Brand, Illustration, Video

Small Stars

EF Kids and Teens | 2018

EF has almost 200 English schools in over 60 cities across China, teaching English to over 200,000 children. Small Stars is a complete learning platform where kids between 3-6 years old can take their first steps learning English and become global citizens.


Global Creative, Luzern Creative Studio, Shanghai North Kingdom

Small Stars trailer

A world of play

We created a whole world of fantasy in which the kids could learn and be motivated. We wanted every aspect of it to be fantastic.

We created a complete 360 learning platform

To fully immerse the children in the Small Stars universe we combined traditional books with a TV show, digital applications and puppets to use in the classroom. As we did not want to use any form of stock art we illustrated over 1500 concepts by hand to make sure the Small Stars universe was consistent across all materials.

Developing the characters

The original Small Stars characters did not have a clear identity so we decided to reimagine them completely. Based on a geometrical concept we turned them into something much more unique with a clear concept behind the design. When we had developed a 2D concept of the characters we finally decided to move them into a 3D world.

Characters before

Characters extracted as shapes

Characters after rebranding

Developing the story

The door to the heart of the kids is storytelling. Together with North Kingdom we therefore developed 30 episodes of 3D animated micro stories that the children will watch in the different classes as an engaging starting point for the subject of the class. We created a unique world, free from constraints, resembling a Childs imagination, where a simple gradient sets the scene and where we use simple line drawings to express particular settings while the colouring of the scenes set the mood. We got a lot of inspiration from the improv theater format where an empty room is the starting point for most shows.

Producing a recognisable soundtrack

Without music there is no emotion but in the entertainment industry at large most kids related music is dumbed down for some reason. We did not want to do that as we believe our young students are master minds and should not be treated in any other way. We therefore engaged a jazz quintet, New Scandinavian Roots, that composed a complete soundtrack to our show based one improvisation. That way we close the loop conceptually and at the same time assured that no parent will ever have to worry about being exposed to music that destroyed their ears.

Soundtrack from New Scandinavian Roots