Proposed Saloon Background research


When I was coming up for new background elements for the piece I got quite far into the development of a saloon style building to use in it. I dropped the idea because of how brown the cards already were so wanted something that added more colours.

A lot of the reference and inspiration that I was going to use going forward in this part was to come from the tv show Deadwood, that has authentic looking western sets and costumes other than maybe how dark the costumes are.


Bear YoYo card background additions

Above: Old card compared to new.

For the redo on the final cards I did the main changes were the colours used, the contents of the text and to add background imagery to make each side more interesting. I had done this very minimally in the original in the form of gunshots and bottles but the limited application of these features kind of just made the card look unfinished. Similarly the background of the wanted poster itself looked empty without some sort of background behind the character.


To begin the reworking process I stripped down one of the cards so it was just at its very basic template form. From here I was able to mess around with the colours before any textures were added and layout where I wanted objects to be, particularly important with the railway which I kept trying to jump into too soon and messing it up. At this stage the piece was already looking fuller than the first final pieces did, partly I think due to the splash of colour the cactus and dynamite give an otherwise mainly brown piece.

sign chnages labelled

Final changes can be seen on the cover of one of my cards.
The flatter background I felt was needed because the bolder lines previously used distracted from everything that they ran underneath and I wanted them to be more subtle. The way I have made these ones suggested a wood pattern without distracting.

The background I went for was a simple western desert environment that served to add more colour to the piece without distracting from the face in front of it. I also considered at one point to have a saloon or some other building but I thought it would be too much wooden structures on the card, a problem I had before.

The sign replacement was to add variation in colour. They were both wooden signs before so everything was brown. The slight change just makes it a little more interesting.

Bear YoYo Western Character research

For the three characters on my Bear cards I had historical reference to go to because they did actually exist. The characters I chose were Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Ike Clanton.

Wyatt Earp

Doc Holliday

Ike Clanton


There are also more romanticized interpretations of the characters from film adaptations of the characters and their story. These are still useful reference as they are still based on the characters themselves. In some cases the film reference also gives access to better quality pictures because they are made with newer technology.

Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Ike Clanton as depicted in the film Tombstone

I used these images to make rough early sketches and create my own interpretations of how I thought the characters should look. Things I looked for were the sort of clothes that they wore, hair and hat style and mustache shape which were all big features from the era that would make the characters stand out.
I felt I was fairly free in the design of the characters as long as you could look at the image alongside the name and say “I believe that could be them”

Quick sketches based off of a mixture of features from the found images of the characters. This is the sort of thing I would use as templates for basic shapes to vector over later on in the working process.

Bear YoYo Western Cards: Start of Final Designs




These are the cards I have for now on the Bear YoYo project. I’m happy with how the look of the characters turned out on the top two pieces. They were based on historical photographs of them which I did a rough drawing of to use as a template in illustrator.
The bottom, Doc Holliday card was more stylized than the others so his face looks a little misshapen. This one I think I need to work back into to bring it closer to the other two pieces, maybe by reshaping the heads or redesign it to a more normal style.

The historical facts on the cards I would like to do more extensive research into it as at the moment they are quite basic and I think I could find more interesting things to say. I do think it gives a general overview of the characters considering how much space is avaliable on the cards.

Other things I would like to do are to include more background details on the wooden space on the card like the bottle. Just other wild west visual signifiers so that more is going on like in previous bear yoyo cards as at the moment it is a lot of empty space. I think I would also bring the sheriff badges above the texture layer I added so that they stand out more as they are the logo for the pieces.

BEAR YoYo cards theme ideas

The theme for BEAR YoYo cards changes every year. A couple of themes from previous years include ‘around the world in 80 days’ in which BEAR sent postcards back from his travels, and ‘Super species school’ in which BEAR met creatures whose super powers that were what made them spectacular in real life. The brief stated that the themes are chosen to be outlandish, educational but still fun to kids ie the facts on the cards should be silly and weird but still true.

I’ve been giving some thought to different themes to possibly use for the brief.

Famous actors/directors – BEAR visits Hollywood 

  • Stylised actors directors each listed with the weirdest fact I can find about them
  • Hollywood is a colourful theme but the actors themselves may not be  hugely interesting to children 
  • Is a subject that would need to be made fun.


  • Kids like Dinosaurs
  • Has been done a lot but not for the cards

Ye olde BEAR

  • BEAR goes back to medieval times 
  • Goes around castles, visits Lords, watches tournaments ect.

Western BEAR/sheriff BEAR

  • Cowboy themed 
  • BEAR becomes a sheriff and needs to keep order in the west
  • Cards could be a mixture of wanted posters and saloon signs and badges 


  • BEAR travels down the time line and visits various Monarchs 
  • Cards show a well known depiction of them and an odd fact

I think medieval, Monarchs and western have the most potential whilst Hollywood is most culturally relevant. Saying that I’m sure that the point of these cards is more for the kids to have fun and learn something so the first three are probably better.

YCN Brief Choices

The latest briefs we have are for YCN and D&AD, the professional art and design competition awards and we have a variety of briefs from different companies to choose from. The ones I am interested in from YCN are:

Bear – Collectable cards designs to go with their healthy food packaging for kids.

Roald Dahl – Redesign characters and scenes from Roald Dahl in celebration of 100 years since his birth.

Bear Pros

  • Design style and colour of existing Bear cards is similar to one I am working on and developing so it will be a good brief for that.
  • Developing my own theme for the cards leaves the brief wide open. I can pretty much do anything as long as it is suitable for the target audience and the product.
  • Good Practice for figuring out placement of information around an image and deciding what is suitable for the audience.

Bear Cons

  • Small design space on a collectible card feels limiting to me.
  • Whilst a variety of artists design Bear cards the style is always very similar so standing out may be difficult.

Roald Dahl Pros

  • Reinterpreting an already rich, expanded pool of characters sounds like a lot of fun and is something I would be enthusiastic about.
  • Good practice developing linked images and making scenes without having to commit to a full narrative which can be time consuming.

Roald Dahl Cons

  • Existing characters already have existing imagery surrounding them so it is possible for new ones to be ‘wrong’ or unrecognisable to a viewer as the character you intended.

I am shifting towards the Bear collectable cards more simply because it feels more open ideas-wise and will only be limited by a theme I can pick, which can be pretty much anything for the age range of the product. Also outside of illustration card games and trading cards are a personal interest of mine so it will be nice to work on something like that.