One of the creative highlights of my year came early back in January, when I created handmade cards for the Grandparents Day doodle in Poland. Fashioning them after kids' art, it was a nice change of pace to avoid tightly rendered illustrations and goof off instead with construction paper, glue, and scissors. Holding a physical final product in my hands at the end of the day was the glittery icing on the cake.
So I got to thinking, How can we give our users the similar experience of being able to craft art on the homepage? We've done similar things in the past, like with the Make Your Own Hand Turkey doodle for Thanksgiving 2011. But what's another day you typically craft artwork worthy of pinning to the refrigerator door? Why, Mother's Day, of course!
Showing just how accessible art could and should be, here's a "macadoodle" created by our old marketing manager, Preston.
Naturally, we wanted to mix it up a bit and take things one step further... with something like a full-on card building machine. Almost as if Google the Search Engine had a mom of its own and wanted to make some artwork for her. As we brainstormed ideas and saw the potential interactivity getting more complex, we knew our best bet at making any of it happen involved suckering asking one of our volunteer Doodle engineers, Joey Hurst (Moog, Les Paul) to step in. But as ridiculous and impossible we thought we were making our machine, Joey smiled unphased and said,"Yeah, that shouldn't be a problem."
Joey Hurst managing to sort out the parallax movement of the panning machine.
The first major step was to draw out storyboards – or step-throughs – to determine the actual flow of the machine. This changed quite a bit. You might even pick out some of the things that stayed or got cut as the project developed:
As we locked down the interaction, I also experimented with different visual treatments. I thought the machine itself should be made out of craft supplies, like cut-out paper boxes and macaroni strung together to form pipes. I thought it'd be even more fun to make these objects out of actual photos/scans of crafting supplies, but in order to keep the overall file-size of the doodle manageable (this is the web after all!), I opted for a flat, graphic approach.
I was influenced in part by the brilliant designer, Jim Flora, whose nonsensical industrial-scapes are a pure delight.
The next major step was creating the machine itself, bolt by bolt, in Illustrator. I've neatened up my mess, but here are most of the vectors laid out on one sheet:
Once everything was built in Illustrator and timed in Flash (with many thanks to Sophia Foster-Dimino and Leon Hong, who both patiently taught me Flash-style animation), it was time to get to the heart of the doodle – the fridge art itself. But what to make? The machine guides the user through several choices:
Do you want to draw Mom, flowers, or maybe create some kind of gift, gesture, or way of spending time together?
If you choose to draw Mom, would you prefer a stick-figure, maybe a Mama Bird, or perhaps a Mama Bear?
What look are you going for? Scribbly crayons and markers, an elegantly designed scrapbook page, or maybe something kind of random with found materials, like pasta and beans.
And the finishing touch, what kind of border will you use to frame your doodle?
All in all, you can create 27 different pieces of art, with a choice of 3 borders. And here's a doodle first: You can print out a high-resolution version of your artwork to present to Mom! Unfortunately, we couldn't get the 3D printer working to reproduce the beans, yarn, or macaroni. Maybe next year?
We hope you'll channel your inner child on the Google homepage as well!
Again, many thanks to the team that helped make this doodle possible:
Engineering: Joey Hurst
Doodle Project Lead: Mike Dutton
Doodle Team Lead: Ryan Germick
Technical Project Manager: Greg Capuano
UX/UI Technical Advisor: Leon Hong
Animation Technical Advisor: Sophia Foster-Dimino
Mom Day Card-Makers: Brian Kaas, Corrie Scalisi, Mark Ivey, Betsy Bauer, Leon Hong, Ryan Germick, Mike Dutton, Kevin Laughlin
...but most importantly, thank you to all mothers! It's a fun, altogether goofy machine, but this doodle is especially dedicated to my wife, the mother of our little boy. Thank you for understanding the long hours that went into making your gift! I'll try to spend less time on the pancakes.
Posted by Mike Dutton, Doodler