Shape Shifter brewing is a fictional brand created for a design exercise. Still, it's identity is crafted with intent, and these skull-filled packaging designs have an origin story that needs telling.
At the onset of this project, it was established that the brewery I’d be designing for was a large company that updated its draft list with a new line of beer every season. Thus, the challenge would be to create a system that embodied an ever-changing product while maintaining a cohesive brand image.
Here's where it gets fun (or creepy, maybe? I'm having fun!). Celtic mythology speaks of a mysterious creature known as a Púca, with the ability to take on forms of animals such as a wolf, a horse, and a goat.
With this dark direction in mind, I set out to embed this mythology in the story of a modern brewer.
These sketches (below) helped to define the brand early on. The skulls reinforced the mythological concept and its roots in the mysterious past, and each animal represented a prominent shape-shifting form of the creature itself.
While this illustration style was being developed, the packaging itself was undergoing dramatic changes. These initial beer-bottle packaging sketches (below) created a modern, elegant feel. They failed to evoke a sense of mystery, mythology, or shape-shifting, and as the mythological Púca concept solidified, these designs shed their elegant skin and gave way to some darker designs.
The final designs pay homage to their mysterious past, bringing new life into the world of brewing and giving Shape Shifter deep roots for their modern business.
(Below) Final packaging photography (click to enlarge).
Please note that all illustrations depicted are my own, with the exception of the ribcage illustration featured on the backs of the can design.