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Archive for January, 2007

National City Kids Site

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

PennyToday is the grand opening of the National City Kids site! We worked on this site together with Raining Popcorn Media, a children’s book publisher.

We were excited to work on a site that involved alot of character animations and great voice overs. We also conducted usability testing halfway through the project to make sure that the games were on age target, and that the kids liked the games and identified with the characters.

All the games in the site were paired up with teachers lesson plans, to teach kids about the value of Money, saving and building a business. One of the games, “Show Me the Money”, teaches kids how to make change up to a value under $1.00 by depositing coins into the National City piggy bank!

With over 9 different games, 3 comics books, coloring pages and a personal bank tour by the main character, Nattie the Dog, the National City Kids site makes learning about money fun! Don’t forget to visit the homepage, to follow Nattie to the games:

Snert Funts!

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

This year, we started work on two new kids sites. Both sites are for kids that are just starting to read and recognize letters. Usually, when we use audio, there are no font limitations, since kids should get a wide range of font exposure early on, in order to categorize. But if kids are just starting to read, we want to make sure to use fonts that are legible to them and close to the primary print font. We were looking for fonts that have the following:

  • a single storey lowercase a
  • an open lowercase g
  • an I & J with serifs
  • a “ball & stick” nine
  • a curved tail on the lowercase q
  • a rounded lowercase y

The two best primary print fonts that we have seen out there are Sassoon Montessori, by Club Type. This font has been tested on children, you can read the reasons why this font is one of the best here.  Another, more affordable option, is the ABC Print package from fonts4teachers, for $9.95. It also includes versions with trace dots, lines and arrows, for worksheets. We like to use Report, a Larabie font.

The one thing that is harder to find, are fun display fonts, that have all the right letters. We still want to use a fun font on buttons, and headers, that is recognizable but more ‘wacky’ then the regular body type font. This is why Snert is coming out with a new line of fonts: Primary Display Fonts. They all have the single storey ‘a’, the open lowercase ‘g’, a capital I and J with serifs, and the rest. The fonts are thick, and perfect for headers and buttons!


Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

This is our newest puppet, Blue. He was based on the roly puppet pattern from Project Puppet.

Here are the patterns for the nose, and ears that we added:
(Click for full size).


Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Having a good font management system in place is invaluable, both for tracking and managing fonts and to fight Font Fatigue. I have actually worked for companies in the past, that had no font management system in place at all. I used to keep the fonts in folders, but never de-installed. Looking back on that, I cannot imagine work without a font manager anymore!

I have tried out all the main font management tools, including Suitcase and Font Agent Pro, but even the most expensive seemed basic at best. Then I tried out MainType from High-Logic and I was in font heaven! The main screen is customizable, so you can adjust it to what you need to see for each font.  One window shows you all the installed fonts, seperately from the fonts that you can group- either per project or per client. You can search fonts depending on the characteristics, and it even exports groups of fonts to HTML for easy viewing. In the same window, you can view typographic data per typehouse, the font character set and a sample text. You can also easily organize the fonts per typehouse or per type (serif/ sans serif/ handwritten) within a group as well. It also identifies broken font files for you.

For the best font workflow, try out MainType! You can purchase it from High-Logic or try out the demo version.

Animation Desk

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

I have come across a few sites and blogs of how people are making their own traditional animation desks. You can buy a ready made animation workstation, such as Chromacolour’s for $2,299 or the tabletop version by animationdesks in Canada for $250. It usually is a costly ordeal, with animation discs already costing between $300 and $800. Then there is the cost of either buying or making a drawing table, sawing out a circle and mounting the disc in the table somehow. I thought I would share my set-up, which I put together for under $260.

I bought an Alvin Craftmaster table, which you can get at for $129 with free shipping. Here is a direct link. You can choose a white tabletop, instead of a wood colored one. But any drafting or art table with a white top and a pencil ledge will do. On top of the pencil ledge (you might have to pull it out as far as it can go, and tightening the screws) I put the plastic port-a-disc disk by lightfoot ltd. For the backlight, you can cut a hole in the table and clip on one of those clip-on desk lights you can get at WalMart for $5 and make it shine at the table from the back. I have never had problems seeing through at least one piece of paper in normal light though, and if I need to see through more layers of paper, I use tracing paper instead of regular white paper. Works just as well, and it saves you alot of work and $$!

Holt Fold Notes

Monday, January 1st, 2007

We finished an animation project for Holt, Rinehart and Winston, that included a series of animations, that shows how to fold paper to use for study aids. We can’t show the full animations until the online textbooks come out.

All the animations were broken up in steps, and made accessible to mobility impaired users and screen reader users.