Maruša Puhek | Design Research Blog
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221. 05. 2017 by Maruša Puhek: Make a book interesting again


Kids are loosing interest in books. A big problem I discover during my kindergarten visit is, that kids don’t read anymore, they just watch cartoons. So I started thinking – how can I make a book interesting? How to connect digital and analog? I came up with an interactive book. A “real” analog book with a special QR code after every chapter. There is where a parent and a child can (after answering the question regarding to the chapter) find funny videos, movies or games with a topic that was explained in a certain chapter. QR code works as an award after reading it.


Interesting topic that is in development right now is Vuforia. It helps you define a surface (for example a sheet of paper) where a character can come to life. That would also make a book way more interesting.





21. 05. 2017 by Maruša Puhek: Your rabbit is too fat!




Interesting (also concerning) thing happened during my discussion with kids that I had to mention separately. One boy looked at my rabbit and said “I don’t like this rabbit, because he is too fat!” It really shocked me at first but later I discovered that a phenomenon of making thin digital characters nowadays can also be seen in famous cartoons like Die Biene Maya, where both characters (Maya and Willy) are thinner comparing to an original series.



18. 05. 2017 by Maruša Puhek: Characters

krtfilename-1 (41)krt2zajcadino racemačo


In general all kids expect for one liked my characters. As the most beautiful ones they picked characters with big eyes and glasses. They also liked furry characters and almost all of them mentioned characters with flowers. But we have to consider that a child’s favorite color plays a big role while choosing a character. For example, a child that likes yellow picked a character with yellow hair, yellow hat etc. Girls mostly picked characters wearing pink, they especially liked pink dress.


slon_moder slon

17. 05. 2017 by Maruša Puhek: The results and observations


The most beautiful rabbit

  • Rabbit drawn in a children’s style was picked as the most beautiful one by 2 children (boy and girl).
    Why: because he’s funny, he has nice big body and funny ears
  • Rabbit made in vector style was chosen by 3 children (one boy, two girls)
    Why: because he is adorable – he has nice eyes, nose, little dots and pink cheeks
  • Rabbit drawn in a fairy tale style was picked as the most beautiful one by two boy.
    Why: because he is gray and he has nice legs (nice movement)
  • Rabbit drawn in a watercolor “cute” style was picked by one girl.
    Why: because of beautiful ears
  • Rabbit drawn in realistic style was picked by 2 children (boy and girl)
    Why: because he is running (jumping) and he looks real
  • Rabbit drawn in a digital “modern” style was picked by 3 children (2 girls, 1 boy)


Second most beautiful rabbit

  • 3 votes for rabbit drawn in a digital “modern” style because of big eyes and cute nose
  • 1 vote for rabbit in vector style because of dots
  • 1 vote for my cartoon style because of nice ears
  • 1 vote for watercolor “cute” style because of legs
  • 1 vote for fairy-tale style


Winner: the most beautiful rabbit picked by children in kindergarten was drawn with digital “modern” style with big eyes.


The ugliest rabbit


  • Realistic drawn style was chosen to be the ugliest rabbit (3 boys, 1 girl) because he is black and has an ugly tale.
  • Vector style was picked by one girl and one boy, because of too big tale and pink dots.
  • Fairy tale drawn style was picked by one girl because of too small eyes.
  • Children’s style of drawing was picked by one boy, because the color isn’t just inside the rabbit.
  • My cartoon style was picked once, because the rabbit is too fat.


Other observations


  • All children expect one like rabbits that are wearing clothes.
  • All girls picked as the prettiest one the one in a pink dress.
  • Cartoons with flowers won more votes.
  • Boys usually like long noses and ears.
  • Girls often picked as the most beautiful character the one with a bow.
  • All children defined my characters as animals and not as monsters.
  • With colorful cartoons they mostly decided according to their favorite color (for example yellow hair / violet hat).
  • Many boys decided that the funniest character is a mole with a garden tool.
  • Most of children like that my characters are wearing glasses.
  • Most of children told me they don’t read fairy tales but watch cartoons on TV.
16. 05. 2017 by Maruša Puhek: Kindergarten test


Visiting kindergarten in Slovenia

Group: 13 children (6 boys, 7 girls), 5-6 years old (they are going to the primary school in September)
Location of the kindergarten: countryside/small town
Method: first introducing all children to the topic “We are searching for the most beautiful rabbit” then discussions separately which each child alone to avoid repetitions

1. ask children to show the most beautiful rabbit – ask them why
2. ask children to show the ugliest rabbit – ask why
3. eliminate the most beautiful and the ugliest rabbit, ask them to find the second most beautiful rabbit and why
4. show them rabbits in clothes, ask them if they like dressed rabbits and why (not)




(left cartoon from Freepik, right illustration by Nina Štajner)

5. ask them about their favorite cartoon
6. show them my characters, ask about them to find weaknesses and advantages (optionally ask about the favorite color if you see the pattern)
7. ask about the books




15. 05. 2017 by Maruša Puhek: Before the kindergarten



Following my schedule plan I went to the kindergarten in Slovenia to find out which style do children like the most. I skipped the first step – analyzing the literature about it, because I didn’t find any. Topic, which would analyze and describe cartoon styles for children is quite unexplored.

I tried to find similar rabbit in different styles (from left to right):


1. children’s style of drawing (by brian_mu8dft39)
2. watercolor “cute” style (by Nina Štajner)
3. vector style (by Freepik)
4. digital “modern” style with big eyes (combination from Freepik)
5. fairy tale drawn style from “Guess how much I love you” book (by Anita Jeram)
6. realistic drawn style (web)


I made some changes (colors etc), so that all rabbits look similar – to exclude as many factors as possible (which could disturb children in decision making process).

04. 04. 2017 by Maruša Puhek: Schedule – Designing a children book


My project in the second semester is sticking to the following plan that leads me to designing a children book.


Product: interesting/challenging children book with drawn characters and hand-lettering titles
Target group: children, 5-7 years, jut starting to read
Ground: there are two types of children, some of them love to read and some of them don’t – so they need support; attracting drawings that will bring together pictures and text
Language: not defined yet




  1. Find & study the right literature for children books, children characters
  2. Ask children which drawing style do they like the most: realistic, cartoon, cute? Analyze their respond
  3. Draw different types of characters
  4. Offer children different characters – ask which do they prefer
  5. Define the nature of the book (school book?)
  6. Build together the content & drawings
  7. Find different ways to make the book even more interesting (such as flip books, ‘touch’ materials etc.)
  8. Process of creating a book


Paddys mis

(first picture by Nina Štajner, second picture Pinterest)
30. 01. 2017 by Maruša Puhek: SKETCHING A CHARACTER





“It’s alive!” by S. Cohen:


  1. Cartoon human
  2. Choose characteristics
  3. Combine characteristics
  4. Comparing construction
  5. Picking poses
  6. Turning the tables
  7. Dressing up
  8. Exaggerating traits
28. 01. 2017 by Maruša Puhek: THE PROCESS?




Cartooning: Character Design: Learn the Art of Cartooning Step by Step, Sherm Cohen



When a Pixar artist is designing a character there are a number of areas they explore to ensure a successful character design.


  • Research and evaluate

It can be helpful to try and deconstruct why certain characters and their characteristics work and why some don’t.  Study other characters and think about what makes some successful and what in particular you like about them.


  • Who is it aimed at?

Think about your audience. Characters aimed at young children, for example, are typically designed around basic shapes and bright colours.


  • Visual impact

Whether you’re creating a monkey, robot or monster, you can guarantee there are going to be a hundred other similar creations out there. Your character needs to be strong and interesting in a visual sense to get people’s attention.


  • Exaggerated characteristics

Exaggerating the defining features of your character will help it appear larger than life. Exaggerated features will also help viewers to identify the character’s key qualities.


  • Colour

Colours can help communicate a character’s personality. Typically, dark colours such as black, purples and greys depict baddies with malevolent intentions. Light colours such as white, blues, pinks and yellows express innocence, good and purity.


  • Conveying personality

Interesting looks alone do not necessarily make for a good character; its personality is key as well. A character’s personality can be revealed through animations, where we see how it reacts to certain situations. The personality of your character doesn’t have to be particularly agreeable, but it does need to be interesting (unless your characters is purposely dull).


  • Express yourself

Expressions showing a character’s range of emotions and depicting its ups and downs will further flesh out your character. Depending on its personality, a figure’s emotions might be muted and wry or explosive and wildly exaggerated.


  • Goals and dreams

The driving force behind a character’s personality is what it wants to achieve. TOften the incompleteness or flaws in a character are what make it interesting.


  • Building back stories

If you’re planning for your character to exist within comics and animations then developing its back story is important. Where it comes from, how it came to exist and any life-changing events it has experienced are going to help back up the solidity of, and subsequent belief in, your character. Sometimes the telling of a character’s back story can be more interesting than the character’s present adventures.


  • Beyond the character

In the same way that you create a history for your character, you need to create an environment for it to help further cement believability in your creation. The world in which the character lives and interacts should in some way make sense to who the character is and what it gets up to.


  • Fine-tuning a figure

Question each element of your creation, especially things such as its facial features. The slightest alteration can have a great effect on how your character is perceived.

( Joshua Vardanega, 2013)

07. 12. 2016 by Maruša Puhek: From hand lettering to painting with watercolors



07. 12. 2016 by Maruša Puhek: First try



06. 12. 2016 by Maruša Puhek: Calligraphy; Gotica Textura




Calligraphy is the art of handwriting and also a ‘mother’ of today’s hand lettering. I did some exercises of Gotica Textura, which is one of the most popular calligraphy styles. It requires holding a special pen at a 45 degree angle. Learning calligraphy takes time and a lot of practice.

05. 12. 2016 by Maruša Puhek: Types of hand lettering

1 2 3 5 7 OR9A3774


  • Brush Pen – rough

Dieses Alphabet in Versalien, also Großbuchstaben, wurde mit einem nicht mehr ganz neuen, großen Brush Pen geschrieben. Die Buchstaben haben einen sehr roughen und wilden Charakter.


  • Brush Pen- zart

Das mit de kleinen Brush Pen “touch” geschriebene Alphabet besticht vor allem durch seine Zartheit und gleichzeitig hohe Dynamik. Es ist seht elegant.  Diese Alphabet eignet sich immer hervorragend für jegliche Glückwünsche und Grußkarten, für Namen oder Daten.


  • Filzstift – grotesk

Geradlinig, eine durchgehende Strichstärke und in Großbuchstaben geschrieben, hat dieses Alphabet einen typischen “Handlettering”-Charakter, dem man häufig auch als Font begegnet. Die Grotesk ist eine Schriftfamilie ogne Serifen und mit gleichmäßsiger Schriftstärke der einfach geformten Buchstaben.


  • Parallel Pen – klassisch

Diese schmale Antiqua, also Serifenschrift, wurde ebenfalls mit einem Parallel Pen in der Stärke 6,0mm geschrieben bzw. gezeichnet. Eine sehr klassische Schrift, prima für einzelne Worte, Namen oder Statements, zum Beispiel auf einer Grußkarte.


  • Layout Marker – plastisch

Ähnlich wie beim Brush-Pen-Alphabet wurde hier ein Layout Marker mit abgeschrägter Spitze verwendet, der ebenfalls nicht mehr ganz neu war und so weniger Farbe abgibt. Eine hübsche Schmuckschrift-Variante, die freundlich und verspielt wirkt.


  • Parallel Pen – kalligrafisch

Dieses kalligrafische Alphabet aus Kleinbuchstaben wurde mit einem 6,0mm starken Parallel Pen geschrieben. Es ist elegant und feierlich und lässt sich zum Beispiel für Schilder mit ganz kurzen Texten oder Namen verwenden.


(Hannah Rabenstein, Hand Lettering, 2016)

05. 12. 2016 by Maruša Puhek: Equipment



07. 11. 2016 by Maruša Puhek: Can anyone do it?





“Lettering is really just drawing, and drawing is something anyone can learn with practice.” (Seanwes, 2016)

– What helps?
– Exercises?
– Practice!!!
– Only one letter at a time

06. 11. 2016 by Maruša Puhek: Successful packaging & Art of hand lettering



05. 11. 2016 by Maruša Puhek: Literature for art of hand lettering



–  The Little Book of Lettering by Emily Gregory
–  In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector Hardcover by Jessica Hische
– The Art of Hand Lettering by Helm Wotzkow
– Little Book of Lettering by Emily Gregory
– Creative Lettering and Beyond by Gabri Joy Kirkendall, Laura Lavender, Julie Manwaring and Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn
– Script Lettering for Artists (Lettering, Calligraphy, Typography) by Tommy Thompson

05. 11. 2016 by Maruša Puhek: Literature for successtul packaging



– Package Design Workbook: The Art and Science of Successful Packaging by Steven DuPuis, John Silva
– Packaging the Brand: The Relationship Between Packaging Design and Brand by Gavin Ambrose, Paul Harris
– Packaging Design: Successful Product Branding From Concept to Shelf 2nd Edition by Marianne R. Klimchuk, Sandra A. Krasovec

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