Case Study: Mini Ladd
It was early 2019, and word was out. Craig Thompson, more commonly known as Mini Ladd, was seeking artists. Rumor was, Mini Ladd's hit YouTube Gaming channel was about to make big moves. He just needed a graphic design partner to help execute his master plan. Competition would be fierce... But word had reached our ears; Craig was impressed with our recent design for CouRageJD and had been asking questions. We hoped and prayed to the meme gods that he would choose us. And then the magical day came. Mini Ladd slid into our DMs.
Craig Thompson is not just any ordinary streamer. Man is YouTube royalty. An OG content creator with over eight years in the game. A founder of YouTube's Gaming channel, with over 5.5 million subscribers to his name. Dude has raised memeing and casual gaming to an art form. Browse his channel and you'll find a hodgepodge of lets-plays, try-not-to-laughs, or meme streams - each averaging 1+ million views each. And then there's the Mini Ladd community; millions-strong, fiercely-loyal, and notorious for their hilarious antics. Few content creators have reached Mini Ladd's level of success on the gaming scene.
But times were changing. Live content was now at a premium on YouTube. Creators were learning to complement their regular uploads with livestreams - to expand reach and open a new (and often, more reliable) source of income. Mini Ladd himself had helped spearhead this initiative, with his livestreams regularly attracting tens of thousands of viewers. There was a catch, however. As a full-time YouTuber, Mini Ladd's stream design lagged behind that of his Twitch counterparts. His overlays and alert system felt outdated and one-dimensional, holding him back from his full broadcasting potential. It was time for a presentation overhaul. Professional animation, stream design, new profile art - the full works. He would choose VBI to carry out his new brand vision. And he chose the right place.
Fast forward. March 9th. Reveal day. Months of hard work, finally on display for the Mini Ladd community. Our team looked on as tens of thousands of viewers poured in and chat spammed hype emotes. It was a moment of intense pride for our animators and designers, and a day we won't soon forget. The final design just oozes 'Mini Ladd' - a bright, upbeat look that packs tons of lighthearted energy and creative flair. A modern, dynamic presentation featuring silky-smooth animations and clean, professional layouts. The Mini Ladd faithful went wild. And the kicker? Craig was just as hyped as chat.
Want to see how we made it all possible? In this exclusive, behind-the-scenes look, we'll guide you through the complete Mini Ladd design process. You'll see things from the perspectives of our ace animators and designers. A creative tour, explained in a language relatable for designers and filthy casuals alike. The birth of elite YouTube design. 👏 Let's 👏 Just 👏 Dive 👏 In 👏
In the project's opening days, a roundtable Discord chat was arranged between Mini Ladd and our creative leadership. This initial discussion would impact everything to come. Craig had a strong sense of his brand vision and goals, giving us a solid foundation to work with. He wanted to mix playful and subtle themes. Light and energetic to appeal to his channel's younger audience, while still feeling minimalist and professional.
In the coming months, Mini Ladd would remain hands-off - checking in occasionally, but trusting us with follow-through and execution. This was a welcome approach for our team. Greater freedom meant more creative potential. We could explore uncharted design waters and test out-of-the-box solutions.
And all that was good. Because we had big plans for this design. Bold, ambitious, plans. In total, the project scope would cover:
- Live Gameplay Overlay
- Full Screen Overlay
- Custom Stream Alerts
- Stream Screens
- Animated Transition
- YouTube Outro
- Profile Art
- Custom Stream Scene
But we weren't designing from scratch. Mini Ladd's YouTube already featured custom branding, designed by a talented artist. If you've ever stopped by his channel, you'll recognize the look.
There's the logo; the iconic Mini Ladd 'M'. Acute angles and razer-sharp edges convey intense, high-energy vibes. Elsewhere, bold linear patterns and zig-zagging stripes drive momentum and playful tones. The Mini Ladd colors - black, white, and bright orange - add an action-packed, explosive atmosphere.
The design is freewheeling, wild, and unpredictable. As if there's enormous energy lying just beneath the surface, ready to erupt at any moment. At times it feels lighthearted and comedic. The next moment, heavily-inspired by comic book and anime styles. All-in-all, the perfect match for Mini Ladd's hilarious, spontaneous personality.
We would build off this solid brand foundation, injecting Mini Ladd's personality and energy at all stages of the design process. Bright, neon colors flash across overlays and stream alerts. Electricity shoots and colors splash. Logos twist and bounce skywards. Fire erupts and energy waves radiate. All while keeping the overall design clean, subtle, and streamlined. A delicate balancing act, but one with which our designers were well-versed.
All that was left was to choose our team. Who would represent VBI on this enormous project? There was never any doubt. Enter Ross and Tray. The masters of clutch. An unmatched duo with decades of design experience. Tray would take point on stream design, with Ross covering motion design. Mini Ladd's fate lied in their hands. And they weren't about ready to let the meme king down.
Let the games begin.
Ah, overlays. Webcams, alerts, bars, & tickers. Where the magic happens. They were our highest priority. Mini Ladd too, had high expectations and a clear vision.
As a dual streamer and YouTube content creator, Mini Ladd was sick of the mess. Large overlay systems that cluttered his layout. Noisy alerts that popped up center-screen and obstructed gameplay and recordings. These posed a big problem, as Craig would often convert his livestreams into VODs and channel uploads. He needed a creative solution - overlays that wouldn't interfere or break immersion during later viewings, but would still drive engagement during broadcasts. The design would call for a delicate balancing act between simplicity and multi-functionality. It would require an out-of-the-box solution… and all our team's creative ingenuity.
It would also call for two separate and very different overlay layouts. Long-time fans will know that Mini Ladd likes to swap often between live game feeds and IRL chat. When gaming, Craig prefers the traditional overlay look; a minimized cambox placed to the side (or corner) of in-game footage. But for more community-oriented content, like meme streams or Reddit exploring, he prefers a full-screen webcam feed. The accompanying overlay system - from tickers to alerts - would need to adapt to both layouts, while remaining distinct and separate.
We began with the live gameplay overlays. As with all of our design, we initially focused only on the static (un-animated) display. Motion design would come later, after the underlying design foundation had been nailed down and approved.
First up, webcam. The cambox itself is clean and simplistic. We chose smooth, thin borders to avoid over-complicating the layout. The frame is divided diagonally for style and flair, allowing us to showcase Mini Ladd's brand colors. To the right, gradients of yellow, gold, and orange convey a fluid, lava-like appearance. To the left, a background of black and ash-grey is interspersed with soft glows and thin orange lines - to add depth and atmosphere. Perched in the lower-left corner, the Mini Ladd logo is featured in clear white, placed over a bright orange triangle.
A separate overlay bar (shown here, above the cambox) displays total sub count, plus a personalized sub train ticker and timer. Each indicator features unique orange icons, while text is displayed over a contrasting dark-black background to enhance visibility.
Also included above, you'll notice four unique 'recent event' tickers. These miniature displays indicate recent subs, donos, super chats, and members. Distinct icons and vibrant colors help identify ticker type.
Each element was created separately, so that Mini Ladd could re-position the overlays as he saw fit. By focusing only on the essentials, we were able to condense Craig's most important stream information into a few scaled-down graphics. In fact, later we would bake his alert system into the webcam frame itself, further streamlining an already-tight layout. More to come on that soon.
Now for Layout #2: the fullscreen. In this case there was no need for borders, but we still wanted to retain the 'feel' of Mini Ladd's gameplay cambox. His logo is perched in the lower-left corner, once again situated over a golden-orange triangle. Now however, the recent event tickers are strung along the bottom of Craig's view, providing a clean, colorful foundation for the display. A simplified version of the cambox is available (sans logo), should Mini Ladd wish to display some gameplay or on-screen items. And once again, the subscriber counter & sub train ticker bars relay Craig's most important stream goals.
Overall, the fullscreen layout provides a subtle, minimalist look. We wanted viewer focus to be on Mini Ladd - not his overlays. It's a simplified composition, optimized for community engagement and personal, IRL chats.
But what about animation, you say? And stream alerts? Well, that's where our motion designers came in.
Now it was time for our motion designers to get their hands dirty. As mentioned before, Mini Ladd wanted to avoid the traditional 'pop-up' alerts so often seen on Twitch and YouTube. He wanted something condensed and clean, taking up as little room on his layout as possible.
So we came up with an ingenious solution. We would build a modular alert system, embedded into Craig's new webcam and full-screen cam. An efficient, multi-functional overlay. It was a first for us, and a revolutionary concept for the stream-world. That's right. Before Anthony Kongphan... before CouRageJD... Mini Ladd set the stage for all the webcam alert setups to come.
The design itself is playful and energetic. Remember that logo in the bottom-left corner of Craig's webcam? Well now, as incoming stream information is registered, the logo comes to life through the magic of 3D animation. It jumps skywards, twisting, spinning, and flipping - unleashing a splash of color beneath. An alert box slides out to display the viewer's name, while unique icons indicate alert type and quantity. For a few seconds, the golden-orange cam border is replaced with a flash of color. As the logo settles back in its former position, both alert bar and color recede.
We knew we wanted to create three separate variations. One for each of Craig's most important alerts. New members would be displayed in vibrant blue. Incoming super chats in peach-red. Donations in green.
But that wasn't all. Mini Ladd wanted to incorporate two separate tiers of alert animations. A special display, reserved for his most loyal and generous fans. When large super chats or donos are received, lightning erupts around the cam. Static electricity surges through the border, as sparks fly. A high-energy display to celebrate special occasions.
But what about the full-screen layout? This posed a new challenge for our squad. Without preexisting cam borders, how would we display Mini Ladd's new alert animations?
In the end, we had the alerts animate inwards from the edges of the screen - as if from an unseen border. It allowed us to feature the same overlay elements, maintaining a similar look & 'feel' to his gameplay overlays.
The final result is a revolutionary, game-changing design. Sacrificing flair and size for multi-functionality? It was still a novel concept in broadcasting circles. In the months to come, the idea would spread across Twitch and YouTube like wildfire. We would be flooded with requests, asking for Mini Ladd-inspired alerts. But Craig would always be the trendsetter; the OG in our eyes.
The project was off to a roaring start. But we were just beginning.
Next up, stream screens. Mini Ladd had requested two separate designs. A stream intro (starting soon), which he could trigger when loading up his next YouTube broadcast. And an outro animation (stream ending) to close out his streams. Two distinct looks, conveying different energies and vibes.
As usual, our stream designers got first crack. Two initial concepts created contrasting designs: a clean, lighter look for the starting screen, and a darker outro with accompanying flair. Both screens featured Mini Ladd's logo prominently, balancing black & white color schemes with golden-orange accents. A bright, flashy intro to build up energy and hype before the stream. A cooler, nocturnal look to wind things down with the closing screen. Both featured faded background photos taken throughout Craig's career.
It was a solid foundation, but there was something off. The designs were a bit chaotic; not as clean and simplified as we would have liked. Some tweaks would be needed. Luckily, things would come together in the next design stage, as our animators took the reins.
We began with the intro screen. A fresh redesign produced a tighter, streamlined look. The scene is divided neatly into two sections. To the right, bold text placed over a clean off-white background. Subtle lines race diagonally across the view, as orange energy rains downwards. Occasional bursts of static electricity shoot across the centered text. To the bottom-right, Mini Ladd's social media handles stand proudly.
On the left side, a dark, contrasting background - again featuring a scrolling collage of Mini Ladd photos. His logo is situated central-view, large and imposing. Below, a bold orange timer counts down the seconds until Craig's appearance. Suddenly, the logo erupts towards viewers in an energetic 3D leap. It twists and turns, leaving a radiating splash of vivid color below. For a second, a kaleidoscope of yellow, orange, and gold engulfs the view. As the logo returns to earth, the color disappears and the animation loop is repeats.
It's an upbeat, energetic intro that builds pre-stream momentum and hype. Bright colors and playful 3D animation set the tone for the action to come.
But now it was time to cool things down with the closing screen. Colors have inverted. Midnight-black replaces the crisp white from before, as the screen flows from deep oranges to a dark, nocturnal theme. Motion design has also become more subtle and muted. The steady torrent of passing energy now becomes a slow drip.
A fitting close to an action-packed stream. A slow of pace and ramp-down of energy as the end credits roll. Providing a clear juxtaposition to the bright, eccentric intro screen. All while staying true and tight to the Mini Ladd brand.
Just for kicks, we threw in something extra for Craig's YouTube uploads. A personalized outro scene / end screen, designed to guide viewers onto the next video. The background layout and ambient animation mimic the new 'stream ending' screen. Only this time, the right side of the view is designed to house two clickable thumbnails - suggested videos from the Mini Ladd collection. To the left, Craig's logo is minimized, now centered over a dark black, circular cutout.
Once triggered, the scene slides in from the left with a bouncy, spring-like movement. Moments later a white box overlay emerges, driving new viewers to subscribe to the channel. To the right, video previews loop as streaks of orange energy fall from above. Overall, simple, sleek, and effective. The mark of a YouTube pro.
Mission accomplished. Now it was time to turn our sights on a new target.
With so many new scenes to manage, Mini Ladd needed a special trick up his sleeve. A tool to keep chat at the edge of their seats. The answer? A spicy new transition animation. One that would allow him to seamlessly flow from one scene to another. Something rapid, brief, and energetic, carrying over momentum from one layout to the next. Luckily, transitions are our specialty.
For the design itself, we wanted to carry over elements and themes found elsewhere in his branding. Once triggered, a dark background radiates outwards, engulfing the screen in midnight-black. As it expands, it releases golden sparks and razer-sharp geometric shapes. In a rapid 3D animation, Mini Ladd's logo leaps forward towards viewers. It flips and turns in a motion similar to that found on his new overlays.
Once it reaches mid-air, the logo makes a tight spin, releasing a brilliant, M-shaped splash of orange. Look closely and you'll notice the pattern and colors are the same found on Mini Ladd's intro screen - only this time at a larger scale. Like an opened vortex, the scene suddenly comes rushing towards the camera. The viewer dives headfirst into the golden kaleidoscope, surging forward until they break through unscathed on the other side.
The whole scene is over in a blink of an eye. Just under 3 seconds, in fact. More than enough time for Mini Ladd to comfortably switch to his next scene.
To wrap things up, we whipped up custom banners for Craig's Twitter channel and Twitch profile. Not a trivial task, considering the Mini Ladd Twitter alone has some 1.6M followers… Talk about pressure. MonkaS.
With the banner, we aimed for a clean, professional look. We would incorporate many of the same backgrounds, patterns, and styling found in Craig's new screen collection. As with his stream intro, the banner is divided into two sections. To the left, the Mini Ladd logo, placed over a familiar backdrop of orange geometrics. To the right, the darker background, featuring faded IRL photos and thin, grooved texturing. Mini Ladd's name is featured in clear white to emerge from the darker background.
The icon itself is kept clean and simplistic. The white & gray Mini Ladd 'M' stands out against a dark background - to be distinguishable at a distance and at low resolutions.
Check it out for yourself. You'll find Craig's new branding on his Twitter and Twitch profiles today. Slap a follow while you're there for quality content.
Bonus: Stream Scene
It was time for one final gift. Around this time, Mini Ladd's 'meme streams' had been taking off like wildfire. A special stream scene was in order; one that would boost his presentation quality and keep viewers coming back for more. What, you may ask? Well an anime-inspired fire scene of course.
Think Naruto meets Dragon Ball. The Super Saiyan of stream animation. A brief-but-intense scene incorporating eastern art styles and hand-drawn illustrations. Something to ramp up chat's adrenaline and viewer engagement. All while staying playful and artfully on-brand.
Once triggered, flames begin to lap at the corners of Craig's screen. It soon becomes a whirling inferno, as passing speed lines indicate rapid forward movement. Custom sound effects indicate energy levels charging up. Suddenly, a bright light comes into view in the distance, growing in size and intensity as the seconds pass. A brilliant flash engulfs the screen, before disappearing and returning viewers to the on-screen action.
The perfect accompanying piece for Craig's infamous meme streams. All designed to be hot-keyed to his OBS, then key-bound to his Stream Deck. The power of the anime cosmos, now at Mini Ladd's fingertips. We pray he uses his new god-tier powers wisely.