1

Designing a relevant learning experience for children can be both challenging and rewarding. And one of the best ways to do it is by bringing in the play through educational games.

What crosses your mind when you think of the word ‘design’? Captivating colours? Fluid forms? Striking shapes? Trendy typefaces?

While all these elements and more are vital to design, it’s important to note that they all in conjunction serve the bigger purpose of design, and that is to solve a problem. This is exactly what makes designing so relevant, extending its use case to every discipline, one such discipline being the field of education.

From time immemorial efforts have been made to help children learn, especially mathematics. For example, in the 18th century Freidrich Froebel, the German educator, designed wooden toys to introduce play in mathematics. Since then, we have seen innumerable games, puzzles and fun activities to solve the problem of learning for the young.

In this article, Sonia Tiwari throws light on 4 novel ideas of how games and puzzles can be designed to make learning mathematics accessible and fun. Before jumping in let’s understand the two underpinning theories that the four projects are based on. Firstly, Constructionism (Papert, 1980), suggests that children learn by creating artefacts based on mental models. This visualization helps them understand how things work. Secondly, Spiral Curriculum (Briner, 1960) states that children can revisit complex topics as their understanding increases, or that any learning content can be made more accessible if structured and presented well, tailored to the child’s needs.

The other aspect to be taken into account is the type of material being used, the two types being, found material (paper/wood/cardboard/fabric) and fabricated material (3d printing, printing). The kind of material plays a vital role while designing games, especially for the purpose of education. The material needs to be perceived as an element that contributes to the learning experience, either through the various senses, or the ease of usage.

Puzzle 1 – Woodland Explorer, a Textile PlayBook

What can you do with leftover scraps of fabric? The answer is – you can make a wonderfully engaging Textile PlayBook for toddlers!

 

The cotton textile industry in India is quite large, which means, there is plenty of fabric waste being disposed of. And toddlers from the rural segment, with no access to formal schools, are equally widespread in India. Now imagine solving this problem by bringing the two together to create colourful fabric books of learning wonders.

The Textile PlayBook is designed as an educational playbook, allowing children to interact and engage with various cloth objects within the pages. And through the exploration and discovery, the children learn basic concepts and delve deeper in their imagination. The PlayBook is designed to facilitate versatile learning approaches, thus letting children learn and explore exactly how they please.

Learning Play
Pages exploring time and counting

Let’s look at the book, Woodland Explorer. Each page has a different story. For example, the “inside view” of the Hedgehog’s home, spread over two pages. The pages have an interesting mix of elements like cheese slices, tomatoes and mushrooms pinned on, letting children create their own story or explore basic mathematic concepts like sorting, grouping and counting.

A Fox and its world are spread over the next two pages. These pages allow the child to ‘pluck’ fruits and collect them in the basket, in the process sorting, arranging and building patterns. Children can unleash their imagination with the Fox character, by even introducing the Hedgehog from the previous page.

The next spread helps children learn to read time from an analogue clock. With materials like Velcro and magnets, the page comes alive with possibilities of interaction.

 

Apart from basic learning concepts and exploration, children also learn with the sense of touch, or sensory-tactile activities, thus heightening children’s overall learning experience.

Puzzle 2 – Cookie Cutter

This project was designed for a Kindergarten classroom in South Central Pennsylvania, USA, specifically as a teaching aid for a module on fractions. What makes it interesting is the story around it. Since the module was scheduled around Christmas, the emerging puzzle was a hungry Gingerbread man, who wanted to eat cookies – but must be fed only one piece at a time.

Learning Play
Cookie Eater, A fractions puzzle

The primary learning goal of this puzzle is to help children understand how simple shapes combine to form complex shapes. This also allows children to visualize fractions like halves, one-fourth and wholes, thus crystallizing the concept in their young minds.

The secondary goal is to allow children the freedom to play with the puzzle pieces by combining, stacking or building structures. This practice encourages discovery through exploration.

A. Simple Shape formations: Constructing and Deconstructing Shapes
a. Diamond = 2 triangles
b. Square = 4 smaller squares
c. Square = 2 rectangles
d. Square = 4 triangles
e. Circle = 4 pies
f. Circle = 2 semi circles
g. Rectanglecould be = 2 Squares
h. Rectangle = 4 rectangles

B. Complex Shape formations: Constructing and Deconstructing Shapes
a. Heart = 2 semi-circles + 2 triangles
b. Hexagon = 6 triangles (available separately to fit in the same socket)
c. Hexagon = 2 squares + 4 triangles

C. Fractions
a. ¼ + ¼ = ½
b. ¼ + ½ = ¾
c. ¼ + ¼ + ¼ = ¾
d. ½ + ½ = 1
e. ¼ + ¾ = 1
f. ¼ + ¼ + ¼ + ¼ = 1

D. Tangrams – Children can choose to combine puzzle pieces to make their own shapes
E. Structure Building – Children can stack the puzzle pieces to build structures
F. Counting – Children can count the puzzle pieces (up to 45)
G. Sorting – can sort by shape and size, possible to sort by colour if 3d printed in different colours
H. Comparisons – large vs small, wide vs narrow, tall vs short, sharp vs smooth etc
I. Free Play – building stories with the Gingerbread man and cookies, stacking, sorting etc.

Learning Play
Cookie Eater, A fractions puzzle

Puzzle 3 – Bricksters

When a game is designed around the immediate environment of children, it becomes relevant, and thus accessible. The Bricksters game was designed again for a Kindergarten classroom in South Central Pennsylvania, USA. But this time the game was based on Halloween, the eminent season. The objective of the game is to aid children in understanding the concept of constructing and deconstructing single digit numbers, through the idea of ‘trick and treats’. With the help of the board game, children get familiarized to single-digit addition and subtraction, depending on the trick and treat tiles of the board game. As the game proceeds, the children’s stack of blocks also raise, thus allowing them to visualize the added values.

Learning Play
Bricksters, A Board Game for practicing addition and subtraction
Learning Play
Learning Play
Learning Play

Puzzle 4- Turtle Pom Pom

This project was designed for toddlers. As the name suggests, children play with glittery turtle-shaped coasters and little colourful pom poms. The idea is to add the pom poms to the coasters to practice concepts like counting, sorting and grouping. The colours and containers provide many opportunities to explore the basics of mathematics.

Learning Play
Turtle Pom, A sorting and Grouping game

Bibliography

Clements, Douglas H., and Julie Sarama. 2004. Building Blocks for early childhood mathematics. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19:181–89.

Clements, Douglas H., and Julie Sarama. 2005. Math play: How young children approach math. Early Childhood Today 19:50–57.

A few of 2018’s still making it big and some new additions to the list, the trending trends of 2019 predicted by designers from different fields are put together here just for you.

It is said that change is the only constant and with each passing year graphic design trends prove this right. Be it packaging and illustrating for products or a promotional campaign for a brand, the design trends influencing each field have become a must-know today.

 

Will the previous years’ trends will be an influence on the upcoming years’ trends or will the two be complete opposites?

To get an answer, we have creatives from different sectors of the design industry enlightening us about the graphic design trends of 2018 and putting forth their predictions for 2019’s trends.

Job

Anthony Lopez
Award-winning designer, Anthony Lopez is the founder of Lopez Design.

Mira Malhotra

Mira Malhotra
A graphic designer, visual artist and the founder of Studio Kohl.

Design Stack

Design Stack
A Branding & Design firm that builds, strengthens and nurtures brands.

Sonia Tiwari
Pursuing a PhD in Learning Design and Technology from Penn State University.

Aaron Pinto

Aaron Pinto
Commonly known as Kidsquidy, is not only a graphic designer and illustrator but also the drummer for two Mumbai based metal bands, Providence and Gutslit.

WowMakers

WowMakers
A digital experience studio that provides from animated explainer videos, branding, documentaries and corporate video production to UI/UX design.

Anix

Anix
Anix has twelve years of experience in the world of graphics. He has worked with brands in India and abroad. He is creative director at Adaar.

To get a fair idea about what design will look like in the 19th year of the 21st century, read through!

BRANDING TRENDS

2018 Highlights

Brands are switching over to the social and digital media by cutting through the traditional medium of print to be used as their promotional and communication strategies.

According to Inderpreet Singh Seehra from Design Stack2018 saw simplification, strong colours and symbols that stood out in digital mediums as the key features for major branding projects. The brand identity of SBI (a complete case study here) created by them is an example.

SBI-Rebranding
New-Logo

The use of gradients, motion design and experimental typefaces was a ubiquity of 2018. The Identity for Fakultet for kunst, musikkog design, UiB, by Uniform, as a dynamic brand in motion; and Baboon by Sagmeister and Walsh, for its approach to colour and its humour logotypes showed the brands walking towards a more dynamic approach to differentiate themselves from the competition, says Mira Malhotra, the founder of Studio Kohl.

Design
Brand Identity for Baboon
Design

Not all changes are on the positive side. She has brought forth a noticeable change in the fashion industry to go for lifeless, characterless logotypes in the name of minimalism. Burberry was probably the most disappointing of them all.

This was a gist of 2018. It’s now time to leave the past behind and peep into the future and see what is going to be trending this year.

1. Ownership to Users and Personalisation

According to Anthony Lopez, branding systems are becoming very fluid and are designed to go beyond the logo. Branding has to be ambidextrous and the identity has to be able to adapt itself in multiple ways for different situations.

An example of the Partners’ Forum 2018, which was held in New Delhi. The identity takes on varied forms, manifesting in appropriate ways across collaterals. Further, we take the branding forward through products that reflect the identity, making it memorable for the future. The mission of the Forum stays with its participants, for a long time after.

Design

(The 3D Pipli logo animation was created by Studio Eeksaurus who collaborated with Lopez Design, celebrating the message of the Partners’ Forum.)

Talking of personalisation, brands will be seen as containers – people can put in what they want to express themselves through the brand. Eventually, the brand starts to become an extension of an individual.

Also, Anthony mentions that putting design in the hands of the customer and encouraging them to take ownership has led to people creating their own graphics besides photographs. For example, on Instagram, the user can add many icons and can also have a poll. Others provide stickers with a product to place it on anything the user wishes to put on.

Design

Design Stack highlights that people always relate to design or products that invoke positive feelings in them. For instance, a fortune cookie or a name on the bottle of coke is quite relatable to a consumer. Customising the logo with the name may or may not trend in 2019, but customising the logo with quotes, jokes, city names or graphic elements that people can relate to will continue to be used for a long time by designers.

2. Less is More 

The ‘less is more’ ideology has always been the underlying principle of design and will continue to play a vital role in the future too, says Design Stack. For an increased response on social networks and effective and aesthetical communication, brands will make use of simpler forms, clean shapes, bold colours, motion graphics and videos.

Not wanting to add unnecessary frills and fancies in a logotype has been an upward trend since Turner and Duckworth’s famous stripping down of the Coca Cola brand, says Mira Malhotra. Following the trend of less is more, there’s a chance one can go too far, cut out all frills and have a logo in a banal, forgettable neutral typeface, resulting in a sameness across brands and their identities.

 

But she’s also of the opinion that the trend of less is more can also work wonders for a brand’s visual identity differentiating it from the rest, if worked on smartly! Animated logotypes will be a resort for many.

According to Anthony Lopez, graphics is only one component of branding. The brands of the future need to be flexible across all aspects, influencing a user’s experience by drawing their attention to the brand’s character, behaviour, a tone of voice, influencers, associations and endorsements. Graphics, in such cases, is the mechanics used with adherence to the framework of the brand guidelines. When all this is done with precision, the concept of conveying ‘more with less’ becomes a possibility.

 

Motion graphics including multi-dimensional graphics will definitely become a lot more common in the future.

3. Typeface Experimenting – going back to the roots

Anthony Lopez voices the fact that a large part of branding is about strategy and delivery of content through various means, and typefaces are just one part of this contributing to the visual medium. For multi-device existence the typeface design will include the factor of scale-ability and the flexibility of the digital medium, in particular, will allow for easy and varied versions of the designed font including features like effects to type, highlighting, shading, colour options and animation.

According to Mira Malhotra, going beyond designing the logo for the brand and experimenting with typefaces to grant a uniqueness to the brand will be new in. With Google fonts and so many free quality typefaces infiltrating the mainstream, (when free, it becomes mainstream easily) people, especially clients will have a better taste in typefaces, hopefully implementing daring decisions by clients in terms of typefaces.

Design Stack points out that 2019 will be the year where the designers will want to strike a balance between the old and the new, recalling the importance of the roots and fusing them in with the trending styles. For this, the Indian type foundries are creating contemporary regional scripts which will play a big role in the coming age of Indian design. Versatile fonts that work well on both digital and traditional media will be sort after.

Bombay Brasserie - The Indian Culinary Expert
Design

4. Sophistication and Boldness

Design Stack predicts brands experimenting with logos and colour schemes. A bold yet sophisticated palette is what is intended as the yielded result.

Design

Mira Malhotra also foresees boldness in the upcoming year. Whether its bright colours, pastel neutrals, or just black and white, anything that stands out bold will make it to the brand collaterals across various mediums.

Anthony Lopez sees 2019 as a year of logos becoming more and more fluid, vibrant and versatile. Brands may launch sub-brands, but the prime brand logo is what will go across the face of the brand. Logos inherently need to be simple for high recall. However, within the face of the logo, more permutations and combinations will be observed. This allows the brand to cater to varying clientele and different platforms.

ANIMATION AND MOTION GRAPHICS

Highlights of 2018

Anix, the creative director of Adaar mentions that 2018 was a phenomenal year for animation and motion graphics witnessing trends like seamless transitions, liquid motion, digital-surrealism, isometric design, a combination of 2D and 3D, big, bold typography complicated visual effects, 3D pastels and photorealistic rendering to name a few.

Design
Design

2018 saw a refreshing visual representation of strong female leads with powerful accessories and expertise in a specialisation (vs the stereotypical princess/Damsel in distress) like Mrs Incredible from Incredibles, Mai from Next Gen, She-Ra from Netflix’s reboot of the popular 80s cartoon, and Shank from Wreck-it Ralph 2, says Sonia Tiwari.

Design
Mrs. Incredible from Incredibles
Design
Mai from Next Gen
Design
She-Ra
Design
Shank from Wreck-it Ralph 2

Sonia also observed interactive animations, in general, becoming subtle in action, pastel colour blocked and with cleaner backgrounds, a trend that originated from the iconic game Monument Valley 1 in 2014 and Monument Valley 2 in 2017. She cites INTURN’s webpage as an example to follow.

Design
INTURN

WowMakers describe 2018 as a year of rapidness. Videos had fast cuts and rapid edits, bright pop colours, neon moods and colour gradients. Vertical viewing and videos for the same rose in prominence as mobile platforms recorded the most screen time. An ‘In Your Face’ attitude permeated all forms of visual media far beyond animation and motion graphics, reeling the viewer in.

In an attempt to engage the viewers, the visual representation followed the ‘Bigger is Better’ or the ‘Go Big or Go Home’ philosophy. The text was bigger and bolder than ever, constantly changing and creating new text out of the shells of the old. 2018 saw the ‘Glitch effect’ gaining popularity. ‘Morphing’ that has been around for a while also topped the charts last year, creating magical illusions through seamless transitions.

Design

Anix explains that with media, connectivity and its scope of influence, availability and reachability, motion graphics is taking over the prevalence of still graphics. From commercials to product shots, marketing campaigns, sale presentations and game design, animated and motion graphics endow an astonishing display and communicate the product’s prowess in a way that would be impossible to communicate otherwise.

Samsung

Let’s take a look at what 2019 has in store:

1. Animating the Education

According to Sonia Tiwari, simple, iconic, vector-based motion graphics will overpower contemporary educational content, because of the large amount of content to be covered through the browser and mobile platforms that require optimised performance, seamless integration with Learning Management Systems (LMS) and keeping up with the refined design sensibilities of young millennials. A few good examples of this visual style and animation are Kurzgesat in a Nutshell series and Lumosity.

Design

2. Purpose Over Design

For Sonia Tiwari, the UX is like our brain or heart, built on the logic and feelings, and the UI is the face or skin, the outer layer that connects the user to the inner workings of a product. This distinction is important to understand that the trendy-animation and visual design must not be shallow or cosmetic, but really try to serve a purpose.

For example, a medical application that can use interactive animation to locate/define a problem through an interface – sounds useful. But interactive animations over a wireless setup app with buttons that liquid morph into new shapes sounds pointless.

 

WowMakers say that the shift from UI to UX is evident, and it is now time to cater to modern users with short attention spans and being bang on-point. ‘We don’t create a product and wait for customers to come. We create a product based on the customer’s wants and needs.’ Because not incorporating the market demand will result in a loss of clients.

For example, vertical videos have been the rage of late, and true to that, there has been an increase in requests for vertical videos or adaptable videos that could work well in both horizontal and vertical dimensions. Animation and motion graphics will have to adapt to multiple platforms without losing its core message.

3. VR & AR Carving Their Way

According to the team at WowMakers, animation and motion graphics in a VR and AR setting opens up a host of different possibilities and increases the scope for imaginative ideas that could work wonders on immersive platforms.

Design
Courtesy: Atlassian

As per Anix, the creative director of Adaar, the rise of Virtual Reality from being a gaming-focused ambitious fantasy in 2012 into an actual medium utilised by multi-national corporations and organisations around the world is in itself is a great example. Alternatively seen, purpose over design is now trending everywhere!

He also mentions that micro-interactions are subtle animations that enrich user experience and allow the user to engage with an interface in a single moment. Micro-interactions are possibly one of the biggest UX trends to date and are growing enormously. They are a focus point for the digi-sectors to up their game.

4. Fiction v/s Realism?

Fiction and Realism will both have their place in animated media, says Sonia Tiwari. The director’s vision, needs of the brand, likes of the audience, budget and timelines etc. will be the deciding factors for one of the two to surface at the top.

She has observed that the educational children’s media has had a very long history of fictional characters/plots to keep the narrative or moral of the story more relevant than realistic details of the characters like race, ethnicity, culture, religion etc. From Sesame Street to Curious George, fictional characters in children’s educational media are a “forever trend”.

 

While representing real issues like child labour, poverty and family health, she brings to notice that animated media uses some element of realism to keep the message focused or help establish a clear correlation with the narrative and content.

An example is Eeksaurus studio’s recent PSA for WHO that features Pipli art style human characters, which hits right in the middle of fiction and realistic spectrum, presenting real issues/human characters in a fantastical way.

The WowMakers’ team believes that with technology growing by leaps and bounds, magical realism can represent how technology interacts and changes human lives. At the same time, realism can be used to show the human face of technology.

5. Kinetic Typography

2019 will be a year enthralling the audience in a sober manner. WowMakers voice that the kinetics of type will be put in use, similar much to the process of animating characters or an object, like stretching, distorting, jumbling, twisting or making it disappear. Seamless transitions, much in fashion, will ensure a smooth video without jumpy transitions and cuts that can disorient the viewer.

Design

ILLUSTRATION TRENDS

With characters and entire backgrounds rendered by just a few lines and shapes, according to Aaron Pinto, Minimalism was one of the main themes for illustration in 2018. Also, the 90’s made a huge resurgence with retro, cyberpunk, glitch and neon colours being some of the mainstays of this style.

Design
Design
Design

The forecasted illustration styles surfacing 2019 will be following:

1. Raw and Unprocessed

These days the work shared online is very processed and digital, says Aaron Pinto. They are basically collages that are composited aesthetically for Instagram. But 2019 will see less processed and more organic designs being back in fashion. Hand-drawings and rough sketches are expected to take centre stage.

Design

2. God is in the Details

With a quantitative increase in the making of superhero movies and the release of a number of series, there has been a steady demand of comic book type illustrations. Also, detailed black and white inked illustrations are making a comeback. 2019 might just see it peak.

Design

3. Being the Attention-seeker

We live in a day and age, where there is an overload of content that is being consumed at an unprecedented pace.

 

To stand out from the crowd, a good visual is a great way of engaging or gaining the interest of the consumer while scrolling through the vast barrage of content being thrown at them. And more often than not a great illustration will do that job better than a photograph or even typography.

4. Complications Subjected to Simplifications

With monotones and monochromatic themes having showcased their presence in 2018, 2019 is sure to be a witness to these themes surfing the waves of illustration styles.

 

Aaron Pinto has mentioned that a lot of illustrators are trying to bring simplicity in their colour schemes as opposed to their normal saturated style.

Fluid shapes are catching on slowly. Geometric patterns and halftones seem like a good bet as well.

 

Also, simple seems to be a growing trend in general. So why not in illustrations!

Design
Illustration

Hope this article helped you to know and grab those key factors of graphic design that will be trending in 2019 to differentiate you from the rest.

It’s a long way from an idea to an animated film. Particularly when you are creating your characters, environment etc. and then animating everything to come up with a nice narrative. Animation filmmaker Sonia Tiwari experienced that journey while making the short film ‘Bhavri’. She explains the process.

Storyboard and Animatic

Assuming that a solid story and basic character descriptions are in place, the first and foremost helpful thing in animation is a series of storyboards to visually put together the shots in progression. An animatic is putting storyboards on the editing timeline along with corresponding sound effects, voiceover and dialogue. It helps in getting an idea of timing, pacing, acting choices etc., which are very essential for animation.

Shot Analysis

Each shot must have a motivation. Before animation begins one must know the background story of characters, their body language, emotions, physical action, what needs to be conveyed in this shot and what is the time limit for the shot etc. If the shot needs to be for only 4 seconds, we need to cut down on the amount of physical action and make sure there is just enough animation to convey the emotions clearly.


3D Animatic

If one has a 3D animation pipeline, it’s important to begin with a 3D animatic or pre-viz reel, where we assemble all 3D assets such as models, rigged characters, stage setting, props, lights, textures etc. and block all the camera angles. This helps in animating to a camera, making one only animate stuff visible in the renderable camera, instead of animating everything there is in the scene. An important tip is to ‘reference’ all 3D assets in the scene, instead of importing them, so that it is easy to update modifications made to original assets.


Animation Thumbnails

Animation thumbnails can be inspired by the storyboard, but here is where the animator really breaks down the animation and plans out the use of animation principles like weight, anticipation, exaggeration, timing, pacing etc. Using video reference, acting out in front of a mirror, noting down the timing etc are all great resources to draw thumbnails from.


Animation Blocking

This is the first step in taking all the previous animation homework and putting it into the scene. In a 3D pipeline, many animators block the animation with a stepped tangent (used in Maya), block holds and gets the timing as accurate as possible. This is where all the ‘key-poses’ are blocked out and in most cases, all body parts are keyed together. Nothing is offset as of now, just to get a neat view of the overall action. Some animators find it easier to use spline tangents (used in Maya) right from the blocking stage. It all depends on individual convenience.


Animation First and Second Pass

This is where we layer in details in the blocking. For example, if a character is jumping and landing, both feet won’t land at the same time, they will now be offset. While in blocking we only blocked the key poses, now is the time to offset, add in-betweens, expressions etc. It’s all about getting the emotion right and balancing holds with motions.


Feedback Cycle

Ask your fellow animators or seniors for feedback, fix the shots, ask for feedback again and again till the fixing is finally done. One must also know the overall production deadline to know when to stop taking feedback and hit the render button. No shot is done 100% but it needs to be good enough for the production schedule and project requirement.


Final Animation

Accumulating all feedback and references, fixing and layering details in animation, bringing it as close to the director’s vision as possible, letting it go through post-production process and making it fit just right in the overall sequence, makes a shot final.

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round.

 

Order Your Copy!

Pin It on Pinterest