Engagement is critical to successful eLearning. As course creators use more video in their courses, learner engagement is at an all-time high.
As eLearning professionals, it’s our duty to up the ante. While eLearning video is a step in the right direction, storytelling and strong characters bring learning to life.
2D animation, in particular, is promising for eLearning. 2D animation is simpler than 3D and it helps your learners form close, emotional bonds with the course material.
But characters don’t appear out of thin air. The need to be created with intention, in ways that best serve the needs of your learners.
The benefits of 2D characters
It’s easy to dismiss characters in your eLearning videos. Character creation is an extra step, but it’s one that reaps big rewards for your course and your learners.
2D animated characters have so many benefits for your learners.
- They’re engagingHumans build emotional bonds with characters. 2D animation helps you stand out and attract the interest of all learners, not just children. This motivates your learners to progress through the course and succeed.
- They de-isolate learnerseLearning is convenient, but it can feel lonely. While self-directed learning is important, learners need social connection to engage with course content. 2D animation helps learners feel like they’re receiving one-on-one attention, which feels less isolating.
- They improve retentionWant learners to use what they learn? Then it’s time to use 2D animated characters. Characters increase memory recall. Their strong personalities and storyline make learning more enjoyable, which, in turn, helps learners recall information. 2D animation helps you bridge the challenges and benefits of eLearning. You can easily provide students with human interaction while boosting retention, all thanks to character development.
How to create 2D characters for eLearning
If you haven’t used 2D characters in your eLearning course, now is the time to start. Follow these five guidelines to create characters that further your learning goals.
- Remember your audience
Characters have to serve your audience’s learning objectives.Go into your 2D animation without preconceived notions for your characters. Instead, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What type of character would your students like to see?
For example, corporate learners might prefer a realistic human character, while kids might enjoy whimsical characters.If you can, try polling your students for ideas. You don’t want to create a character that doesn’t resonate with learner expectations.
- How will you use the character?
Before you start mocking up your characters, plan how, exactly, they fit into your eLearning course.What will the character be doing? Will they stand relatively still, or zoom around the screen? Do they need particular clothing or props based on your script?
The form of your character has to allow a certain amount of function. It’s best to go with a simple design for your characters. This will make it easier for learners to understand the character. It also makes it easier for you to do more dynamic poses with simple characters.Take these considerations into account before designing your character. You don’t want to build a character whose arms don’t function correctly for your script.
- Style and aesthetic
After you build a functional wireframe of your character, it’s time to apply styling. The style or aesthetic of your character is what makes them visually appealing to learners. The goal is to have a trademark style that learners immediately recognize as yours.Remember that the aesthetic does need to match the tone and content of your script. You don’t want a loony, over-the-top character if your course material is more serious.
Personality is key to the success of your 2D animation. For animated characters, much of their personality ties in to their physical appearance.For example, Eeyore is gray and has sunken eyes. This is done on purpose to communicate his personality.
Exaggerate certain features depending on the character’s personality. If you don’t know where to start, begin by listing adjectives or verbs that describe your character. Add features that correlate to those adjectives and verbs.
- Draw, sketch, and experiment
Time to go to the drawing board.
Remember that character creation is a process. You aren’t going to create a finalized character in your first sketch. Test different expressions and poses for the character. Focus on the character’s emotion, and how that serves your eLearning content.
The bottom line
2D animation is a clever way to boost learner retention and engagement. Invest in quality 2D animation for your eLearning video to see happier learners and more repeat students.