Recompensa Cigars

Recompensa Cigars - student project

Quick update before I go to my calligraphy class, some new sketches:

Recompensa Cigars - image 1 - student project

Recompensa Cigars - image 2 - student project

Recompensa Cigars - image 3 - student project

Recompensa Cigars - image 4 - student project

Recompensa Cigars - image 5 - student project

These are all from Friday, I just had time to scan today. While scanning, I got this brush script almost ready while doodling:

Recompensa Cigars - image 6 - student project

And I had 15 spare minutes after processing all scans, so started making a mockup to get more solid proportions and breathing space...

Recompensa Cigars - image 7 - student project

This is it for now, I would love some critics on these ideas! :)

Be back soon!


Ok, so here is a brief (as brief as I could be, I swear!) description of my project:

I am from Brazil, and just got back from a month long trip to Cuba.

I got in love with cigars there, because of the act of smoking itself (I quit cigarettes 5 years ago but still miss it), but also for their labels, boxes, cigar rings and all imagery involved.

Since cigars are handmade and a very traditional product of Cuba, most of their brands carry these feelings along: Quality, Tradition, Hand Made, Origin...

So I first created a mood board with some boxes I brought from Cuba:

Recompensa Cigars - image 8 - student project

My favorite pieces in this mood board are: the "Partagas" seal on the side of the box, "Montecristo"'s logo and whole box (so simple and with this subtle art deco touch) and the use of duotone texture on "Partagas"'s tubes.

Recompensa Cigars - image 9 - student project The partagas seal.

Recompensa Cigars - image 10 - student project The Montecristo logo on the side of a box.

Recompensa Cigars - image 11 - student project Nice duotone texture on this Partagas tube.

Then, since I am from Brazil and a cigar newbie, I did a little research on Brazilian brands. I knew Brazil had great cigars and brands, some of them costing as much as a medium priced Habano (cigars made in Cuba, touted as the best in the world).

The state where good Brazilian cigars are produced in Brazil is Bahia, in the northeastern part of the country. To be more specific, there's a certain area of the state called the "Mata Fina" region (roughly translated as 'skinny foliage' or 'slim forest', something like this. Think of a not that dense woods formation. :)

Here's a map of the region and the tobacco producer names with farms there:

Recompensa Cigars - image 12 - student project

So, with this conceptual research I was able to gather some brand names and also start thinking about the product I want to create the label for. Here is the Brazilian Cigars mood board:

Recompensa Cigars - image 13 - student project

The brazilian brands I like the most are" "Aquarius", "Monte Pascoal" and "Dona Flor" for they have a bit more of attention to the traditional cigar brands details whilst trying to bring a bit of Brazil reference to it all at the same time.

Recompensa Cigars - image 14 - student project This is the Dona Flor brand

Recompensa Cigars - image 15 - student project An Aquarius cigar ring

Recompensa Cigars - image 16 - student project Monte Pascoal brand

I'd also like to notice the "Damatta" brand, which is one of the best cigar producers in Brazil and went to a graphical approach that is totally non traditional. Albeit I dislike the result, I think it's an interesting move.

Recompensa Cigars - image 17 - student project The Damatta logo in green. Cheap type (and cheap type treatment) killed it.

I was planning initially on creating a new line of cigars for an existing brand, but in the end I decided to create a new brand from scratch. Reasons are the following:

  • Most brands have their identity well defined, and good resolution logos are very hard to find online.
  • Although there are some brands that invoke tradition in their visuals, they do it in a weird way, and I don't really get the handmade feeling on any of them.
  • Even if I was to create a new line of cigars for an existing brand, I'd have to include a bit of their identity throughout my work, and I didn't feel like it because of the above statements.

So, in the end, creating a name and being able to have full control on the identity of the work were the two main forces that took me to creating a whole new product.

First thing was the name. I ended up with "Recompensa", which is the portuguese word for "reward". It's a very suggestive name for a cigar brand, since most cigar aficionados tend to separate a time in their day (usually in the end of it) to sit back, relax and have a great time enjoying a handmade puro.

I felt I needed a deeper research on more cigar brands, from more places and other times. Some Cuban cigar boxes have almost the same design they had half century ago, but I wanted to see how Americans did design for cigars on the good old days, and so I did a little research that ended in the following mood board:

Recompensa Cigars - image 18 - student project

My fave picks here are:

Recompensa Cigars - image 19 - student project

Recompensa Cigars - image 20 - student project

Recompensa Cigars - image 21 - student project

Recompensa Cigars - image 22 - student project

So, with name and mood boards in hands, I started sketching a few roughs:

Recompensa Cigars - image 23 - student project

The small labels here obviously shows I intend to go almost all type with this project. Maybe just include a few tobacco leafs and some ornaments here and there. So I need to decide the whole copy text and it's hierarchy for the main label. Cigar labels have very nice quality, tradition and origin identifiers to explore in text, so I tried to get to a nice amount of them to work with.

What I got to was (sorted by it's hierarchy):

The brand. this is the biggest thing in the label.

Puros Bahianos
the word "Puros" means that these are cigars made only from tobacco leaves. "Bahianos" determines the origin. Actually, nowadays the word is spelled without the "h", but for the idea of tradition we're keeping it.

Feitos à Mão
This means that the cigars are fully made by hand.

Tripa Larga
This is to identify the cigar is made from large tobacco leaves, and not scraps or by joining smaller leaves.

Mata Fina - Bahia - Brasil
This line of text helps expand the origin description and reinsures quality

The year of establishment of the company

Some of these lines I had in mind when I started the first sketches, so they have kind of been covered already.

Now I got to the point of deciding which other labels I'd have to do in order to have a nice rounded project.

A cigar box usually has the front label, plus labels on all four sides, and a stamp on the bottom. The most deluxe ones also offer a piece of rice paper inside with usually one color printing… And of course, there's the cigar ring, the brand that shows up when you're out smoking at a club. This is a very important piece of the brand expression, especially for it's diminished size.

So, what I have to design is:

  • Main Label
  • Side label # 1 (just ornaments and the cigar type)
  • Side label # 2 (same thing, opposite side)
  • Side label # 3 (brand + cigar type + ornaments)
  • The brand seal
  • Box bottom (stamped, with manufacture month / year)
  • Box insert (TBD)
  • Cigar Ring

And this is what I am up to so far. Now I will start sketching at bigger size, see if I can get to three pencil sketches that are better defined, and then really delve into it.

Thanks for looking, will be updating this sooner than later! :)

Oh, and if you'd like to have these moodboards at a little better resolution, you can get them three here: