As many Nutcases might know, the Artists’ Series of helmets that we implemented for the first time  (and which will debut for sale around March 2015) is one highlight in a year packed with new products and innovation.

Learning how to put complex helmet art onto spherical shapes has inspired us. As we described in Part I of this blog post, we have developed a template that helps us prototype our helmet designs more quickly and make sure that hand-applied graphics – which can be a series of decals carefully puzzle-pieced together – will look as great coming off the assembly line as they do in the studio.

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Getting this right with photorealistic artwork is especially difficult. We  began our learning process with a popular helmet called Daisy Stripe. On Daisy Stripe we labored considerably to make the golden Gerbera daisies look just-picked from a sun-filled garden.

Once we got the daisies down, we wanted the green grass and summery blue sky to go along with them and designed the Daisy Dream helmet. If you look closely at Daisy Dream, you’ll note that the gradations of the sky and the way the light seems to hit the grass mimic the real-life feel of a photo.

Finger points to the area where decals meet to make realistic blue sky.

Finger points to the area where decals meet to make realistic blue sky.

“It was a bit arduous to achieve that sky-feeling color gradation on a production line – usually helmets are sprayed a single solid color,” said Nutcase founder Michael Morrow. “We were so eager to get that feeling, though, we did the sky in decals, working on graphic engineering to make sky and grass line up seamlessly. The effect is awesome.”

That knowledge served us well for the design of the Cloud Nine helmet by artist Todd Standish for the Unframed Artists’ Series.  Cloud Nine contains a Southern European sky with a sunburst right at its center.

“From working on Todd’s helmet we learned a lot more about helping artists understand the technicalities of what we know about decal design,” said graphic designer David Kruger. “It’s not a perfect science, but we are now getting better and better at taking what the artists create – in 2D – and making it work on a 3D globe.”

That know-how will be needed, as next month we’ll kick off the the international call for a new round of artists’ submissions. As Todd can attest, getting a chance to transfer a piece of art to a finished helmet is a heady experience.

“My fellow artists and I were treated like mini-celebrities,” he said. “I really enjoyed working alongside Sandra Ramirez and Ray Moore. Both have oodles of talent and it was inspiring to watch their working processes and how it differed from mine.”

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Todd Standish in front of his classic painting – the same style shown on his Cloud Nine helmet.

Standish said he even felt a little envy for Moore’s and Ramirez’ bold graphic styles.

“I envied their more free-flowing creative process – sometimes I felt like the ugly stepsister, as their more hip, graffiti-like styles were popular with the crowds,” Standish said. “Ultimately, I embraced the fact that my more classical style offered a more unusual take on sports imagery. Whether or not it was someone’s taste, it definitely stood out and pushed the boundaries of what was expected to be seen at a bike trade show!”

Check back on our blog for soon-to-come information on how to enter the 2015 helmet design contest.

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