Stronger than the Dinosaurs

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CONTEXT

While overall vaccination compliance in Allegheny County is quite good, the rates of the optional HPV vaccine are dismal.  The CDC recommends the vaccine for 11-12 year olds, as it prevents human papilloma virus infections that are directly correlated to certain types of cancer. In conjunction with the Allegheny County Health Department, my partner and I developed a three-part tool kit to help raise HPV immunization rates in Allegheny County: A comic for children (11-12 yrs) and an informational brochure for parents, appointment reminder cards, and a two part dinosaur model to be distributed at each dose of the vaccine.

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DISCOVER

We began by brainstorming potential targets of our campaign, and settled on the 11-12 year olds primarily, with some secondary emphasis on the parents.  The main objective would  be to motivate the children, and thus their parents, to complete the two dose vaccine regime.  In speaking to parents during our research, we discovered that the biggest barrier to keeping doctors’ appointments was wrangling/motivating the kids.  By giving a child a physical item to complete, they would be more likely to remember and remind their parents to show up for the second dose, as well as generally be more receptive.  We also wanted to include some information to help inform undecided parents as to the benefits of the vaccine.

In addition, we had to determine who this potential solution would be implemented by.  Through our research we also learned that the nurses at doctors’ offices played a large role in vocalizing the need for the vaccine and interacting the the parents in a effective way.  We therefore wanted to make a tool kit for a nurse to utilize in a doctor’s office.

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DEFINE

Next, we investigated options for the form of the physical object.  We toyed with the idea of puzzle pieces and separate collectibles for a time, but decided that two stand-alone pieces that functioned better together would be more motivating.

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Wishing to capitalize on Pittsburgh’s inherent love of dinosaurs, we chose to combine scientific educational material with the HPV vaccine information.  We focused primarily on the fact that certain dinosaur species, such as the Hadrosaurs, suffered from cancer: a fact documented in fossilized malignant tumors found on Hadrosaur bones. Going to see the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Hadrosaur skeleton as well as educational materials and gift shop proved illuminating.

We investigated dinosaur related gifts appropriate for children 11-12 years old to provide inspiration for our model.  We also found an educational tool that showed the dinosaur’s anatomy on one side, and the exterior view on the other.  We found this a good starting point for our own physical object.

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DEVELOP

We decided to go with a comic-style format to appeal to 11-12 year olds for their portion of the educational brochure.  I was primarily responsible for illustrating the comic and developing our dinosaur model.

Illustration

Research

Once the comic style was established, I had the challenge of producing comic illustrations. My partner and I began by examining the visual style of comics popular with 11-12 year olds, including Nimona, Lumberjanes, and TV related comics such as Adventure Time and Steven Universe. We worked out a general color palette based on those comics, and then I went to work illustrating.

Sketching

The first step was to get a general understanding of the form of the dinosaur itself.  I made some quick sketches, and found that the sketch-like quality of them worked well as a comic style, so more images were produced along the same lines. 

Texture

The fossil of dinosaur skin of the Hadrosaur, Edmontosaurus, was used as inspiration for the texture of the dinosaur illustrations.  Stippling was chosen as a method of toning because it calls the mind the pebbly nature of Hadrosaur skin.

Color

Various artistic representations of the Hadrosaurs were examined, but eventually we went with colors that mirrored the comic styles geared toward 11-12 year olds.

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Style

Throughout the process, the illustrations had to be refined so that they would more consistently adhere to a comic style.  Several iterations were produced and evaluated to tighten the visual language.  For example, line weights had to be adjusted so that they would stand out more, and additional strokes had to be added to the background to make it more consistent with detail involved in the rest of the illustrations.

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Design

I began the design by crafting a basic shape out of clay, and moving from that basic form to a low-poly 3D model produced in Sketchup.  The model was made in three parts, two outer shells with places for magnets for closure, and one skeleton.

Originally, this model was meant to be a workable, 3D printed figurine, but as this was the first time either team member had worked with 3D software, that dream never came to fruition.  Even so, workable images the model were provided to the client that will serve as a good template for style, size, and construction.  Were I to take this project further, I would want to create a workable prototype, perhaps utilizing molded plastic instead of 3D printing.

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