A reflection on the work that I have made this year in the subject module.
Throughout the year I have experimented with many different processes and learnt lots of new things. In the editorial illustration projects I learnt how images can speak for themselves out of context and how putting them into context can change their meanings. I also learnt how it is import to consider what connotations different materials and images can portray especially when it comes to sensitive topics. I also learnt to consider how an image will be accessed by people, for example on a website or in print and how this can effect how you create an image. I also learnt how to make a GIF in this project, something I had only done once and not very well. I also discovered that I need to make my work neater, especially the haunted house image, making the picture bigger would have made it easier to cut out the furniture and using a lighter pencil to sketch before I paint as it can still be seen in the image. I found this project interesting as it simulated what a real life editorial commission would be like, this enabled me to learn about this process and allowed me to consider doing more projects like this in the future.
With the second project Mappa Mundi I was able to develop my collage skills further however I think I used too much collage in this project and not enough of my drawings skills. I enjoyed this project as I was able to develop one of my ideas further however I now wish that I had explored the idea in a different way. Because of this project I realised that I needed to incorporate more of my drawings into my final work as my drawings are quite lively and expressive and I think that these features are lost in the final pieces where I use collage.
In the Penguin Book project I experimented with dynamic shapes and paper cuts in order to to create a book cover. I was also able to experiment with text in relation to images and develop my own style of writing. This project also taught me about how a book cover is put together and what information needs to be included on one. I was also able to experiment with textures which is something that I enjoy incorporating into my work, I think that this project allowed me to start to discover how I can include textures in my work without using a lot of collage and still being able to incorporate drawing into final pieces. I also learnt a lot about dynamism and how using simple shapes can create lively pieces which attract attention.
In the creative conscience project I was able to develop my animation skills further. I was also able to explore how I could use drawings in my final pieces. My final outcome was a set of GIFs that I created using photoshop. The character, a vampire, in the GIFs was created digitally on a tablet, allowing me to draw but making it easier to convert into a GIF. I enjoyed this project as I was able to create something with the aim of helping others and bringing attention to a deserving cause. The idea of my work potentially helping people inspired me and encouraged me to create something that I enjoyed making and that others would enjoy too. I learn’t many skills in this project as I made a series of GIFs in a way that I hadn’t previously used. This project also allowed me to explore how words and images work together, I discovered that in some cases it is important to have a balance between the words and images and to not let one out shadow the other when trying to convey information and interest people. I am very pleased with the work that came out of this project as I think my series of GIFs achieved my goal of encouraging people to give blood in a light hearted and humorous way.
In the final project, the open brief project, I was able to explore a different aspect of my work, a darker and more serious aspect. This project enabled me to discover how I could tackle such a serious topic using my artwork, which is usually lighthearted and charming. I was also able to further explore how words and images work in relation to each other. I enjoyed this project as I was able to work with a narrative which is something that I enjoy and something that I think my work is more suited to. I think that this project was a challenge for me as I had to illustrate something real whereas I often illustrate the imaginary and I had to do this in a way that suited the topic but I still wanted to create something that was visually engaging, including textures. To create the images for this book project I used a process that was fairly familiar to me, watercolour, however I tried to use it in a way that I hadn’t used before. I also used photoshop to create digital backgrounds, this is something that I have done before but I think that I can still improve this technique. I also learnt about book layouts and how to create a book using Indesign which is an important thing for an illustrator to be able to do.
The final outcome of the open brief project.
After making some designs for the final pages I made a dummy book. I then finished off the final pages. I used watercolours to paint the main features of the pages, I then digitally added the backgrounds. I created the font from my own handwriting, I think this works as it isn’t too messy but it looks more personal than a normal font.
The first page is made up of documents and letters that my Grandfather brought back with him from his time as a prisoner of war. I also included a photograph of him and another of him and some other soldiers.
I am fairly happy with how the pages turned out however there is still many changes that I would make to them. I think that I need to experiment more with how the text is placed on the images as it takes up quite a lot of space and detracts from the images a bit. I also need to improve the quality of some of the pages, I could do this by re-scanning some of the artwork ignorer to make it less blurry. I also need to improve the way that I cut out my images and apply them to flat colour backgrounds. One suggestion from my tutor was to use gouache, the same colour as the background, and apply it around the parts of the image that I wish to cut out, creating a smoother transition between the digital aspects and the watercolour parts. I will try this technique to improve my images. I also went to experiment more with the content of some of the pages, for example the third page, with the image of the boat sinking, I think that an image where the main character can clearly be seen climbing across a rope to the ship would be more effective and visually interesting. I would also like to include more textures from real items in the pages like the wooden box on the fifth page and the blindfold on the eleventh. I could paint on bits of the documents and letters and I have some Japanese fans that I could also incorporate.
I also made a cover for my book using images from the existing pages.
A short reflection of the third year illustration degree show.
For the third year’s degree show a ‘river of books’ was created. I think this table in the shape of a river worked really well to draw people into the space and to get them to interact with the work that was being displayed. I think that the shape of the river table also encouraged people to walk around the space and to explore it thoroughly. I especially liked the work that was at the start of the river, a book that contained templates that could be used to make models of some of the buildings from St Fagans, a Welsh Museum. I think this project was very engaging and it made you want to discover more about it. I think that the placing of the models drew you in to the exhibition and into the project as they were so intriguing. I also liked a concertina book that explored guilt eating. I think as the format of the book was different to all of the more traditional books it drew you in. I also think that the stuffed character drew the eye and made the viewer want to find out more about it. The third piece of work that caught my eye was a tapestry hung on the wall with other images hanging off the bottom. I think because this work was so different to everyone else’s it especially stood out and because of it containing many different images it invited you to come closer to try and figure out what was going on.
Seeing this show has given me some inspiration for my own second year show, especially the concertina book as this could be a format that I would like to explore in the future.
The development of my book for the open brief project.
After doing some initial sketches of my main character and figuring out a timeline of events I created a rough storyboard. Some of the ideas for page layouts I thought could work quite well but other I thought needed improving.
Next I started by drawing out some of my favourite page layouts, I used ink and watercolour then scanned them and made changes or improved them in photoshop. Some of the backgrounds such as the bamboo background I drew using my tablet. There are multiple designs for some of the pages as I made changes to the background in order to improve them.
I started by making a rough timeline of events so that I could start to understand what happened to my grandfather in order to create a story.
I then wrote up some more notes in detail, including the conditions in the camps, what work he had to do, and other important aspects that could be part of the story.
In order to help me visualise what happened to my Grandfather I have also been reading various books, King Rat by James Clavell is about prisoners of war in Changi a prison camp in Singapore. This book has helped me to understand what the conditions were like and what life was life in the camp. Banzai, You Bastards a book by Jack Edwards is about Kinkaseki, a prisoner of war camp in Taiwan, and the hell-mine that the prisoners were forced to work down. This book has images of the camp and the prisoners there which is especially helpful and it also describes day to day life there. I have also looked at books about the sinking of the Prince of Wales ship and books in which prisoners of war describe various parts of their time in camps.
I have collected images from books and websites that are relevant to the story in order to help me visualise certain aspects of it and to help me come up with ideas for images that I could draw to include in my book.
Japanese Hell Ship used for transporting POWs
Changi POW camp
Copper mine in Japan
Prince of Wales ship sunk off the coast of Singapore
People climbing across ropes to another ship
Kinkaseki POW camp
This research has been vital in allowing me to imagine what I could draw to visually communicate what happened to my Grandfather as the only resource that I have regarding what happened to him is my Dad and the stories that he was told by his Father.
After deciding that I wanted to base this project around my Grandfather’s time as a prisoner of war in the Far East during the Second World War I looked at some examples of graphic novels that deal with this sort of biographic topic.
The first graphic novel that I looked at was Maus by Art Spiegelman. I found this book very helpful as it gave me ideas to how such a dark and sensitive topic can be approached through a medium that usually deals with lighter themes.
I also looked at Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I also found this book very interesting because of how the author communicates such a complex story through words and images.
I found both of these graphic novels helpful when considering what I would like to do for my story but I discovered that I think I would like to use more of a story book format as I would prefer to draw larger more complex images. I made this decision as when reading these graphic novels I considered the way that I like to draw and communicate through images and I think that my way of working wouldn’t suit small images in a graphic novel. I also think that I don’t have enough information or text for such complex way of telling a story.
I have also looked at the Encyclopaedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. I found the artwork in this book inspiring because of the way that the people are drawn and the limited colours used. I think that this graphic novel is more expressive through its artwork than the others as the artwork is more complex but this is probably because it is such a large book.
One of the main inspirations for this project was the book Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean. Its a graphic novel about war artist Paul Nash and his dreams during the First World War. I found the artwork in this book engaging and inspiring and I was intrigued at the way that a dark and serious story had been told through images. This book gave me the idea to create a graphic novel or story book about my Grandfather’s story during the Second World War. The range of media used in this graphic novel has inspired my work before but it has encouraged me to explore how I would tackle such a serious and dark story through my own work which is usually light hearted.
For this project we are able to write our own project brief. I have decided to focus on a narrative based project which will most likely result in a book or graphic novel. Initially my ideas included illustrating short ghost stories or writing my own story but I decided to do something different and create a story book about my Grandfather’s time as a prisoner of war in WW2.
I started by trying to draw my Grandfather when he was young based off of some photographs. I used a ink dip pen to do this as this is probably one of the types of media that I will be using for the story book.
Drawing of Bert by Ed Burch
I think that this project will be a challenge for me as the topics that I usually work with are quite lighthearted and comical. The characters that I usually create are quite cute and quirky so to try and illustrate a darker story, with real characters will be interesting and a challenge for me. This project will give me a chance to explore the visual language that I use and give me a chance to broach more serious topics.