August 27, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the first graduating class of the Orange County Sheriff Academy. To commemorate this event I was asked to design a challenge coin for the academy. Challenge coins traditionally started as a way of identifying one’s membership within an organization and to build morale. Today, they are often given out to commemorate special events or achievements and are often collected and traded within organizations.
The Sheriff academy requested that the coin have and art deco style eagle with a sheriff badge on it’s chest. Immediately I knew I wanted to create the most bad-ass (excuse my language) art deco eagle I could imagine. With this in mind, I started with a pencil sketch of the eagle then I refined it until I was happy with the look. This image below is a scan of my final pencil sketch.
I drew out only half the eagle because I wanted the drawing to be symmetric and I knew it would look way better, and also save a lot of effort, if I mirrored it digitally then if I tried to replicate it by hand. Next, I outlined the eagle sketch with marker and mirrored the image in Photoshop. It didn’t line up perfectly, but I knew I could fix it once I brought it into Illustrator.
In order to get an accurate sheriff badge I used a picture of a sheriff badge then traced and vectorized it, then layer it on top of my eagle drawing. The image below is the final image I provided to the academy, and below that is a picture of the finished coin.
I was pretty excited once I saw the finished coin. It’s always an amazing thing to see your designs and ideas come to life.