ArticlesMixital Youth Panel: The Design Process

Mixital Youth Panel: The Design Process

The design process for the Trashbag Tuesday kit involved a process of trial and error, combined with a great deal of teamwork.

We all grouped together to formulate different ideas for a new digital maker kit, our aim was to successfully combine the unique qualities of both Mixital and BBC Radio 1Xtra. We wanted to produce a fun, flexible, entertaining digital platform that brings A.Dot, 1Xtra's Breakfast Show DJ, into the creative sphere of Mixital, as ‘guardian of the nation's frustrations'. And how? Through taking a popular weekly theme of A.Dot's Breakfast show, and incorporating it into a fun Storyteller format within Mixital.

The users of Mixital had already shown themselves to be creative and intelligent,in their quirky Comedy Kit animations. Here we focused on providing a creative outlet for fans of A.Dot's Breakfast show, giving them the chance to exercise their skills and interact with their favourite 1Xtra Radio host. 

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Designing the kit

We settled upon A.Dot's feature Trashbag Tuesday as the perfect theme: users would be able to create their own story saying what they would like to be thrown in the "trashbag", complete with sound effects, animation, bright and bold characters, and backgrounds. We sat down with Paul Loudon, the immensely talented illustrator of previous assets used on Mixital such as the EastEnders Kit, to decide on which angle to take, design wise, for the assets.

We had several ideas: an 8-bit/16-bit Mario inspired, Video Game style, an edgy, Retro graphic style using cut-out images for the backgrounds, combining line drawings and black and white photos with a block, single colour palette, and finally the Comic Book style, drawn from the existing comic book theme of the EastEnders assets, with the use of full colour, uniquely reworked photos as the backgrounds that fit in with London hip-hop/grime vibe of 1Xtra (we hear you, Fire in the Booth fans!).

We each worked on our own presentation of the three styles - showcasing our chosen colour schemes using Inkscape, Adobe Kuler and Photoshop. This required a lot of effort in a short amount of time, to gather together asset prototypes, we hade to break out our Photoshop editing, freehand drawing, and hard won graphic design skills but we managed it, with the help of Paul, who digitally coloured our designs!

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Pitching to 1Xtra

We presented to the amazing 1Xtra team on the 31st of August, and the guest of honour was none other than A.Dot herself. This was a nerve wracking, yet wildly exciting morning in which we learnt more about 1Xtra and what they specifically wanted from this venture.

It was a fantastic experience and a great privilege to get A.Dot's interest and support for our designs. The Comic Book style was chosen as the way forward, after which we began the final design stage: gathering and constructing the assets! We delegated aspects of the development to each other, all of us were willing volunteers to assist in the kit's construction.

In September, we took our first steps in integrating the assets into the correct format for the Storyteller kit, using Python. We bust out our coding experience, recolouring skills, and absorbed all there was to learn at Aardman Studios - who are producing kit for the BBC. The next instalment of the design process is yet to be revealed - stay tuned!