Reinventing Able’s Illustration Style

 
 

In the fall of 2016, I began a long partnership with Able Lending which spanned over 9 months and the creation of over 100 individual illustrations for their web pages, promotions and blog. They came to me looking for help reinventing their brand’s illustration style and the development of new illustrations to help educate their audience.

 
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About Able Lending

Able is the lowest-cost online lender to small businesses in the nation.

Our passion is to fund businesses at any stage with a new kind of loan that lets borrowers get more capital at lower rates when they recruit some support from friends, family and fans. On average Able’s borrowers save $31,000 on loans between $25,000 and $1,000,000.

Able is “more than a loan.” We connect extraordinary entrepreneurs with additional capital, community resources, and expert advice when it’s time to grow.

 
 

The Process

When we started our work together, Able had already worked with an illustrator in the past to develop their illustration style. They came to me to have a bit of a refresh/ update to the illustration style.

One thing that the client wanted to keep as a constant theme was a character they created previously that they called “Abe” as well as his business “Abe’s Chicken & Waffles”. We ended up using not only Abe but his business throughout most of the pages we created together and even created different ways for Abe to showcase his business(including a cart & a food truck).

 
 
 

Once we had the overall style update developed for Able, we were able to work relatively quickly on each of the pages and illustrations we had to create. One of the first things we knew we had to tackle was the recreation and reimagining of all of the previous illustrations that were created by their previous illustrator.

This was by no means a simple thing to do. There were five pages that we had to goo back and re-evaluate. It took us a month of working to create all of the illustrations needed for the current pages and illustrations on the Able website.

 
 

Creating A Character Library

Early on, we decided that one element that should always be prominent in the illustrations for Able is people. In knowing that, I felt it was a good idea to create a series of characters that we could use throughout the brand’s website. This also allowed us to create the illustrations at a much faster pace.

We created two different types of characters, one focusing on Able’s customer base and the other focusing on the Able team.

 
 
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The sketching process took a couple of attempts but was nailed down and ready to move on to the next phase of the storyboarding process. We then used the sketches as references to build the vector storyboards in Adobe Illustrator. This process tends to be the most time consuming but I was able to work relatively quickly.

One thing that comes in handy with animation storyboards is that there are plenty of opportunities to use the same or similar elements throughout the entire animation. This allowed the creation of some of the dboards to go by much quicker. A great example of this would be the house elements and the Razer Portal visual we created.

 
 

"Rocky’s work has been defining for the Able brand. He was able to create a voice inspired by prior work yet elevated that voice to a new level. His process has always been professional, with quick iteration from sketches to the final piece. We couldn’t imagine a better expression and interpretation of the values we’re trying to express."

Stephen Caver | Able Lending

 
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In Conclusion

My partnership with Able lending finally came to an end after close to a year or working with each other after we literally ran out of things to create. We ended up creating a large amount of illustrations, in fact, more than I’ve ever created with one of my clients. The best part though, was that the entire experience was so much fun.