Team GB’s Skeleton graphics

A series of 3D portraits feature on the sleds that the British skeleton team will be using at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, created by Royal College of Art student, Robin Howie

A series of 3D portraits feature on the sleds that the British skeleton team will be using at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, created by Royal College of Art student, Robin Howie…

The 3D scan of GB skeleton team’s Amy Williams

Skeleton is the hair-raising winter sport that sees athletes tackle the bobsleigh track on a one-person sled. UK Sport brought together a group of engineers, under the name BlackRoc, to design the British team’s sleds that can reach speeds of 100mph and endure up to 6Gs on the bends of a track.

They then approached RCA student Robin Howie to come up with a series of graphics that would go on the underside of these highly engineered sleds. He decided to make 3D portraits of the British skeleton athletes set to compete at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

“With the Olympic design, I wanted to play with the BlackRoc name,” explains Howie. “The idea is that the sled isn’t just a sled, it’s a monument to innovation, ambition and success; one that’s made of BlackRoc.”

Athlete Adam Pengilly under the scanner

Drawing inspiration from the sled’s innovative engineering, each athlete’s image was created using a 3D-mapping scanner to give the impression that the portraits were set in a kind of “futuristic stone”, says Howie, expressive of something “heroic, Olympian and monumental”. Howie’s sleds will be in action at the Vancouver Winter Olympics on February 18 and 19 when the British team competes in the skeleton events.

Howie was also asked to create some designs for the team’s appearance at the Skeleton World Cup but, this time, approached the work with a rather different tack. His concept is based around the oft-maligned idea of ‘British weather’ and, in particular, the fact that while competing in a winter sport, the country doesn’t actually have a great deal of snow in which to train in (last December aside, of course).

Howie initially incorporated an image of Michael Fish into the design. Fish is one of the UK’s most recognisable weather forecasters known, much to his chagrin, as the member of the Met Office team who seemingly underplayed the intensity of the storms that hit the UK in 1987.

Sadly, Fish doesn’t make the final sled design but a striking, undisputedly British graphic device does: the iconic BBC weather map.

Howie’s prototype, without runners

The finished sled on the slopes

Howie’s initial concept, featuring BBC weatherman Michael Fish 

More of Howie’s work is at robinhowie.co.uk.

More from CR

Logorama up for Oscar

H5’s film Logorama has been nominated for a Short Film (Animated) award at this year’s Oscars…

McFetridge and The Wild Things

A lovely small book of Geoff McFetridge’s drawings created whilst working on the titles, type treatments and marketing graphics for Where The Wild Things Are…

Design Indaba: Documenting Design

One of the challenges faced regularly by designers and ad people is explaining to people just what it is they do. In an excellent panel at Design Indaba, three filmmakers discussed the films they’ve made that are helping to illuminate the hidden worlds of advertising and design…

Graphic Designer

Fushi Wellbeing

Creative Designer

Monddi Design Agency