After months of research, prototyping, tweaking and testing, I'm extremely excited to finally be ready to introduce Hooby Groovy's latest design: The Hooby Groovy Kitten Carrier! I'd like to give a little back story and context to the history of this design. It all started with rescuing 2 little kittens who eventually came to be known as Rongkus Sumcrust and Sergio Rasputin. We were sharing the foster care of both kittens across 2 households and we knew that eventually when they were old enough, they would be separated and we would keep one while the other would be with my brother-in-law and his fiancee. Rongkus now lives with us and visits his brother Sergio all the time. My brother-in-law lives close to my workshop so we've been able to have play-dates almost daily and the kittens love playing together.
Rongkus and Sergio 3 days after rescue. They've really grown since then!
When they were wee little kittens, a big cardboard box was sufficient for car rides but they very quickly outgrew those and I was wary of driving by myself with kittens jumping around in the car. I started researching carriers and kitten behaviours when it came to car rides and carriers. One advice that was mentioned a lot was to leave the carrier out for a couple of days before a road trip so the kitten could familiarise itself with the carrier so it wouldn't be such a scary shock to be locked up in the carrier while dealing with a moving car. I looked around for carriers and could not find any that I would feel happy leaving out in our home every single day. They all looked, well like mean, evil cages!
That became my main motivation for creating a kitten carrier for Rongkus and Sergio. I wanted to have it comfy and cosy so that a kitten would actually want to be in it and probably use it as their regular bed or house. Meaning that when it came to travel time, they would be essentially travelling in their comfy bed and feel safe, familiar and secure. Which meant that I wanted the carrier to look pretty enough to blend into the home decor and not be an eyesore. And of course it had to function well as a kitten carrier.
I went through about 5 iterations of this design before finally getting all the details right. As it needed to house a kitten who might be upset, hyperactive or a damn good escape artist, there were many tweaks that had to be done. I saw that our kittens liked caves and boxes and cosy hidey holes. So the carrier had to be cosy and a little cave-like so they could feel like they would hide inside. At the same time, they were curious about everything and did not like to be fully shut up. So from the start, my design incorporated the small cat-shaped windows. As I began to learn just how good kittens are at getting through holes, the sizes of these windows got smaller until I realised that there might as well not be windows at all because they could get through ANYTHING! So the bigger windows made a comeback and I utilised fly screen to keep them in while still giving them a view of the outside world.
My first iteration had a cardboard reinforcement for the walls. Even with our tiny, tiny kittens at that time, as soon as they got the courage to try jumping on the carrier, it was all over for the carrier! So I upgraded to a proper wooden frame. And so it was with each new iteration, the carrier would be tested with Rongkus or Sergio and little refinements and improvements tweaked to make the design better for the kitten, the owner and also for me to construct. Construction methods had to be figured out as each little change was made and as it was new territory for me, it was all trial and error. I have learnt so much about carpentry and I learnt even more than ever about the felt that I already work extensively with.
I'm really happy to report that Rongkus and Sergio both love their Hooby Groovy Kitten Carriers. Car rides are a breeze, Rongkus feels comfy and safe and usually takes a peaceful nap in his carrier, even when I have the flap door open. And best of all, he even loves using it as one of his many beds while at home.
The Hooby Groovy Kitten Carrier is now available online at www.hoobygroovy.com and Hooby Groovy's Etsy Shop, don't forget to let me know what your kitten's name is so I can embroider its name onto the personalised tag.
Hope you like my Hooby Groovy Kitten Carrier design, let me know what you think in the comments below! And as always, have a lovely day! :)
The same customer that requested the Jake and Rainicorn A4 Compendium also asked for a BMO case for her Nintendo 3DS XL. The design for this was easy, BMO being the perfect shape for a case. :) The challenge to this particular creation was construction and assembly.
First off, the 3DS XL is pretty, well 3D. I usually work with tablets which are pretty flat so a sleeve is suitable. However, the 3DS is quite thick, so a sleeve would not suffice. It would have looked really ugly and the material would bulge all over as it would need to accommodate for the added thickness. So I had to figure out a way to make a holder. But first, I needed a model to test that my holder would work. I've got a Nintendo DS but that's way, way smaller so I ended up building my own 3DS:
The inside holder part of the case was the next part I tackled. My customer also wanted a few pockets for game cartridges, so here's what I came up with:
After this was done, I started on the cover. I decided to embroider the entire cover on. The main reason for this was because I couldn't find any felt that was the colour of BMO and it would have taken a LOT of dye to get a colour that deep on felt.
This was by far the most intense embroidery session for my machine! And it was still just recovering from Rainicorn :).
Well here's the finished piece. I'm actually really, really pleased with the way it turned out. I think it has that Adventure Time cartoon drawing feeling to it.
Hope you like my bespoke BMO case! And as always, if you would like me to create a bespoke creation for you, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! :)
Just wanted to share my latest artwork on my Hooby Groovy Red Bubble shop:
This piece is available at Red Bubble as cards, prints, posters and pillows.
Hope you like this piece! :)
The creation of this case really taught me the importance of stepping back from a design and taking a break from it to be able to see it in a different light. I'd been so caught up in my own Hooby Groovy designs that when I received this request, I immediately sprang into how to translate Pinkie Pie into something that fit in the mold of my other animal cases. Pony, panda, they're all about the same right? ;p It quickly became apparent that I really could not have that same kind of design, with pony arms and feet, while maintaining the look of My Little Pony. So I switched to thinking about just using Pinkie Pie's face for the case. I was so stuck on just wanting her face so I tried various ways of getting her round face to fit a rectangular device, mostly be enlarging it and making it a bit more oval.
At first I was happy with the way it turned out, until the morning that I was preparing the digital files needed for the embroidery of Pinkie Pie's face features and cutie mark. You see, I'd been working on Pinkie Pie's design using Photoshop as I knew I would need her eyes/nose/mouth/cutie mark to be in a digital file. And I'd never used a computer before to prepare pattern templates. I knew that what I was seeing on screen was not actually indicative of the actual size but because I was so focused on proportions and how it looks, its actual physical size just escaped my attention altogether.
I printed out my design so I could have the pattern to cut the fabric out with and then quickly realised it did not fit on an A4 paper. My first thought was that my printer or photoshop was trying to resize it wrongly because a Kindle Touch is tiny, about half the size of an iPad. And then I thought I'd check it with a rough cutout of the Kindle's dimensions that I'd prepared earlier and to my horror, the actual size of my design was actually bigger than an iPad!
Of course, it was to do with trying to get a rectangular shape to fit within a round shape, thereby resulting in a super big round shape. I'd known it was going to be bigger than the Kindle but didn't realise it was that much bigger. Really silly of me, now that I can look at it in retrospect!
I went into slumpy depressed mode where I started thinking how it's just impossible! A Kindle just CANNOT fit into a pony! Luckily, I had a myriad of other custom orders to work on at the same time so I switched to working on those for a while to clear my brain of ponies.
And that break was really well-needed because I just really needed to clear my head of how the pony's face was round and the Kindle isn't. My revelation came in a couple of days and it was just the simplest, most obvious solution! Instead of enlarging a circle to fit a rectangle inside of it, shrink the circle so it fits into the rectangle, d'uh!!
Fixing my problem in this way also fixed a secondary problem, which was how to make her mane look more significant. I was initially just going to have a one-sided curly fringe on the front and a one-sided curly mane down the back. Now I could have both and also have her 'mane' surround her face, thus giving her mane a fuller look. Fixing my size solution actually gave me a much, much better design than my original idea.
Here's the comparison of my previous design on the left, compared to my new design on the right:
And here's the finished product:
One new experience for me during the creation of this case was machine embroidery! After my very difficult attempt at using my non-embroidery sewing machine to embroider the eyes on the Eeyore Case, I knew my machine just could not cut it for this job! I borrowed my friend's embroidery machine and I'm definitely determined to get my own now! The results are just so good. Felt cutouts could never be even half as good as embroidery for this level of detail!
I'm really happy with how this turned out! So much new experiences and lessons packed into one neat little Kindle Case (which very nearly went all wrong and could have turned out to be a gigantic laptop sized case!)
Once again, I got a chance to work with the brilliant Games for Gummie on another iPhone game! This time, it's a cute, simple game called Cow Abduct! And it is available for free on the App Store so if you have an iPhone, do check it out! :)
Instead of cutting characters out of felt, this time around was more traditional game art. There were 3 main assets that I needed to create: the UFO, the cows and the birds. I started out with heaps of rough concepts which I then showed to Games for Gummie to get feedback and direction:
Once the look of the cows/birds/UFO was okayed, I'd draw up the final version and ink it. Then I scanned it and coloured it up in Photoshop.
We decided to go for a cute, cartoony, colour-blocked kind of look. As in the case of Shuriken Chicken, the assets appear really small on the iPhone screen so again, I had to rely on obvious shapes and simple colours to make the assets pop and look like what they're meant to look like. My favourite were the birds:
The other assets I had to make were feathers and smoke to be used as particles for when a bird was shot or when the UFO goes down. So watch out for those too in the game! :)
Anyway, here's what the game looks like:
And here's what its all about, as taken from the App Store Description:
Peter the Martian has travelled to Earth in his trusty UFO to do some scientific research. But, he has just found out that he miscalculated the amount of fuel he would burn in Earth's atmosphere. His UFO is running out of fuel fast, but luckily, he has discovered that he can fuel his UFO with cows!!
Help Peter keep his UFO in the air as long as possible by abducting cows to keep his fuel level up. Be careful of those pesky birds though, zap them before they hit Peter's UFO or they will drain some fuel on impact.
Gameplay is simple, yet so fun! Press and hold a cow to abduct it, and tap birds to zap them out of the sky. Compete with friends, and the world with Game Center leader board support and see who can keep Peter the Martian in the air as long as possible!
Cow Abduct! is advertising supported.
You can disable advertising by supporting indie game developer Games for Gummie with an in-app purchase.
At the moment, I'm #4 on the Game Center Leaderboards, which I'm rather proud of. :) Do check out Cow Abduct! and let me know what you think of it and see if you can beat my best time of 2:12:13! ;)
As mentioned before, I collaborated with Games for Gummie to produce the graphics for their iPhone game entitled Shuriken Chicken. This included character design as well as hand cutting and assembling the characters out of felt.
Right from the start, the character design for Shuriken Chicken was very much driven by the way that the graphics would be created. Games for Gummie had settled on the idea of creating the assets by photographing physical models of the characters made out of felt and so that was our starting point.
So, knowing that I had to make these characters out of felt and also that the assets would be appearing quite small on the iPhone screen, it was essential to stick to simple geometrical shapes. Anything with too many fine details would have been really difficult to create using felt and would have been lost when sizing it down for the iPhone screen. But at the same time, I wanted to create something that would immediately come across as a chicken that's also a ninja as well as a quirky, memorable character.
I tackled this challenge very much in the same way as I tackle designing my own Hooby Groovy products. First of all was researching the animal in question; in this particular case a chicken and figuring out what are the stand out features that immediately identifies a chicken. For Shuriken Chicken, I decided to go for a simple rounded comb, tail and beak as means of 'chickening' the character. As for ninja-ing him, well I already had experience in ninja-ing up something :). From there, I drew up various sketches of different shaped chickens, making sure to keep it to a very simple geometrical shape. I showed these to Games for Gummie and we settled on the basic look of Shuriken Chicken.
Just one more note on how I went about designing the character, during my first few sketches, it was really about just thinking up geometrical shapes and putting a comb, tail and beak on it just to see what it would look like and whether it would work. And then I thought about how Shuriken Chicken is meant to be a ninja that's hellbent on running through this world, bypassing or shurikening all obstacles that get in his way. With that in mind, I adjusted shapes to make him appear to be leaning slightly forward to show his movement and determination. There was a point during the game design phase where there was talk that maybe something was chasing him and so while there was that idea bouncing around, I played around more with shapes that leaned backwards, sort of a comical run where his body leaned backwards and lagged behind his feet.
Then came to sculpting it out of felt. I drew up a pattern for it in a nice big size and used that to cut out the basic felt shapes that I needed and then refined it by putting it together and working it until Shuriken Chicken looked just right. This meant playing with proportions of his body, comb, tail, hands (wing?), beak and eyes. And of course his funny little shoes. His peanut shaped red sneakers are my absolute favourite part of his character design!
When designing Shuriken Chicken, I had purely thought about him from a side profile view because that is what he is throughout the game. But then Games for Gummie also wanted him on the Main Menu and icons so that meant translating him into a front view too. Luckily and maybe because I'd kept him so simple, this was easy to do. :)
Besides his forward-leaning running stance, I also used his eyes to convery his character and mood. I created a few types of eyes and it was just a matter of swapping them in at the right moment and Shuriken Chicken would turn from a perfectly friendly, harmless wide eyed chicken into an angry I-mean-business chicken.
I handed off all the felt assets to Games for Gummie to be photographed and then converted into in-game assets. There's a run down on how that was done over at the Games for Gummie blog.
I'm really happy with the way Shuriken Chicken turned out and I think he really does convey the spirit of a determined ninja, despite being made up of only about 8 or so little pieces of felt. :)
Shuriken Chicken is available on the App Store so do check it out! :)