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Prototyping through use of graphic artists

EricEric subscriber Posts: 8
Using technology to make your business more efficient has been a key topic here..
Specifically, I am interested in the use of a graphic artist firm to bring some particular ideas to life without the physical mess and trial and error associated with building a prototype from scratch.
We are very interested in employing the services of a firm that can accomplish this and maintain the strict level of privacy that is required for any product that is going through early stage development. Preferabaly a firm that we can depend on and establish a long term relationship with.
Never having used this method, I`m green as can be, but I see such things all the time on television; Mythbusters; Extreme Engineering; Monster Garage, etc.  An animated graphic (or fixed) can speak volumes about a product and cut the design times dramatically.
Does anybody here have the slightest inkling of a thought regarding this process? Typical costs? Lead Times? Security Measures that need to be taken? Anything at all?  
This is the obvious direction that we need to head in. Thanks!
~EricEric2006-9-22 16:9:57


  • EricEric subscriber Posts: 8

    On a different note... is does sort of freak me out when you say ...."without the physical mess and trial and error associated with building a prototype from scratch."I know so little about what you are doing i can`t say If this is good thinking or not. I would say that it is critical to know that the animations you mentioned prove nothing, and are simply moving drawings.Carry on eff
    Ha, Jeff. You bring up a good point. Yeah, I know it is a little freaky but it is a good thing. Consider it the same thing as a sketch but more detailed and as the Sloan Bros. it`s best to start with a "Works like" prototype and a  "Looks Like" prototype. We expect that a good portion of our "Looks like" prototyping can be done digitally as long as the feasibility behind the actual manufacturing is not ignored.
    As we move forward the down and dirty working prototype will still have to be achieved but by then it will be a mainly focused design without much of the typical trial and error. We`d rather be gently tweaking a decent design than starting from scratch, or wasting a lot of time and energy (money) on something only to find out that it wasn`t what we expected at all.
    Thanks for the bullets too. I`m still curious about the details behind this process. I hope somebody drops in with some hands-on experience and maybe an actual example using an existing project.
  • rossbrossb subscriber Posts: 5
    Eric -You`re right when you say: "An animated graphic can speak volumes about a product..."I have experience with 3D and animation having "created" a 3D model for HP out of nothing more then their technical drawings and descriptions. However, when you then go on to say "...and cut the design times dramatically." I have to agree that now you are talking about the technology referenced by Jeff (not Sloan).  "There is a whole other world of digital prototyping, where computer
    models are tested against real world forces.... this is more of an
    engineering skill rather that artists skill." This is an entirely different set of skills, where the software recognizes physical properties and is programmed to react accordingly.  Allowing you to "test" real world possibilities on the computer.If all you want to do is create a marketing representation then you call someone like me.  If you want the other possibility, then you need to track down an engineering firm of some type.  Ultimately, you can usually use an engineering firms 3D models in your marketing materials, but they won`t have the same shine as if they were modeled with marketing in mind.Good luck and let us know what happens...Thanks!R-
  • EricEric subscriber Posts: 8
    Ok guys, Excellent points. Let me clarify but for the sake of protection I will give you examples that have very little to do with the actual product.
    This product can be built with existing technology so I`m not concerned with the mechanics and how they will be handled, even if it is complex.
    For clarification, lets use as an example........a coffee pot or a toaster.(Not at all what we are considering)  Now we all know how to use them we all know they do, but what would make them entirely unique is the way it looks and maybe just a little the way it performs. So instead of starting by building the prototype or getting detailed with the engineering, I`d like a conceptual design that really shows the visuals as realistically as possible. If we could virtually flip it around, look under the hood, etc. it would give us a much better understanding of the product before we get to the costly engineering AND it would serve as a good rough model for the engineers to work with.
    So I guess I`m saying that I`m looking for an artist with the mind of an engineer and not just an engineer (yet).
    At that point we carefully seek out manufacturers worthy of the task, guage their interest, and see if we can take it to the next level.
    C`mon guys. You know I can`t get too detailed yet. Give me more time. We`ll find a way.
    As for expense. How much would an industrial artist cost for their tinkering on a project like this? Is there a retainer? Is it hourly or is it quoted?  So many questions. I don`t even know how much time it takes to create a visual of something like a coffee pot or a toaster.
    I hope that`s a rough enough picture to get a rough enough answer.
    Thanks guys.
  • EricEric subscriber Posts: 8
    Great Feedback everyone! I`m reminded once again why I love this forum.

    Kathy, I will definitely be speaking to somebody near me at the College of DuPage. I don`t know what they have to offer but this thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion.
    Craig, You are absolutely right. I am looking to bridge a gap between the physical construction and the intangible idea but yes, it would only be temporary and the eventual construction will have to get underway. But by that time the idea will have been imparted with some level of detail and hopefully create a smoother transition between the imagination and the construction.
    Jeff,  Thank you, thank you. You`ve given me just what I wanted and more and no, I don`t consider 2k and up too much money as a starting point.It seems that working with a freelance designer is the best bet for us.
    For the record My brother Jason and I do have some experience working along side some engineers and we were able to make the main components of our currently selling product using rapid prototyping methods that really served only as a "fit" but not function  (SLA and SLS are not strong models. The animation method would be a perfect way to show fit, and function without AND let us consider textures, finishes, colors, etc before making the really big decisions that cost hundreds of thousands and more. I know it`s not perfection but our imaginations can deal with that.
    So the bottom line here is that, yes. Such people are available at many levels and they can be found locally. They aren`t cheap but they offer something valuable so that stands to reason.  I can expect a single product to cost anywhere from 2k and up to achieve a quality visual design but it may also serve as the information (data) necessary to build some of the components for an actual prototype.
    I was hoping that the costs would be somewhere between 1k and 5k  so I`m feeling good about that. I am glad that I`m in the Chicago area. I`ll let you know when I find a firm that can work with us.
    Keep the advice coming. This is great. Thanks everyone!
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