Van Gogh: Interactive Story & Games

Design Approach

– Create an app to appeal to both the right and the left side of brain.
– Devise ways to encourage reading ( animation happens only when You have finished reading the page )

Role: Concept, Interactions and User Experience Design.
Software: Photoshop

Kirkus Review

A spectacular iPad adaptation of Anholt’s children’s book about van Gogh, his art and his friendship with a French family.

When van Gogh moved to Arles, France, in 1888, a postman and his family befriended the Dutch painter. This book is about what may have happened during van Gogh’s time in Arles, as seen from the perspective of the young boy in the Roulin family, Camille. Anholt’s magnificent illustrations quite literally spring to life, as 3-D figures and characters “pop out” and move, then collapse back into the two-dimensional background when the page is turned. Each page displays a cog in the upper left-hand corner that, when touched, produces an x-ray image of the armature that animates the moving parts. Touch a character, and a window pops up with two options. The first, most appropriately, is a painter’s palette that affords readers several tools with which to paint the characters. The second is a set of cogs that summons the x-ray armature again, but when tapped the mechanism collapses and readers race the clock to reassemble it. There’s a museum feature embedded in the story whereby readers can view and learn about many of the famous paintings van Gogh painted while living in Arles. Narration is easily switched off or on, and though navigation isn’t exceptionally speedy, it’s appropriately timed and precise.

An exceptionally bright and beautiful masterpiece.

New York Times

Parents wishing to introduce their children to van Gogh’s work in a simpler format may want to check out VAN GOGH AND THE SUNFLOWERS for iPad (free to try; $3.99 for the full app), the digitized version of Laurence Anholt’s 2007 picture book about a young French boy and his quirky painter pal, Vincent. It smoothly mixes bright watercolor illustrations with games and activities to keep children engaged. (Intended for ages 4 to 11, the story doesn’t directly mention that well-known episode with the ear, although Vincent does wear a telltale bandage on his head before the final screen.)

“Van Gogh and the Sunflowers” offers optional audio narration with highlighted words to guide young readers through the story, as a mellow jazz saxophone plays in the background. Page navigation can be a little balky, but the artwork itself is subtly animated. By tapping elements on the screen, children can paint the characters on each page themselves or be transported into a 3-D virtual gallery of van Gogh’s most famous works.