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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Assignment Five

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

It is difficult to ignore the devastating situation we find ourselves in today. The news, the social pages, and the new normal life we live in. COVID-19 is all we know right now and it's crazy. It has to be the biggest thing to ever happen in this century / our lifetime in terms of global impact, and strangely enough, the biggest inspiration right now for almost everything. We are in lockdown. Would you ever believe that we would be in a lockdown for a virus in this day and age? It's scary! But here we are, together, in our home. Whether we believe in it or not.

This assignment is an open brief with the title "Seven Days"

I had been thinking of this for a while. Seven days is quite an interesting title, and what with the lockdown it felt unavoidable to not link the two.

Whatever the ideas would be, I wanted this to bring positivity. Despite the politics and tragedy, there has been a warm buzz around social media. Creativity in everyone has been magic to watch, even if it is with creating a meme for what day of lockdown you're on, or recreating famous art with household items. Content has totally become Coronavirus related and artists have also delivered on this, it truly is a subject that has inspired.

I discovered @thefabstory during this time. I've really enjoyed their posts on Instagram during lockdown. In a way it inspired some of my earlier ideas for this exercise! I loved how they were posting mindfulness and self care illustrations daily. I like that a lot of these single posts they make also fall into a bit of a daily check list to keep us sane. Even below image "how to avoid family frustration in lockdown" is divided into 8 mini illustrations giving advice. I really enjoy seeing how they bring text into the illustrations and give a journal impression. It's really giving me ideas on a possible brief, and it is certainly food for thought.

Another artist I have introduced in a previous part of the course is Gemma Correll. Taking her recognisable comic style, she's delivered on bringing humour to the situation. She's found a perfect way to transform her typical artwork posted regaularly into lockdown related topics, and it has been very responsive on timing. Zoom definitely became one of the bigger successes during lockdown. Allowing work places to resume meetings, health and fitness to bring classes to your home, and for everything else in between. I think Gemma nailed it in the image below with the "video conference call, Bingo" showing the humour in how those meetings probably looked. On top of this, I remember seeing one article which had me in tears and wishing to have been in the meeting, where a manager had set a filter on their webcam and was unable to turn it off:


So by now, I felt as though I was getting a few ideas for the direction I wanted to go in. I knew I wanted to follow the style that I used for Working with Children and the Educational Strip (digital). I wanted this to be a social media piece but not entirely sure in what sense. I wanted the 7 days to be about self care during lockdown, and had the idea of making it funny. Would it be one picture or several, that was unclear.

I began with a small brainstorm session. I jumped straight in with what could be part of the 7 day plan. Seeing as the lockdown has been a lot longer than 7 days, I thought the title could be spread out, 7 days in 7 weeks for example. Or focus this on the "quarantine" time which is said to be 7 days if you have the virus.

During lockdown, BBC released archive footage to entertain their audience. Tony Britts was amongst some of those videos, with workouts from the 80's to get us moving and laughing. Brilliant as they were, I feel the release of these videos represented a good area of life in lockdown, and the hungry need to stay active despite all the restrictions. Looking to change the gym for you front room or other home space, facilities may be short with little notice to prepare. It really felt like a time where the world was online at once, finding any content to keep them occupied or to keep them active. This, I believe, had to be a topic to include. I felt super inspired by him and his videos!

Just to get things moving, I turned my little sketch in to a digital render. Now, like I mentioned before, it really felt as though the whole world was online at once, with video content completely outshining any other. Being that peoples attention span is a lot shorter, and videos capture more interest, I wondered if creating simple gifs would be a more effective piece rather than still illustrations. The nature of lockdown has everything paused, but content moving is where the magic is. So I turned my sketch into a gif and instantly fell in love. I knew I wanted to include animation in this exercise from the on.

Day 1: don't forget to exercise.

I really loved the style of the character based on Tony. It felt commercial and cute. I really liked the clean design of the image, the background being a cool colour against the warm tones of Tony gave a balance to this image. The animation is not totally accurate, but for a short gif that could be used on Instagram, I think it works a treat. I feel as though it is light hearted and fun, not taking life too serious. I'm not sure how this would work in a final piece but for a quick turn around from idea to final piece, I was happy.

Continuing with this accidental theme of viral trends, Another trend that seemed to have gone viral is needing to do your own hair. Everything is shut indefinitely, hairdressers included and who knows for how long. I mean if your hair wasn't to your knees after lockdown then you clearly didn't do it right. Or... if you're some of the unfortunate ones who either cut their own hair, or had someone in your household cut it for you, then... I guess this is also acceptable - because the result is priceless.

This compilation of haircuts gone wrong is one I had found online. It's hard to say whether these were actually haircuts done during lockdown, but nevertheless it certainly made an appearance and became a hit during lockdown. Something you can imagine really happening! The next source of inspiration:

This lead me to a possible "Day 2" idea.

Day 2: Maybe just wash you hair, don't cut it.

So by now, I was really beginning to enjoy the results. They just make me laugh! And In a way, with lockdown being a bit of a stressful time, laughs are always welcome. After turning the first brainstorm images into gifs, I needed to work out another 5 images that could be done in the similar style. Returning to the research of @thefabstory, amongst the funny viral gifs, I also wanted to include some reminders for self care, plus possible fun games that can be done around the house with household items.

I sketched a few options on photoshop. Perhaps they could all be animated slightly?

I didn't really have a plan for this direction, it was just a spare of the moment draw as I go along sort of deal. Seven days seemed quite an inspiring title at the beginning but I some how feel as though I wasn't really on the right track. Once I had drawn a character of Tony, I was still open to the possibilities on what the Seven Days could be. 7 viral moments seemed like a good idea, but this would have been based on real viral moments rather than fictional. Would this count as my own? Is that enough for an assessment piece? Something tells me I haven't explored other options as well as I should at this stage.

I stepped away from the viral idea. Instead, I wondered if I could focus on the idea that an animated character could become a digital personal trainer for the lockdown gym goers, or just those wanting to keep a healthy balance with exercise and need the support / motivation. I thought about the character aiming at adults, and whether or not it would be accepted as a real workout that people could follow.

With that in mind, Tony needed reworking if he was going to stick around!


Is there such a thing as an animated workout video or series even? Something that is properly done with personality and narrative, not just the mini robotic virtual instructions on how to do something. I'm thinking as far as virtual reality, but without the need of wearing a headset. I couldn't think of anything. Is there a reason for this?

The Gorillaz' incredible live-action animation by Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn came to mind, and how they successfully put a group of illustrated characters at the forefront of the band.

"This was the beginning of the sort of boy band explosion... and it just felt so manufactured. And we were like, well let's make a manufactured band but make it kind of interesting." - 1:40

Still live and thriving today, I wondered how did the Gorillaz do it so that it was an instant hit once they came to the scene? Was it a combination of the music, the illustration style and the characters they put forward? Was it the personality and narrative? Was it the timing? It is incredible what they have achieved with the Gorillaz, and at a time where technology was very limited, creating an animated band that actually performed in live events is just a huge inspiration. I still don't believe anyone has ever followed them with creating something quite like it, I mean - everyone has heard of the Gorillaz!

If in 1999, MTV and the rise of manufactured boy bands was the influence for Gorillaz, then my vision for this concept is the 2020 antidote of influencers. I liked this new direction, but will it work.

After more research on the idea of animated influencers, it turns out there is a surprising rise in CGI influencers, something I had no idea existed! Is this the same? In my opinion, I don't think so. The fact it is CGI and made to look hyper realistic gives the creators an opportunity to really create this dream figure that for so long has been made through photo editing and manipulation. CGI influencers is the next level, creating a perfect male or female to sell branded goods that don't even exist!

I found an article that discussed the idea of CGI influencers and whether they can actually influence. The article discusses tests that had been carried out that prove that not only did people react to a CGI influencer in some way, be it to search a product it was promoting or attend an event, but they also didn't even realise they were following a fake person. I know, mind blowing!

"Perhaps even more surprising than CGI influencers' persuasive power is how well they blend among real humans. That same Fullscreen study said 42 percent of Gen Z and millennials have followed an influencer they didn’t realize was CGI." [4]

Having now discovered that there are real accounts made of fake people with huge following and real power, it is a scary look to the future. True enough, when looking at some of the CGI accounts, I too struggled to see the line of CGI and Reality. It's as if they are CGI heads placed on real people making the poses. I don't see how it is done any differently!? So, what would be the point? Interestingly, a quote in the article really resinated with me:

“It was almost like prophecy," Pacom said. "That slowly but surely we're living in a world where the real and the unreal – or the real and what is given, what has been constructed – will be completely confused, then fused.” [4]

Is that what we are experiencing? Shockingly, huge brands such as Samsung Mobile and Calvin Klein [information from article] have worked with CGI influencers. Is this safe for a young audience that follows them? Is it right to look up and "wish to be like" the perfect CGI influencers that are pure fantasy? Also - a side thought I had after reading the article, if the creators of the CGI influencers remained "elusive", and their target audience is girls from 13 to 34 years, isn't it kind of scary to think who might behind the characters? What are their intentions? If this is trend that anyone with an idea can do, then couldn't it fall in to the wrong hands? How safe is it? What would be the limits? The questions were food for thought in this process!

This is Miquela, who I didn't know existed until now. She is a 19 year old CGI girl with a following of 2.7m on Instagram. Gorillaz have 2.5m followers, but somehow that doesn't seem crazy given the sort of content they post.

Although I don't agree with a hyperrealistic CGI influencer, you can't deny the success rate they have in terms of impact on an audience and the power to sell to that audience. It shows there really isn't any limit to what people can connect with, and like art there are always lovers and haters. This in a way gives me a sense of belief and confidence in the concept I was beginning to build for a live-action character. But also reminding myself that this could come with a responsibility! (if this was to be a real product I was creating).

I very much immersed myself in all things Gorillaz from this point on. I really wanted to capture their style through my own creations. I put together a reference board of all things Gorillaz from the early days to the most current.

The pictures I loved most from the above mood board were the images where the Gorillaz are in a real life setting. The music studio and the sofa were both speaking to me and helped me realise the concept I wanted to achieve.

My first inspired character was still based on Tony Britts, and so began by changing my original character design into something that would fit in the gorillaz world.

Although the creators of Gorillaz didn't initially intend to create a great diverse band, they managed to bring together an awesome group of misfit characters that remain relevant today. I definitely wanted to make this an intension as I have really began to see the lack of representation in certain areas. Tony Britt's remained a huge inspiration and in a way really intensified my desire to create an inclusive environment that felt diverse.

The final look of the characters went like this:

The photo I illustrated my characters on is by Kiran Cox [5] from a collection he created during his travels around Thailand. As I was searching high and low for a suitable location setting I could place my characters, I recalled this great photo by Kiran and asked for permission to use it. The young guy tying his laces on a bench press was a great starting point for creating a character. I was able to use his posture, body position as a base and I think it worked really well.

I cut the piece short by focusing on 3 characters, though this could easily branch out to include more! In fact I was starting to get a strong feeling that this concept would do great for collaborations. I imagined working with real professionals of different backgrounds and having the characters be them through exercises - for example, a special 7 day class learning to skateboard using a professional like an animatic for the content. This would be done using the same format as the character I created over Kiran's photo.

Here is a mood board I created with reference to help creating my characters:

I wanted to explore poses with the group together after I had made my first conceptual piece in the gym. Here is the mood board I created with reference that helped with proportions etc.

I decided to print out a background image I had taken from my garage, and see if I could hand draw with pencil the characters on top. Playing with the different crops and composition.

I felt like I was able to bring a friendship through in these poses, like a sweet team of like minded professionals with individual style. They looked like a cool gang, even just from these sketches!

I was finally feeling confident about the brief for this exercise.



The Seven Day Pur(e)suit is a new generation personal training company with technology at the core. Looking to revolutionise the sport industry, they are working towards creating a live action app that will aim at anyone between the ages of 16 and above. They would like you to create a team of relatable characters that can be animated into several live action performances which will be suitable for handheld devices. The characters are to be a diverse and inspiring group of athletes with body positivity and inclusivity at the heart. The characters will also lead the social media pages such as YouTube and Instagram, where content will be created to suit. The content will cover mature topics, work life balance, health and fitness and mindfulness, it will be designed to inspire and influence positivity.

The app will be the home for the characters with content being added every month. Each character will get their own library of classes that match their credentials. Each class will be 7 days long with videos ranging from 15 to 40 minutes depending on the activity. The Seven Day Pur(e)suit would like you to create a mockup of the app and provide an example of at least one character in motion, this can be a few seconds animatic sketch, plus the would like to see rendered stills/illustrations of how the character will look in the classes.


  • The app will develop further in time and so characters will be ongoing.

  • Audio isn't essential at this stage.

  • Each character should have personality.

  • Characters will be licensed for online, and worldwide. This will not be used in print.

  • The app will be a subscription only system for as little as £4.50 per month, however it will include a limited trainer preview with access to only one class for a free trial.


  • Create a group of characters that promote diversity, inclusivity and body positivity.

  • Create a mockup of the app in its concept stage. A few page examples will be enough.

  • Include a short animatic example of at least one character in motion leading a class.

  • Create rendered stills of the character based on the animatic for visual reference.


Once I had the gang, I focused in on what the live action might be, making a few notes and sketches in the process.

Here is a very short (3 second) taster of how the stream could look using my own photo from in my garage as the background. I like the crossover of real life and illustration.

I want the animation to look retro, feeling not only inspired by the Gorillaz but also from classic films such as Space Jam and Who Framed Roger Rabbit - two of my all time favourite live-action films where two worlds combine. To try an accomplish this seamless vision I had would be an unrealistic challenge for this course, but certainly something I would like to try! Instead I created a few "key frames" that could be used.

The concept is to be based on a mobile app. The screen dimensions of a phone was definitely the canvas I wanted to focus on, I don't want this app to be available on tablet or computer. This was to be a friend on the line, a workout buddy through video chat! By using a similar system to what is known for video chats, I hoped that one, it would look like you are in a chat with an animated character (super cool), plus be easy to navigate. I first replicated the actual icons, and then decided to change them to be more customised for the app.

Part of the design I also wanted to use elements from a video game. I want the user to select a character which would then open up a library of content, almost like selecting who you wish to play the game as, but being able to change the character at any time. Each character would have a style or personality and so the content would reflect this, giving the user plenty of options. Something I noticed with games is the use of colourful glows around lettering or borders that circle the selected character. It felt action packed, appealing and in some way, retro.

My initial aim was to acknowledge the work life balance whilst we soldier through lockdown, as well as coping with furlough as many in the UK are forced into the situation. My thoughts were to encourage routine during the day that would prevent people from burning out or feeling isolated. The app I designed would have a few frames within that could nudge the "player" on the day of exercise and encourage / motivate them to participate so not to miss a class. It will also be able to send notifications as if the trainer were sending you a text message during the 7 days to encourage a work life balance - this can be switched off if the player chooses. There will stretches for those sitting at the desk all day, plus hydration tips throughout the day to remind you to drink water. This app will develop in time and become more intuitive.



Looking back I feel I could have done a better job at making the group diverse. I feel as though creating a purple character somewhat shied away from diversity and instead of making something inclusive, I did something unrealistic. As I have seen many illustrations created for maketing, I wondered if there was any stick or opinions for using purple as a skin tone. In a way, by not using real colours for skins I thought it might avoid making anyone feel left out. It felt as though by representing no one it could somehow represent everyone? After a little searching online, I discovered this article!

We quickly learned: if you want to be inclusive, you need to illustrate different people, not different attributes. Instead of trying to imagine the average person, and then plug in the various attributes—which, uh, inevitably somehow start to look like us—we set out to illustrate every person.

There was a lot of insight in this article, which really does make you think of perhaps a responsibility as an illustrator. If including people in your piece, it almost makes you pause and think, will this offend? Is this another example of white only creating white? It makes you question, could the idea you are trying to create be stronger if it was more diverse? How can you bring diversity in without being a try hard effort that may backfire? These thoughts are certainly something I would like to remind myself the next time I create illustrations of people.

There are so many possibilities that could be explored with this concept, some overwhelming but overall exciting. I feel it could be a growing network of all types of people, who are all at different stages in their life. Each mind is differently wired and should all have a place they can feel welcome. I think this concept on the app could definitely be inclusive, and although my choices on the early stage might not be the final decision in the real world, I do hope I was able to pencil a feasible concept that isn't too far from being possible. I do love the gang as they are but perhaps less purple people and more real representation.

That said, for the benefit of this exercise I am pleased to have finally found a direction for a brief and one that I was able to complete! Not only do I feel I could go further with the group, but I definitely feel I could go further with this app idea and content. I feel excited with the concept in a way that I even struggled to actually come to an end once I let the vision snowball. It really was a great learning curve in how to add restrictions to an open brief, and to come to a conclusion.

I'm really pleased with the journey, and in all feel proud of what I had accomplished in this assignment and throughout key steps in illustration. I feel confident to be able to create animation in the most basic form, something I hadn't done before!

Is this really what I set out to create when starting this exercise? Not really. I certainly overwhelmed myself and almost burnt myself out trying to think of a concept. The best result for me is the ones that naturally develop. This really was a puzzle that came together as I went through, and in a way felt organic with how I came to the final idea of a group of characters living in an app to help people maintain wellness and fitness. Theres been a handful of results like this through this course, and these have all turned out be my favourite.



[5] Kiran B Cox photography:

Photo from inside the gym in Thailand used as a background is from photographer, Kiran Cox:


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