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Camel Tobacco

lust for leaf

This was one of my earlier projects for Camel Tobacco. I loved this first iteration so much. It was fun to make and felt like an exotic adventure. This project spanned years and was re-created at least 3 times before it went live due to constant rollover in RJ Reynolds leadership.

The Camel Brand:

Camel's brand (at the time) was all about textures and bold, inviting and rich experiences to match its tobacco portfolio. This is a dream for me and aligns fairly well with my personal style. I find texture to be an important design element that helps users be able to feel designs on a deeper more emotional level. Coming from a background of German grunge influences, rock poster and skateboard design, I fell right into this world.


Handmade Design:

I believe in handmade. You can see that belief come out in this designs. They typography was hand drawn and laid out in an organized chaos manner. At this point in time I was pretty heavily influenced by German designer Thomas Schostok and Eduardo Recife. If I could live in that design style I would. I can't and I don't like being pigeonholed so I have learned and embraced many graphic design styles (checkout this very clean project of mine here).

The nice part of what Camel was trying to achieve in their creative appeal back then was this hand crafted, very artisan look and feel. This allowed for me to use things like layered masking tape, overlapping real world textures and hand painted items. 

The stamp set I got to make was quite a blast. First, I scanned a bunch of old stamp sheets (don't judge me too harshly for being a nerdy stamp collector) and cleared out the designs to build new ones over top. It's a fun set of icons that I would have loved to use in real life.

Creating an Island:

I had to employ quite a few different skills to pull this project off. After coming up with the general concept and idea for the experience, I then had to create it. This meant I had to source a ton of images of the earth from a bird's eye perspective. I had to create these custom beach shapes from a combination of images and digital painting skills.

I remember photoshopping all the waves and rocky shore parts being particularly fun. It's that attention to detail that really helps give this piece a real feeling. You look at it and think, "This island could exist and I want to go explore it!"

One of the other bits that really helps tie all this together is the clouds floating over the mountains and the waterfall dropping into an in-land lake. Getting clouds just right is quite a tricky tasks. These are digitally painted in using custom photoshop brushes I make and a combination of blur effects and opacities. To top it off and really sell it you have to put that cloud shadow in under it. Skip the photoshop auto shadow and hand paint your own organic shadow to really capture that realism.

Working with Textured UI:

There is a trick to it. It must still be flexible and not add too much load drain. These custom overlays were all built to be able to expand without stretching the graphic with seamless texture patterns. This is a skill that takes some time to develop and with me starting out in web design when it was still very table based gives me an edge in cutting up graphics for dev usage.

Handmade Icons:

Step #1 - sketch the icons. I actually used my Prismacolor markers to draw out the original design style for these. From there I scanned them in and re-textured them with real bits of wood and made them looked carved like a Hawaiian tiki post. I added in textured and worn paint and digitally painted in shadows to sell the dimension. I made these many times their final size so the details crisped up when they were shrunk to their final viewing size.

The Book:

Finally, the last section was made to look like a found adventure journal. Start with some nice paper texture lace on some handwritten fonts and some crinkled up photo frames and some tape and side labels and you've got what the recipe for a great book.

The Result:

Unfortunately, this project never went live in this format. The day before it was set to launch (yes, we had all the development and QA done on this) leadership changed at RJR and the new head wanted to put their own spin on it so we started over. It went to life as , "Tobaccoville". You can guess where they got their inspiration from for that version.


Tobaccoville was a fun build as well and looked great but this version holds a special place in my career history. It was one of my first projects at a new agency, BFG Communications and it got me attention within the agency as a talented designer and art director. I was quickly promoted to Sr. Interactive Art Director (they didn't have interactive CD's at the time so it was the highest creative lead position in our side of the agency) and was given a team of 6 designers and art directors to manage and that eventually grew to up to 14.

I have learned that sometimes the ideas and creations we make that don't go live can have just as big of an impact on our success as the ones that do... 

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