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Now's your chance people.

Come up with your best design for the world building podcast's logo.

Designs should be fairly simply so as to be discernible at small resolutions.

  • Ideally the artwork should be vector (display resolution will go down to 98x98)
  • Demonstrates the content (world building)

Final design will be selected (voting will close) on 9 September

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So, here's a sketch of what I was thinking:

rough sketch

And here's another rough version, this time in ink and with digital colors:

rougher sketch, now with the power of the rainbow

I still need to get the colors figured out, and I think I made the planet too big, and the dragon just refuses to fit properly, but this version is at least closer to what I imagined as a final product. It's also tiny, so you can see it still works reasonably well.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like it, full color planned? $\endgroup$ – James Sep 1 '16 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ Looks awesome, good job. Might be difficult to scale down $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Sep 1 '16 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ @UncleTres Actually has a good point. How much effort would it be to make a rough draft at 98x98 pixels? $\endgroup$ – Ranger Sep 1 '16 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ @NexTerren It would take no effort at all, just shrink the page a few times. Other than that, I'm gonna try to get a better version (at least in ink) done in the next few days, I can see how that one scales (dragon pun). $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Sep 1 '16 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh Okay. When you make it and you feel like it doesn't scale down well, you might consider editing your design as best as you can to simplify it. I'd rather have a less cool, simpler logo that doesn't look like a mish-mashed group of color when at 98x98 pixels. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Sep 1 '16 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh I can photoshop your draft into an icon in a day or two if you want. $\endgroup$ – Aify Sep 4 '16 at 4:07
  • $\begingroup$ We have a winner, final drafts are being mocked up! $\endgroup$ – James Sep 13 '16 at 15:24
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I was thinking something along the line of a ringed mesh globe with a entertainment microphone in the middle, a simplistic example is below.

enter image description here

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After our meeting, and seeing the sketch in the earlier Answer, I'm ready to share my analysis. Thanks DaaaahWhoosh, not because I like it ☹ but because it served as a strawman to crystalize my vague handwavy ideas.

My reaction: the “planet” (or planemo, large moon, megastructure?) is indeed iconic of meaning “world”, and echos the main site logo.

But what do dragons have to do with anything? Are there dragons in many questions (no) or are they symbolic of something strongly tied to the site (no)? And what are they doing there? Orbiting? Or is this some nations’s flag? It’s not applicable to the vast majority of Qs here and doesn’t evoke a central theme that applies to us.

As a digression, let me point out this Ted talk Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you've never noticed on principles of good (and bad) flag design. I suggest that this is applicable to the logo as well.

Now let me cover ideas of the larger piece first — what we are calling the banner or page art.

This is not so constrained in size but can have substantially more detail. This is going somewhere so bear with me and I’ll come back to the icon later.

For now, same idea of making imagery that evokes the worldbuilding ideas but not so constrained by size and resolution. This isolates the different issues of design.

I submit that Worldbuilding is not just about geology and geography. It’s about biochemestry, different ecosystems, society, technology; all the big stuff behind the setting of a story. And what makes the stuff different from a normal story is that it’s alien. That is, very different from what we know in real life. It might be far future or alternate timeline humans, but an “alien” society from our point of view. It’s different so it needs figuring out. That’s the step of worldbuilding we focus on here on the main site.

So let me throw out another strawman idea.

Start with a world but not necessarily a normal planet. Maybe a wierd planet or a space habitat. This is iconic for “world” as noted earlier.

Surround it with a few alien beings. Very alien, such as something with tenticles (Ctuluian?) and someone insectoid, maybe a mechanical robot-like creature from the 1950’s, etc. This, clearly, represents the alien aspect. Different biology, different ecosystem, society, etc. just by virtue of being nonhuman and as different and diverse as possible.

Now this scene is a tableau. The group of beings is grouped around what, a model, poster, or map of the “world” (habitat)? There can be other elements in the background or elsewhere, but look what we have thus far:

What are they doing? What is this scene? It immediately suggests some kind of storytelling. Maybe they are forming a peace treaty. Maybe they are preparing to forge a mixed society, or going off on an expidition. (Babalon 5, Ringworld, and other classic stories come to mind.)

The juxtiposition and presentation of the other iconic ideas should itself lead to the larger concept of society, civilizations; and suggest a story is happening here.

Think about the classic covers of sci-fi magazines. Whether taken from the lead story or just an issue theme or cool painting the editor liked, the tableau is evocotive that a story is happening here.

A banner or extended page art can taper off with images taken from many different famous questions and themes explored on the site. Fitting in more clutter should be a different journey for the viewer, more of an Easter egg hunt, and be separate from the thematic presentation of the main elements.

Now let me return to the small icon.

After having viewed and understood the symbolism of the larger piece, the small piece, like Roman Mars’s flags, should draw elements from that but be simple. It should remind you of the main art, and the main art provides meaning to the elements appearing in the small piece. The small piece does not have to define the symbols, but meerly use them as defined in the main picture.

One main element from the scene that is distinct and still iconic overall (once you know the context) is enough. If the aliens are gathered around a (picture/map/illustration) of a distinctive habitat, than that habitat would be it. Think of how the star ship Enterprise is not like any other ship but distinct to the franchise. A blob with indistinct landmasses is not distinct and iconic.

That’s why I speculate on a strange world instead, like a taurus! Imagine a taurus-world with continents drawn out like a political globe. The insect and the ctuluian are gestering with tenticles and antennae to different regions on the (er?) globe.

Story: are they invading? Exploring? Building?

Now the small piece of art can be a close up of the taurus-globe, lost detail but now we know what it is and it has enough color patches in the same arrangements to recognise. Present that as a close-up showing the appendages over it. Or, re-compose the shot but it’s still a tenticle and insectoid antenna (grabbing? Fighting over? Admiring?) the map of the taurus-world.

That tells a story even without the main picture, if the resolution is high enough.

And that’s my idea. But more importantly, it’s a meta-idea of how the art should be understood, regardless of what elements are eventually used.

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  • $\begingroup$ So the dragon is a visual synecdoche to represent "fantasy" and the spaceships are there to represent "science fiction," together covering easily 95% of the content of this site. I'd argue your suggested Cthulhu (fantasy) and robots (science fiction) are no more representing world building than dragons and spaceships. Also while the deeper themes are interesting, I don't think they provide much of anything. Look at popular brands and logos; most... don't... have really a deeper message at all, they're just iconic. My two cents. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Sep 1 '16 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ Well, that's the difference between commercial illustration and art. The larger artboard format gives the oppertunity for deeper art, as the simple logo can reference it. Don't decide not to be good just because it’s not necessary. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 1 '16 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ The main site and creativity going on is very “left brained”. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 1 '16 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, looking back at the OP, it does say «Come up with your best design», not come up with some pretty thing that has a vague sf&f vibe to it. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 1 '16 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ Well sure, and I was voicing that a deeper meaning doesn't denote a better design. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Sep 1 '16 at 16:54

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