Herrera was a GIF superstar long before this World Cup. Before he coached El Tri, Herrera patrolled the sidelines for Mexico’s Club América. On May 26, 2013, América won its 11th league title, beating Cruz Azul on penalty kicks. Herrera celebrated thusly:
Adam Phillips, an animator and illustrator in Australia, saw a GIF of Herrera’s crazed, rain-soaked glee on Reddit and knew what he had to do: a Saiyan transformation.
Phillips worked for Disney for 11 years as an animator and effects supervisor before going freelance, doing contract jobs for clients like Bioware San Francisco, Wizards of the Coast, and Ween. He says that he’d never heard of this Miguel Herrera character before watching him gesticulate in GIF form. Phillips was, however, an expert practitioner of the “Super Saiyan” artform.
The term Super Saiyan comes from the cartoon Dragonball Z. “The heroes of the show are of a powerful race called Saiyan, but in battle, usually in moments of desperate rage, they achieve Super Saiyan levels of power (and far beyond),” Phillips explains via email. Super Saiyan transformations have been a thing since at least 2012, and Phillips says he became well known in Saiyan circles after his work on the GIF below.
Phillips created the Herrera GIF using a 2D animation program called Toon Boom Harmony. Compared to most of his work, it “was a really quick, no pressure project.” From start to finish, it took just 115 minutes. You can watch his entire process in this time-lapse video.
The artist says he’s happy with the technique he used to depict the rising energy field and lightning. With more time, he says, he’d have “added rising debris, like dust and rocks.” Even without rising debris, the GIF went viral, moving to the top of Reddit almost instantly. And why wouldn’t it? It is the greatest GIF ever made.
Phillips says he’s not a huge soccer fan, but he’s rooting for Mexico so “we get to see more Herrera magic.” To see more of Phillips’ own magic, visit his website and check out his online series Brackenwood. Phillips’ other personal favorites among his litany of creations include the short “Bad Drawing,” his “30 Shorts in 30 Days” project, and the opening cinematic for the game Dragon Age Legends.
Oh, and let’s look at that Miguel Herrera GIF one more time.
Thank you, Adam Phillips.