Building Organic Shapes: Barnyard Animals

Many of my models skew for interest toward boys–I think I have an idea why–but one set was different. The Dogs. Boys and girls were about equally interested in the Dogs. I got the idea to try to score another ‘neutral interest’ playset with a group of barnyard animals.

I had already started working on a cow, because it seemed to me at the time that Petia was crazy about cows. So, the cow kind of became my ‘anchor’ because it was going to be the biggest animal, and would have a striking visual design, and would probably take the longest to put together. 

The Krazy Krava (krava is ‘cow’ in Bulgarian) has an interesting feature: it’s enclosed and also has a narrowing at the neck. It’s difficult to design such a shape so that it’s easy to put together (which probably explains why you’ve never seen a cow-shaped gift box…) And actually the cow started by looking much more like a bison until I lowered its shoulders. (But by the way I have a perfect bison model standing by if I should ever need it.)

So, what other features should go into a barnyard playset? I thought about goats and sheep and chickens and llamas and ostriches and pigs. But I narrowed it down to ‘conventional’ animals that you might find on an American farm that you can get something from without killing them. That left sheep, goat, cow, chickens.

I decided to make the cow and sheep and goat on roughly the same scale, so the cow is not (for example) four times as long as the goat but only maybe 75% longer. The chickens needed to be on a different scale, and since they are just as complicated as the other animals, they needed a different treatment. I decided to make them two-dimensional and ‘paint’ them onto a board.

Last, it seemed that I could make a four-sheet set and include a barn and some hay bales. These were probably the least successful feature, since the barn is not really to scale of the animals. I would do this differently if I did it again, constructing instead a ‘set’ for playing with the animals, an interior corner of a barn that you could place the cow and the other animals in, and pose them in scenes.

The visual design came last, and with some help I was able to translate the rough ideas for the animal characters into print-ready copy.