer
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