Lisbon Trip!

I recently went on a trip to the beautiful city Lisbon with the college. Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal, and I had never been there before, and had never been on holiday without family before so didn’t really know what to expect, but I had heard nothing but good things about Lisbon. I had a (mostly) great time but the highlights of the trip was getting to go to the aquarium, which was one of the biggest in Europe, and getting to meet the teacher and author, Ed Hooks. His enthusiasm for animation is endless, and almost makes me want to get back in to it. Either way I can relate to his love for the medium, even if I don’t make it myself.

Lisbon is the second oldest city in Europe, after Athens, which makes for a very interesting city to explore, although very confusing at times. Getting lost is just part of the fun, and in doing so I came across some beautiful back alleyways, churches and streets. This day of exploring these streets was the main inspiration for my illustration.

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While I was in Lisbon I collected some leaflets that were appealing to me visually, and from these I took some inspiration for the colors I chose. I played with a couple ideas, including some aquarium doodles, before settling on illustrating the streets and houses of Lisbon, and the way they seem to pile and layer on top of each other.

My initial thumbnail developed in to some experimental sketches, and I really loved how the simple composition of just a handful of houses turned out, so decided to try and redraw and refine that idea again on the next page. I did have this other, more ambitious idea of doing a large illustration of lots of buildings and landmarks, illustrated almost like a pattern design. I never really went that far with this idea because of how time consuming and tedious I thought it might be, but who knows I still might come back to it.

As an artist I should really push myself to try new things, so I decided to try something out with my favorite sketch I did from my sketchbook. I haven’t got nearly as much experience with Photoshop as I should have and have been wanting to try out using it for adding colour to my illustrations for a while, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

LisbonDoodleLisbonDoodleAltColour

It took a while, but I managed to figure out a way to do it with my limited knowledge and memory of Photoshop. I’m mostly pretty happy with how it turned out, but maybe its not quite as clean as I would’ve liked it to be. I still cant decide entirely which colour pallet I like the most out of the two I’ve played with. I think the I’m possibly leaning more towards the red/orange/bluey-green one from the two, because I feel the colours represent the city better, with the red rooftops.

Overall this illustration was a great exercise in Photoshop, and I learnt a lot by doing it, and will experiment further with this method of adding colour to hand drawn images in the future because I’m quite happy with how this turned out.

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(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.)

mother trudi s
 ‘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!’