Angus the Irritable Bull
Watermark releases one very grumpy bull on the world.
Artists, writers and developers shared top billing when it came to creating a high-quality new children’s book app, say its trans-Tasman creators.
Angus The Irritable Bull, the first childrens Ipad app created by Watermark Ltd, is now downloadable from iTunes here.
Each page has interactive elements, animation, music and sound, which bring Angus’ life on the farm vividly to life. Users can also customise the app to how they want to experience the story, which is aimed at children aged four to six years.
The story, by Dean Proudfoot, reimagines the well-known folktale of the lion with a thorn in its paw in a farm setting for a modern audience. Proudfoot says the production process was more collaborative than traditional publishing, with writer, artist and developer all involved from an early stage.
Watermark’s Daron Parton created the illustrations, which David Way, head of the agency’s animation wing, brought to life. Way worked alongside Auckland-based developers, Roam Creative, who specialise in mobile app development. David Liversidge at Radiate Sound provided and oversaw all the sound for Angus, including the authentically rural sound effects and the narration is the voice of Helena McAlpine.
“It seemed everyone just wanted to be involved and were incredibly generous with their time and energy,” says Proudfoot.
App publishing is a world away from the traditional role illustrators have in book production. “With all the creativity and talent out our disposal, it was a logical progression in the evolution of the company,” says Watermark director Dean Proudfoot, who also wrote Angus. “A book app was a great way to see if we could build a product ourselves and get it out to the public directly.”
Major consideration was given to the balance between story and interactivity. “The biggest challenge was adding enough movement, sound and contact points that the viewer gets an ‘app’ experience, without going so far, that the interactivity detracts or overtakes the story,” Proudfoot says. “There are more than 80 touch points in Angus, but characters and story are still the key.”
Unlike many children apps, which are made by manipulating existing artwork from published, physical books, Angus was designed and illustrated as an app from the start.
“What makes the artwork even more interesting is it was all painted traditionally in individual pieces,” Proudfoot says. “This give the app a beautiful, hand-crafted quality that sets it apart from so many book apps in the market today.”
The app was built using Unity, a platform common to 3D gaming. “It’s the perfect tool to develop a book app on, and very few of the movements needed to be animated outside of the Unity programme,” Way says.
Unity has recently added a 2D update that was ideal for developing app books on. Using Unity also makes cross platforming easier if there’s demand for an Android version of Angus, Ways says.
Watermark has plans to produce more Apps and has several projects in development.