Digital Limited Palette with Mary A Livingston
Picture books are a glorious balance of story and illustration. Now, enter a third artistic element…digital presentation. By considering digital interpretation as an art, rather than embellishments or accessories, there is opportunity to add another dimension to the story. Just as an artist uses a limited color palette or as an author uses a limited number of words, a digital designer will do well to limit the digital enhancements when designing a digital picture book. The reasons to limit a digital palette are the same as for the art of writing and illustrating. It serves to bring focus to a point and distractions to a minimum. When choosing to animate, interact or amplify, consider the story first.
For comparison, I’ve chosen two digital picture book apps. COWZAT!, digital design by Colour Me Play and Prancing, Dancing Lily, digital design by Fat Red Couch. While there’s a clear difference in animation style, I’m only evaluating the palette of digital effects.
The first scene of COWZAT!
The animations are elegant, smooth, and clever…but so numerous they interfere with the story flow. It becomes more like a cartoon than an interactive book especially since the narration will not turn off. The unrelated digital content is a distraction and the sheer number of actions overwhelms the story content.
The digital actions of Prancing, Dancing Lily don't interfere with the story. Each digital element has a place in the story. Some build on the existing illustrations, others add information.
The temptation to show off animation skills and cram the screen with a gluttonous load of electronic gibber can snuff the life out of a story. While I appreciate the animation quality of COWZAT!, the digital designers of Prancing, Dancing Lily have respected the story by making appropriate enhancements.
Digital design is part of an artistic triad for picture eBooks. The digital elements and interactivity should be included in the editorial process like the text and illustrations. Just as an author and illustrator must evaluate the relevance of specific words or imagery, the digital designer must consider if the animation or interactivity is pertinent to the specific story.
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First Fridays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer , man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
Second Fridays will feature awesome multi-award winning author Marsha Diane Arnold who will be writing about character-driven and/or nature-based books and/or anything she likes :)
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