Google Doodle Design Exercise
This is a fantasy/adventure film about a fearless Maasai girl, who uses the force of her wild imagination and childish optimism to overcome the poverty and loneliness of her real world, which eventually leads her to become a source of inspiration to her village.
When I received the design brief last week, I had just finished listening to a TED talk by Kakenya Ntaiya, a woman from Kenya who overcame great obstacles to receive a higher education here in the US and returned to her village to establish a school for girls. Her story stuck with me, and when it was time to come up with an idea for an imaginary film, I thought it would be neat to make up a story based on Kakenya as a very young girl (6 or 7 years old), and imagine what could possibly be going on in her young mind that would help her overcome all the obstacles she'd had to face since she was a little girl.
The way I imagined the film is sort of a combination of Beasts of the Southern Wild meets The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
I know very little about life in Kenya, so I began my research by reading articles I could find about Kakenya, since I was using her as an inspiration for the main character in my imaginary film. There isn't much written about her childhood, but I did learn that being the oldest child, she took on a lot of responsibilities around the house from working on the corn field, to herding cattle, and foraging for food/cooking for her siblings. These responsibilities left little time for her to play with other kids, so I imagine she spent a lot of her time alone, working, and her mind wandering.
The next step is to collect information and images of the Maasai people and culture. I wanted to have a good idea what the people, their clothes, villages, and houses look like. These are pretty much just inspiration to get my head around the concept, and most of it doesn't directly end up in the final piece (visually at least).
I started thinking about what crazy adventures could her mind take her to? Perhaps things that she might have seen in books, like riding on a hot air balloon. Or perhaps things that she'd never thought she'd be able to do in real life, like ruling all the wild animals of the jungle.
But perhaps her imagination is set off by ordinary things in her surrounding, like the shadows cast on the wall of her hut, the pattern of the stars and clouds she observes in the great sky as she herds her cattle, or even the shapes of the leaves and plants around her.
I thought this was an intriguing idea, making something extraordinary out of ordinary things. So I went outside and gathered some leaves. I started painting eyes, and marks on them, trying to see what different kinds of animals/imaginary creatures I could come up with. In the end I got really excited about this idea and decided to take this concept into a finished piece.
After I finished the final illustration, I thought it would be neat if viewers can actually witness her surrounding transform. I decided to create a simple animation test. An animated doodle would be a great way to celebrate this film (even if it is imaginary). Plus by showing the girl alone initially, I was able to show off the Google logo more prominently (uncrowded by the animals), which helped solve the issue that the Google logo looked less prominent in the final scene. As much as I wanted the Google logo to be part of the final scene, I didn't want to make it too prominent. I didn't think it's necessary for the logo to be the first read. My favorite doodles in the past are usually ones where I have to search for the logo within the illustration, it's more delightful that way.