I was to assist in a complete “re-skin” of an existing app that they developed. They already had a good range of mini games with a clear functionality, just not the aesthetics. Consisting of 5 game packs, this package of mini games is a learning platform, aimed to make employee education a fun experience. What better way to do that, than with a friendly character named “Norman”.
Elliot’s brief for Norman was “fun, friendly and likeable, but not overly cutesy” (the target market made this last point make a lot of sense). As someone who really loves to create characters, developing a “Norman” made the fourth Game Pack of Norman activities super enjoyable.
I tend to take more of a traditional approach when it comes to creating characters, preferring to conceptualise first on paper, with scribbles, shapes and lines everywhere.
“Fun and loveable” made me instantly think that Norman simply had to be round. I thought of a round shape with little legs and a big head, the kind of companion you have to love.
I drew a few different variations of Norman, each one wearing oversized glasses, as he didn’t feel right without them.
Most people scan sketches into a computer, but the quickest method for me is to just take a photo with my iPhone and send it to my computer to bring into Illustrator or Photoshop.
Linework is my foundation for all characters, and it’s only when this feels right that I add colour.
I sent some linework sketches, and rough colour treatments to the Inspir.Us team, and got great feedback straight away. They said, “Probably best to remove the moustache, as he looks a little too much like our Boss” After a few more plays around with hair colour, brown was decided on. While they liked the grey hair, the character seemed a little too “old”.
There are 3 states of “Norman” (3 mini games): “Norman the Foreman”, for a factory setting, where the user has to choose the right answer on a conveyor belt. Norman Reacts to correct and incorrect answers with a few different poses.
“Save Norman” has Norman getting shot into the air, and the user has to guide him back to the ground safely, by selecting the appropriate word clouds to answer questions. For this one, I just had standard Norman in a parachute, but Elliot made the suggestion of a cool aviator hat. Awesome and super cute idea! We ended up settling on one with some goggles.
“Run Norman Run” is a running game, obviously. You see Norman from the back, and you have to steer him on a running track to select the right answers, being careful not to hit the obstacles. Naturally, Norman had to wear a runner’s sweatband around his head!