Just Association - Creative, Collaborative Interfaces.

Romeo & Juliet SketchUp Guides

This page gives an overview of the process we used to move from graphing relationships of power between characters in Romeo & Juliet, in 2D, then using SketchUp, into 3D. Lower down are Videograbs of the young peoples 3D models.

After the Stop-frame animation session, the young people were working towards a writing assessment, in which they would write in response to Act 3 Scene 1, of the play. In this scene, Mercutio is killed in a brawl with Tybalt.
Dramatic highpoint's to the scene include Romeo, now sectretly married to Juliet, trying and failing to calm both Mercutio and Tybalt down, to avoid the impending bloodshed.

Towards the end of the scene, Mercutio utters the following words as he is dying.
"A plague o'both your houses!
'Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a
cat, to scratch a man to death! a braggart, a
rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of

We decided that the young people would create interactive 3D study guides, using SketchUp. These guides would depict the changing relationships of the characters, as the scene escalates out of control, and would be used to refer to as the young people were writing their essays.

Graphing the Characters Relationships

Before the young people could represent their characters relationships in interactive 3D space, it was important that they could visualize them in 2D, on paper. So the young people worked in groups to create graphs similar to the one below.

Transferring these Graphs to 3D Digital space

The young people used Google SketchUp, which is a free, entry level piece of 3D design software, to create 3D representations of their paper graphs. We asked them to use the skills they had developed in the previous stop-frame animation activity, to represent the characters using a mixture of visual and textual metaphor. This included using SketchUp to model shapes to represent characters, considering shape, texture and colour, e.g. Mercutio being modelled as a complex and irregular red shape.
We asked the young people to animate the changing connections between the characters, as the scene progressed, adding text and altering their spatial relationships, e.g. moving Romeo dramatically down at the end of the scene, representing his powerlessness and low mood.

To improve the delivery of this kind of activity in future, we would make sure that the young people had a chance to develop their basic modeling skills in Sketchup, working in 2's or larger groups to make simple shapes and move them around. Only asking them to interpret 3D digital space as a metaphor for power relationships between characters when they were feeling confident using the program.

The final models made by the young people had the added advantage of being interactive when used within SketchUp, so that young people could move the camera through them, viewing their model from a variety of angles. Below are a series of video grabs of 'fly-through' animations of their models.