Product DesignProjects

Product Design: Laser-engraved Donut Plug

Overview

I received a private message on one of my gallery accounts one day with the subject heading “weird commission request.” Fearing the worst, I opened the message to discover that a client was in need of some line-art that would be laser-engraved onto a particular product they had backed in a Kickstarter. The product was a “donut plug,” a device that allows more than one electrical plug or USB charger to fit into a single outlet. They were able to supply me with a template and an example of another completed design for me to understand the spec. I created three different draft ideas and completed two rounds of minor edits for the final piece. They shared a photo of the end result and were very pleased with how the art fit the product. They also enjoyed one of the WIP sketches so much that they requested an additional commission from it.

Research

The client provided a template including the ‘safe’ line for print; anything outside of the blue lines would still print, but could be blurred.

Donut Plug Bleed Lines

They also shared an example of another donut plug on which was printed a photo of some cats.

A photo of a donut plug with images of cats laser-etched onto it

The photo extended beyond the bleed line, but appeared to be slightly blurry where it did so. For a photo, this may be excusable, but I decided it would not work with my line art.

When discussing what art they wanted created for the donut plug, the client suggested three foxes, and that they were “thinking of basing them off of the shape of the device, maybe have one standing on the center cutout looking down, one trying to climb up the side. [M]aybe the other face planting on the other side. I’m open to different ideas […].”

Concepts

I quickly sketched up three different ideas for how to pose the foxes within the circular shape. I focused more on getting the ideas down than on worrying about the bleed line just yet.

The client enjoyed all three results and had a hard time deciding. In the end, they preferred the first concept, but wanted the fox laying on its back from the second concept added in.

a wip of the 3 foxes on the donut plug with the laying fox added

The client enjoyed the “biting” concept from the first image, and requested that the laying fox tilt its head up to bite the tail of the one above it. I agreed this would would help connect all three foxes on the design instead of one appearing solitary from the others.

I made this adjustment while continuing to make progress on the line art. The client was happy with the poses for all three foxes after this.

wip of 3 foxes on donut plug with bite added

Art Process

I kept the template that included a photo of the product as a base layer underneath my work so that I could frequently check how my line art might appear on it. I came up with two versions on how the art might be etched onto it to help the client decide what would work best.

I suggested the version with the white fills and black lines for the client, but provided them with both versions as they had a difficult time deciding.

The two test versions pointing out a minor issue that their hind feet appeared too small. I was able to update this for the final art and update the two different versions.

Final 3 foxes donut plug art

Final Result

With the final lines approved, I created several file versions (.png, .psd) including just the white lines and the black lines with solid white fill to allow the client to decide for themselves what to submit to the Kickstarter for their custom engraved product. I also created the below flat images to share the possible mockup as well as the line art on its own.

The client decided to submit the line art version to the Kickstarter. Once the product was engraved and shipped to him, he shared a photo of the end result with me.

3FoxPlug actual photo

The client was very pleased with the final result and the ability to carry something custom and useful on his travels.

Additional Piece

As mentioned earlier, the client enjoyed one of the concept sketches so much that they requested an additional art piece to be made from it.

white fox resting

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