We sat down with Verwildert, the designer on our Marketing team behind the #IMVUAdvent, to talk about her creative process and give a behind-the-scenes look to the #IMVUAdvent. This is her story, Behind The Avatar.
IMVU: Can you explain a little bit on your background and who you are?
Verwildert: I’ll start with my team- I’m part of Marketing, subgroup is design. I do all the fancy art images for our social media and other projects and I’ve been with IMVU for two years now.
IMVU: How did you get started when it came to the Advent Calendar?
V: It took me about a month to curate everything. I spent probably the first week just crying, haha. No, a lot of it was just planning because there were so many different little pieces. For me, it’s like a dream come true to do something so detailed, because that’s what I really love and am also good at. But the planning of it was pretty intense because I had to source everything in IMVU- all the poses and the avatars, the trees, the path, the fence, the dog… every tiny little piece was something out of IMVU.
I had to get all of that together, find it, and then start taking screenshots and putting it into Photoshop. It was a challenge to fit what I wanted to, in the calendar.
IMVU: So you had to source all the different pieces, except for I guess the snow on the ground… was everything else there directly from IMVU?
V: Well, even the snow on the ground is actually just taken from a room. So they’re all screenshots from a different room. The ice skating rink is part of a room… the little town, I cut out from different screenshots. I used our *hiresnobg in our rooms for the avatars.
The only thing I built from scratch is the entryway where the mistletoe is (Day 11). I photoshopped that myself from textures that I found and licensed.
IMVU: Wow, so you built all these rooms yourself?
V: Yes, i built the rooms.
IMVU: So how many creators did you source from?
V: A LOT. There are some creators that I used more than others, just because of what they had in their catalog (Moonwok and Stymesh). They make really good food and furniture pieces. Whims also made a lot of holiday stuff that I used.
IMVU: What were some of the biggest difficulties when it came to the Advent Calendar?
V: Just from an artistic standpoint- trying to make everything flow together. I know I wanted the house scene for sure because I thought that was a good way to show togetherness and family, and that’s where a lot of the staff avatars are – in the house itself.
IMVU: So are all of these staff avatars?
V: A lot of the ones inside the house are. The ones that are outside are a mix of staff avatars, or avatars that I’ve made. Some of them are my friends, too, that I made in IMVU.
I tried to put something interesting in each square, so that was another challenge. I knew that [the social media team] would be posting day by day, so I didn’t want somebody to look at it and just look at a square of the side of the house with nothing really going on in that image. So in every single image, I wanted there to be something happening, and for our users to say, “Oh that’s funny”.
I had some friends going through and looking at [the whole piece], and sending me screenshots of the little tiny things they found and laughing at it, because they didn’t realize the tiny detail before.
IMVU: You mentioned that people were sending you screenshots of things that they didn’t notice before… that you can’t see in the full image. So what easter eggs do you think that we should be looking out for?
V: Once you get into the house, there are a few little things that are going on here and there that I don’t want to spoil for you… and I think that some of the things that the avatars are doing are kind of funny, like the girl getting hit by a snowball (using action by Toupees) in Day 5.
There are also some VU Models that are in there, so if you look hard enough maybe you can pick them out.
The proposal one- that was a little easter egg. I was recently engaged so I wanted to put something in there to commemorate that, haha.
I also wanted to put in stuff that you can do in IMVU – like the silly and sweet stuff. The cute little puppy in the front- that’s a little guy that you can find in IMVU. You can even play fetch with him, haha.
And then the winter fairy, which you’ll see is a re-occurring theme. I kind of wanted her to have this magical, flowing magic that goes all throughout and touches different parts of the calendar. So you go up here [to the right of the full calendar] and there are little glittery bits going throughout the whole scene.
There’s also a lot of cats, because i like cats, haha.
IMVU: What did you want to make sure of when it came to the Advent Calendar- what was your main goal?
V: I really wanted to include staff avatars because I thought that it was a good opportunity to have that community/family feeling. And for people to see a different side of IMVU – there are people here, and we also use the product and we have our own avatars and our own ways of expressing ourselves. So I definitely wanted to have that.
I wanted it to be a wintery scene, because I’m obsessed with snow and winter, even though we don’t get that here at all haha.
I was also heavily influenced by Charles Wysocki, who has a very distinct Americana style. So I drew a lot of reference from that. He has a tendency to show a lot of overarching scenes with a lot of little things going on, so that was my overall goal for that from a technical standpoint.
IMVU: What did you want the user to take away from the Advent Calendar?
V: I guess I wanted to invoke a sense of warmth, friendship, acceptance and community – you know, all the things that IMVU means and stands for. The importance of having a place where you’re welcome and people are happy to see you.
Once you get into the house, you have those scenes where you’re interacting in a room and actually doing stuff. That’s what it meant to me, and that’s what I wanted to get across- some of the fun things that you can do in IMVU.
To follow along on the #IMVUAdvent, make sure you’re following our Instagram page here!