The Making Of Sheppy

When Little Herdy asked the designers at Herdy HQ to make him a new best friend, they called on the talents of artist and stop motion designer Amanda Thomas to bring Sheppy to life.

Amanda has lent her talent to some amazing projects over the years, such as Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr Fox, Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride and the 2022 Oscar winning film Pinocchio. Amanda also has a passion for pet portraiture, which made her the perfect person to capture Sheppy’s cuteness and character.

Her chance encounter with Herdy was a match made in heaven. "I used to draw sheep all over my exercise books, I feel that it is truly serendipitous that The Herdy Company found me on LinkedIn." And the rest, as they say, is history.

 

 Working closely with Diane and Spencer, the minds behind Herdy, Amanda brought Sheppy to life with love and dedication.  Diane had initially created a sketch of how she envisioned Sheppy would look as a 3D character for Amanda to base her design on. "Spencer and Diane were a delight to work with," she shares. "They completely trusted me when it came to making decisions about Sheppy, but equally had very strong opinions about what they wanted, which made my job much easier."

 

For Amanda, creating toys is more than just a career, it's a lifelong passion. "I have made toys my whole life, I never dreamt this could actually be a career." From making clothes for her toys as a child to designing miniature costumes for animation, Amanda's journey has been fueled by her love for creating.

 Drawing from her extensive experience in stop motion animation, Amanda embarked on the intricate process of sculpting Sheppy from plasticine. "My stop motion animation background enabled me to realize that I needed to sculpt Sheppy first, to produce a maquette*," Amanda explains. This meticulous approach allowed her to capture all the subtle details and shaping that makes Sheppy truly special.

* The term ‘Maquette’ refers to small scale model used to create a larger or permanent sculpture. They are created in order to visualise how the final product might look.

 Collaborating closely with the creative team at Herdy HQ, Amanda fine-tuned Sheppy's design until it was just right. "It's much easier to create all the subtle shaping this way, (using a maquette) it's fast and immediate". But the journey didn't end there. Amanda's attention to detail extended to every aspect of Sheppy's creation, from the fabric version to the final patterns for mass production.

 

Navigating the transition from a flat drawing to a plush toy presented its challenges. "In the animation world, things like Sheppy's ears would have been wired, so they could be bent into shape," Amanda explains. "Figuring out where to put the darts and seams in order to keep the subtle shaping I'd created at the maquette stage is crucial."

The culmination of Amanda's hard work and Diane & Spencer’s vision resulted in a soft toy that truly captures Sheppy’s character. "When I delivered Sheppy in person to them, they fell in love with him immediately and called me the Creator of Cuteness!" Amanda recalled. "To work for clients who know that they want that extra special something, and I can give it to them, is really wonderful."

Amanda's journey to bring Sheppy to life is a testament to her passion and creativity. The end result… A cuddly companion that’s sure to steal your heart, and keep your flock of Little Herdys under control!

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