Project From MIND Research institute  ​​​​​​​
Art Direction  |  Illustration  |  Visual Design  
This family-oriented board game product is an extension of MIND's South of the Sahara exhibition. Each game in this series is self-taught and inspired by ancient games from various African countries. It is the first board game product from MIND Research Institute that has gone into mass production and online sales.
We designed a new product that combines storybooks, board games, math, and culture. I collaborated with our mathematician, Brandon Smith, and worked with other editors to create stories and pictures that help to bring the game and different math concepts together. Instead of an instruction booklet, each game was explained through an illustrated storybook that engages the players as they learn about the game and the culture behind it.

My Role
My responsibilities included visual direction, storyboard and sketches, board game design, brainstorming ideas to help smooth out the storyline while maintaining cultural accuracy, and training a contractor illustrator on following the developed visual style.

Getting sketches
The project started with math games that were designed and developed by a team of UX designers and mathematicians. Then, it extended into board games with picture books that combined story elements and user instructions. When I joined the project, the game design was finalized, basic game instructions were provided, and the basic storyline was created. The first step in the visual process was to start sketching out the user instructions to understand the game and the logic behind it.

An early prototype (Achi) to communicate with the mathematician on presenting accurate instructional ideas

To enhance the ancient and cultural feeling of the product, we added an undertone texture layer to both the board game and storybook, creating an earthy and timeless ambiance. Although this product was innovated and modified based on ancient African math games, I also wanted to include some modern elements to provide a contemporary feeling. Simple shapes were a great visual element to deliver a modern look while communicating math ideas.

Broad game designs use colors, shapes, and textures to deliver a combination of ancient and contemporary.

We started working on the storybook once the board went into prototype production. Our team of three met frequently to ensure clear instructions, smooth stories, and explicit illustrations to convey ideas.

Illustration sketches for one of the chapters in the board game Fanorano.

Cover design for the first three sets of instructional storybook covers. 

Background illustration development

Due to the constraint of being understaffed and a high demand for other project developments, we hired a contractor illustrator to help finish the rest of the content updates. Before turning the project to the marketing department for branding and packaging, I finished my role in this project development by setting up visual files, training, coaching the contractor, and putting together visual guidance.

Photoshop  |  Illustrator |  Indesign 
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