Context: ESRM 458 (Management of Endangered, Threatened, and Sensitive Species)
Duration: 4 weeks (Winter 2020)
Collaboration: Individual design, but content in a team of 5
Skills Demonstrated: Intentional design choices informed by our user group and digital illustrations
Tools Used: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop
Partnering with a local Seattle branch of Snow Leopard Trust, my team and I produced a Spot the Snow Leopard children’s book that takes readers through a “Where’s Waldo?” style challenge of spotting snow leopards in their natural environment. Design decisions like color, typography, and image fidelity were informed by our user’s development goals.
The illustrations were done by me, but my group provided feedback and we all brainstormed content.
The focus of this Environmental Science course was to engage with an endangered species and then connect with a client who is an expert on that species’ conservation. My four teammates and I chose snow leopards as our endangered species, and we connected with a local branch of Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) in Seattle. Once we had our species and client, our aim was to produce a product that would benefit our client and their conservation goals.
One of my teammates worked as an intern at SLT and mentioned they were considering adding more content to their “Spot the Snow Leopard” part of their website—a fun section of their website that challenged viewers to spot the snow leopard in the image. This challenge was engaging because snow leopards have an extraordinary ability to camouflage into their environments.
Based on this, my team and I decided that designing a children’s book with the same concept of spotting the snow leopard would assist our client the most. Our users would be children age seven to nine and their parents.
The purpose of our children’s book would be to contribute to, even if indirectly, the conservation of snow leopards. Each branch of SLT has gift stores, and the sales from our book in these gift stores would go directly to conservation.
Indirectly, multiple works on environmental education have suggested that learning about the environment at a young age can help produce empathy for the natural world in the child’s future.
We decided to pattern our Spot the Snow Leopard book off “Where’s Waldo?”, a popular children’s book for our age group. With the book laying open, each page on the left has an image taken by SLT of a snow leopard in their habitat. Each page on the right is a corresponding fact about snow leopards, their environment, their habitat, or their eating habits.
To keep the focus of the book on education, we added a glossary of key terms. Whenever a page contained a word that was unknown to most of our users, we defined it in the glossary.
My teammates helped with the content, but the design was largely up to me. I knew I wanted pictorials of snow leopards and their environment to cater our book towards children. Children in this age group are in the schematic and realistic stages of development, where they expect animals to be drawn correctly and their colors to be accurate. Thus, my snow leopards, paw prints, and rocks followed these requirements.
Our typography choices were informed by looking at popular books for our age group. Many had a playful title font with a more readable body text that still had charisma. We mimicked the same pattern.
The colors were chosen to blend a children’s book feel (bright, bold colors), with natural colors in the snow leopard’s environment.
Color choices, images, content, and typography all came together to create Spot the Snow Leopard, a children's book for children age seven to nine.
We gave the book to SLT in pdf format, and they sent it out to all their subscribed members during the COVID shutdowns of Spring 2020 to keep member engagement up.
I honestly had a lot of fun designing this children’s book because it was unlike anything I had ever done before. The drawings of snow leopards—although difficult for me since I have never considered myself a great artist—were my favorite part of the project. I have also never worked with children as my user group, so incorporating the science of developmental stages and many bold colors was a unique challenge.