The sports mascot. Adventures in logo illustration.

The sports mascot. Adventures in logo illustration.

Very often, you see the oh-so slick and beautifully-crafted logo designs of your favorite sports teams. But, have you ever wondered how the designs evolved into what you see now, the completed logos? Well, there is an interesting world that combines logo design with the related discipline of illustration. Sometimes known as logo illustration, it’s also coined as what I and others like to call it, illustrative design. Illustrative designers use their well-versed experience as a graphic designer and give it an illustrator’s twist.

Most importantly, the most tried and true way to achieve these types of logos is to work through a good set of sketched figures well before going to the computer. In this post, I’m here to show you how my project for the San Jacinto College’s three campuses went, step-by-step. So, here goes.

First off, I discussed the project in-depth with the Creative Director, Lee Wheat from Whole Wheat Creative. The gist of our discussion was that San Jacinto College (more commonly known as San Jac) of Houston, TX has three major campuses, each with their own sports team mascot. With such a tradition and reputation of sports excellence for each campus, no one was considering adopting the others’ mascot any time soon. So, in essence, we will remain with three of them.

The thought was there would be a few approaches to the animal depiction, heads-only, action poses and possibly a crest. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the first two directions. Direction also mentioned that the mascots shouldn’t look aggressive or appear to be growling. So, off I went.

The first round of sketches included a set of outlined profiles and action poses of a raven, a coyote and an alligator or gator. Feedback was that the outlines were OK, but could you try a coyote with a growl as the thought was he was too fuzzy and cute here. Also, could you try a more profiled pose for the raven to better suit the other set.

After extensive client review, the direction asked for a more 3/4 view of the mascots with perhaps a more aggressive expression to them. They thought the previous round was way too passive. I would have to agree. So growling it is! The second raven has an open beak to further coordinate with coyote and gator’s look.

The new 3/4 sketches are approved and ready to see some potential type treatments. Here is a concept with some of my initial thoughts on the San Jac main typography and some of my hand-lettered mascot type. They liked the sans-serif type but did not elect to go with the hand-lettering script. From here we get the go-ahead to proceed with the vector versions.

One of the additional directives was to have the three teams have a common thread color-wise. Rather than go with the standard black ink route, I elected to try a Pantone 540 blue to work them together. Color hue and contrast were a definite factor in selecting potential palettes at this point.

Unfortunately, when you’re working with three campuses, several coaching staffs and assorted other school administration, you get more than your share of opinions and suggestions. Lee’s role as chief negotiator as well as CD, was a delicate balance of diplomacy and patience. So, of course the teams did not want to give up their colors, so the original palettes were honored in this next round. And as a point of tradition, I was asked to provide some script lettered names for review. Ultimately, after two versions of the script was created and explored, it was scrapped.

Here are the last rounds of the mascot heads with the final details of the mascot heads hammered out to the completed logos you see here (before on the left and after on the right).

The final logos with the finished type treatments and color schemes are here. Overall, the total logo project took about two months to complete with mascot heads, logos, ligatures and lettering in the final delivery. Much thanks to Whole Wheat Creative for the opportunity.

This article has 6 comments

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by leightonhubbell: New blog post: The sports mascot. Adventures in logo illustration. A behind the scenes look at the work.

  2. It’s amazing to see how a mascot design comes into fruition starting from the initial sketching process. The gators design is the character design that looks the best among the three in terms of being both memorable and iconic. Recently, I just got a mascot design from the designing team at and the character creation turned out great. I also got some animated characters as well to go with it to be placed on the web. They turned out better than expected! I believe that mascot design plays a huge role in creating a brand or image fronting any organizations especially sports teams as seen from the San Jac’s mascot design that you created.

  3. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments.

  4. Very cool. Nice work. Mark from Panama.

  5. Hah, weird, was looking up ideas for a logo project and stumbled across this page. I went to San Jac when we adopted the Ravens. Funny to accidentally find the creation of it.

  6. please l need your contact

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