Illustration of Summer in Central Park for installation. It was fun animating the horse and carriage.

Very happy and honored to receive news that the City Explorer children’s game installation at the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital received an Honor Award from the SEGD (Society of Experiential Design.) When Matthew McNerney, then creative director at Potion, called me to do some illustration work for a new project they were beginning, I had no idea the extent of the journey that was beginning. The project allowed me to work with so many other talented people at Potion, including Steph Goralnick (who took over as lead on the project after Matthew moved to another company) and many, many others credited in this

link to the award announcement: SEGD AWARD.

Illustration of Summer in Central Park for installation. It was fun animating the horse and carriage.

I love these comments from the jury:

“Whether one dreams of being a painter, urban explorer, or a superhero this interactive experience makes it possible—and is heart-warming and joyful.”

“Just what the doctor ordered—whimsey, art, and the excitement of exploration! What a lovely reminder that interactive design is most successful when engaging content and intuitive interaction outshines the delivery method.”

“A simple installation, with simple interaction, that explodes with vibrance and wonder as a result of its superior content. The variety of visual styles, as well as the variety and extensible interaction modes, makes a compelling installation that is a pure expression of imagination, without interference from the technology or its modes of human-computer interaction.”

Between the concept art and the final illustrations for this project, I did so much work that I can actually stack it up and measure it by the foot! But seeing those laughing and dancing children in the video (see link, above) makes me feel like the 18 hour work days were more than worth it.

Creating illustration in pieces that would be assembled into pictures by developers and designers, and then, put into a wall sized interactive game installation was an interesting process of composing, and I learned a lot. I liked being part of a team. It was definitely gratifying to practice what I preach to my students in terms of finding a different visual graphic feeling for each location in NYC.  Overall, it was an exhilarating illustration experience!

It’s taking me a little while to get all of the pieces together in a form that I can post, but here are a few more images from the project:

The NYC skyline, drawn from Long Island City. I did many, many different skies with watercolor for the different games that happen with this skyline: cloud shuffle, fireworks, etc. Doing all the skies for the different times of day reminded me of an assignment I had in my first year at Parsons: to paint the sky outside of my window once a week over the course of the semester. Amazing how those things come back!

One of the scenes from Coney Island, the boardwalk, shown here without the costume party characters. These scenes were so much fun to do – lots of pop art and fairground references from my childhood came up! I like the way all of the Coney Island scenes move too – I wanted a “tinker toy” feeling to the movement for the Boardwalk games, and I think we made that happen.

I love how the snow flowers flutter off the branches in the winter Central Park scene. I had a wonderful day at the park making all the reportage drawings that I eventually put together for this fantasy view of the Bethesda Fountain and the Bow Bridge.

Of all the character designs I did for the Bronx Zoo and Coney Island costume party scenes, the Turtle from the zoo is my favorite. I wanted him to be littler than the others, and super earnest and cute. I think he was a favorite around the offices at Potion too. I really loved how 3D animator Joe Grundfast made the little Turtle’s butt move, so cutey paootey!

When you do a project of this size, occasionally some of the illustrations don’t make it to the final installation. This was a bug gate that we were going to do for the Bronx Zoo that had to remain unrealized for the final game. I was really happy with how the two little dung beetles came out – I felt it was a challenge to make them rolling their little ball of dung look sweet, and I feel like I did that!

I’m hoping to put more of this work together and post more of my process as well, in the next few weeks. I did a post a few weeks ago about creating the Brooklyn Bridge scene for the City Explorer installation in collaboration with Potion and Mental Canvas.

You can read about that HERE if you’re interested. Thanks for reading down this far!

NJ Web Design: Media Climb