In other adventures, Various Things Live and approached Coat of Arms to complete four explainer videos to promote’s services. matches hungry diners with restaurants for “The Best Deal. Every Meal.”

RDC_Intro_383Along with informing diners and restaurants about their services, wanted videos that could explain how their certificate program benefits small businesses and how folks can earn commission on certificate sales by acting as’s very own independent consultants. Coat of Arms’ Clara Lehmann wrote four scripts to explain all of these services. After revisions and approval from the client, Coat of Arms dove into the illustration and animation of four two-minute videos due in only one month!

Armed with branding guidelines, original scripts, and a fantastic team of four animators, three illustrators, and two producers, Coat of Arms launched the creative process. As with many clients, used key words to define what they were looking for:

Inspiration from Coat of Arms' illustrator, Ian Kim

Inspiration from Coat of Arms’ illustrator, Ian Kim

  • Straightforward
  • Simple
  • Not Quirky or Zany
  • Fun & Playful
  • Matter of Fact
  • NOT Melancholy
  • Helpful
  • Upbeat & Uptempo
  • Happy

To interpret these key words into styleframes and character mock-ups, the Coat of Arms team pulled designs from other artists who inspire us. Ian Kim, who led the illustration and art direction, proposed a refined cartoon style that used the most vibrant colors from’s approved color palette.

At Coat of Arms we cannot over-emphasize the importance of spending extra time on the up-front creative process. Carefully drafting scripts, researching styles, and developing styleframes and storyboards always pays off. Not only does this up-front creative work give the artist a chance to find that ‘ever-elusive inspiration,’ but it also gives our clients a chance to get involved creatively and truly envision how the project will proceed — further guaranteeing a successful project.

Inspiration from artist Stephen Kelleher

Inspiration from artist Stephen Kelleher

Along with defining the illustration, Coat of Arms’ Jonathan Lacocque collaborated with the four animators to select more references from colleagues we admire in an effort to define the creative direction for the animation.

We especially like We Think Things’ use of the puppet tool. And for nice key-poses, weight, and timing, we like Animade’s work. Along with fantastic animation work, all of these artists told engaging stories with memorable characters, something we wanted the videos to clearly demonstrate.

Illustrator Kim began by creating initial illustrations from which our second illustrator, Katrina Zimmerman could work. Zimmerman infused her own style and together, Kim and Zimmerman defined the look.

With the initial creative process behind us, Coat of Arms proposed the rough style frames and characters. With further refinement and some revisions, the frames evolved.

Rough board from the project

Rough board from the project


Final board from the project

Kim and Zimmerman chose to represent several restaurants and stores as the food or the service they provide. For example, Bubba Burger takes on the shape of a hamburger; the Coop is an egg; Mustachio’s boasts a handlebar mustache; and the Tea Shop looks like a steaming, hot cup of tea.

With roughly 6.5 minutes of content to illustrate in one month, we brought a third illustrator, Ryan Guimond, on board to help create assets. This gave our three illustrators time to get creative and to perfect each drawing both aesthetically and technically.

Rough character mock-ups

Rough character mock-ups

While Kim, Zimmerman, and Guimond were busy illustrating, Jeff McBride acted as lead animator and was tasked with the duty of creating character rigs and templates to retain motion integrity across all four videos. Along with McBride, Matthew Darnall, Stefan Draht, and Lauren Dumasius animated their own individual videos.

According to McBride, “Each animator obviously came with their own unique style, but throughout our revision process we took a look at ways we could improve each piece and bring them closer together.” This was of paramount importance to as they wanted the four videos to be viewed as a singular piece of art rather than distinct, disjointed explainers.


McBride created an Inverse Kinematics Rig to share with the other three animators. Inverse Kinematics is a mathematical system of connecting joints with one control point. “With one controller,” according to McBride, “we can define the movement of the entire arm instead of animating each joint separately.” The rig was created to improve the animation process and to unify the characters so that each animator began with the same elements. McBride explored other options like the After Effects Puppet Tool, but it didn’t give us the control or the look that we were pursuing.

Using the After Effects Duik Plugin, McBride created twelve Inverse Kinematics Rigs for the main characters and fifteen lighter rigs for background and secondary characters. This allowed each animator to dive right into the animating process.


In addition to sharing rigs, the four animators shared animated elements to help speed up the workflow and to encourage continuity across all four videos.

With a defined and clean approach to the project, Coat of Arms created four playful explainer videos in one month! We are very proud of our team and thankful to Various Things Live and for the opportunity. Bon Appétit!