I just completed a really fun custom request for an 11in MacBook Air case. This request came from a previous customer and Mario fan and was for a Thwomp case. They're one of the obstacles commonly present in Super Mario games. Basically a large, angry cinder-block that will try to squash you flat as you try to get past.
I was very excited to try this out, its such a cute design. Hmmm...I seem to gravitate towards angry things! Goombas, Angry Ninjas and now angry Thwomp! Maybe its my inner grumpy trying to get out ;).
I thought this would look best in felt, as it would have that nice 'rock' texture. None of my other products are grey so I had to specially order some of this in. Unfortunately, I could not get the materials in time before I had to leave for Malaysia. Luckily, my dear customer was patient and didn't mind waiting until I returned! :) In the end, I'm really thankful for that extra time. I felt that if I had tried to create this while under the time pressure before leaving to go to Malaysia, it might not have been able to turn out quite so well. As it was, I got the chance to spend quite a bit of time carving this when I returned.
I say 'carving' because that's sort of what it feels like when I work with felt on a completely new thing. I start with rough sketches to try to get the feel of it and then draft up the shape in its real sizes on paper and redraw the design onto that. I then cut out the pattern onto the felt and then pretty much 'carve' the felt until I really feel like I've captured the essence of the character. Sometimes I go too far and have to start again with a whole new piece.
For Thwomp, the hardest part by far was its eyes. Getting that angry look wasn't easy, my rough sketches caught it easily enough but when transferred over to felt, it turned out looking like surprise more than anger. There was a point when I decided to take a break from the eyes and work on the mouth instead. This actually helped a great deal because the mouth looks angry too and so that helped me to focus and imagine it better in my head, so when I went back to the eyes, the angriness came by more naturally.
Another design challenge that I did not forsee was the closure tab. For example, in the case of the Ninja MacBook Case, the closure tab is attached onto the inside of the front layer and closes on the outside of the back layer.
I forgot that the Thwomp had these jaggedy edges on its border, meaning a closure tab going over that would look really ugly. So I had to change it up a bit and have the closure tab closing on the inside of the case. While its just a very minor design challenge, at the time it made me think of how much I really needed to get out of my comfort zone and just try making more different types of things because I always run into tiny little challenges like these. Things that I never really think about until suddenly "Uh-Oh, what do I do now??" Luckily, this wasn't an "Uh-Oh, have to start from scratch because I really didn't think this through!" moment.
So anyway, here's my Thwomp 11in MacBook Air Case!
I couldn't resist "playing" Super Mario! ;)