“It’s not pink, it’s magenta” says Geoff Casey, Design Manager at Santa Cruz Bicycles.

Santa Cruz Bicycles produces some of the best carbon fiber mountain bikes in the world. In the past few years they have been leading the industry forward into new colors and clean graphics thanks in no small part to the talents of industrial designer Geoff Casey.

Geoff recently spoke at a conference we attended and I caught up with him to learn more about how he approaches color direction in his designs – particularly the new Santa Cruz Nomad.


“I’m always checking out a bunch of blogs with images and hitting save, save, save… Grabbing whatever stuff that is catching my eye without much thought. When it is time to develop image boards for new colorways I then revisit the images and trust the trends I see.”

santa-cruz-nomad-solidsmack-5For color trending you can look at things that have the least amount of commitment like concert posters. Concert posters don’t need to be commercially viable. Poster designers and artists just try things to catch your eye.santa-cruz-nomad-solidsmack-3

With some colorways to work with and pre-made decals ready to rock in Adobe Illustrator, Geoff heads for his rendering tool of choice, Bunkspeed Pro.

Among other reasons why Geoff uses Bunkspeed Pro, he likes that it is easy to use and easy to manipulate graphics onto the CAD data; it allows him to quickly create a photo-realistic rendering to post up for the team to evaluate.  The tool also allows Geoff to explore new colorways on the fly. “Sometimes design is really premeditated and thought out and sometimes its a matter of modifying that color until it looks rad,” said Geoff.

Posting the designs up on the wall helps the more radical designs grow on the team. It took some time and convincing for the Aqua Blue and Magenta color scheme to be approved by the team. It’s now becoming an iconic colorway that is popping up across the industry.


I love the efficiency of these renderings. There are just enough of the major bike parts to convey the idea. Building and rendering all of the componentry would be a huge time suck both for the human and computer. Instead of building all those knobbies in CAD, the tires are a flat decal projected on a simple circular plane that Geoff built in Bunkspeed. The plane has a transparent shader on it and – boom! – from the right angle it works great.


“Not everyone can look at 2d drawings and understand how it looks in 3d,” adds Casey. That’s one reason these quick and simple renderings are critical to his work.

The old process of creating a design, sending it overseas to a manufacturer, communicating back and forth and then receiving physical mock-ups would take months and was not cheap. The speed and cost effectiveness of digital renderings has helped him push through edgy concepts like the Aqua Blue and Magenta and has also helped convey the beauty of the simple and perhaps more sophisticated Stealth Black and Gloss Black colorways of the same bike model:


For the final money shots, Geoff uses a mix of Hypershot renderings and photography to illustrate the complete bike with componentry and all. “5 years ago you wouldn’t have bothered with this unless you were in the business of making photo-realistic renderings.” But now the tools are cheap and relatively easy to use.


Underside TT Exp Hard Light Shape

Be sure to check out the rest of Geoff’s work over at Santa Cruz Bicycles.