Cytosport is a major manufacturer of sports nutrition products. Their line of Muscle Milk bars are enough to make one decide to go to the gym and start working out– if only to have a good excuse to eat lots of them. They have the same amount of protein that’s in a hamburger, but basically they are candy bars. Protein Crunch is the newest product in this line, with package illustrations by Paul Mirocha.
As is often the case with packaging design, Cytosport tried photography first. But the results, while accurate, just didn’t make anyone’s mouth water. They decided to use illustration because it could be both realistic and appealing to the imagination. “Just make it delicious,” said the brand manager when commissioning the art.
The bars are carefully designed using everyone’s favorite flavors and with nice attention to the visual appearance. They were beautiful in themselves and that helped a lot. They could only send a few sample prototypes for reference. It’s all they had. The shipping took an additional toll on the samples in terms of nicks and squished parts. They were far from photograph-able.
I made a careful study of each individual bar to make up an idealized composite, sort of a Platonic ideal Protein Crunch bar. In the middle of the project, the design of the bars changed a bit. Not surprising when a new product is in development. I had to start over on most of them.
I ate all the prototypes when I was done painting them. They shouldn’t last long on the shelf in the gym either.