4Soils is based out of the Venture Studio at Stanford, but our illustrator, Noel, works from his home in the Philippines. This means that most of our communication—everything from the Sphinx’s smile in Joseph, to the color of Queen Vashti’s hair in Esther— is decided through email.
Sometimes it’s difficult communicating exactly what we’re looking for in text. Sometimes, after sending emails back and forth, we have to open up an image editor and draw a mockup. It’s magical how immediately a picture can make things clear.
Illustrations play a similar role in our apps. They clarify the story text. They bring the Bible to life, helping children imagine how Joseph must have felt when his brothers tossed him into a cistern and sold him as a slave. So just like when writing our stories, we take great care to make sure our story illustrations really support the Bible text.
What does our illustration process look like?
Noel doesn’t actually begin drawing until after the story has been written, but the illustration process begins long before that. Illustration helps inform our story writing. When telling a Bible story in twenty odd pages, we have to identify the key dramatic points and visually dynamic scenes. We want each story slide to have a distinct image, so while writing the story, we’re constantly thinking, “How can this scene be drawn?” and “Will this be visually engaging from one scene to the next?”
When the story text is finished, we finalize scene descriptions and send them to Noel to illustrate. To keep our artwork consistent between Bible Heroes adventures, we have a style guide. Basically, we favor bright colors and rounded shapes to appeal to our target audience of 3 to 8 year olds.
It typically takes two weeks to complete the illustrations: One week for the initial drafts and several days to refine them.
I hope you enjoyed the images from our upcoming adventures, Esther and Joseph! Next time, we’ll dive into the narration process.