Case study: D’Art Shtajio

Logo design for a new Japan-based animation studio

The Client

Arthell Isom realized a lifelong dream when he launched D’Art Shtajio alongside his twin brother Darnell, and his colleague Henry Thurlow. Arthell has worked as a background artist on several notable animation projects such as “Bleach,” “Black Butler,” “Blood-C” as well as many feature length anime films. Among other goals, the studio seeks to act as a bridge between the Japanese animation industry and outside markets.


The Task

D’Art Shtajio required a memorable logo that would exemplify their unique mindset and services. Arthell expressed his desire to include his original character called “Shojo no Piero”, a.k.a. The Doll, as an element of the logo. The Doll, a robotic marionette, is intended to symbolize creative freedom. Arthell envisioned The Doll acting as a mascot for the studio, much like the desk lamp used by Pixar Animation Studios. The final logo will be utilized for on-screen credits, as well as digital and printed marketing.


The Process

THE ICON

I wanted to depict the unique characteristics of The Doll, while maintaining a versatile, scalable, and legible design.

“The Doll” character design by Arthell Isom.

Characteristics

  • Robotic female marionette with cute features (including rosy cheeks) and a friendly expression.
  • Cylindrical, metallic ears.
  • Long hair comprised of a wires. The hair is an indeterminate height.
My initial sketches for “The Doll” icon included a profile and 3/4 angle.

The Doll’s hair proved to be a challenge because of its unspecified height. This aspect of her anatomy is interesting on-screen, but as a logo element, I felt that we would have to “frame” the character to create a specific start and end point.

I shifted my efforts to a more straight-on composition. I framed The Doll within geometric shapes. This is an attempt to communicate to viewers that we are only seeing a portion of the character. Keeping the icon equilateral will also provide the most versatility for implementation.

Early drafts of “The Doll” framed within a circular shape. I varied my drawing style to give the client some options.

The client was fairly pleased with these drafts, but I offered to simplify further because I was concerned about scalablity.

An effort to determine what elements could be removed and/or simplified.

As a result of my simplification efforts, some of the defining characteristics of The Doll were lost. We determined that there was a delicate balance of showing just enough of The Doll to distinguish her unique features. There was also some concern that if we displayed too much of the hair, she would too closely resemble a character from Bride of Frankenstein.

Numerous variations of the doll mascot.

The features of the face could still be simplified and the balance of black and white could be improved. The next series of drafts experimented with different facial expressions and the styling of features.

A circular concept.

Finally, after numerous rounds of tweaks, we arrived at the final version of The Doll!

The final icon of “The Doll”

THE WORDMARK

While working on the icon, I was also simultaneously developing drafts of the wordmark. Of course, it is important to have good synergy between the icon and the text. The client didn’t really have many requests regarding text. Their only input was that the letterforms be fun and interesting. I made a variety of drafts in an effort to narrow down what they would like.

Simplified letterforms and experimental apostrophe treatments.
I was fond of this idea because I liked the way the extraction of the apostrophe formed the center of the letter ‘D’. Also, it encourages the viewer to separate the sounds of the ‘D’ and ‘ART’.

Throughout the process, I made an effort to see how the text would pair with the mascot.

A bunch of pairing attempts throughout the design process.

The idea that resonated most with the client was a treatment that utilized negative space to form the letter ‘A’. This treatment appealed to Arthell because he wanted to emphasize the letters ‘D’ and ‘A’.

The final text treatment

THE COMBINATION MARK

In addition to the vertical version of the logo, we also created a horizontal version.

Vertical and horizontal versions of the combination mark.

THE COLORS

For now, the team at D’Art Shtajios would like to keep their brand color scheme very simple.


BUILDING A BRAND

Here’s a quick look at how the logo could potentially be used on some branded items.

Video player
Business card
Tee shirt
Website and Social Media

Promoting the studio’s debut film

D’Art Shtajio’s first anime project was a pilot film based on an independently published comic Indigo Ignited by Americans David Pinter and Samuel Dalton. Look for my name in the end credits!

I helped out with a cost-conscious promotional campaign which helped to spread the word about the pilot.

“Mask yourself“

In the Indigo Ignited pilot film, viewers are introduced to the masked villain known as Alderman. The expression on Alderman’s mask is indicative of his mood and when he switches his mask, all of his minions follow suit.

I approached Indigo Ignited co-creator David Pinter with an idea for a promotion involving Alderman’s masks.

Series of Alderman masks that I illustrated for the Indigo Ignited website.

First, I illustrated the four masks that Alderman wears in the pilot film. Then, we shared the masks with fans, who could then use the mask images to create a “masked” profile photo on Twitter. Participants would be entered into a random drawing and the winners would receive Indigo Ignited merchandise.

@mokiimochii created a custom profile photo using the grinning mask.
My entry in the “mask yourself” promotion.

After the film’s debut in August 2017, Henry Thurlow and I worked on a series of animated GIFs that reveals how the animation progresses from rough to final.

The rough-to-finished progression GIFs received significant engagement.

Keep up with all of D’Art Shtajio’s latest projects by visiting their website or following them on Twitter!