4 Ways to Balance Mascot Design and Functionality

Many companies and schools have some kind of character, logo or icon that they use to represent their brand. And transforming that logo or cartoon into a life-size mascot costume is a great way to propel brand awareness to the next level and give your marketing efforts a real boost. For real results though, you will want to work with an experienced mascot maker that specializes in creating custom mascot designs while maintaining the integrity of the original character or icon. Most often, there needs to be some compromise made in the designing and building of the mascot itself. Human anatomy has evolved very slowly over millions of years so it’s not likely to change significantly any time soon. Because of that, there are different tools and tricks that a mascot designer can use to create a costume that conforms to the human body but still maintains the essence of the original character.


Whether it’s an over-sized head or little sprouts for arms, the challenge is to adjust those proportions accordingly while choosing other aspects to emphasize so that the general appearance of the mascot best reflects the original character.

In this example, Rufus has an overly long snout, elongated body with no shoulders and disproportionate arms and legs. While the character design is cute and visually balanced in 2D, it was necessary to a) shorten the snout to counter-balance the weight (otherwise putting too much strain on the performer’s neck), b) make the vision hole in the neck to emphasize the elongated body and giving the illusion of the arms being higher up as in the original, and c) make the lower portion of the body hang down further to give the illusion of shorter legs. Even though the proportions have changed, keeping other details true to form such colours, the eyes and wings makes the mascot costume unmistakable to recognize as Rufus.


ATU Local 1189 bus mascot

The illusion of forced perspective is sometimes used to create length or depth where there can’t realistically be any. Above we see an image of a character who’s head is a full size city bus. The design challenge here was to push the dimension of the head as far as possible so that it could still be worn comfortably and safely by the performer. Once that was established, a slight perspective effect was used in the actual artwork to help make it seem like the bus was longer than it actually was.


Rattlesnake rattler mascot costume

No, we’re not talking about sticking twigs in your hair and hiding in the bushes making duck calls. It is the technique of hiding features (particularly arms and legs) or making them recede into the background, when the original character does not actually have limbs. A perfect example is a rattlesnake, as seen here. Creating the unique features of the head and tail definitely give you a clear visual clue that the character is a snake. By covering the performer’s arms and legs in the same colour, pattern or texture makes them blend in with everything else so you can actually forget for a second that there’s a person inside the costume and just focus the ‘snakiness’ of the costume.

Build to Specific Measurements

Nexon MapleStory slime mascot costume

When there is little room to compromise, and the character MUST be as true as possible to the original design, then the building parameters become more limited. In the example above, there are no arm holes for the performer. In addition, to maintain the correct proportions of the characters, the mascot was built quite short and wide, meaning that only very short people would be able to wear it. Aside from keeping the proportions of the legs true, they had to remain short otherwise they would have been too wide to fit through doorways.

Contact us today to discuss your next mascot project!