We were tasked with updating the brand for the educational App Hooked on Phonics. While we were going to revisit their original characters, we first wanted to create a suite of characters for a younger demographic. Deciding to explore the idea of minibeasts i began with some explorational sketches.
Minibeasts is a familiar world that young children can enjoy but they can also exist in the same universe as the Hooked on Phonics characters who are also anthropomorphised animals.
Once we were settled on the characters I looked at a number of different treatments we could use.
While I really liked the water colour approach, we were aware it could throw up issues throughout the production so we opted to go with a flatter approach.
With the cast of the younger ABC's part of the app locked, I went back to the original Hooked on Phonics characters using the style if the Minibeasts as a kicking off point.
We switched out a couple of the characters for other species, making sure that the main cast were all African animals, so that we left room for introducing other characters who were from other parts of the world in any expansions or companion apps that we might work on.
As with the Minibeast characters it was important that these each had their own distinctive colour pallet, silhouette and personality so they could be easily identified.
Once we had the characters I then explored what their world would look like. It needed to also be pretty minimal and I was keen to give it a subdued tone so our characters would always be front and centre of any situation they were in.
It was fun to use the Hooked on Phonics characters as a part of the environment for the ABC's minibeasts to navigate around.
And once the minibeasts environment was done we needed to expand on that of the Hooked on Phonics characters. It was really fun to come up with a clubhouse where this diverse bunch could live in and then the wider world outside.
With this world now the basis for a popular educational app it was time to begin thinking further a field so when Hooked on Math came along we decided to send the gang over seas and really ramp up the level of adventure.
Deciding to send them overseas to visit Uncle Rhino: Adventurer extraordinaire, it became apparent that they would need something more versatile than a simple minivan.
As a fan of classic films i thought there was really something fun about the shape of the Orca, Quint's fishing vessel from Jaws and the Bob was born.
As development continued we realised the Bob wasn't sufficient in its existing form and so we decided to have some fun. A lot of fun.
The Hooked on gang have now been on numerous wacky adventures, teaching kids their ABCs, Phonics, Spelling and Maths.
It has been a pleasure developing these characters, the worlds they inhabit and the adventures they have gone on. As the Hooked On brand continues to expand I strongly suspect we can look forward to many, many more.