The 2018 World Cup is in full swing. To celebrate the special event, we hand-picked 25 superstars from several countries to create this series of character illustrations for you soccer fans! Big thanks to Leo Natsume & Daniel Nyari for inspiration!
To correctly illustrate the facial structures of each player, it’s indispensable to collect all of the materials from the very beginning. The purpose is to epitomize the most accurate disposition of each star from real photographs, allowing the final illustrations to take into account both their “shape” and “mentality.” This also allows us to make each character more vivid regarding characteristics.
Let’s walk through the design thinking together.
We need to look at the characters from a few different angles — front, 45 degrees and side profile. Additionally, we need photos of different facial expressions, such as sprinting, resting, smiling, etc. to get a more complete idea of the player. Understanding the character’s personality and habits can often spark creative ideas for a more in-depth design as well, so we should check those out before we begin the design process.
Next, we want to summarize the general facial structure and features based on the figures from the different angles of the character we just analyzed. Let’s take Messi as an example: he has a classic retro hairstyle, large ears, and eyes that are small but full of sparkle. Of course, to maintain the unity of the final illustrations, the eye level of all characters needs to be consistent and should be adjusted according to the length and width of the person’s face as well as to his hairstyle.
Following the above steps, we now have the character’s main image. It is necessary to consider their ethnicities, skin colors, hairstyles, and the colors of the uniforms at this point so we can maximize the original vision of the characters. At the same time, we must adjust the overall tone to regulate the difference in brightness and saturation.
This is the most critical step. When all the above is done, it’s time to select the most characteristic facial expression of each player based on the photos collected in the previous steps. For instance, Messi’s recognizable light smile with his mouth uplifting slightly seems to suit him best and simultaneously displays his most attractive features.
This is the last step, in which we will adjust the fine details to give each character a final touch. These adjustments include the character’s overall image structure, color contrast, ratios between their facial components, etc. Then we will add other things such as stripes, Nike/Adidas logos and other such details to the clothing. In the end, make sure to zoom out the design draft by 200 percent to find out whether or not the design is bright enough in some places.
After these five steps, the final illustrations are ready to say hello to the world! Yay! We created 25 characters in total. Let’s take a look at the best ones.