Character illustrations can add significant value to a course. If done correctly, characters help learners feel emotionally connected to the content. More importantly, characters and their related stories make learning more appealing, because our brains are wired for stories.
We won’t get into the foundational aspects of characters such as “usage” and “profile building”, although if you’re interested, check out this great article from the E-Learning Coach. Instead, I wanted to show some illustration styles to reference during your next online course. Looking at the examples below may be a good starting point when planning your e-learning project.
In this post, we’ll specifically show VECTOR styles, which is a technique that enables the illustrator to scale the drawing without losing quality. In a separate post, we’ll look at some RASTER styles, which have more texture and detail (but cannot be scaled without quality loss).
This is merely a sampling of the possibilities. There are an infinite number of styles in existence, and even the examples below can be “mixed and matched” in terms of the facial aspects, body-style, etc. The purpose of this post is simply to get the ideas flowing.
You may recognize the characters we used. You might say they’re … magical.
Basic with Normal Proportions Style
This is your “bare-bones” style with normal body proportions. You’ll notice there isn’t much “personality” in the expressions because of the simplicity.
Basic with Larger Head Style
Disproportionately larger head. This is useful for showing a specific facial expression.
Basic with Huge Head Style
A much larger head. Again, this is useful for focusing on facial expressions if emotion is a factor.
A relaxing character type. You’ll notice a touch of personality on this one. Bit of a “calming” effect.
Minimal Facial Expression Style
Styles similar to this one take the focus away from the face. This is good if you want the focus to be more on body movement.
Notice the black outline on this style (as well as the previous style). It gives the illustration a more “2-D” effect.
This is a cute, cartoony look with “spaghetti” limbs. It has a fun personality.
Circular Eyes Style
We can show several different emotions by only modifying the eyes on this style. Similar to the characters on the show “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons.”
The first thing you’ll probably notice on this one is the legs. Just an example of putting the focus on certain body parts.
Notice the detail on the clothing. This is on the high-end of detail for vector styles. It is quite different than the “Basic” examples at the top of this list.
In some situations, it may be useful to represent human figures without the need for all facial features. This, of course, can be applied to any style.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out some raster styles in a separate post.