“Trifecta” Packaging Illustration

Recently I was hired by a client to develop a packaging illustration for a new brand of barbeque sauce called “Trifecta”. The illustration will be used on the label of the bottles as well as on t-shirts, posters, and other marketing materials.

In horse racing a “trifecta” is the first, second, and third place finish in a race. When it comes to barbeque sauce the client thought it could also stand for the three primary types of meat that people grill: beef, chicken, and pork. So I was asked to come up with a humorous illustration that would depict jockeys riding a cow, a pig, and a chicken. It was a fun idea with a great visual. I enjoyed playing around with it.

Here’s the rough thumbnail ideas I submitted:


The client chose sketch C and then I worked up a detailed sketch. I’m an illustrator, not a graphic designer, so my job was only to draw the picture. Someone else will be hired to design graphic layout around it.

While sketching it occurred to me that since people read from left to right it would look better visually if we flipped the image. Here’s the detail sketch I submitted:

Trifecta-Sketch1bWhen it came time to color the image I took a trip to the grocery store and purchased several brands of BBQ sauce so that I could study the color schemes that were used. I’m not an expert in the psychology of color but I’ve been told that certain colors tend to make certain types of food appear more appetizing. For instance, dairy products like yogurt and milk often use white and blue in their packaging. Barbeque sauce, I found out, is almost always packaged in some combination of five “dark and warm” colors: red, orange/brown, yellow, black, and white.


I figured there must be a good reason for this so I incorporated a similar color scheme into the final art:


The final illustration was created as vector art in Illustrator for three reasons: First, so that it could be enlarged indefinitely (i.e. on banners and posters) without any loss in quality. Second, I wanted to keep the art humorous but give it a more modern, streamlined look. And third, I just like working in Illustrator every now and again.

Trifecta barbeque sauce is not on the market yet but the client has given me permission to share the work that I did for him here on the blog. As soon as its available I’ll be sure to post a link to the Trifecta website as well as an image of the final packaging.


15 thoughts on ““Trifecta” Packaging Illustration

  1. Great work, as usual! I’m really digging this piece, it IS funny, and I love the thought you put into every detail, like the wonderful poses of the jockeys. I can’t wait to see how the final packaging turns out.

  2. Although I understand it’s the client who makes the final decision, I prefer by far sketch B over the rest.

    It gives the idea of the winning team composed by the three animals, the proud attitude of the characters, the laurel closing the picture making it kinda iconic… really, really cool.

    As always, the final result colored with those dark warm colors is excellent.

    Nice job, Ced 😉


  3. Hi Cedric. Great post! I’m just wondering if it is really necessary to buy the load of BBQ sauces to study the colour, or if it’s possible to get snapshots off the web or on a camera phone or something.

    Anyway, you just gotta post a picture of the bottle once it’s on the shelves! I would so love to see it!

  4. Thanks Everyone! Glad you liked ’em.

    Favian – I tried taking pictures in the store but the store lighting made the colors not look quite right on my camera. I wanted to make sure my shades of color were close to the shades on the other brands (i.e. orangey-reds vs maroon-reds) so I decided to bring a few home. There were actually even more brands on the shelf that I decided not to buy.

    It also helped to see the actual BBQ sauce in the bottles so I could get a sense of the approximate shade of reddish-brown that would be the “backdrop” for my illustration.

    It might have been a little overkill, but I like to think little touches like this help the client know that I’m committed to doing my absolute best for them.

    • Ah.. makes sense. I figured as much. Have fun with the BBQs! I’d ask which sauces are the best but we prob won’t be able to get them here 😉

  5. Cedric,
    while I too, prefer sketch B, I am always impressed by your color solutions. The final image should be a lot of fun to see on the shelf.

    Can I ask–
    are the low contrast orange streaks in the background all closed paths, or is that a placed texture? My interest is in how you got the ragged look with anchors that want to curve. Did you use a tracing app, or maybe the pencil tool? Just curious.

    Thanks for the excellent blog.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I used one of the artistic brushes in Illustrator, can’t remember which one but it was sort of a dry-brush or charcoal-type brush. I just enlarged the brush to a huge size and drew a few streaks. Illustrator automatically converted it to paths.

  6. just showed this to u. Stan. He really was impressed and didn’t realize just how good you have become. Really loved it. Stan liked b also. I liked c. Interesting. must be a gender thing. yet I prefer a1 over a2. can’t explain why. Thanks again for posting this. really liked it. CCC

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