Characters for elearning

Good morning!

Soooo my company wants to create a character, well two to string together many new hire elearning pieces. They are looking to do characters in the sense of mac vs. PC commercials...two people, white background...I myself think this focus is a bit extensive (spending so much time on the 5% and not the 95%) but I thought I would ask the community for any thoughts on vendors or how in the world to get this accomplished. Oh, and it needs to be in place by March. All thoughts/ideas welcome and sympathy

ha, I'm so funny!

16 Replies
Natalia Mueller

Hi Alicia,

Is the only option to create from scratch? eLearning Brothers has really high quality cutout people with a wide variety to choose from. It might be worth it to at least show it to whoever is making the call. If they see exactly what they want it could save some time and money. If not, maybe contact their customer service to see if they do custom orders.

Alan Landers

Interesting...  I wanted some characters to go with a story I was creating that involved an explorer moving across a terrain.  I wanted some other culture-specific, story-specific characters too, none of which were available from vendors.  I found some illustrated characters that I liked on iStockphotos.  They didn't cost much.  I then used Photoshop to eliminate the faces in the illustrations.  I replaced the faces with expressions that come with SL.  I didn't get real fancy and start matching color tones, etc., but tried to match colors as closely as possible between the characters and illustrations.

If you don't want to go the Photoshop route, I agree with the suggestion for eLearning Bros.  Reasonable annual fee and good selection of characters.  I haven't purchased the characters from SL or eLearning Bros, but will probably do so in the not too distant future. has some character sets that are pretty good as well.

The only thing with vendor provided illustrations is that the characters are all pretty much standard.  That's okay if you are doing standard kinds of things, but it does limit creativity.

I read where someone said that getting really creative with stories and characters is only 5% of the goal.  95% is ensuring learning takes place.  I don't necessarily agree.  I think an engaging story aids in retention.  It does take longer and it is not easy.  I'm really working hard on trying to make my eLearning more game-like.  It's rough right now, but will get better.

Bob S

Hi Alicia,

We did this recently to "brand" our e-learning with a spokes-model of sorts. She has become the face of selling skills/customer service for the organization and everyone knows when they see her, to expect some good tips.

The decision we went with was to have her custom-created as an illustration by a local agency/artist. It wasn't terribly expensive... perhaps $800 for about a dozen poses. We made that call because we needed her to look a certain way; not all businesses will need that.

By the way, we chose illustration because it was easier to manipulate the images in the future including our newest venture.... animating her with CrazyTalk and TTS voices!!!  

So yes, it's "fluff".... but for under $1k US you can have something custom that's really fun and adds some engagement to your courses and communication vehicles inside the company. 

Hope this helps,


Alicia Stansbury

Thanks everyone for your input and feedback, helpful!

I am not saying characters are not valuable to bring together a story. I would use them if I could and with the way this content is structured between online and ILT, it is needed!

I am new to this role, bringing structure to a lot of moving pieces so I wanted to get input from fellow designers like myself on what everyone is using today to build a case. Or to slow down the train a bit and focus on an effective yet simple solution.

Alicia Stansbury

Hi Alan

Understood. When I stated 95% I was referring more too how learning is shifting to more support in the field when it comes to performance. Moving to mlearning, tin can, etc. is what I am keeping an eye on to ensure we provide what is needed in the field along with of course the new hire experience through 180+ days. Never a dull moment!


Alan Landers

Hi Alicia,

Sounds like a lot of work.  My best to you...

Here's my take on mLearning.  I really don't want to distribute eLearning, as such, to 4G phones.  The screen is too small.  However, mobil phones are great for electronic performance support systems (EPSS).  One of my partners is a firm that allows users to search for instructional videos using keywords.  It takes the user to a list of videos with that word in the audio track (and shows the context).  The user clicks the desired video and the program goes directly to that part of the video (no wasted time waiting for the video to get to the specific info you want).  That's how I'm using mLearning.

eLearning is another thing.  It can go to tablets, mini-tablets, laptops, and desktops.  The whole functionality of interactive eLearning is available.

I know my ideas are a bit out of the box.  But I've found that simple videos, made by phone cams or web cams, with specific "how tos" are good solutions to providing people with the "I need it now" information they are seeking.  The videos are quick, easy, and well received.

Sorry to go on and on, but this is a topic near and dear to me.


Jerson  Campos

Here is an excellent example of what a character can do for the story of the course. This example provided by the talented Bruce Graham

Storylion Example

Other ideas you could include to make it interesting is a character that looks like Bill Clinton, lets name him Will Klinton who teaches a course on sexual harassment, or maybe a character that looks like Snookie that teaches how to properly behave in a social environment.

If you're interested in going the illustrative route let me know, I would like to put a bid in.

Alan Landers

Hey Frank, thanks for the link ot Character Builder. I knew of a similar company around 2000, but lost track of them. I really like their stuff and their annimations are great!  Sometimes the people avatars are a bit creepy, but for the most part I think they're really cool.  I'm calling them tomorrow with tons of questions.



Dianne Gibson

I have purchased characters from eLearning Brothers and the package of characters from Storyline. I have used the characters from Storyline the most. The package from eLearning Brothers are older and not quite so professional looking people. I have a "guide" with most of our training modules. If purchasing go with Storyline package.