As part of the Viking beliefs section of my application, I explain what Vikings believed in regarding death. I explain how it was a Viking tradition to bury some people in their boats, alongside some of their belongings and their favourite things. Below is a mood board and the imagery that I created for my application.
Recently, I have been working on the Viking beliefs section of my application. As part of this segment I shall be delivering information about the Viking’s religious beliefs; the Vikings had their own pagan religion.
To accompany the written information about the Norse gods I have created some images. Nobody knows for certain if these beings exist and to the best of my knowledge nobody has met one or even better taken a picture that I can base my artwork on, so a certain amount of artistic licence can be afforded in the production of my designs. I have been producing imagery based upon my research and previously produced media featuring the individual’s deities in question. The main sources of information regarding these beings are the old Norse written accounts, featured within writings such as the Saga’s and stories depicted on Rune stones and within other carvings from the Viking period.
I started by researching the home of the Viking gods, followed by the creation of a mood board (see below).
How do you design the mythical kingdom of an ancient race of gods? To answer that quest ion I began researching Asgard, in order to identify any identifying features of that realm that would hopefully inform my design. My research indicated two main areas that I felt would be important in my depiction of Asgard and those were:
Vallhalla is a great hall where fallen Viking warriors go to feast after their death, until they are called upon by Odin to battle again at Ragnarok .
In front of Vallhalla stands the golden tree Glasir. The hall’s ceiling is described as being thatched and adorned with golden shields and spears. Valhalla is the home to some creatures, such as the stag Eikþyrnir and the goat Heiðrún amongst others.
See my Vallhalla below:
Bifrost – The Rainbow bridge
The rainbow bridge is an important identifying feature of Asgard but I have also used the fact that the route to the realm of the gods is a something that is seen in the sky, as the logic to set Asgarde floating above the clouds in the sky but out of view of those below.
The rest of my production was open to a lot of artistic licence but I tried to base my design on things that the Vikings may have encountered in their lives. As we know the Vikings where intrepid travellers, who will have seen different forms of architecture in many different countries but there is a constant in most societies. Castles and palaces have been built around the world to house those who are considered or consider themselves to be of importance.
I tried to base my art work upon a castle structure, constructed from materials known to the Vikings like stone and wood, the roofing is based upon precious metals like copper and gold. I have set my castle structure upon a floating mountainous island, that floats amongst the clouds connected to Midgard via a rainbow bridge. See Asgard Below:
To access information about the individual Viking gods, I have created an interface that features a bottom up menu that auto hides to create more space for the information on the screen. The menu background is based upon Viking carvings and the buttons are framed headshots of each god with their name displayed on a scroll (see below).
To create the Viking gods, I once again researched each individual god and created visual mood boards of pre-existing imagery.
Below you can see my mood boards and my interpretive creations.
Odin is described differently depending upon whether he is in Asgard or in Midgard.
One important distinguishing feature of Odin is that he only has one eye, due to him sacrificing the other to drink from the fountain of wisdom.
The descriptions of Odin whilst travelling in Midgard, are believed to have heavily influenced the descriptions of Gandalph the wizard in J.R Toilkin’s, Lord of The Rings and this is evident in mine and other people’s representations of both characters/beings as you can see below:
Frigg was Odin’s wife and the queen of Asgard, she was the goddess of marriage and motherhood. Frigg is often depicted as wearing blue which is something I carried into my depiction, see below:
Thor is the Norse god of thunder, strength and war. Whilst creating Thor I felt it was very important to stick to the written descriptive accounts, where he is described as a mighty warrior with great strength, red hair and a beard. I tried to include his three main weapons:
- Megingjörð – a magic belt that doubled his strength.
- Járngreipr – a pair of iron gloves that were needed to handle Mjölnir.
- Mjölnir – the mighty hammer that could crush mountains and create lighting flashes across the sky.
Many people may not know of the written description of this deity, due to the Marvel comics character Thor created by Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby. Marvel’s Thor is based upon the Norse legend but the character’s visual appearance is different to the recorded accounts, as he has long blonde hair and the only weapon he carries is Mjolnir the mighty hammer. It is hard competing against such popular incarnations but as I mentioned earlier nobody has seen the supposed entity in question, so any visual creation is open to interpretations, that ultimately cannot be wrong or right with no accurate visual record existing.
Below you can see my mood boards and my interpretive creations.
Sif is Thors wife and most depictions feature her adorned in blue clothing, which I have also done. The main description that stands out in my research of Sif is her long golden hair, which I have tried to incorporate into my imagery see below:
Loki is considered to be a Norse god although his parents were actually giants.
Loki is known as the Norse god of mischief. He is a trickster with magical powers who is often naughty, causing problems for the other gods which is why I have based my design upon a jester, which also is a theme in older imagery of Loki.
Loki is often described as being handsome but he is a shape shifter, so he can change the way he looks. He appears in the form of men, women and animals and to show this I have created a simple shape shifting animation, that you can see below:
Balder is often described as being very popular amongst the other gods, due to his invulnerability and his good looks. This is something that I have tried to capture in my imagery, see below:
Below you can see a short video of my completed ‘Viking Gods’ information section:
In order to make best use of my time, for university grading times and constraints, I have not as yet included or produced imagery and information based on every god but I feel I have produced enough to provide a strong indication of how this part of the application will look and operate. If time permits I will add more to this section before the end of the project.
I have been aware of an issue with my current navigation system for a while and I have had a plan in mind to deal with it, so over the past couple of days I have implemented my plan.
So let’s start with the problem, my current navigation has a relationship between the bottom layer of buttons and the top layer and up until now that has not been entirely evident. In other words the bottom layer of buttons is the primary navigation and in effect the top buttons are the secondary sub layer. This allows me to have 15 different buttons available to the user but with only seven buttons on the screen at one time, so making better use of the available space.
There are many different menu systems being developed across both mobile and other digital technology systems that try to make the best use of visual space, include sliding menus, menus that open and close and menus that spin but for the reasons I explained in a previous blog (see here)
I still stick by those choices but improvements were needed to create a better overall user experience.
The image below shows the problem with the current navigational menu.
To make the relationship between these different layers of buttons more apparent, I have colour coded the sections, so the user can see that by pressing the bottom blue button it opens a full top layer of blue buttons and the same for the red and green buttons.
See image below:
Another issue with the old navigation was that it was not always evident to the user how the current page relates to the navigation, although there was visual feedback in the form of a screen heading, see image below:
Within the new menu, I have improved the level of visual feedback regarding the current page by adding a gold border that appears around the current screen button, so re-enforcing the existing header title feedback, see image below:
There has been another issue with the old menu that I have been struggling to make a decision on and that is typeface. It has been apparent to me for a while and it has also been pointed out to me that my application may have too many typefaces and in particular the difference in typeface between the sans serif used within the main text and the serif typeface used within the navigational elements. The typefaces in question are the devices default sans serif and serif fonts because embedding typefaces would slow the application down too much.
Making the decision between changing the main document text to a serif typeface and changing the navigation to a sans serif has been difficult. Although arguments can be made about whether children find it easier to read one over the other, children’s applications tend to feature sans serif typeface as explained by Catalina Naranjo-Bock:
“While research studies have expressed divergent findings about differences in children’s ability to read serif or sans serif typefaces,   it is common practice to use sans serif fonts in applications for children, because of their fresh look and simplicity.”
This article does explain that there are some exceptions to this common practice but I cannot help but feel that these exceptions have been made for the same visual reasons that are making me want to use serif fonts across my entire application but this desire for aesthetic value needs to be weighed against the practical nature of a typeface style, that as described may or may not be easier to read but has become a design convention for applications aimed at children. Ultimately I have opted to change the navigation typeface to the devices default sans serif, see the image below:
A more visually biased designer, may have opted for a style over substance approached but once again I have been swayed by my practical bias in terms of a solution that I feel will be easier for the user to read but unfortunately it does not fit as well with the visual style of my application. This was one of those situations where neither conclusion would have left me 100% happy but I have made a decision based upon logical reasons, a decision that I can live with.
 Walker, S. Reynolds, L. Robson, N. Guggi, N. et al. “Typefaces.”Typographic Design for Children. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
[3, 4] Bernard, M. Mills, M. Frank, T. & McKown, J. “Which Fonts Do Children Prefer to Read Online?” Software Usability Research Laboratory, Wichita State University. Usability News, January 2001, Volume 3, Issue 1. Retrieved May 31, 2011
Today I am just posting a couple of overview video of my application that I probably should have posted before now but better late than never.
See videos below:
As part of the How Did They Live section of my application, a description of the role Viking women played in everyday life is delivered. I have created a visual scene to reinforce the information provided within the text; my scene depicts a female Viking character in a Viking house undertaking two of the general everyday tasks described in the text. My scene shows a Viking woman cooking and then the scene shifts focus towards the Viking loom featured in the view where my character can then be seen weaving.
See the video below:
I have recently been creating an interactivity to show my users what the interior of a typical Viking house may have looked like. Earlier in my MA I mocked a very basic interpretation of a Viking house interior (see here), I have used my earlier work as a guide but due to further research and discussion regarding my original with better artists than myself, I have re-dawn the majority of the content and added further content to my image. Within my application different elements will be interactive, i.e. a user will be able to select individual items within the interior of the building, to access further information relevant to the selected item (see the video below)
I am once again trying to make the best use of the interactive nature of the platform, in order to break up text and deliver in relevant sections where the user can see the relationship between visual content and textual information, in this case a direct correlation is possible due to the relationship between the interaction of choosing a visual object and the information been displayed as a result. I have also reinforced this relationship further with an arrow that directly links the textual information and the visual representation.
Today I have put together a simple fade between animations to reinforce to the user that Viking houses were made from different materials, depending on what materials were available in the local vicinity, a point that is also made in the text within the application.
Although this is a very basic animation, it is a great example of how digital media can deliver information simply but effectively. A book would struggle to deliver the same amount of information as effectively within the same amount of visual real estate, this is one of the advantages of digital media.
See video below: