Behind the Design: How (and Why) We Switched to Graphic Headshots
With the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot has changed this year, but we’ve worked hard to ensure that the services we provide clients remain high-quality even as our team moved fully remote. For a PR firm that absolutely flourished, like many of us, in face-to-face situations, where we would draft off each other’s positive energy, this has required a major evolution. We’ve found new digital ways of collaborating and connecting with clients. We’ve spent more measuring impact and rethinking previously-proven PR strategies. We’ve even successfully launched a fully-remote offering, with Virtual Panels-as-a-Service (VPaaS).
When it came time to add additional team members to our team page, we thus faced a few challenges. The tangible one was that we were not together in the office to take new headshots with our standard backdrop. But on a larger scale, we realized that these office headshots were no longer reflective of our company. With the 3Pointers physically spread across the Chicago area and even the country, our workplace was now fully virtual.
With that in mind, we wanted to find a way to showcase how our team has moved digital, while still keeping our look uniform. We decided to create fresh team headshots that still keep the focus on our 3Pointers but “branch” away from our traditional office backdrop, to remind ourselves and you that we are the same fresh faces and upbeat pros we’ve always been, but we are more digital than ever. To that end, we made a fun decision: rather than photographs, our new headshots would be graphic headshots — digital avatars, if you will.
Our talented designer Jessi created vector portraits of each 3Pointer with consistent green backgrounds to show our team’s versatility and adaptability. After the images were finished, Jessi — who has now started a full-time design role at FTD — went through her techniques with our other designers, so that we can continue to offer these graphic headshots as a service to other companies looking to showcase their team digitally. We also asked her a few questions about the design elements and her process, as we thought it would make for interesting content for our readers; keep reading to learn about the prominence of vector imagery and how these eye-catching graphics were made.
When you were first given this assignment, how did you approach the project?
When we first spoke about changing out our team headshots, we wanted them to reflect how the workplace is now absent of an office. We believe that the vector headshots are the perfect solution that allows us to represent ourselves digitally, as work shifts to more of an online presence. With the headshot drawings of the team, we are also able to showcase our design talents and branding capabilities. The green background for each headshot helps keep these consistent with other 3Points material and fit seamlessly into our website. I conceptually created the headshots keeping our 3 core values in mind. Using grit and authenticity, I identified the character of my teammate and made it a goal to accurately represent their personality and individuality. Using our 3rd value, precision, I made sure each headshot was produced with quality and uniformity in detail.
What are vector graphics and why are they useful?
Vector graphics are images that allow designers to create high-quality digital artwork that is infinitely scalable. With point-based linework, you can make your illustrations look consistent, sharp, and clean. It’s a quick and efficient way for illustrators to create imagery with precision; given the ease of use, the popularity of vector graphics only continues to grow among non-traditional artists. Interestingly, the use of vectors began as computers were first developed. Some of the first types of computer graphics were vectors, as rasterized images were too expensive and difficult to compute.
Throughout the process, what do you think was the toughest part of creating the headshots?
Fixing elements and completing revisions was a bit of a challenge, but my organization of layers made it somewhat easier. When some specific aspect needed to be revised, I could go back into that layer and manipulate anchor points (the markers for creating lines in vector). Compared to when I first draw something, it isn’t as fluid or quick a process. Sometimes, it is just better to redraw something entirely, which I did in some instances (see the side-by-side of changing an open mouth to a closed mouth below).
As the process went on, did it get easier? Or harder? How long did these all take?
Overall, it got easier. Because of the amount of details each portrait has, each took around 1.5–2 hours to complete. After I made my first drawing, I was able to transfer a lot of the vectors over to create others. This helped with creating consistency and increasing overall speed. Instead of starting from scratch, I copied hair gradients, eye colors, skin tones, highlights, and shadow palettes and transferred them to other portraits that shared similarities. This shaved off around 30 minutes per image in total.
With this being your last project at 3Points, we want to take the time to ask you what your favorite project with 3Points was. Was it the headshots, or something else?
This was by far the most exciting project for me to create, but I also want to say that the soon-to-be-revealed VPaaS animation comes in close second. While the graphics for the VPaaS animation project are simpler, it was really enjoyable to see that project come together in a high-quality, motion graphic video with a professional voiceover. We truly put together all of our skills at 3Points to make it happen. You’ll soon see that it is easily one of our most ambitious projects yet! I like the storytelling we create with 3Points animations that complement our vector drawings.
Thank you to Jessi for all of her hard work, and we hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at one of our newest and boldest design projects. We look forward to continuing to adapt creative solutions for this unique work environment — if you are interested in vector headshots for your own company, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.