Blog: Secrets from the Chef


Denis KortunovAuthor: Denis Kortunov
16 January 2008

AutokadabraThematic Media thought about setting up a social network for motorists, however this was meant to be a special network with some RPG features. It was called Autokadabra.

The Challenge

The idea behind the network is to unite people moved by light vehicles. The project is based on a unique model making it possible to host all the existing online motorist clubs in a single resource.

Autokadabra is a rather special site. It’s metaphor is not 100% straight-forward for everyone out there, at least not at the first sight. Help on Autocadabra

Every user of Autocadabra owns a virtual garage where he keeps all of his vehicles. The developers approached us with a challenging task — draw icons for all the vehicles in the World. These were not plain icons but colored images so that the users could pick the right color for their vehicles.

Besides the project needed a logo that would portray the idea behind the social network in its entirety depicting the knots and connections — something intertwined and related to cars.

The Process

As a rule the size of the icons within one set is the same however the real vehicles feature different sizes so we had to decide on how to accommodate for that. First we thought about splitting cars into classes and affixing a certain length in pixels to each class. Then we decided to use a more accurate system and scale the vehicles down. We took 60 millimeters of the real length of the vehicle to be one pixel. Thus in order to get the icon size we needed to measure up the real vehicles and divide this value by 60.

Scale system in Autokadabra

In order to make the coloring easier we needed to work out a special drawing technique. First we draw the car’s contour and then apply black shadows and white hotspots. This results in this kind of semitransparent car:

Transparent Nissan Qashqai

If we superimpose this image over a color background, the car would magically acquire the color of this background:

United Colors of Mini Cooper

A few words about the logo. The client expressed his desire to have a cool logo with a heritage of the successful Habrahabr logo. We pondered over this task for a long time: “What do we draw? Maybe a steering wheel or the gearbox lever? Or maybe we write up the name in a spiral?” But then we had an insight: “A ball of tires!”

Autokadabra logo sketch

All the people in Thematic Media liked the idea. “I can feel the spirit of the site”, said Denis Kruchkov.

The Result

As of now we have drawn icons for all the most popular cars in Russia. They are nicely parked in virtual garages of happy Autocadabra users. These are just some of the examples of car icons:

Pixel cars

And this colorful logo is topping the pages:

Autokadabra logo

The creators of the project were very pleased with the result. This is not a secret that we also really enjoyed working on this project.

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