Rebirth of a Legend: The Story of the Recreation of the Demon Logo – Part 2

Review & Refine

When we left off in Part 1, I was describing the basic process of gathering information, history and sketches. Besides the specifics of the Dodge Demon mark, there are always goals for any logo/icon creation: It should be unique, recognizable, legible, reproducible and, lastly, it should have a signature look and style. The last part was the biggest mindbender for me. I’ve worked at this point for nearly two decades developing my own style, but now I’m really creating for something much greater than myself, and this design needs to have the look of not only Dodge of today but all the history of where this has come from.

Designs are typically displayed in one of two ways: On “the tube” (showing on a screen or large-screen television, mirroring a computer monitor) or on “the board”. The board is in reference to a large 6-7′ tall board that ranges in width from 3-4′ to 8-10′. These boards are covered in black fabric and are in frames. They are also on casters that hold these boards up and make them mobile. Sometimes, multiple boards are tilled together to be able to show a life-sized, 1:1 scale profile of a vehicle in printouts. Designs are typically held up with hook-and-loop tabs that will stick nicely to the black fabric below sheets of paper, allowing the designs to be arranged and rearranged quickly for whatever makes sense when hanging them up. The boards also allow for a mix of media to be hung up from paint samples and chrome finishes, to fabrics and threads, something that cannot be accomplished well on the tube.

For the Dodge Demon icon creation, all the designs went up on the board. By this time, I had several sketches done in pencil and some more complete that had been transferred to the computer and cleaned up. I was allotted a board to hang up the designs and the research that I had at the time in order to display everything as talking points. I started to hang drawings up, to keep them off the floor, when a few of the designers from the Dodge Studio came over to see what I had sketched. I was quickly reminded of the level of detail that would be expected by those who would be reviewing the boards. This was more in reference to how the sketches were placed on the boards than the designs themselves. I work with very detail-oriented people, who notice if papers are not hung exactly level to each other or off of an edge or surface. This level of detail is important for everyone in the Product Design Office to be cognizant of and it translates from our walls to our final products.

Nervous, it was now time to talk about the first round of work and let the Dodge Studio drink in what I had to offer. It was a combination of lettering samples for the word “Demon” and concepts of devils, gargoyles and horned beasties for the symbol icon. I explained the brief history of the late 1960s-’70s Demon, and other Mopar® properties, along with the more current SRT® Hellcat design, and attempted to show the evolution of how my designs would fit in. Many of the designs showed only slight differences for the symbol, with various lengths of proportions on the nose, horns, chin and eyes. Oftentimes, when dealing with a character design, the smallest details are what makes the difference in a look. Consider this: When you look at people around you, our faces are basically the same: Two eyes, nose, chin, mouth and ears. It’s the proportions of those attributes that enable us to recognize the difference from one person to another. This is why a symbol, based on a face, is more difficult to nail down than a set of letters arranged in an order that forms a word.

The initial review was one of excitement! I’d shown enough development of the character and word designs that the studio wanted to pursue both. The word “Demon” was to be pursued in a style similar to calligraphy with less of a heavy metal edge to it. The Demon symbol icon was another story: Many of the initial designs were eliminated, the style to be pursued would be more of the profile, like the Hellcat. The request was that the design be even more Hellcat-like but scarier, skeletal, demonic! Basically, I was asked to walk away from the cartoonish human face and look more at a beastly Hellcat.

Rounds 2-3-4-5-6 came and went. There was usually a review or two a week to make sure that the design was moving forward. I have to admit that I started to doubt myself as a designer during this process, as this might have been the most revisions to a design that I’d done to date. During this time period, I had pursued more pop icons of demons. Some of the designs were based on the demon dogs from Ghostbusters (do you remember The Gate Keeper and The Key Master?). There were also some designs based on The Balrog from The Lord of the Rings. Basically, I was grasping at straws. What do people think of when they say “Demon-like”? I even threw in some ghastly skulls and a wheeled bat-like creature that resembled the Super Bee.

During a brief conversation with designer Adam Hubers (who sketched on the original Hellcat logo and the car itself), he pointed out that the eyes of the Hellcat were representational of the headlamps of the Charger and Challenger. The eyes had a sneaky appearance: deep-set and slight, they had an attitude of something sinister. This was an extremely helpful insight into a design that was chosen, now it was just time to put the whole design together.

The final iterations of the Dodge Demon fender badge came from the formula of the original 1970s Dodge Demon “Devil” head, plus the line work and position of the Hellcat. This formula lead to many samples that still needed fine tuning in proportions. These final stages are typically in scale, when in conjunction of how the badge sits on the fender itself. To work out the fine details, the Badging department makes up “car-toons”. Car-toons are a series of scaled badges in 5-10% increments of size that are printed out, fully rendered with highlights and shadows, spray glued to cardboard backing, cut out and affixed to a car so they can be positioned and rotated. Sometimes, depending on the badge detail, these car-toons can be a 3D printout on plastic or milled from aluminum and painted as a prototype.

The design had now been reviewed by all the key members of the Dodge//SRT team and even by Mark Trostle and Ralph Gilles. But there was still one more team this needed to be reviewed by before it was ready for primetime, and we’ll pick up there in Part 3.

By Keven Carter

Comments

Loading...