Graphic Design and Animation Graduates 2012

Online portfolio and print on demand catalogs for Graphic Design and Animation graduates from the Department of Design 2012. On this page you will find our conference presentations, and by hovering over the menu groups on the left you can read contextual documents. You are welcome to attend our Grad Show, opening on 29 November 2012 at 6pm, and daily from 30 November to 6 December 9.30am – 4pm.

Tee Tomu

Tee’s portfolio can be viewed/ downloaded at:

Interactive Culture Auckland (ICA)

A collaborative, interactive project focusing on developing a wireless technology platform to support content for visitors of the cultural institutions of Auckland.

The key contextual references in my work are based on the concept of user experience design and participatory design, in relation to app interface design for the four main cultural institutions of Auckland; Auckland Zoo, Auckland Museum, MOTAT and Auckland Gallery.

By this I mean that the final project has to enhance the visitors’ onsite experience, and to be able to do that we need to have as many stakeholders as possible involved from the get go in the making of this app. When we talk about an app, we are not just looking at the app as just that, an app, but we are also looking at the whole experience of using the app in the context of these institutions. This means being able to create a balance between the real world and the digital world.

“With the blurring of the lines between smartphones and multimedia phones, the resulting hybrid appeals to a wider audience more than either the strictly business or camera phones do. This new user wants to do business when he or she needs to and have fun whenever possible. The stage is set for third party software developers to create programs for users of all ages and walks of life. Applications, or apps for short, leverage the brains in your smartphone providing unique tools to help handle the infinite details in today’s busy lives.” (Monsen)

This quote emphasizes just how apps are becoming more popular and just how easy they make our lives. Currently the institutions utilise websites and social network medias such as Facebook as their driving force. Our app solution would compliment the current social trend.

The idea of integrating onsite experience (interaction), through the use of smart phones into Auckland Cultural Institutions then becomes one of my theoretical concepts. Research shows that, compared to other countries around the world such as the United States and Japan, New Zealand is greatly lagging behind in terms of technology. Smart phone penetration only began to rise in New Zealand in 2011, in the range of 14-18%, compared to a smart phone penetration of 30 – 50% in the countries mentioned above. (Parker) Although technology such as NFC and QR codes has been around for a few years, it has only just been introduced to New Zealand in the past year, and is expected to pick up in the next year or so.

While conducting onsite visits through out the year, my team observed that the most technological elements all the institutions had were videos talking about an exhibition or giving a tutorial on an aspect of the institution. In rare cases, a touch screen that enabled users to interact with the space was also used. Although these are good, we found that sometimes they did not really do their job. Possibly, it was just too loud to be able to hear what the tutorials or videos were saying that visitors just lost interest and moved on. Or that the touch screens were too crowded and some visitors missed out on using them. Again visitors got frustrated and moved on to next exhibitions. This is why this project is important. By having an app, you ensure that everyone (that has the right tools and technology) can access it easily and use it however they like, in their own time.

Interactive Culture Auckland came about when Dr Cris De Groot approached the third year graphic Design Students at the beginning of the year, with a live project he was working on, which myself and three other students volunteered for.
In the initial planning, the group identified that a key outcome of the project was to ensure that the project was completed collaboratively. We took time to discuss what we wanted to achieve from the project and determined that we would allocate tasks identifying the roles and activity required to inform the initial design. Activity included, but was not limited to i) establishing roles, ii) research areas, iii) identity and demographic iv) client branding and v) schedules for briefings and deadlines.
Members of the group had never worked collaboratively before, which initially posed some challenges, as we had to learn to communicate and engage, so that we could progress the project. The first set of task allocation was for the primary research around the concept of user experience design. All the team members were new to the concept of user experience design, so some initial research had to be conducted in order to build up a basic understanding of the topic. As well as reading blogs and conducting individual research to better understand the term user experience design, we also decided to split up the Rosenfeld title readings, which are very vital topics to read for user experience design. The Rosenfeld titles are made up of four titles, card sorting, mental models, prototyping and storytelling. I was allocated to read up on the topic of storytelling. Our lack of knowledge on user experience saw us using most of semester one to research and better our understanding on the topic.

After the main research around the fundamentals of user experience, was conducted, we had a clearer picture of how the project was framed and gave us ideas on how we could structure it, to maximise the work load in the limited time frame we had.

ICA Research

The next stage was identifying who exactly the institutions’ users were. This was done mainly through site visit observations. And a small amount of the data came from the institutions research they had conducted themselves on their users. Each member was allocated a site that they had to visit and do some observational research on. Mine was the museum. I basically observed and shadowed the institution’s visitors. This was done over a number of days at random times, as we found that the data changed accordingly depending on the day and time. For the museum I identified that it was mainly school groups and tourists that visited the institution the most during weekdays. Followed by the elderly and parents and kids in the weekends. The other institutions had similar results. From these observations we were then able to identify our audience for all four institutions, which were tourists, kids, middle aged people and teenagers.

site visit/ user testing

Identifying these user groups was a major turning point in the project. It allowed the work to be directed into a certain direction, which saved us a lot of time. To be able to move forward with the project effectively we stuck with the divide and conquer approach. We decided to start with the Auckland Zoo, previously conducted research had shown that the zoo had more collateral to work with, which to us meant more things to work with. I was allocated kids as my target audience.

Although I had worked with kids in my previous assignments, I still had to conduct a fair amount of research to help me understand kids better in terms of user experience design and gaming. At this point I was working with kids aged between five and twelve years old. This decision was purely assumption based and had no research to back it in any way. I was under the impression that someone could easily design something universal that this age group would enjoy and like without any problems. It wasn’t after I conducted some research around child mental, emotional and social development, that my assumption was proved wrong. Designing something universal for kids aged between five and twelve, would be close to impossible, as they are viewed as three very separate user groups, each with a set of special needs that needed to be addressed separately to make for better user experience and design in general. This forced me to narrow down my age group to nine to twelve year olds. Around these ages the kids showcase the same characteristics as they are around the same developmental stage in their lives. Some of the key identifying characteristics that made me choose this age group were, a longer attention span (30 – 45 minutes at a time), like to be challenged, can learn abstract concepts, showcase a growing understanding of principles behind rules and they are also beginning to compare themselves with other kids, (a sense of competition).

Working process 1

Having a particular audience to work with was a major turning point in my working process. This pretty much shaped and confirmed the path my design work was going to take, backed up by previously conducted research. Based on those things I decided to have an educational game as the final output and the design aesthetic was to be vector based illustration.

This new direction saw a significant shift in my objectives. They became more focused and specific. In order to accomplish the desired end results, there was still a fair amount of research and understanding I had to look into in order to have an appropriate end result that was suited to my target audience. I found myself researching and analyzing established educational mobile applications, video games and books constructed for children of primary school age. This was so I could understand how visual language is used to engage interaction, conversion and learning and how I could utilize these findings into my own work.

I also had to research, compare and contrast old fashioned and contemporary games, constructed for kids of primary school age. I looked at games such as super Mario brothers and pacman as I had grown up playing them. And also looked at today’s games that are popular among kids, like cut the rope and ice age village. This was so I could understand how the principles of graphic design, (colour, line, tone, shape, etc) are employed in the development of game graphics to appeal to primary school kids. What all the games had in common was the fact that they all were illustrated. Like most old video/ computer games, super mario used pixel art for all their drawings. Compared to modern day illustrations, the style has changed a lot. Modern day illustrations are more digitalized, this means the lines are straighter and smooth unlike the jagged lines we see in the pixel art.
Even though the drawing style has changed over the years, the way these games use and incorporate colour remained the same. “… Children’s web sites usually contain large blocks of bright, primary colours. Young children prefer these colours and respond more positively than to pastel or muted blends.” (Campbell) As well as using colour to attract kids, they also use it to add tonal value to the game/ characters and provoke emotion. The good/ likeable characters have fun, bright colours such as yellows and light greens incorporated into their design and all the bad guys have darker colours such as blacks and dark reds. The same colour application concept applies to settings as well. This technique immediately provokes emotion in kids, making them kids like or dislike the characters or know that they are in dangerous territories of the game, etc.

Working process 2

My drawing aesthetic is based on vector based illustrations. Due to designing for nine to twelve year olds, I decided to add a ‘cartoony’ feel to it. This means that there is going to be some elements that are exaggerated, eg the eyes of the characters and the heads on my characters have a larger scaled head than the body. This just adds that fun element to the illustrations, and is familiar territory to kids, so immediately it makes them comfortable and gives them that sense of familiarity with the game, which in turn gives the kids and the institutions a deeper more meaningful experience.

The institutions we are collaborating with are all very established and all have strict branding guidelines. This posed an interesting challenge seeing that I was designing for kids, which meant a specific colour pallet, but at the same time had to incorporate as much of their branding as possible.

The story/ theme behind the game is that the zoo is split up into different adventures based on the zoo’s main exhibits, Pridelands, The Wao Nui, Aussie Pride Lands, etc. The idea is to get kids to experience the zoo, in the form of these ‘adventures’.
All these exhibitions have a very different feel, style and aesthetic that in a way offered their own branding solution, therefore I decided to take advantage of this to create my own colour palette. By doing this I made sure that my design solution (colour wise) was suited to both that environment and the zoo. For example if you were in the Pride lands section, there would be a lot of earthy colours, browns, golds and greens incorporated in the colour scheme, which would make up my colour pallet. Where as the sea lion and penguin shores would have more cold colours, blues and greens in the design.

My design process for character development usually has three main steps I undertake. These are finding an image (I prefer to use photos that I take myself for this), tracing over it to use as a drawing reference, scanning it into my computer and then digitizing in illustrator using the pen tool.

I find this process easier and less time consuming rather than trying to draw from scratch in illustrator. After tracing in Illustrator, I usually utilise the pen drop tool and my colour swatch until I get the best result. This is a really good way of iterating my work. I take screen shots to document my progress as my work develops.

character development

Another important aspect to consider while designing for kids is type. “Most children learn to read by going letter by letter until they are able to make sense of an entire word.” (Naranjo-Bock) To see what was appropriate or considered ‘kid friendly type’, I conducted more research into kid friendly types and came up with some typefaces that experts considered to be kid friendly. These were, Monaco, Century Gothic, Chalkboard, Trebuchet MS, Tekton Pro and Marker Felt. After a user testing exercise on some of my audience, I narrowed my choices down to two typefaces. Century Gothic and Trebuchet MS. I chose two typefaces because I wanted the app to have a sense of unity. Trebuchet MS for Headings and Century Gothic for body text. Although my target audience is a little bit more experienced in reading, it was still important to choose typefaces that have well-defined contours and generous space between letters. This also gave a warm and inviting feeling to the app, which is the emotion, I wanted to evoke.

App slides

“Today our technology is expressing itself with sound, and, as interaction designers, we need to consider how to deliberately design with audio to create harmony rather than cacophony.” (Kaushansky) Sound/ audio is a vital feature when designing for kids. It can be used to set the mood, environment and situation while also engaging the user tremendously. As I was researching kids games, old and new, I noticed that sound was a common element that was used continuously to keep the user engaged. Because my game is split up into different ‘adventures’, I use sound mainly to set the scene of a particular adventure. As the game progresses, sound takes on a specific role, acting as an interaction and feedback mechanism as the user takes action. For example when the user clicks an ok button, sound is played back to acknowledge their action, or when they answer a question correctly, sound that symbolizes a right answer is played back. Sound is also seen in the beginning of our app, in the tutorial section. We used it as a way to offer important information to our users on how to use the app and the technology, without the use of multiple pages of text.

Ideally, the final output of this project is a working app that would be used at these four unique sites, but because of the complexity of the project, and also the limited time frame we are faced with, this cannot be done. Realistically this project is an on going multi year project, and if we were in the real world the stage we are calling the final stage, would be the prototyping and user testing stage.

To address this problem, we decided to have an interactive PDF that would showcase the important aspects of this app and give an idea of what the bigger picture would be. We chose an interactive PDF because it will work as close to the finished coded app as possible. We are, however, working closely with a team of two students from Unitec’s computer Science department to solve any technical queries and problems we might have in creating a fully coded app. This has been a really educating experience for me as they are bringing their complementary skill sets that we as designers could not accomplish by ourselves and vice versa. This experience also reinforced my belief of collaborating with people from different disciplines. Which I noticed through my internship with CSC Health Group Is a very vital skill to have, not just in graphic design alone, but also in user experience design.

app on phone

Works Cited.

Campbell, June. Night Cats. n/a n/a n/a. 15 May 2012 <;.

Kaushansky, Karen. Smashing Magazine. 18 April 2012. 20 September 2012 <;.

Monsen, Lecia. toptenreviews. 25 May 2012 <;.

Naranjo-Bock, Catalina. UX Matters. 7 June 2011. 13 June 2012 <;.

Parker, Roanne. Jericho. 12 September 2011. 10 april 2012 <;.


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