Case Study: Wikileaf Strain Art

How do you create over 800 unique images without repeating yourself or going insane?

One at a time.

The Brief

I was tasked to create art for several hundred strains of cannabis. We set a goal of 45 minutes per strain, which meant using a lot of stock illustration along with my considerable collection of fonts and textures (hey, some people collect coins, I collect fonts).

Each strain needed to stand on its own, and stand out in a crowd of over 2,000 strains. It was no small order, but it was one I loved while it lasted.

The Rules

  • The strain name must appear legibly on each piece (proved quite challenging to cram some names in)
  • Must use vector art, no photographs, no gradients (I cheated using dithered patterns…take that rules!)
  • Stick to the Wikileaf colour palette (quite limiting in some cases, but also made for a faster workflow)
  • No copyright or trademarked images (proved quite a challenge for strains that are named after a trademarked property!)

Below are some of my favourite strains, sorted into random categories.

** Note: This page has many images and may take a LONG time to load. **

Words and Images: Perfect Pairings

Even if it’s just stock illustration and type, you can have a lot of fun. When you pair just the right image and type, the whole composition sings.

Parodies & Tributes

I never could resist a good pop culture reference or inside joke. This project gave me the opportunity to show off the most obscure – and therefore most hilarious – references.

Can you name them all?

Featured Artist: Juan Darien

There are many excellent illustrators who post their work on stock websites. One of them is a fantastic Cuban illustrator by the name of Juan Darien. I became somewhat obsessed with his style, and used every appropriate opportunity to use one of his quirky and expressive works.

Typographer’s Paradise

Sometimes type takes centre stage and the illustration can just take a back(ground) seat. This creates a nice variety and gives this old typographer some pixels to roam about.

Fake Brands

Some names lend themselves well to becoming a nice logo/brand. Is it a drink product? A restaurant? A band logo? I’ll let you decide.

The Grand Exception: Tweed

I was pretty adamant about not wanting to fall into the trap of making “sets”, especially for specific brands. However, in the case of Tweed’s strains I decided to make this one exception to my rule and make a cohesive set of strains based loosely on Tweed’s own colours and branding.

Still waiting on that job offer…

Don’t repeat yourself!

When this is the 28th strain with “sour” in the name, it can be hard not to reach for trusty lemons. You have to get creative with the definition of the word, and go beyond the conventional associations. Some of these take a minute, but I think they’re all on point!

Hand Drawn: The Last Resort

Shocking as it may sound, sometimes I am not able to find a suitable illustration on iStock. Some of these may have taken longer than the allotted time, but I think it was worth it.