Educating early years through illustrated stories for ABPI Schools

Having a long and exciting relationship with ABPI, we were pleased to take up a new brief from their educational-focused sister brand, ABPI Schools, to create the illustrations and design of a new children’s story book series about inspiring young people to be engaged with various scientific topics, starting with medicines and climate change and with more to follow.

Taking on new creative challenges aimed at different audiences is an exciting prospect for us at tothepoint, and so we were delighted when ABPI came to us with the idea of promoting learning and engagement through illustrated stories. Stories have been proven to help us remember details and new information, so the potential for this project felt limitless!

Developing an engaging character

We started our involvement with the project with a script provided by the author, Rebecca Dixon-Watmough. This laid out the story and characters, and from here we begin to understand how best to lay out the story page by page and how to depict our characters.

Ellie is the hero of the story and the main character that needed to be created from scratch but using the colour and graphic style that has been evolved for ABPI Schools. Her development started with a series of sketches and designs by our senior designer Joe Cook, illustrating potential looks, expressions and actions. It’s important to get under the skin of how a character is described in the script and figure out the fine details that will bring them to life. What are her expressions in relation to scenes from the story? What kind of impression do we want to give the audience about how relatable this character is? Alongside Ellie, we have a supporting cast of characters creating a world around her. These needed to fit the same style as Ellie so they all felt like they belonged in the same world.

Piecing it all together

After the characters had all been designed, it was time to lay them out according to the layout plan we devised earlier in the process. We placed the characters into the story in key poses reflecting the scenes in the script, along with props and backgrounds that make the words leap off the page. This stage of the process is also very collaborative with the client, as this is the first time they are seeing the story and characters come to life and interact. We worked closely with Andrew Croydon at ABPI to get his feedback on how we were communicating key educational themes whilst also staying within their guidelines.

After going through any client revisions and a final approval stage, we art-worked the final book design for both an interactive digital version, and a print version to be distributed by ABPI Schools. We’re all very proud at tothepoint of this work as it’s a creative story-telling journey that takes ABPI Schools in an exciting new direction for their content and engaging their audiences. We look forward to more of Ellie’s adventures in the future!

Continuing our commitment to encourage young people to engage with STEM subjects from an early age and throughout their education, at the beginning of 2023 we decided to bolster the resources we provide for primary education through our dedicated schools website. We aligned our offering with the national call to get primary pupils back on track with reading, and so developed a set of stories. The stories are written around a core character, Ellie, who we needed brought to life. It has been great working with tothepoint to capture the spirit of Ellie, her teddy, dog and family, bringing them to life, visually, through the design process for both ‘Ellie the Climate Champion’ and ‘Ellie’s Medicine’. Furthermore, with Ellie exploring planets, habitats, recycling and more in new stories to come, I am confident tothepoint will continue to work their design magic on what I hope will become a widely used set of stories Andrew Croydon, ABPI Skills & Education Policy and Examinations Director