Welcome Lobster Wapuu: WordCamp Halifax’s Official Mascot!

WordCamp Halifax Wapuu Mascot Reveal 2017

On March 21, the WordPress Halifax Meetup held a vote to pick this year’s Wapuu out of four anonymous submissions. Through counted ballots, Lobster Wapuu Wabster won the hearts of those in attendance.

Wapuu is an open-source character created by Kazuko Kaneuchi, in which anyone can take her original design and regionalize or personalize it their tastes – just like WordPress!

Welcome Lobster Wapuu!

The winning design was submitted by designer Alison Knott, WordCamp Halifax’s lead organizer. We caught up with her to ask the story behind this cute little crustacean:

How did you get the idea for this Wapuu design?

Honestly, my first gut reaction was to make a donair eating Wapuu – a popular concept as another entry also had it eating a donair! I thought it would appeal to locals, but realized I should submit another design that might appeal to a wider audience that still says ‘Halifax’. I came up with a harbor seal (aptly named Harpuu) and as well as the lobster.

Truth be told, I wasn’t in love with Wapuu when I first started attending WordCamps. I suppose I didn’t get the need for a ‘mascot’. When it was recommended by other WordCamp organizers that Halifax open up submissions to use for its first WordCamp, I finally sat down and really read through the history of this little yellow dude. I was really amazed at the generosity of Kaneuchi, how Wapuu is this creative symbol of the open source project, and I’m floored by all the Wapuus created over the years. My personal fav right now is Rosie the Wapuu, a design based off Rosie the Riverter for Women Who WP.

What was your process to create the little critter?

I printed off the original design and did some quick sketches over top to make sure I remained in proportion. It took a few kicks at the can, but I finally worked out what looked right as a lobster. Character design can be tough as you need to boil down the details into simplicity and also adhere to the general Wapuu design guidelines at the same time. A fun challenge!

Lobster Wapuu Steps
(left to right) original line drawing; colourized rough; final vector render

For the voting process, designs didn’t need to be at a final product level, so I opted to scan in the onionskin drawing and colorized in Adobe Photoshop. That way the Meetup attendees could clearly see what the design would be, without taking too much of my own time to render it.

WordCamp Halifax Lobster Wapuu Animate WIP
Screenshot of WIP in Adobe Animate. Some refinement in overall design still happens at this stage.

Once it was selected, I wanted to render a cleaner version since I knew these would be turned into stickers. I usually work in Adobe Illustrator, but on the advice of my boyfriend who is an animator, I did in Animate (formally Flash). Holy smokes! It was a bit of a learning curve but I was floored at how fast I could manipulate the lines – I’m a converted Animate user now! Now the little Lobster Wapuu is a vector, meaning we can scale him up or down to any size without losing the quality of the image.

Are you excited to see the Lobster Wapuu out in the wild?

I am! I just made him because I wanted a chance to do something different related to WordPress instead of code or web design. I didn’t expect the voters to love it as much as they did. I’m proud this little red creature will represent WordCamp Halifax this year. And if it makes people buy more lobster dinners while they visit Halifax for WordCamp then hey… I’m helping the local economy too (laughs).

Interested in seeing all the Wapuus that have been created over the years, or want to create your own? Wapuu.us is an excellent resource as well as this article on the origin of Wapuu.

Wapuu Contest Slide
Voting slide from WordPress Halifax Meetup. B by Monami Yamada. A, C, and D by Alison Knott

WordCamp Halifax would also like to thank sponsor Sticker Giant who will be printing and delivering the stickers into attendee swag bags. Did you know they generously donates vinyl stickers to every WordCamp? How incredible is that?

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