Is it best practice for style of characters to match background (e.g. real or illustrated)?

I'm not sure if this has been discussed on this forum before but was wondering if people could share their thoughts on this topic. Is it best practice to mix and match these?

I have found that mixing the two looks okay sometimes but can get odd in some cases when interaction with objects is involved. I know it's not always easy to find the assets you need so you work with what you have. However, I'm curious how others do this.

9 Replies
Bob S

Consistency is one of those things you only notice when it's NOT there....

I find differing styles in the same course (let alone the same screen!) quite unpolished looking and jarring. It calls the learner's attention away from the learning instead to focusing on "what's wrong with this picture".

Note: Even if you aren't an expert with Photoshop/GIMP, there are some pretty decent tools right in the new PowerPoint that will take photos and convert them to various illustration styles.

Because it can be a challenge to find all the realistic photos you need for a topic, is exactly why one many training folks like to use illustrations; way easier to create and/or modify from different sources to achieve a consistent final look.

Jerson  Campos

Having a background in graphic design, I cringe when I see different types of styles in the same course (and extra cringy if it's in the same slide).  Luckily I can design my own characters and manipulate images quite easily.  But even some creative techniques can go along way.  

Example:  If you have a photographic background you want to use, but you are using the default illustrated characters in SL, don't insert them and try to make them fit in the image. Put them in a bubble where they pop out a bit. This helps blend the images a little and not trying to force it on the viewer.  The sample below show an example of what I'm talking about.  The left character is visually separated by the bubble but still looks like its part of the image, while the one on the right doesn't look right.

It's really easy to create the pop out bubble effect. Here is a link https://visual-e-learning.com/tutorial-create-cool-looking-character-bubbles-easily-powerpoint

Deanna Brigman

I don't think it is a problem mixing and matching as long as there is an eye towards design and an internal logic for the creative decisions.

For example, using photographs for all the backgrounds in a washed out color palette, and illustrated characters with more intense colors, all done in similar styles. It is always important to think of the course as a whole and how each character and photo contribute to the overall look and feel. I would certainly try to limit style to about 2. It is very jarring to have flat graphics, painterly assets, cartoons, and line drawings mixed all together.

But of course, art is subjective and it is hard to lay down hard rules. Ultimately it comes down to the individual designer and what they can do with the limitations imposed upon them.

John Wagner

I'm a pastor and just finished a E-course on water baptism. The setting in the course was a classroom. The students were photographic characters that I got from eLearningart.com. The characters are in so many awesome, usable poses! It's easy to trigger them into movements that really add to the interactivity of the course. However, I used an illustrated character from SL as the instructor. I liked the effect. It made the subject a little lighter.

I'm working on another course entitled "Why Should I Read The Bible?" In it I'm using a photographic character from SL as the instructor and different characters from eLearningart.com as students. Unfortunately, the photographic characters in SL are limited in poses and expressions, so more difficult to work with.