Bea's New Look

We gave one of Duolingo's beloved characters, Bea, a much-needed makeover. Def my favorite project ever!

My role

Art Director


Positive social buzz + positive vibes

Who is Bea?

Every journey on Duolingo is accompanied by a green owl and a cast of bubbly and diverse characters. Bea is among that cast of characters. She's a quick-witted and intelligent woman with a knack for being perpetually on the go.

What's the issue?

Bea didn't quite feel right. I wanted to love the character, but when I looked at her she didn't feel authentic. I realized the main culprit was the ambiguity called her hair. A glance at the examples on the left prove this.

Hair is a fixture in the black community. Hair carries stories, rituals, emotions, and years and years of black history and pride. Yet, Bea's hair lacked all of this.

How might we redesign Bea to be a more authentic representation of blackness?


Give Bea a new look

Building a reference of hair types and styles

First, I gathered as many references to black hair as possible.
I focused on building a reference set from various types of mediums (ie animation, real life, and 3D, just to name a few). Though Duolingo's art direction is typically flat, I wanted to give room for a future where we move into other mediums. Based on this reference, I created 3 principles for Bea's hair that I encouraged our illustrators to keep in mind as they ideated.

Collabing and iterating to get Bea's look just right

Together, the head artist and I spun up several iterations for Bea's update. We constantly checked in with a group of Black-identifying women to make sure Bea's proposed redesigns were representative and felt right.Through this process, we honed in on the Bea that you see in Duolingo's product today!

Dear Diary...

Every time I see Bea congratulate me when I get a Spanish translation right, I just smile.
Big Thanks to everyone at Duolingo for helping to bring this dream alive.

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