Visioning a Net-Zero 2050

Character Design | Digital Illustration | Environment Design

What was the mission?

The Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) organisation is one of the UK’s first major research centres focused on social science and climate change. They study the central role of people in climate transformations.

They conducted 7 workshops to explore what a radical lifestyle change for a low-carbon future might look like. CAST engaged participants with a series of low-carbon lifestyle strategies and discussed these in detail before conducting a visioning exercise where they asked participants to imagine their local area in a sustainable 2050 and then imagine the people living in that future. The research had been undertaken, now it needed to be visualised to bring it to life.

Motion Manor was approached by the CAST team to create a series of illustrations such as cityscapes, character illustrations and comic-style vignettes to represent what the 7 cities mentioned above would look like in 2050.

These illustrations were then displayed at CAST's Showcase Event in London and have been integrated into their research papers.

The client's key objectives for this illustration project:

  • 7 location-based cityscapes - Aberdeen, Manchester, South West (UK), Shanghai and Chengdu (China) and Gothenburg and Stockholm (Sweden).
  • 28 characters (4 diverse characters per city).
  • 56 small comic-style vignettes (2 per character).

What were the challenges?

Efficiently Incorporating Elements

Seamlessly integrating sustainable infrastructures, lush greenery, and vibrant human activities while also showcasing that specific city's iconic landmarks in a recognisable yet futuristic manner demanded a delicate balance of creativity and foresight.

Condensed Timeline & Large Volume

With a substantial number of deliverables on hand, we were navigating through a slightly tight deadline due to the client's upcoming event, which also coincided with their physical print deadline. Consequently, it was imperative that we meticulously managed our workflow to ensure timely completion of each illustration. This involved actively seeking feedback from the client and seamlessly implementing any revisions in order to meet the deadline effectively.

Style Variation & Consistency

Given the multitude of deliverables and the diverse range of cities and characters featuring various ethnicities, maintaining consistency in the art style posed a unique challenge. However, it was crucial to ensure coherence across the project. While the art style might have varied between cityscapes and characters/vignettes, we had to strive for a harmonious visual narrative throughout.

Brand Consistency and Accessibility

The client required many of the assets from the animation to be repurposed for diverse marketing purposes, such as to be incorporated into their research papers and social media. Therefore, maintaining brand consistency was crucial, ensuring accessibility for effortless integration across various platforms and mediums.

What was the outcome?

Managing the production process from ideation to final asset delivery, we collaborated closely with the client to ensure that the illustrations accurately represented their research. Despite the short deadline, we were able to deliver all of the deliverables on time.

Within each cityscape, we seamlessly integrated a plethora of sustainable futuristic elements, all while maintaining a sense of realism. While our aim was to infuse a futuristic vibe, we were equally committed to ensuring plausibility. To achieve this balance, we incorporated many existing buildings, including iconic landmarks from each city, and then transformed them into more futuristic and environmentally friendly structures.

Despite the numerous deliverables for this project, we successfully achieved a cohesive and seamless look across the varying art styles for both the Vignettes and the Cityscapes.

To conclude, the clients were overjoyed with the result as it surpassed their expectations.

What were the Deliverables?


High quality CMYK 300DPI images of our artwork to be used in the accompanying print report.


All images optimised for HD viewing online in RGB format.


The client received ownership of all the artwork and assets, to use however they wish
It was a pleasure working with Ant and the creative team at Motion Manor. They did an amazing job bringing to life our research on public visions of a low-carbon future through a series of over 90 illustrations of cityscapes and characters. The team worked hard to make sense of a complicated brief in a tight timeframe, liaising closely with us to ensure that their artistic interpretations still matched our understanding of the data, and responding rapidly to adapt it on the basis of our feedback. It has been a joy to see the gorgeous artwork develop throughout the process and I wholeheartedly recommended Motion Manor to businesses and academics alike.

Catherine Cherry

CAST Researcher & Co-Investigator
Cardiff University
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