Project: Beautiful Papercraft Celebrates Life Aboard Hornblower Cruises

by Katy French

We view every creative project as a communication challenge that requires a creative solution. However, when we start an engagement with one of our partners, we don’t always know what the final work will look like. But whether it’s an infographic, a video, or a full-on art installation, we always strive to tell brand stories in compelling ways. And when we’re lucky, a project comes along that lets us exercise skills we don’t always get to apply. For our recent collaboration with Hornblower Cruises & Events, that’s exactly what happened. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the creative process behind this unique papercraft project, from idea to final execution.  

The Ask

Hornblower Cruises & Events is a charter yacht business offering entertainment and cruise experiences in California, NYC, DC, Virginia, Chicago, and Canada. They’re the perfect partner for all sorts of life events, including vacations, weddings, corporate events, tourism, etc. Basically, if you want to have fun on the water, they can make it happen. 

To spread that message and increase brand awareness, they came to us to help strengthen their social presence through unique content, and to help increase their volume of content. We’re always happy to help brands launch their content production, no matter what stage they’re at, so we were on board. (No pun intended.)   

The Idea

Social media is a huge resource for people looking for inspiration for things like weddings, parties, outing ideas, etc. To promote Hornblower, we focused on creating evergreen content to support their core services: weddings, private events, and corporate events. We wanted to create visual content that was unique, interesting, and aesthetically pleasing, but also captured the fun and excitement of their services. 

To elevate the visuals, we considered not just what we would depict but the visual medium that would be best. Because we wanted to capture an element of excitement and even whimsy, we decided to go with a medium we love but don’t often get to experiment with: papercraft. 

hornblower cruises column five papercraft hornblower cruises column five papercraft

The Execution

We’ve worked with papercraft before, in both static and video form. (We even created a DIY papercraft tutorial for noobs.) In our opinion, it’s one of the funnest, most interesting, most playful mediums. But not every project is appropriate for it. While it’s exciting to create, it’s also incredibly time-consuming. 

Luckily, Hornblower was on board and approved our concepts: papercraft images depicting the many moments, milestones, and events best celebrated with Hornblower. Then it was up to us to figure out how to execute them as efficiently as possible. 

To do this, designer Rendell Ascueta and Art Director Katie Raney started with a basic sketch to nail down the composition, then designed a digital illustration for each visual. (The first set of designs were largely exploratory, as translating the images from flat designs to dimensional papercraft would take some trial and error.) Once we created final designs, we separated and layered the digital shapes and elements in Illustrator to identify how each piece would work once rendered in paper.

hornblower cruises papercraft

 hornblower papercraft cruisesWe sourced thick cardstock cover paper from various manufacturers and contracted a laser cutter to cut the paper shapes, then assembled the physical composition. Using thick poster board and a combination of different types of adhesives (scotch tape, heavy duty tape, double-sided tape, gluestick, glue rollers, super glue), we were able to lift and manipulate the cut pieces on top of one another, producing a sense of depth and dimensionality. 

Rendell papercraft hornblower Rendell papercraft hornblower

“For each piece, I kept asking myself if it was ever finished, but ideas kept pouring into my head. Our flowers went from flat to dimensional, the shadows were accentuated, and any opportunity for depth was considered,” papercraft master Rendell says.

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On the cutting edge of something fun. ?✂️?

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Finally, each visual was shot top down, then edited in Photoshop to bring out the vibrancy of the paper color.

“Throughout the whole process I felt confident in my ability to put out my best work, but I did have a couple nightmares near the deadline where I thought I cut my fingers or just froze,” Rendell says. “Thankfully, none of that happened.” 

Rendell designer hornblower papercraft

Rendell taking a much-needed break. 

hornblower cruises column five papercraft 1 hornblower cruises column five papercraft 1

Best of all, the project even let our non-papermasters get in on the fun. 

“Personally, this was a dream project,” Rendell says. “Working with my hands and away from the computer is something I love doing. Plus, being able to collaborate with the team in the paper construction phases (e.g., crafting flowers together) was a fun bonding experience that let them get involved in the design process.”

hornblower cruises column five papercraft 4 hornblower cruises column five papercraft 4

Despite the tedious work, the project was a huge success, and we’re very proud of the team’s work. We want to give a special shoutout to the team at Hornblower for their willingness to take the papercraft trip with us, as well as the C5 superstars who made this happen: Account Director Desiree DeLattre, Producer Shea Costales, Senior Producer Jonathan Sweet, Designer Rendell Ascueta, and Art Director Katie Raney.

Go Behind the Scenes of More Column Five Projects

From infographics to videos, annual reports to interactive infographics, we’ve helped all sorts of brands share their stories. If you’re interested to see more: 

If you’re in need of your own content, hit us up. We’d love to chat about what you’re working on. 

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