Pratt BFA Communications Design Thesis

Maddison Manente Illustration

Cities of the Imagination

Character Design
Concept Art
Environmental Graphics
Game Design

Cities of the Imagination is a series of interactive and time-based landscapes loosely inspired by cities in the book Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. In the book, Marco Polo describes the places he’s been to a very conceptual and abstract way. The cities I chose to depict from the book are Baucis, a city on stilts in the sky, Armilla, described as a forest of pipes, and Phyllis, a city that seems glorious and beautiful to those who are just visiting, but gradually becomes mundane for the locals.

The players and viewers follow and guide Marco Polo through the cities. One of the first things I did was figure out what he would look like and animate him using Spine. I made Marco Polo grayscale because I wanted to set him apart from the places he is traveling through, further emphasizing that he isn’t a local. Other creative decisions and ideas were made in relation to the book as well, such as the flying plant from the city Baucis. In the book, Marco polo speculates why the people were living so far away from the ground. One of the rumors he heard is that the people living there didn’t like dirt, so I ran with that and thought about the society they would have, and the kind of plants that would grow there. Keeping with the whimsical nature of the project, it seemed fitting to introduce a flying basket holding a giant air plant that Marco can ride on.

The eventual application I have in mind for this project is a 2D experimental game in which the user guides Marco polo through each world, moving the flying plant in Baucis, jumping on and walking through pipes in Armilla, and riding the giant snail in Phyllis.