From the Designer’s Desk: Skeuomorphic Design in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Today’s designer note is from Talent Pun, Loud Crow’s Design Director and the lead mind behind our much-anticipated holiday story release, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

In case you didn’t know, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is the tenth prime-time animated TV special based on Charles M. Schulz’s critically acclaimed Peanuts comic strip. It’s also the fourth Peanuts production (following Charlie Brown’s All-Stars, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas) to get the Loud Crow treatment.

Designing “By the Book”

Talent approached the design for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving in a very “by the book” manner, consciously laying out the story using a skeuomorphic design.

Skeuo-whata?

Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful. Here’s Talent to explain what this means, and why it was such an important part of the design for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

“Here at Loud Crow, we’re known for producing apps that look and behave like books. This idea of designing an object to resemble the functionality of an older object is known as skeuomorphism. Simply put, skeuomorphism makes the new look comfortably old and familiar.

“Stylistically, a physical representation of a book – with page curls, texture and borders – made a lot of sense for a story as nostalgic and heart-warming as A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. We also realized through user testing that the more tactile and “book-like” an app looked, the more likely our target audience was to actually read the words that were displayed and interact with the page.

This clip clearly illustrates the “book-like” design that characterizes A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

“This may seem like a ridiculous thing to say out loud, but if you want a child to read something, you should seriously consider putting it in something that looks like a book. It’s not the only solution, but it’s still effective. Talent Pun Speech BubbleIt immediately differentiates what’s happening on-screen from a cartoon or video game, and primes the child for a more tactile, engaged reading experience.”

-Talent Pun, Art Director

Not surprisingly, books provided an intuitive model for the user interface design behind A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Not only does a book-like design offer a familiar feel, but it also provides an appropriate and appealing environment for young users who are just learning how to read and navigate story, in print or on a tablet device.

“In the future, we have exciting plans that will move our design away from the book metaphor and still provide an engaging, interactive reading experience that’s easy-to-use.  In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, we felt a tactile book-like format still offered a lot of benefits for our audience of young, aspiring readers.”

By incorporating skeuomorphism into their design approach, Talent and his team were able to transform every spread of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving into a living illustration, creating objects that respond naturally to touch.

Pretty cool, huh?

See for yourself how Talent incorporates skeuomorphism into the most recent Peanuts digital story project. Download A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on your Apple device today!

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our previous Peanuts apps:

Charlie Brown's All Stars! It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown A Charlie Brown Christmas
Charlie Brown’s All-Stars!  It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown  A Charlie Brown Christmas
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