Smidge and Smudge were originally two characters I had created for my character development unit. Initially, I had two scrolls on which I designed, developed, and explored the boundaries of my characters. These characters were two children’s characters. In the story, one of the characters goes missing halfway across the world, which leaves the monkey who loves her (Smudge) to search the globe in order to find her. It is a geography tale which teaches children about other places, cultures, languages, and animals in general.
‘Smudge loved Smidge, and Smidge loved Smudge.
They loved each other so very much.
Yet something happened. On a cold, dull day.
Smudge lost Smidge, she was taken away!
So Smudge set off on a brand new adventure.
Searching high and low, left and right, inside every denture.
And yet Smudge could not find his beloved Smidge.
She was gone, far away, further than he had searched.
Smudge packed away his most precious things.
Family photograph, teddy bear, and even his favourite rings.
He said goodbye to all of his family.
Got up and left, to search every Country.
Smidge has to be somewhere, Smudge was going to find her.
For once more, they were going to be an amazing pair.’
Initially, when I set off going into this unit. I had planned to create a website for children to use. I planned on having printable things, get to know the characters, games, and a section for Smidge and Smudge’s story. To research this I looked into various websites designed for children. This research is here.
I had begun to develop, and expand my website in my sketchbook. I had planned out several various pages, the layouts for the games, and even the additional characters that I had found during a focus group.
Designing my logo was easy because of the various typographies I tried to use to find what I wanted, this also was made easier thanks to my font research that I had looked into for the website. Surprisingly, I steered away from an all text logo, after drawing out several designs I had picked that a mixture of a characters head and text would be best for the logo.
In the process of making my website, now I had begun to digitise my work in accordance with the work plan I had set out from my original brief.
I began to create a background for the website that was jungle themed to fit in with where my characters are from. Using a brush pack I had downloaded online, I was able to create an effecting jungle-like background that matched my characters appropriately.
I next began to develop the buttons for my website.
I had decided that a leafy pattern would match in well with the jungle theme, and they were to have a soft animation of typing text whenever hovered over, which I also happened to create in Flash before restarting the idea.
I next drew up my characters in photoshop, and tried my best to make them look as simplistic and childlike as I could.
The final part I had created was a pack of cards. I made the backs of the cards red because I think that was more of a personal preference, also they would stand out more on the background when you were playing the game I had designed them for. I designed the cards myself, created each of the symbols, and also made Smidge and Smudge king and queen, along with Sheldon being the jack.
It was as I got to this stage of my work that I had begun to realise the true problem here. I seemed to have only a couple of weeks left in class, and with no flash access at home, I knew I woudn’t have the time to finish creating an entire website.
Instead, I rewrote my idea, scratched my brief, and used what I already had in a more print based form. One that I could fully focus on doing at home over the half term without interruptions.
Since I was already developing colouring pages for my website, I had an idea of making an activity pack for the same age range I was already working with of 4-10. I designed out that I would make a series of several sheets for the children to do in order to be educated, challenged, and to also have a little fun at the same time.
I looked into the pages people would normally see in an activity book. Colouring pages, wordsearches, dot to dots, matches, and mazes. These were the standard ones that I tried my best to make educational. One of the wordsearches has all seven countries on it, there are basic skills required for dot to dots and the rest, well they just seemed a little too fun.
I had decided to handdraw all of my pages. For the simple reason I didn’t have the resources at home to create them digitally, and I didn’t have enough class time left to go making the pages. However, after I had made them, I felt it looked a lot better hand drawn than digital. The colouring pages turned out a lot more effective and nicer than the set I had made for my website. I did, however, print off the front page to the activity pack, using the same background and logo as the rest of my items, along with making an answers page that was also digital.
However, I felt there was a certain fun aspect missing. And after asking a few children what they’d like to see in the activity pack (getting back the standard answers of what I already had in there) I was struck by the idea of having a secret decoder page. This page uses a secret code that I had been taught to use as a child myself, and we used to pass notes around in these symbols over and over. And, of course, there had to be an educational twist. So the message, from the Chinese panda, Jade, had to be Ni Hao. Simply because it was teaching children to speak another language.
Usually when you think of an activity pack, you think of having a pack of crayons to go along with the pack, to obviously fill it in with. I found a box of crayons with four simple colours inside, and made my own packaging design for the crayon box.
I had initially designed the packaging to match the pack of cards that I had designed for the website. Of course, this didn’t really look good with the set or the jungle theme, so I scrapped this background altogether, and settled with using the jungle background I had initially created for the website instead.
Now with the background already developed in photoshop. I decided to take the inspiration from my promotion unit and I made the choice of making a set of bookmarks. Since Smidge and Smudge is a story, I feel that this would be a good accessory to go along with the book. It also helped that I had previously digitally created my characters for the website too. As I could throw that with the background, and, well, voila!
After I had created and designed my pack of cards, I felt that it would be a shame to let the hard work and time I had spent on them go to waste. To fix this, I printed each of the sets off, changed the background and basically stuck them all together and cut each o the 52 cards out individually along with making the box to keep the cards all together too.
Throughout this unit of work, I have been receiving feedback. I had been keeping a note of the feedback as I went along making my things. I had a small focus group of my age range in order to hear the children’s ideas on my characters and their stories, and they helped me create other characters they would like to see.
At the final push, I decided to create a series of questionnaires to ask a few people in order to get the last few things I needed to make my set full.
This feedback basically told me a few more things that I should create with the last couple of days I had left in which to do them. The feedback told me that an instruction leaftlet to go along with the packet of cards was needed, so I created one with four simple games that I knew the children play when we take them away on holiday with us.
I was also told that, just like a child’s magazine, my work seemed to be lacking a story, or an interactive tale in the least. I worked out a way to make the story of Smidge and Smudge as interactive as I could for children.
I created pages with the story along the bottom of each page, a blank box above the page which was enabled so that children can read the story and then draw their own illustration to go along with it. There were also lines along the bottom of the page for either handwriting practise, or improvement on the story. Maybe the children would like to add in a few bits and pieces to the tale here and there, I felt it was best for them to feel like it was personal and close to them, and this feature made sure that was possible.
I created a front cover and a back cover for the book listing the illustrator simply as ‘you’ to appeal a little more to children, and listed a few simplistic instructions so that children knew what they would find inside of the book.