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Consulting Work

I consulted as a freelance designer in 2020 and 2021. During this time I worked with a diverse group of clients on their digital and industrial design needs. Check out 3 of my favorite projects below!

Brevite Email Templates

Client Vision

Three eye-catching abandoned cart email templates that match the tone and design of current marketing material.

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Research

Before creating the templates I took time to understand the brand. I read their brand guidelines and looked at the current branding content on their website. Once I had a good understanding of their brand language I moved on to prototyping designs based on the client brief provided to me.

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Prototypes

The client shared a requirements document listing the content needed for each template. I created these quick mock-ups to test layouts before jumping into the high-fidelity designs. In this case, I formatted the design for mobile viewing.

High Fidelity Templates

Once I was happy with the prototypes I added imagery, color, and other details like the client's characteristic wavy forms and multi-colored outlines. 

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Testing on Phone

Before delivering to the client I tested each screen on my phone to check for readability and general appearance in context. 

Dark Versions

After delivering the finished templates to the client, they requested two additional templates that had a darker look. For these templates, I used the darker colors from their brand guidelines as main colors instead of accents while still matching the new templates with the original designs aesthetically. 

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"Thank you Westen. Would you be interested in completing two more templates for us?"

"The added versions look great, thank you again for working on the Abandon Cart project!"

Conclusion and Learning

This project wrapped up with sending the finished files to the client for use. The most valuable learnings from this project were:

  • Improved experience in Figma

  • Experience designing for mobile

Roller Ridge Mountain

Client Vision

A toy mountain for children aged 3-6 that incorporates education into play. A ball sits atop a mountain, then rolls, twists, turns, jumps, and more around the mountain as it rolls down to the base. Each path provides a fun learning experience around physics, and the mountain incorporates well with other toys.

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Research

To kick off this project I spent some time researching current toys on the market, as well as some inspiration like natural rock formations. Sharing some of these images with the client and hearing their thoughts helped clarify the vision for the project. 

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Ideation

Next, I sketched ideas for what different faces of the mountain could look like. There is a unique flow and movement to each pathway, providing more options for the child to learn from and play with. These sketches provided the first look into what the toy could be and helped the client and I align further on the vision for the product.

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Initial Modeling

The client responded very well to the sketched ideas and greenlighted the move to 3D. I used Blender to quickly mock up a mountain, then carved and shaped out each of the pathways. Two of the pathway designs had to be cut to ensure proper spacing, and once I had the 3D mock-up completed I sent it back to the client for review.

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Refined Modeling

At this point, I worked through multiple iterations with the client. Each version had more refined paths and details, as well as additional features to make the toy more versatile.

 

The addition of plateaus allows figures to be set on the mountain, and a cleared path allows train tracks to integrate with the design.

Simulated Movement

A major time-save on this project was using Blender to simulate gravity and test each pathway with different starting points, ball weights, and ball sizes.

 

This testing was essential in refining the shape of the paths and reducing the risk of errors with a physical prototype. 

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Prototyping and Testing

Once we had a promising design in Blender I created a 3D printed prototype and began testing the product in real life. I printed a half-scale model to confirm each path worked correctly and tested multiple ball sizes.

 

The simulated testing done previously matched up perfectly with the real-world results, and besides minor adjustments to the shape of the model, we moved forward to a full-size print. 

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User Testing

The client ordered a full-size prototype from Shapeways to continue testing the design. With the correctly sized model, the client was able to test balls made of different materials, test the fit with other toys, and test with real users. The client tested the product with multiple parents and children and provided updates on the experience to me.

Conclusion and Learnings

During user testing, the client decided to put this project on hold to work together on a new project together. As my first long-term freelance project with daily communication from the client over multiple weeks, I came out of this project with much more than increased technical experience. Some of the most valuable learnings from this project were:

  • How to manage long-term client relationships and establish effective communication standards

  • Experience guiding a client through every step of the design process

  • Greatly improved experience with the strengths and limitations of Blender

"The work you have done is great. I think this is it! It looks great, simple, and intuitive. With your collaboration, I hope we can bring a few ideas to market."

Miniature Steam Locomotive

Client Vision

A miniature steam engine toy. Electronics inside the toy drive the wheels while also creating water vapor that rises from the chimney. Magnetic couplings allow multiple cars to be attached behind the locomotive. 

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Starting Point

For this project, the client had already created a rough toy model in SketchUp. My first goal was to reference this STL model to create a properly modeled STEP file. Along with correcting the format for eventual manufacturing, switching to a Solidworks file would allow me to alter the design of the train much more easily. Before remaking the model in Solidworks, I pulled dimensions from the model as well as spec sheets of the internal components provided by the client.

Corrected CAD

The initial model I created corrected aspects of the design like rib thickness, proper shelling, and additional location features for the components. This model allowed us to create the first 3D printed prototypes to test fit the components.

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First Prototype

The initial 3D printed prototypes provided the opportunity to test fit each component, as well as a chance to hold the model and see it in context. This prototype helped inform minor changes to better fit components, as well as some aesthetic changes the the housing.

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Iterations

After receiving a list of changes from testing, I worked with the client to iterate on the design. We went through multiple iterations to account for aesthetic changes, new components, and additional features. The client would mark up screenshots of the model and share them with me to implement on the STEP version of the toy.

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Wooden Housing

As we worked on the injection molded housing the client requested an alternate model to test a wooden housing design. In this model, I re-designed each part to be CNC'd from wood while maintaining the same dimensions as the previous model. The main changes here were around the housing thickness and adding fillets that the client initially requested be left off the model. You can also see a few more updates in this model like the attached hopper car. 

Renderings

The client requested renderings of the wooden housing concept for marketing purposes. After creating some graphics for the side of the locomotive and cars I pulled everything into Keyshot and created renders to capture what the final product might look like. 

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"Nice! The model is PERFECT !! Thank you again Westen."

Conclusion and Learnings

My final role in this project was handing off both housing models and renderings to the client for continued prototyping. At this point, I shifted to full-time on Soilless and was not able to continue working on the project. In this project, the biggest learnings were:

  • Increased experience designing for injection molding and CNC machining

  • Increased experience designing housings around electrical components

Thank you for viewing!

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