The Creation of Grumpy Grandpa


March 14, 2013

We’re pleased to have Michael Meyka, owner of The Flash Tank, here with us today. Michael has worked with Bay Alarm Medical for a number of years and continues to provide us with unique and creative assets for the brand.

In this article, Michael goes over the creation of Bay Alarm Medical’s very own, Grumpy Grandpa!

Greetings! My name is Michael Meyka and today, I’m going to talk a little about how Grumpy Grandpa was brought to life.

As you all may have noticed, there are TONS of medical alert companies fighting for your attention. We often hear stories from our customers about how much research they did, how many TV commercials they saw, or how many different companies were recommended to them before they decided to go with us.

Bay Alarm Medical saw an opportunity to steer away from what the rest of industry was doing. We wanted to create something special and memorable. Something more than just a webpage with boring photos, taglines, and useless marketing mumbo jumbo. Let’s be honest, you probably did a few of these while researching…

The creation of Grumpy Grandpa went through many different stages to get where he is today. I was asked to create a character that was bold and gutsy but at the same time, witty and entertaining. We wanted to communicate a very clear message about the reality of senior-related falls but in a way that made our audience smile and nod their heads.

Before I started laying out any character designs, I visualized what the character might look like in my head. I then listed out any details that stuck out from the character and tried to exaggerate those features.

For the original Grumpy Grandpa, I visualized an old neighbor of mine. The key features that stuck out to me where his tall frail frame and small protruding mid section.

A few challenges arose with this character design. We didn’t think the tall and frail frame would have brought smiles to Bay Alarm Medical’s visitors. Grumpy Grandpa needed to meet a more fun and cartoony look.

Here was our second attempt.

We were actually pretty pleased with this version but again, a few problems arose. First, although the characters looked happier, there wasn’t anything different between this and the countless amount of senior photos you see everyday. It was nice but not special nor memorable.

Secondly, since most of Bay Alarm Medical’s customers were active and healthy seniors, we wanted a character that had a stronger and tougher demeanor.

The final Grumpy Grandpa design included details from one of my friend’s dad. He fit the bill perfectly as he’s a strong and active senior that is great with tools and loves the outdoors.

Bay Alarm Medical's Grumpy Grandpa

Also, we wanted to introduce a daughter character to the fold. As you can imagine, a lot of our customers are the adult-children that purchase the medical alert system for their parents or grandparents. We wanted to reflect that as part of our story.

Daughter Bay Alarm Medical

I like to start my design process with Sketching in a program called Sketchbook Pro. This program has a very similar feel to sketching on paper, but digitally from a tablet. From Sketchbook Pro, I like to import my designs to Photoshop and clean up the design’s line work and add a little paint. The last step was to import the character into Flash.

Plato the Dog

In Flash, the character becomes vectorized and ready for animation. While finalizing the character in Flash, it’s always good to keep in my mind how you plan to animate the character while building limb to limb.

Another great thing about animation was it’s versatility. We love updating the Bay Alarm Medical website with fresh images and right off the bat, we were able to give Grumpy Grandpa different themes to match various holidays. Here are a few themes from New Year’s, President’s Day, and St’ Patrick’s Day.

Bay Alarm Medical's Grumpy Grandpa, Ready for the Holidays


We couldn’t have been happier with the results. If you haven’t seen the video, here it is below. Enjoy!



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