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Have you ever followed the bouncing red ball made famous by legendary animator Max Fleischer? The bouncing red ball was a technique used to direct sing a longs in the movie theatres in the earliest part of the 20th Century. The lyrics were displayed, and the ball bounced along with each word or syllable of the lyrics in sync with the beat and rhythm of the song. The device, associating a color with meaning and pattern, is important to consider for creating sequential imagery. When thinking about images in sequence, we often think of books and magazines, but animation, web sites, apps, and ebooks, require visual linkage to hold all the parts together as a design Color can create both the design linkage, and impart meaning at the same time.
A good example is one of my own projects, before I go to sleep, by Thomas Hood. A picture book, and now ebook app, by Demibooks. The story is a poem written in the 19th century, so consulting with the author on what he intended was out of the question. For this story a young boy is trying to get to sleep, but can't. It's summer and the sun is still streaming through his window. The boy amuses himself by imagining that he's a parade of animals doing fantastic things, his mind moving slowly towards dreamland.
My design challenge here was to figure out how to indicate to the child reader, that a particular animal on each page was meant to represent the boy. I decided that a pattern, and a color of the boys pyjama stripe repeated on the animal he imagined he would be would symbolize the boy for the reader. I had to make sure the color and pattern were consistent enough to be recognized, no matter what form they took and dominant enough in the image to be noticed. I read this book to kids countless times, and have found that the visual clue of the pyjama stripe is all they need to believe the animal is actually the boy.
A leap of the mind to accept an imaginary flight based on nothing more than turquoise in white stripes. Color that repeats in a rhythm is a common device used to clue the viewer in to an important element in a series of images. Either as an isolated color or as a recognizable pattern. The color acts as an invisible cord tying each image together, and like a zip line, helps carry the viewer along for the ride.
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