• Hero

    Dan Woodger: Line Emoji

Behind The Scenes

Dan Woodger works slavishly to create 1000 brilliant emoji in over 1000 hours!

Posted by James Cartwright,

Almost exactly a calendar year ago we introduced Dan Woodger on It’s Nice That; showed off his desk-space, his process and some of his skateboarding Dinosaurs. Six months later he was contacted by an art director who’d seen that article and enlisted him to produce one of the most labour-intensive illustration projects we’ve ever come across, creating over 1000 unique images for an emoji app. By way of apology for this torturous commission, we asked him a few questions about how it went…

  • Dw_3

    Dan Woodger: Line Emoji

  • Dw_4

    Dan Woodger: Line Emoji

  • Dw_5-1

    Dan Woodger: Line Emoji

Tell us what Line is.

Line is a messaging platform that specialiSes in emoji and stickers (which are basically just bigger, more elaborate emoji). They’re already considered the “godfather of stickers,” but right now they’re working with a bunch of artists to expand their emoji library to include almost every expression and icon you would ever need.

How did the project come about?

Through you guys! I woke up to an email back in January from Jenny Yoo, one of the Art Directors at LINEs LA office asking if i’d be interested in working with them.

Turns out she’d seen my work on It’s Nice That last year and had kept me bookmarked until the right project came along.

We arranged for a phone conference later that day but I knew very little about the company so I didn’t really know what to expect. My jaw hit the floor when she explained to me what they had planned.

The project was to create an “emoji encylopedia” of over 10,000 new emojis. They began planning in January, and we’ve finally began releasing the emojis every week. Mine were the first to be released as part of the default emojis on LINE, and helped launch the project globally.

1000 individual images is a tall order. Did the scale of the commission freak you out?

It’s odd, On the one hand, oh my god yes, 100 illustrations a week, are you insane!? But I know that I’m really good at handling high pressure deadlines so my girlfriend and I braced ourselves for it. Essentially we knew that my life was on pause whilst I did this.

Talk us through the process for each one…

The Art Director and I had a system where I’d deliver a set of 100 illustrations each week. She’d send me a list of 60 things to draw based on a particular theme then I was free to come up with 40 of my own. Each Wednesday night I’d send over my latest batch, we’d discuss options for the next set and then by Thursday morning I’d have my new theme ready to start on.

I worked out a pretty efficient system for creating each emoji. First of all I’d print out a 3×5 grid onto an A3 sheet of paper then in each box I’d sketch out the designs. Then it was just the same routine as my normal work; scan the sketches in and retrace with Wacom tablet in Photoshop, then fill colour to finish. The only difference being that I had to work in a more simplified manner with thicker lines due to the small size of the final product.

  • Dw_2

    Dan Woodger: Line Emoji

  • Dw_6

    Dan Woodger: Line Emoji

You drew all of these by hand originally, why would you do that to yourself?

I haven’t found a better way! It’s part a labour of love and part obsessive compulsive behaviour. I know that by sketching them out first I have a set plan of what I’m going to do when I work it up to final. It also gives me the opportunity to correct any imperfections I make the first time.

How long do you think you spent on this in total?

Oh boy, I worked 18 hours a day 7 days a week, (sadly I’m not kidding here) so I guess it’d be around 1,260 hours give or take…

What’s your favourite emoji of the bunch?

There are a few, I love the derp one and this crying guy (who might best reflect my face during the latter stages of the project!)

Are your emoji’s better than words?

Haha big question! I’m not sure replacing the Oxford English Dictionary with my emojis would be everyones cup of tea! But for someone like me who has always communicated better with images than words it’s delightful to physically have a keyboard of my own drawings to use to talk to people.

What else have you got in the pipeline at the moment?

There’s a few really cool things happening at the moment. I’m working with LINE again right now to make some stickers for the app, which is a lot of fun! I also have a couple editorials on the go at the moment and preparing for my first ever talk at See No Evil next tuesday night.

  • Dw_1

    Dan Woodger: Line Emoji

  • Dw_8

    Dan Woodger: Line Emoji

  • Dw_9

    Dan Woodger: Line Emoji

Jc

Posted by James Cartwright

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Behind The Scenes View Archive

  1. List

    There are coffee table books, and then there are huge, fantastic publications so weighty that they’re likely to shunt your table a couple of inches closer to the floor, as in the case of this staggering beauty by TASCHEN. The Rolling Stones is a 518-page testament to the incredible wealth of photographs that have been taken of the iconic band over the course of their 50 year career, and it’s breathtaking.

  2. Main

    It’s great when we speak to editors and founders of the best magazines on the stands today, and they say that the reason they created it in the first place was that “There wasn’t a magazine for me on the racks. There wasn’t one that did what I wanted.” Leith Clark is a stylist to the stars, and has been entrenched in the world of fashion and style for over a decade.

  3. List

    On Tuesday afternoon America’s largest lingerie retailer, Victoria’s Secret, descended on London with a horde of “Angels” to execute one of their famed multi-million pound productions, complete with wings, light shows, male back-up dancers and several hundred black and silver balloons.

  4. List-3

    Harley Weir is an extraordinary talent. Her work is bold and unreserved, whether it be part of a personal project investigating the border between Israel and Palestine, a vibrant fashion editorial for the likes of British Vogue, or a series of ethereal portraits capturing redheads with all of the eerie stillness of Millais’ Ophelia.

  5. List

    Back in August, Thames & Hudson published Collector’s Edition, a stunning book collecting collector’s editions of music and literature releases. Now, to continue the rather meta trajectory of the original, the book’s author and creative director, Stuart Tolley, founder and director at creative agency Transmission, has released a collector’s edition of Collector’s Edition in the form of an “artist cover bomb” series, which has seen ten artists whose work appears in the book decorate a copy, and which will be sold in an online auction to raise funds for The Alzheimer’s Society. He talks us through the “very loose” brief he set the participants, and how it felt for him to have the likes of Paul McCartney and Nick Cave decorating a book he created.

  6. List

    There are equal doses of pleasure and frustration to be had in stumbling across the work of a photographer you’ve never seen before. It’s classic FOMO on a macro scale, coupled with joy at the prospect of showing off the treasure you’ve found. At least that’s what I felt when I discovered that photographer Mark Neville was to be showing two of his photo-series alongside one another in a new show entitled London/Pittsburgh at London’s Alan Cristea Gallery.

  7. List-flyers-for-the-institute-at-sexology.-photography-by-russell-dornan_-design-by-liam-relph-(3)

    London’s Wellcome Collection space always hosts explorations of the things that fascinate us most. It’s covered death, it’s exhaustively explored the human body in all its glory and grotesquery, and now it’s moved on to surely the most fascinating of all – sex, or more precisely, how people have studied it.

  8. List

    How’s this for a collaboration? Artist Quentin Jones, who counts photography, animation, painting and filmmaking among the tools of her trade, has teamed up with spatial designer Robert Storey to create the setting for her new exhibition in the The Vinyl Factory Space on London’s Brewer Street, with Robert creating a set for each of Quentin’s works.

  9. List

    There’s a real appetite here on the internet for old black and white photos being presented in colour, but in the main they tend to focus on historic or social themes. It’s less common to see sports photography undergoing this treatment, which is why we were so struck by the work of Gooner Frog when we came across it on Facebook.

  10. List-2

    Marrying a playful typographic approach, sensitive illustrations and deliciously tactile gold foil, the cover of The Recorder is a great indication of its contents: a beautifully designed ode to typography and its omnipresence.

  11. Main

    Music publishing is in a strange place. There are certain places we go to get our fix: Dazed, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME, ’SUP and FACT to name but a few, but the atmosphere of the industry feels slightly scattered. Do people still want their music news in printed form when the internet will always get there first? We were curious to speak to Hanna Hanra who is the editor of BEAT magazine, on how she started, why the hell she’s doing it, and what the publication aims to do. I asked Hanna who the magazine was aimed at and she answered: “Well, myself, primarily.” Here she is…

  12. 4list.-charles-jourdan_-spring-1976-%c2%a9-guy-bourdin

    In the summer of 1979, several legs boarded a ferry travelling from Dieppe to Plymouth. However unlike most other legs making the journey, these didn’t have any feeling in their toes.

  13. Main

    No magazine gets snapped up and devoured like Apartamento when it arrives into the It’s Nice That studio – there’s something about its size, understated beauty and incomparable wit that makes it irresistable. It states that it’s an “everyday life interiors magazine,” but it’s so much more than that, providing in-depth interviews with some of the coolest people who walk on this earth, with snooping photographs of their dwellings to boot. Now on its 14th edition, I wanted to ask Omar Sosa, the magazine’s much-loved founder, a little about this issue, those in the past, and where Apartamento is headed.