July 2018 - Ongoing

I got the amazing opportunity to design illustrations for Project Big Life, online health calculators that predict your life expectancy and other cool things. I had always been really interested in illustration, but was only creating small pieces for fun, so the chance to create illustrations from scratch and establish a look was super exciting to me but also so intimidating.

Where do I start? Instead of diving into the big stuff first, I started small. I began with simple icons used in the questionnaires, like the genders and food drawings. The site was already using fun colours, and a bubbly background splash, so I decided to incorporate this style in the drawings.

Main navigation icons (Meet the Team, News, About the Science, FAQ)
Gender icons for health calculators

Once I had established these simple elements that I could pull colours and elements from, it was time to tackle the big stuff. Every calculator needed a sort of splash page, oh yeah, and one of them needs to be done by tomorrow because they are being interviewed on TV. Time to buckle down.

Not going to lie, I was dreading drawing people. I found some reference images I liked I went from there. Still keeping the bubbly theme in mind, I drew characters and surprised myself for a first try. One of the main requirements was that the characters should look directly at the user; their eyes should stand out on the page. I developed these features that I thought were detailed enough to convey this idea. I finished the Heart & Stroke illustration on time, then the next day I receive this:

Part of me is thinking: WOW THIS IS SO COOL, the other half is saying WHAT WAS I THINKING? It definitely needed some work, but for something made in a day I was pretty damn proud. I went on to develop the rest of the splash illustrations.

One of the very first comments I got back was that they weren’t ‘cartoony’ enough. The PBL team had previously been using a cartoony style and they really wanted to incorporate this feeling into the new illustrations. Also, the faces did not scale well when very small. This needed to be fixed.

Of course the right solution was to not restart the hours I had already invested in this. So I set off to fix what I had done. I researched styles I liked and set up a mood board. Then I tackled the most important part: the faces. I came up with a guide to keep consistency. These new designs are much better for this project: the eyes are bigger, the mouth and noses are simpler and more defined, and the shadows are kept to a minimum. I was really liking where this was going.

Caracter style explorations

Next up: the bodies. Again, simplifying everything and making it cartoony was key. I rounded lines and exaggerated body part sizes. Here you can see the before and after.

Character styles before (left) and after (right)

I was feeling way better about the after. Now it was a question of converting all the old illustrations into the new style, which was done pretty quickly since the bulk of the work was already complete.

Life Expectancy Splash
High intensity physical activity
Moderate intensity physical activity
Weight illustration

This project is far from over. I'm still designing marketing materials and refining splash pages. Go find out your life expectancy here!

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