Appy to Learn

Disney Illustrator Helps Design App That’s Both Beautiful and Educational

Brooklyn-based software developer Tinybop has created a new app, Simple Machines, for children, which enables them to learn the physics behind machines. James Gilleard, the app’s illustrator explained to us: “the user plays different scenarios that explain how simple machines work”.

James produced the artwork for the app, giving it a distinctive aesthetic, typified by lush geometric patterns and whimsical characters. “I had been playing around with abstract pattern myself, looking at mid-century modernism, which Tinybop saw on my site and really liked – I think this informed the rest of the project,” James told us.

“I started using grids in illustrator and constructing everything from cubes and geometric shapes to achieve the look”.

We decided to delve a little deeper:

The Plus: What was the first thing you did for this project?
James Gilleard:
Initially I did a test for Tinybop, which was in a slightly different style – more detailed and complex as a game. The style changed as we went forward.

TP: What is your speciality when it comes to illustrating?
I love to draw images that have a retro feel and content colours, for example. Characters play a big part in my work as well – which comes from my animation background.

TP: What is your personal favourite app?
Recently, it has been the game Monument Valley – a beautiful puzzle game based on the artwork of MC Esher, which has a feel similar to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.

TP: What are you working on now?
A few things – a book for Disney being the big one. I’m also getting some designs onto watches, illustrating some spot illustrations for various magazines and online content and creating prints for shows in the US. I have been working on an animation too, which I hope to get finished by the end of the year!