Community-minded students use digital technology to bring children’s drawings to life – Kingston University

Everyday objects drawn by primary school pupils are being digitally transformed by two Kingston School of Art students as part of an innovative community project.

Developed in collaboration with The Community Brain, the Colouring in Kingston project was the brainchild of second year art direction students Izzi Toovey and Josephine Miller. It was set up to help provide children with an exciting and interactive set of challenges they could complete from home during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Each youngster’s hand-drawn sketch is digitally coloured – and in some cases animated – by the students using Adobe Illustrator, following the exact lines of the child’s drawing. Once finished, they are posted on the Colouring in Kingston Instagram page alongside the original artwork.

The project was something all the family could enjoy, as well as providing inspiration for young artists, Josephine said. “It’s so great that we have been able to encourage children within the Kingston borough to stay creative in this very challenging time, with new activities that can involve both children and their families at home,” the 20 year old said.

“We have combined our skills to find the best way to transform the drawings and run the project – we both want to become creative directors in the future and use our skills to find solutions to real-world problems. Izzi is brilliant at graphic design and illustration, while I specialise in combining art with technology and video animation, so it’s been a great balance.”

Children across the borough can download a creative package packed with ideas of things to draw based around the themes of nature, sport, home and food from the Colouring in Kingston page on The Community Brain website. The students use vector illustration, which involves lines and points rather than pixels, to colour and animate the drawings, allowing them to stay true to the original artwork.

A picture by 10 year old Josh (right), and the digitally coloured version created as part of Colouring in Kingston.

“It’s really intriguing seeing what ideas the children come up with for everyday items such as buses, animals or kitchen appliances, and then adding our own interpretation,” 19-year-old Izzi said. “It’s quite a simple activity for children to do, but seeing their work digitally transformed could really inspire them to get more interested in animation and illustration. Once the lockdown is over we’d love to do a workshop with children to show them how we’ve made their drawings come to life.”

The project emerged from a module involving students from the Department of Creative and Cultural Industries working alongside geography students from the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing. It saw the geography students carry out research on civic, community and heritage themes in Tolworth, with the creative and cultural industry students working on creative concepts to those briefs.

The initial proposal for Colouring in Kingston was presented to The Community Brain, Kingston Hub and 121 Collective –set up by Kingston University Master of Architecture graduates – as part of a module project involving Izzi and Josephine alongside fellow students Mathilda Nordin, Daniela Jardim Fernandes and Miyako Oikawa.

The Colouring in Kingston project was the latest of a number of successful community schemes developed in association with Kingston University students in recent years, Community Brain project coordinator Charlotte Levy said. “It’s amazing how many creative concepts come out of the ideas we present Kingston University students with each year based around what the community wants to see in its area,” she added. “We’re delighted with the reception from families across the borough to the Colouring in Kingston project so far. It really shows the impact this kind of work can have, especially during times like this.”

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