Project: South of the Sahara Board Game
Visual Direction | Graphic Design  |  Illustration  
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.

Background illustration development

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 helped bring together the game and different math concepts. Instead of an instruction booklet, each game was explained through an illustrated storybook that engages the players as they learn about the game and its culture.

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.

The project started with math games 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.
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.

Photoshop | Illustrator | Indesign

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