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How Fantastic sharpened the Blades image

Back in June, under a shroud of secrecy, Fantastic were tasked with Art Directing, Designing and Producing Visuals for Sheffield United and Adidas.

Initially, this was for the kit Sheffield United Home launch, but also to revamp the current retail outlet.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to show the process we go through at Fantastic when working on this type of project, and the journey taken to bring a job from conception to completion.

Visual Guidelines


Normally, I would do the preparation for a photoshoot. This would include research such as sourcing a location and selecting suitable models and making sure that they have been briefed. Its always a good idea to know exactly what you want to get out of the shoot before the day arrives and a shot list is essential.  In this case, the job was done for me.

Adidas provided an extremely in depth visual guideline document with directions on just about everything. From how the models (in this case players) should pose, what makeup they should wear, right through to the technical detail of what camera to use, how the shot should be lit. The pack was so detailed they even instructed that players be sprayed to look as if they are lightly sweating.

They provided files that included backgrounds and templates for different layouts.

Adidas are so thorough for one important reason. They will be launching hundreds of kits this season and whenever you see an advert, point of sale of even image on social media, they all need to look as if they are from the same photoshoot. They also need to sign off any designs submitted and will reject them if they are not right.

Needless to say ours were Fantastic and passed first time!



This project had very tight deadlines and so we wanted to work with a photographer with a pedigree we could trust and, more importantly, a photographer who had worked in this area before.

We chose Box Photographic, as we have worked closely with them before on one of our long term client’s Skopes. I also knew that Box specialised in product photography, and was aware that SUFC would be keen to get the kit shot professionally in the future.


Photoshoots can be frantic, and the more prep you can do the better. In this case, we were working with players who were giving up their free time to launch the kit, and because of this only had them for a limited time.

The players were due to arrive at 2pm, so we thought it best to get to the ground at 10am to set up.

We set up in the Museum at the ground, but it didn’t really matter where we shot the players. We were shooting on to a white background that would be later changed, but the room had to be large enough and more importantly high enough to get the lighting from above right.

By 12pm, we were all set up and ready for lunch.


Always check who is buying lunch…

Myself and colleague Al went out to buy some lunch, only to find on our return a large platter of Subway sandwiches that the club had very kindly provided. The cookies weren’t bad too!

Art Direction


Shooting people can be very difficult. It’s not just a case of pointing the camera and pressing the button.

You could have the most expensive camera and best lighting set up in the world, but if there is no emotion from your subject then it can ruin the shoot.

Modelling is an art form (I should know), but even models need direction. Even though footballers are used to having their picture taken, its different to do a formal shoot when all eyes are on you.

Our first job is to relax the player and make them feel at ease. We were lucky that the people we worked with, Billy Sharp, Matt Done, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Chris Basham, were not only flexible with their time but willing to do some quite uncomfortable poses that weren’t what came naturally to them. They were asked to repeat these time and time again until they we were happy with the result.

Part of making people feel at ease is showing them exactly what you want by doing the poses yourself. You may look daft but it shows that you are willing to do what they are doing.

Post production


Once the shoot was done, there was still a job to do in post-production. Tweaking the lighting, colouring the grass, and bringing in a new background require hours of Photoshop work to make the shots look natural and consistent.

There is also a job to do in taking creases out of the shirts, covering up any blemishes and even straightening the odd hair.

Final Product


Once all the shots have been selected, put through post production and approved by Adidas, then it’s back to the visual guidelines to roll out all the different sized artwork SUFC require for their social and digital media.

Fantastic Media re-designed SUFC’s retail offering for the kit launch which included window vinyl’s, back lit posters, hanging banners and gondola top.


The results were stunning, transforming the shop and giving SUFC the ammunition they need for a successful kit launch. Roll on next season!

“We selected Fantastic Media based on the work they had already done with other sporting organisations and we were really impressed with the quality and professionalism that they brought to the campaign,”

“The kit launch is one of the key milestones for any club and this is, I feel, one of our strongest yet based on the feedback we have received from our supporters and sponsors.”

Paul Reeves, Head of Commercial, Sheffield United.

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Paul has been with Fantastic Media for ten years and is currently the Creative Director.

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