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Coco Material, the open source hand-drawn illustration library

Coco Material is a library of illustrations drawn by me which you can download for free. You can modify the “stick figures” by choosing the outline color, fill and size. You can even massively customize a whole set and then download them as svg and png. The library is under active development with more than 700 diverse illustrations.

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What is it used for? Presentations, compositions of any kind or simply as illustrations for websites or books. Also educational uses: a teacher has been using them for activity sheets for her students (so cool!) If it can help teachers and make their work easier I will be more than satisfied. A friend suggested that we could use them to make a video game with Godot Engine and I’m really excited about it :)

Inclusive, feminist and accessible

From the beginning I decided that CocoMaterial had to be inclusive and feminist. I put a lot of effort into it, because there is still a long way to go. Search for instance “family illustration” and you will see almost no diversity. With this library, I’d like to contribute to change this, to fight the under-representation of some groups. There is still much to do, but I’m working on it.

The main challenge is that anyone can use these illustrations to make their own compositions, so CocoMaterial is accessible to everyone. That’s the reason it’s free, something pretty big, and my goal is that it is very easy to use it.

Open license

Coco Material illustrations are under an open license. You don’t have to credit me, but if you do, a kitten drawing will purr lovingly. You can use them for whatever you want, including commercial uses, without asking my permission. All I ask is that Coco Material illustrations are not compiled to replicate the service I offer. I have chosen this license just to ensure that anyone can use them.

“Stick figures”

About 8 years ago (how time flies!) I attended an innovation course in which there was a Visual Thinking module. There I began to use stick figures to explain concepts and ideas. Afterwards I couldn’t stop using them, because it is a soo easy, expressive and fast tool to tell things!

Why Coco Material?

I’ve been thinking about something like Coco Material for a long time. We often have to make presentations, compositions, worksheets, etc. Not only for professional reasons, also for a friend’s party card, children activities… When you look for illustrations, for instance, if you search for “cat” or “stars” you find images that do not have a similar style, that cannot be edited, they can’t be resized without losing quality… It’s difficult to combine them with each other, or they are watermarked … it can be a mess.

When I approached the world of visual thinking, where you express ideas and concepts through drawings, I realized that having a very wide set of drawings of the same style, ready to use, could greatly facilitate the task. On these occasions I made the drawings that I needed, but I am aware that if you do not know how to draw it is complicated (at least if you care about the final result).So, what ends up happening is that you don’t do it and you leave it to someone who does know how to draw.

That’s when I started thinking about the idea of ​​Coco Material; a free and open library could be a very interesting resource for many people. A few years later it has finally happened: we have made it possible during a Personal Innovation Week, PIWEEK.

PIWEEK explainer video

Open Source Design

In the field of illustration and design, and art in general, the concept of ownership, of authorship, is deeply rooted; it is very difficult to fight centuries of culture highlighting the artist and their technique secrets. The philosophy of sharing knowledge and resources, which is more common in other sectors (especially technology or even education), is seldom seen in this field.

Even so, there are some things. For example, recently Juan de la Cruz, a colleague, has created The Lost Abbey Archive, a wonderful open library of precious drawings of scenes, clothing and medieval objects.

Another great reference is Pablo Stanley, who has done an incredible job with Openpeeps or Humaaans.

Plans for Coco Material

My main challenge now is to find time to add more drawings. I love to draw but you have to combine it with work, life, kids … a pandemic! Anyway, it is not easy. At the moment the plan is to keep adding drawings to build a solid set. Last October, during the #inktober challenge, I uploaded new illustrations every day with a keyword as the theme.

During the last PIWEEK we also made improvements to the web, thanks to my superteam!