Nissos Island Beer Box Presentation

Bring the beauty of Tinos to the flavour

In early November 2015, Cyclades Microbrewery at Tinos island contacted me to continue our collaboration in the development of a special and unique box design. After two successful project for the company (Seven Beaufort and All Day), the company requested I deliver an illustration design for the flag ship beer, Nissos Pilsner. The idea was taken from their liking of my new venture in caricature illustration and the older series of Animal Behaviour illustrations. The aim was to make their existing package design a more flexible and satisfying product to entice customers to buy 10 packs instead of single beers.



The brief was to design a full illustration to cover the entire box, that would represent the wildlife of Tinos island. This was to take the form of a set of animals listed by the client to be presented as if they were in a party environment. The design had to include two bottle representations at actual size (on either side) and the necessary text to aid in the package distinctive selling point. The animals were to be rendered in the style liked by the client of my new digital painting format. This was also a key factor in the timescale.


Client: Cyclades Microbrewery at Tinos Island

Illustration Application: Photoshop CC

File size: 838.9Mbs/2.07Gbs (open)
Layers: 173 uncompressed
Dimensions: 17456px x 5000px @ 300dpi
Hours (Pencil): 49hrs
Digital rendering: 169hrs

Plain Box
Final Mock-up


The aim was to take the standard shipping box, used by Nissos in their transportation requirements, and make the decoration suit in-store advertising and promotion needs. Below can be seen a mock-up of the typical box shape and schematic I have been given to work with.


The final box was designed around the template for the original beer cartoon. The plan was to have it printed on better quality card to give it a more luxurious feel. At the start of the process I wasn’t given access to the template, and the photoshop file had to be set-up using measurements based on the fact that this was a box to house 5 x 2 500ml bottles. In the end, my calculations worked out fine, and the subsequent render was an exact fit to the template.

The main concern when setting up the design was the issue of the corners. What happens with the design at the corners? This was planned to avoid making any part of the design less interesting than any other face, and so as you can see in the rough design, the parts of the layout were set to have pockets of interest. Once the design was laid out, it was decided that several aspects were to change. Criteria such as the tect detailing was altered and the desire to make the scene more festive and party like as tried and decided not to be good. This created a few issues, such as negative space areas that didn’t make the flow and layout look good. So this was played with and one big space was eventually filled with a moon image to also enhance the idea of parties being nocturnal and beer being drunk at such times.
Box in use
This shows a version of the product set for retail. This is a more minimal version of the whole box, and was designed as a wrap to the existing box. Full box is in production.
This shows a version of the product set for retail. This is a more minimal version of the whole box, and was designed as a wrap to the existing box. Full box is in production.

The image below shows the box template and how the penciled render candidate was broken down to interact with the different panel cuts in order not to break any of the main character and images in a way that would destroy their appeal.
As you can see in this animated sequence, many parts were changed, but in general the design was as planned. I tend to move from left to right with the animals to create a flow. And it was not until half way through that the design of the island details was decided. Overall, the whole thing went smooth and the end result was how I planned.

Animated Gif

The main focus of the box illustration was the animals of the Cyclades islands, and especially those of Tinos island. Nissos gave me a list of some 22 animals, birds, insects and reptiles that inhabit Tinos, and after some discussion, thought it best this was reduced to a manageable size. The resulting list was made of some 15 animals, birds, insects and reptiles. Making the spread interesting and varied as possible.
Each animal was sketched from reference images, that helped with propotioning and posture. Many had to be manipulated slightly to allow for them to hold bottles or interact with each other. As well as with referencing images for the design of the animals, the colours were also sampled from several images of the selected animals, to get the thing correct.
The turtle was one of the longest ones to complete with the render mainly as there was so much subtle colour changes and the gaps between the shell and arm sections. It was designed and planned that it acted like a table carrying a few beers on its back. The beer bottles were also hand rendered from the large bottles appearing on the side, and slight changes to the perspective were rendered in live.
The seal was the quickest to render out, as it was mainly one neutral colour. I did sample some other seals with patterns, but due to the tight schedule decided to go with the plain colour. A slight modification was made to the head after the first rough sketch was made, to make the creature look less cartoon like.
Rabbit Cat
Even though many of the animals are combined. This is the only one that faced the issue of seeing the animals separate. Again due to the timescale I didn’t render the arms as full parts and only painted what is visible. So these two have to be displayed together. The cat was based on a cat that Maya and Alexandros suggested, which is the family pet, and the hare image found on the web servedd well with the setting sun light effects.
I didn’t realise when I reached the octopus how difficult it was going to be to render it. Octopuses not only have the ability to change colours, but also ithey have this very subtle mottling affect across their skin. Apart from that, when designing the thing, I had to make an interest for each of the tentacles. You may also notice that there are only seven visible, but play on the idea the last one is in the water behind the bottle.
The Mule was one of the more fun creatures to paint. I had already done a mule, but more cartoon like, and used that as a basis for the design. The head was changed later to remove that over exaggeration. To make full the idea of island life, a set of beer crates were added to the sides of the animal, and logos and beer bottles applied.

You will also notice that when I skecth out the render candidates for the animals I avoid doing the hair. This is done more spontaneously and direct.

The lizard was asked to be added late on in the project to add more creatures. And as the time scale was placed a point where i was ready to render, I simply manipulated a real photo into a more dynamic sketch, but not doing too much more to caricaturise the animal. I gave more of a curve to the spine.


This started out in the project as an owl. I tried and tried to get an owl face to work in the space I was given, but at the end of the day, the whole look was too elongated. Luckily, as the list of usable animals was trimmed some time in the project I found that there was an option for a hawk. So, I redrew the head and rendered the image out as a hawk. This also involved some extension to the wing.


The gull was a simple backstage character, but as I drew it on the back of the donkey and started to render. I realised that the characteristics of a seagul (the white next to grey plummage) was gone as we see the bird from the front. Never the less I continued and it still plays an important part in the composition.


The goat was another one of the fun caricatures that was designed for the box cover. It was pieced together from 3 source files and colour sampled from one. I added a smile and played with the horns more than the original.


The frog character was the one that was changed the most. There were no really good reference imags of the frog, so most of the image was generated by draw and redraw. I started it off leaping from the rear legs, but later decided that this approach fitted the space and composition better. The feet under soles were never sourced as an image, so this was all constructed from guessing.


The dove was another late addition and was again, like the lizard redered from a photo, with some changes to the proportions. The only additions you will see are the adding of a smile. The only change made during rendering was the swapping of the feet, which better suited the gripping of the octopus arm.

The dolphin had to be an Aegean dolphin, which has special side markings, so apart from this one requirement I thought it good to ahve it rising from the water. A bottle was placed on the nose to give it a party feel as well. The only changes made was pre-render when I realised that the two flippers were too big and too far down.

I knew the composition had to have a dog in there, but for some reason couldn’t place it well. It had to be on land, but I felt away from the cat. This left little room, so after some thought I found the only spot was to add to the back of the cow. This would also heighten the feeling of togetherness as a party would suggest. 
The colour scheme was taken from a reference image of the breed of Maya and Alexandros‘ own dog.
This animal turned out to be the grandest of them all. It was nice as it ended up reflecting the mule on the panel to the right. After some research a Friesian was planned in the render, but as an addition, horns were added. Initially this was to allow streamers to be tied to them, but they ended up staying after the party aspects were removed.
Several reference images were sort for the rendering as some had nice sheens and some had good facial colouring, etc. The bell was added later and even referenced separately.

The bee was to be a small addition to the design and played an essential aspect to fill in parts of the design that had no interest. In all 5 bees were added to strategic parts of the design. It was rendered once from a couple of photos and then sized and flipped accordingly.

Rough Sketch
Secondary sketch
Pre-render sketch


This shows the process of the main stages of the development. The initial rough was patched together on a set of photocopy papers to make the scale good and also allow for the extension of the design to suit that of the box template. This was a very basic rough to initially show the idea. Once accepted it was moved to the next stage.
Second, a rough mock-up of the design was created. This was used to place all the animals into the arena in a composed and formated way. For the sake of this part of the process the bottles were simply scaled versions of the full size ones.

You will notice that the rabbit and cat arms are not yet complete, as I was deciding whether to have them together or apart.

The third stage was taking each of the animals, and pencil rendering them in a clean and final form. Many of them were already to go from the first stage. Only the owl was replaced with a hawk. The only other change was a slight taming of the seal face and the arms of the rabbit and cat are now placed.

In 2020 Rob Art will be starting a Patreon Page. Please feel free to visit and become a patron of my work.

If interested in having an art piece done you can visit my Fiverr Pro account here, or like any of my caricature or animal art, please visit my online store for details.

all work copyright © Rob Art | illustration 2021
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