Sharing one’s emotions is one of the most subtle and exciting things about socializing. It is especially significant in online communication: your instant messages reflect you as a combination of the latest jokes, Internet memes, and YouTube links.
Additionally, emoticons play an important role in online chatting – though in the past year they have been widely replaced by a novel way to express emotions: stickers.
Naturally, we took great interest in the use of stickers: it is rapidly spreading across the instant messaging world, so we dove into research and development. That process deserves its own separate fascinating (and sometimes thrilling) narrative. But for now, we will give you a quick look at how we created some cozy winter stickers featuring a polar bear and a penguin.
We cannot find a solution without clearly defining the problem. After carefully choosing an illustrator, we concentrate on the instructions for the work. This is the most significant part of the job; it requires the precision of a samurai in terms of detail.
The illustrator receives a detailed list of stickers to be included in the New Year’s set, a set of links, and reference materials with the color schemes and styles of every single sticker.
Every sticker must accurately fit a general concept and be described in every detail, from the theme to the expression of its eyes, the angle of the ears being pressed to the head, the angle of a paw holding a cup, and the size of the squares on a checkered blanket. In some cases one picture may have several themes or multiple poses to choose from after the sketches have been compared.
A little bear is jumping for joy. The picture shows it hopping a little above the ground. Its paws are up, and it is smiling with an open mouth. The paws can also be drawn with one up and forward and the other bent and pressed against the body (imitating a “yes!” gesture). To create a winter atmosphere, we can add skis, as if the bear is jumping freestyle – with poles up, skis wide apart – experiencing a moment of joy and triumph in the air.
Preparations are over; it’s time to start “playing ball”. A file with stickers that gradually becomes more and more evident is transferred back and forth from the illustrator to the team several times, growing with the addition of details, comments, and references – somewhat like a growing coral reef.
There are questions, corrections, and additions, perhaps even links to galleries of bears and penguins which present the details of the animals’ mannerisms, temperament, and behavior.
The most exciting moment of the process is when the whole team anxiously awaits the first sketches. The illustrator is to show depth to the characters – we have waited for this moment!
The first attempt may turn out to be a success. Colleagues passing by your workstation will look at your monitor and joyfully exclaim: “Yeah, that’s the feeling we were going for from head to toe!” However, that is rarely the case. More frequently the character comments consumes half the entire development stage (It’s a duck isn’t it? Does a polar bear have a nose like that? Why do its claws look so frightening? Make it more plush and puffy, and more shaped like a light bulb!). It may even continue through to the end of the process; some details may be edited in the final stage of making sketches.
Once the characters have been found the pressure decreases, and there is a collective sigh of relief. Now the characters must be drawn in the right context in order to express our plots and emotions. And then comes the final drawing, which may include slight adjustments to details and color scheme. In the last step, the final sticker designs are adapted to the monitors of specific devices: the owners of all mobile device types should receive the stickers all at the same time.
And here’s the reward! This is a family album of sorts. After all the illustrative direction, lots of comments, and thousands of little requests, it will show how “our baby” has grown, from the first sketch to those sweet little pictures that you can, at this very moment, send to a friend or your mother from your mobile device.
Yes, we’re almost there!
Here we are! Finally!