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MalwareBytes

MalwareBytes decided they wanted to go beyond building a brand: they wanted to build a world. To do so, they enlisted the OCS to redesign and illustrate their champion robot, a symbol of their continued efforts to defend and protect against malware, as well as illustrate a digital world which showcases the beauty and the danger of the internet. This resulted in some of the most fun and unique branding efforts I've been a part of.

For this project, I had the opportunity to work with Rob Bajohr and David Curtner. They were spearheading a massive rebrand for MalwareBytes which entailed revamping their logo (something we incorporated into the robot designs later on - as you'll see), website, and branding materials while I was illustrating characters and backgrounds. Being part of a rebrand such as this presented a lot of unique challenges and opportunities and it was a lot of fun diving into the project.

Without further ado, let's get into the details of how these pieces were created!

We Need A Hero...

To kick things off, we started with a redesign of their hero robot. The original robot they were using needed to be updated and made more iconic. I did a handful of exploratory sketches to showcase various personalities and body types, each presenting a unique aspect of the 'hero defender' concept.

I wanted the shapes of the robots to look sturdy - something you'd want in a hero and something you get from the software MalwareBytes produces. I explored shield shapes, big tanky shapes, agile shapes, and athletic shapes for the body, all while trying to keep that delicate balance of powerful yet friendly.

Hero Sketches

Ultimately the MalwareBytes team decided the best path forward to represent their brand was to create a robot who was athletic and powerful, a balance of strength and speed. This meant giving the robot a strong torso with powerful and athletic arms and legs without making him overly bulky. It was also at this point that Rob had finished working on the logo for MalwareBytes, so we integrated that into the robot design by altering the design of the robot visor to the logo "M" shape and placing the logos on the robot's shoulders.

It has been amazing seeing how many places MalwareBytes has been able to use the robot. It appeared in Times Square, various conventions, on trucks, and on the #95 Nascar. Pretty crazy!

Digital Landscapes

One of the most exciting aspects of this project was the opportunity to create digital landscapes which represented the online world. The challenge with these pieces was showcasing a digital world which was inviting, yet also had an element of danger present. They wanted to show that with MalwareBytes, it was possible to explore the fun and beauty online while being protected from the threats which loom all around.

First up was a panoramic image of the digital landscape. When creating the sketches, I had an idea to blend natural and synthetic elements into the landscape - almost as if there is greenery growing on top of a machine world. There needed to be ample room in the sky for text placement and the piece also needed to have distinct layering (foreground, middle-ground, background) in case they wanted to add subtle parallax animation to the piece on their site. Here is where the sketch landed:

Digital Landscape Sketch

Once the sketch was approved, it was time to color. As per my usual process, I worked in black and white first, establishing my lighting, shape building, and texturing.

Digital Landscape Flats

With the black and white version in place, it was time to color. I wanted to keep the colors of the piece more toward the synthetic spectrum - hot colors, neons, etc. to continue carrying the theme that this is a digital world.

Digital Landscape Color

Here are a few detail shots of the piece:

Enterprise Defender

Next on the list of deliverables was to create an illustration showcasing the hero robot defending a larger, corporate system. When we discussed the brief for this piece, I had an image immediately come to mind (which doesn't often happen, but when it does, its nice!).

It was also at this point that I had picked up the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and felt comfortable enough to use it for my sketches. I had always been a big fan of the Procreate app and now that Apple had developed a usable stylus, I was sold on implementing it into my creative process. Here is where the sketch landed:

Enterprise Defender Sketch

I couldn't wait to get into color for this one. I knew I was going to backlight the robot with light from the tunnel and my plan was to light various aspects of the corporate city-system to really play up the depth. The evil malwarebots below would be rising up from the foreground, each hesitating to move forward as they look upon their fallen comrade. 

Enterprise Defender Flats

I really loved how the black and white version of this piece came out so I was excited to see what happened when I added color. Here are the results:

Enterprise Defender Color

I carried over some of the colors from the Digital Landscape into this piece - touches of green grass on the hill next to the entry port, lots of pinks and blues in the city structure, etc. The piece ended up having a lot more depth because of the coloring and it turned into a great storytelling moment which featured the strength of MalwareBytes.

Here are a few detail shots:

One of the best aspects of this project for me is there are more pieces yet to come! Big thanks to Rob Bajohr, David Curtner, and the rest of the MalwareBytes team for such a fun project. I'm looking forward to creating more pieces in this digital world.

And a big thank you to my agent, Deborah Wolfe, and her team for their tireless efforts in bringing big fun projects like this in. There's so much that goes on behind the scenes to make these things happen and I truly value the contribution of everyone involved. 

Thanks for watching!