English Heritage

Gravitywell was presented with a fabulous opportunity to work with English Heritage and the artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins on an interactive illustrated web app map of English myths and legends.

The map picked up a number of awards, including Best Digital Design at the SPARKies 2019 and CSS Design Awards Website of the Day.

In only 6 weeks we had to design, build, and launch the web app. We knew this would be quite a challenge and it was important to work very tightly together. A plan was devised to work in parallel streams so that we could all start work from day one and progress simultaneously.

Starting the process, we met with illustrator, Clive Hicks-Jenkins, and the English Heritage team at our Bristol studio. It would be particularly interesting trying to preserve the very analogue style of Clive’s artwork in a digital production, but this was the balance that would ultimately make the map so special. We also had to bear in mind that the map had to be compatible across a variety of desktop and mobile devices.

As the creatives were collaborating on the look and feel of the map, the technical team pressed on with building a prototype which would allow them to identify any potential difficulties and explore the best animation and rendering techniques for the job.

We asked Clive to illustrate map topography and textures individually, so that once scanned in we could digitally layer up the map canvas using Photoshop.

We chose to develop the map ‘tiled’, loading only the portion of the map visible on screen, as well as the adjacent tiles. This technique would keep the initial loading process of the web app to a minimum and provide a smooth user experience. We also utilised the Google web app Squoosh for the image assets, which compresses file image sizes.

Clive provided us with maquette illustrations which we cut out and pieced back together so we could bring the creatures and characters to life.

Next we'll be adding user submissions to the map so that myths and legends shared by the general public can be discovered. We’re extremely proud to be part of such a special production, and we hope you enjoy exploring the map as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Explore the map

Check out this 'Making of' video, produced by English Heritage, for more insight into the project