“My seven-year-old keeps coming back to this. Throughout the story, children are guided toward where they need to be, but are also allowed to explore and be creative. The audio and visuals match the story in this beautifully-crafted application.” —juror Sophie Henry
"Dragon Brush uses the capabilities of the iPad to create natural interactions between the user and the story." —juror Madison Wharton Marks
Overview: This application is an irresistible, interactive storybook for iPhone and iPad. Based on a Chinese folktale, and appealing to children and adults alike, it follows the adventures of Bing-Wen, a young boy who loves to paint. When given a magical brush that makes drawings come to life, Bing-Wen must use his art and his wits to outsmart the greedy Emperor. Being a linear book experience, the navigation structure is straightforward (relying on arrow buttons for page turns and a scrolling index that allows jumping to specific pages), but interactive elements on every page bring Bing-Wen's drawings to life with a swipe or a tap.
• Small Planet Digital partnered with authors John Solimine and Andy Hullinger to create Dragon Brush. Starting from an illustrated story and interactive prototype, development time was four months.
• Readers can create their own illustrations with Dragon Paint, a drawing activity; special inkpots that add functionality to Dragon Paint can be collected throughout the story.
• Narrated by Matt Berninger, the soundtrack contains all original compositions by Aaron and Bryce Dessner from the band The National.
Comments by Small Planet Digital:
How did this project compare with others you've worked on in the past? "While we've made many narrative children's apps for clients, this was the first storybook app we made for ourselves. It gave us a lot of freedom to try new things and put into practice many of the lessons we've learned through client work."
Did you learn anything new during the process? "While we primarily do client work, we always like to have our own projects going at any given time; it's a great way to learn new things and get better at what we do. In this case, we learned that it takes a special kind of discipline to keep an internal project on track: Who's the client? Who's accountable? Who's responsible for cracking the whip?"