(Final) Major Project: Ideas?

Recently I’ve been thinking and planning a project for the end of year show. This will be the final project I will likely do in educational circumstances, so its slightly intimidating. This will be the project that may help me get my foot in the door somewhere. I can hope so anyway, who really knows.
Thinking about what I wanna create for this project has got me thinking about what kind of illustrator I really wanna be. And to answer that, I currently really don’t know. But I do know that I love narrative illustration and storytelling, even if I’m not so good at it myself, and I wanna be able to build on my strong points and learn something new with this project.

Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while is illustrating something kinda spooky. Like horror, and horror fantasy in particular. Ghost stories and the supernatural have always interested me since I was a kid, and books like Goosebumps were my favorite. I also used to have a book of a collection of ghost stories and horror stories for kids and even though I must’ve read it when i was about nine I still remember the creepy imagery I have of reading about the story of the monkeys paw, and another one about some un-dead Count. Traditional fairy tales and lore and legend of fairy and creatures were a big fascination of mine too, reading about creatures such as Babayaga or changelings. Sorta almost silly stuff I guess now, but I loved to scare myself as a kid. I was a bit of a reader when I was younger, and don’t really remember most of what I read about, and I most certainly don’t have any of those books anymore, unfortunately.

Since I loved all these tales so much when I was a kid, I am thinking about possibly illustrating a horror story aimed towards children. I’m unsure what age group to be honest. Possibly a good start would be the age I was when I was super in to all that stuff, which I think was about 8/9/10-ish. Another decision I need to make is what form of illustrative product I will make. I could go for a picture book, but again, what age group do I choose. Or I could create some sort of graphic novel/comic.

I’m also not really that much of a writer at all, so am taking a story to adapt and illustrate from local folklore. Possibly Herefordshire, or Gloucestershire. It might even be interesting to find a story from The Forest of Dean, where I grew up, but I feel like that will take some very determined digging and research. I’ve been told of a folklorist named Mary Ella Leather, who I need to do more research for. Her collection of folk tales is now out of print, unfortunately. So any copy I have found has been a bit out of my price range. Will have to visit Hereford library, who knows, they might have a copy. I want to be able to bring back some interest into local tales. These days they are difficult stories to find, but British history is full of storytelling.

Some visual influences for this project have been comic artist and writer Emily Carrol. (Her website here.) I have a copy of a collection of her stories “Through the Woods” I absolutely adore. She seems to have a knack for capturing the perfect feeling of dread in her illustrations. Below is a small example of her work, which is a personal comic inspired by the video game Fallout 4. Her other fallout 4 inspired comics can be found here. I Like this comic because of the cinematic timing, the slow zoom, and the cleaver use of tone to emphasize something hiding in the dark.

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Another artist I’ve been recommended to look at is Australian artist Shaun Tan. I particularly love his character designs he made in his book “The Singing Bones”. All the characters are inspired by tales from Brothers Grimm and are quite abstract and fun, and most importantly to me, not particularly human like. I struggle greatly with drawing people and faces, and new interesting approaches towards creating characters like this are always fun and inspiring to me. (Link for his website here.)

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 ‘Oh, Mother Trudy, I was so petrified. I looked through the window and didn’t see you, but I saw the devil with a fiery head!’
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Hereford Courtyard Film Guide Competition!

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This is my submission for the Courtyard’s competition to create an image for their A5 film guide. This was one of the first proper goes I’ve had at producing an illustration in Photoshop. In the past I’ve mostly just used Photoshop to clean up or edit prints that I have done, or have only really used it in workshops at college.

For a change, I’m actually kinda proud of this one. For someone who spends a lot of time on my computer I don’t actually have much confidence at all with Photoshop and tend to be a bit old fashioned in my methods, but these days I’ll only be helping myself a great deal by getting to grips with it. Ultimately I still prefer to do my original drawings traditionally, and I have thought about colouring them digitally for a while. Mostly because it is easier, and I can play about with colours endlessly, and it took a while before I figured out the right colour combination.

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I’ve had the composition for this piece in my head for a while, just wanted to do something simple. At first my ideas were getting a bit too cluttered, so I just focused on the one item in the illustration. It is after-all for a guide cover and needs to have a simple and recognizable silhouette, something recognizable when its surrounded by other leaflets, and the top part especially needs to be noticeable since that’s the part you would see first if this leaflet was placed in a stand.

I think if there was one big thing I would change, it would be maybe moving the camera and everything further up on the page. I tired keeping rules of three in my mind but not sure if it all looks too far down the page. I was also keeping in mind the graphics Courtyard will overlay onto the image too. It’ll be interesting to see how it may possibly turn out as a final product (I hope).

Good luck to anyone else who entered it too! ❤

 

Sherlock Book Cover

For my Sherlock book cover I wanted to keep things simple. The image of the pipe with the smoke is from a small painted sketch from my sketchbook, which I scanned in and copied. The simplicity of this cover is inspired by other old hardback books, the type that have a small image embellished into the cover. I first tried out doing the image just as small, but it didn’t quite look right so made it larger.
The pipe motif is also used in one of my collograph prints, the one for “the Scandal in Bohemia.” I really liked how that small sketch turned out, so used it for both the cover and as a detail in one of my illustrations. The colours I chose were also inspired by my illustrations, but instead of using a dead black I used a dark grey, much warmer and inviting than a dead black.

Sherlock Illustrations – Collographs

After the success of my collograph print I made at the print workshop with Charles Shearer I decided to go ahead and do the rest of my Sherlock illustrations using the same printing method. I tried to keep the two other illustrations in a similar style to the first one I did, creating a sort of abstract composition of key visuals influenced by the story.

On the day of printing I had a considerable amount of help from the print tech, Jess. She helped me try out various ways of printing my collograph prints. The first one of the two I decided to go with just black, so it would pair well with my first print from the previous workshop. This print illustration was based off the story of “The Musgrave Ritual.”

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Jess had found some old typography reference sheets that I could try printing on, I was weary about it first because I thought the sheets were too nice for me to print on. Once we tried it out, I was still unsure at first if i had liked how it had turned out. Once I had gone for break and come back tho, I realized how interesting it looked. The strange typography peering through the image gave a strange mysterious, atmospheric feel to the illustration.

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For my last print, which was based off the story of “The Man with the Crooked Lip”, Jess suggested we should go with a colour instead of black this time. I choose a blue, slightly more on the greener side, to reflect the water of the Thames the coat was thrown in.

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Something was still missing from this image tho, so Jess suggested we try out a stencil. She printed the leftover ink onto a piece of card so I could cut out parts that I wanted to be black. The card was too thick in the end, so we used the small pieces I had cut out to print black onto the print. Of course I had to choose the small fiddly bits to print black details.

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The effort was worth it in the end. Printing some details with black really gave the image more depth and character, plus it was a good learning experience for me.

Printmaking with Charles Shearer

The other day we had a workshop with printmaker Charles Shearer, creating collographs. We were each given an a4 sized piece of display board. Display board is particularly good for this style of print because you can peel away the layers of card that it is compromised of.

For my first print I created a composition based off a bunch of small sketches and visual ideas I had in my sketchbook for the ongoing Sherlock illustration project I’m doing. The story that I was focusing on at the time was a Scandal in Bohemia. My first print didn’t turn out particularly well, I had forgotten that prints come out as a mirror image, of course. Charles recommended to fix this by cutting back some layers of where I had used type. To help this mistake look like it was originally part of the image I cut away more layers on the letter part.
I think it looks much better being lighter than the background, previously the overall image was too heavy, and now the focus of the image is drawn into the center, where it is supposed to be. I particularly like the nice unexpected effect of the pipe overlaying with the letter, but I do not like how the hand turned out. I think this goes to show that I need much more practice with hands and with this medium.

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The second print we did was an experiment with colour and shapes. I originally tired to do something linking to Sherlock, but it was too detailed and wasn’t working out so I cut out simple bird shapes instead. Birds always seem to be my go to thing when I’m absentmindedly doodling. To layer the different colours on to the prints we made we cut out stencils of small shapes. I’m quite happy with how this print has turned out, the colours are quite beautifully muted. It was fun to try out something new.

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Book Illustration Competition: The Adventures of Sherlock – Research

As with any project, the first thing I did was create a pinterest board gathering visuals to help me build an idea of what visual aesthetic I want to go for. Pinterest has this new feature where you can add sections in the pinterest board itself, sort of like folders, this was useful for adding different folders separating the artist inspiration and the other visuals, like photos and Victorian crime scene illustration.

This year The Book Illustration Competition has chosen The selected Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle. The brief asks for four illustrations, one each for each short story and a book cover. (You can find the link for the brief here.) The three stories that have been chosen are A Scandal in Bohemia, The Man with the Twisted Lip and The Musgrave Ritual. 

Some artists I’ve looked at to gather inspiration for this project are; Dave McKean, Charles Shearer and Jonny Hannah.

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Dave McKean

I looked at Dave McKeans black and white illustrations. His black and white ink drawings are some of my favorite of his work because of his use of line. It kind of looks like he’s using a dip pen and ink, and maybe a paintbrush for the larger dark areas. I like the way he simplify shapes for dramatic effect and the imperfect and sort of uneasy look to his drawings creates a great atmosphere.

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Charles Shearer

What really appeals to me about Shearer’s work is the way he captures the atmosphere of a place. A lot of his work subjects are these great British mansions that have been abandoned and left for time, sort of eerie and majestic at the same time. He uses a variety of textures in his work, with different techniques to attain them, including printing and painting.

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Jonny Hannah

Jonny Hannah is a popular favorite, one of them being for his unique way with typography. He breaks graphic design rules and often uses many different fonts on the same illustration, but he uses it to his advantage. I also like the line work in this drawing, the simple thick black painted lines and simple shapes mimic the folk art he’s so fond of.

 

Poppies at the Skate-park

Above is my design for the poppy project at the skate-park we had to do. We were asked by the British legion to decorate the skate-park with our own designs of poppy’s to help launch poppy day in Hereford. The reason why it was at the skate park is because they wanted to appeal more to the youth of Hereford and its surrounding areas.

I came to my final poppy design through a lot of experimentation. I started off with a very detailed design but after trying out the design as a stencil I felt it wasn’t as strong of an idea when put to use. The small details of the first idea weren’t successful when seen from a distance and overall didn’t quite look like a recognizable poppy. So because of this, I tried my best to simplify my shapes and get to the most basic, but effective, looking design.

Through my pages of experimenting I had a small light-bulb moment and came up with the idea of a negative poppy. So up close my design looked like a small field of red poppies with a space but from a distance its a large red background with negative space poppies.

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