Assessment Piece 1 - Assignment Two: Point of Sale Display

The brief for this assignment was to create four images to be used within a campaign for a supermarket to package and promote a range of seasonal foods. My first step was to look at promotional images in supermarkets, in particular Marks and Spencer because the brief stated the illustrations are for a supermarket renowned for the quality of the food they supply.

All of the images found were photographs so weren’t much help in terms of illustration but they did all have one thing in common, they show the food looking fresh, delicious and appealing.

I then researched food illustrators and came across Tom Hovey who illustrates for the Great British Bake Off. It is clear that his work is based on observation but that he adds his own twist to give the food character. Many of his illustrations have a comic style to them. If food illustration is to provide a carbon copy of the subject then photography may as well be used, therefore I believe that adding a bit of character is important. My goal for this assignment then was to produce the objective drawings required by the brief, but with a sprinkling of subjectivity. This would also be using the skills I learnt in the objective and subjective drawing exercises.

The images created are to be used within a campaign so for this reason I chose not to include text with my illustration assuming this would be added at a later date. The seasons to be represented by the artwork were summer and autumn. I started by making mind maps around each.


To represent summer I chose cucumber because it had most connections with the ideas about summer I mapped alongside types of produce. It is green, refreshing and cool, it screams summer. My illustrations had to be objective and based on direct observation. For this reason I started by drawing close observational pencil drawings of cucumber cut in different ways. This really helped familiarise myself with the different parts of a cucumber and also its tonal values. While carefully looking at the cucumber, I noticed the water bubbles that are present when you first cut one open. This really gives the sense of freshness and was something I really wanted to convey in my illustration.

I made a colour, texture, technique moodboard on cucumber to ensure my images were objective. Then I made some quick compositional sketches before starting the final piece. From these sketches I worked out that I wanted to show the cucumber in two sections cut on the slant. I think it looks most appealing cut like that.

As a result of making my moodboard I worked out that I wanted to use watercolour to create that translucent quality on the inside of a cucumber and use coloured pencil and oil pastel to add texture. Completing the pencil drawings previously really helped me complete this final illustration. I found it fairly quick and easy because I had given myself a good understanding of the construct and tone. It is an objective drawing although you could say that my addition of lots of water droplets to portray freshness means it is subjective. Overall, I think my illustration makes the cucumber look fresh and appetising, even in the middle of winter!

In addition to an image of the produce itself, the brief required me to create an image that reflects the produce chosen and aspects of the season itself. I wanted to have something in the image that cucumber can be used for. This way, the supermarket gets to make link sales. Pimms immediately sprang to mind and had featured on my initial mind map. I started by making sketches of different jugs that I could show the Pimms in. I think I got a bit carried away with this and perhaps should have done this after the compositional thumbnails because the composition I chose in the end didn’t really showcase the jug! I chose the composition shown in the photos on the right having looked through food magazines and noticing that food is often photographed from above.

I chose to use the same media to create this illustration as those used for the cucumber. I also continued the water droplet theme by showing condensation on the jug and glasses. I think this suggests the Pimms is cool and refreshing, although I think I actually could have added more. As Pimms is usually drunk outside in the sun, I chose to have a garden table as the background and chose white so the background didn’t impose on the subject of the image. I think I have showcased cucumber in different ways in this illustration and I think it depicts summer.

Once completed, I adjusted the vibrance of the colour in photoshop and used Indesign to add text. I thought the text needed to be added diagonally to maintain the line created by the table background. I used a thin line sans serif font to give a fresh clean look.


For autumn, I originally chose squash because the colours are so indicative of the season. As with the cucumber, I made an observational drawing, compositional thumbnails and moodboard before starting the final image.

Part way through the artwork shown above I decided I didn’t like the composition I had chosen, it wasn’t balanced correctly and while I was happy with my technique, I didn’t feel I was able to give the squash any character. I also couldn’t see it as part of an interesting autumnal scene. So I fell out of love with the squash and went back to my mind map, on which apples featured three times in different forms.

Autumn is full of texture; crunchy leaves, crackling bonfires and bumpy pumpkins. I wanted to convey this through my choice of media. To start my apple illustration I chose chalk pastel to give it texture, however I was unsure about whether the texture worked next to the coloured pencil I was also using so I started again with gouache. (Shown below) .

This looked too flat so I went back to the original I had started with pastel. Next to the gouache version, the pastel and pencil seemed to work well after all! I was using pastel for the darker part of the apple and coloured pencil and oil pastel for the lighter parts. Completing it like this meant that the apple appeared to be in two halves. One side was too nebulous and the other too defined. I did even this up, but not too much because it was an objective illustration and the apple I was drawing from did have this quality. I have added light but chose not to use shadow on the apple on the left for fear of making the fruit look unappealing.

In the same vein as the cucumber and Pimms images, I also wanted to feature apples in an illustration with something they can be made into or used with. Toffee apples were on my mind map which are very autumnal in both colour and seasonality so I chose to focus this illustration around those. I draw out some thumbnail sketches, playing about with items to be in the image and with the composition.

I finally landed on a composition I was happy with. It included apples, raw and toffee, a jar of toffee caramel and a pumpkin to further develop the autumnal theme. I chose a side view so that it would be different to my jug of Pimms illustration and to showcase the toffee apples and sticks most effectively.

This was also a composition that would work in the square format required by the brief. I had some problems scaling up from my original small thumbnail to a larger version while also trying to consider the relationship between background and foreground and the hierarchy I wanted to convey in the image. Although in the foreground and more ‘important’ in the image, I didn’t want the jar to appear bigger than the pumpkin. I needed the toffee apples to appear bigger than the apples in the crate because they are covered in toffee and are in the foreground.

From the larger thumbnail, I then made an even larger visual using pen to explore tone. Between these two drawings I changed the angle that the chopping board is shown. It didn’t seem to make sense perspectively in the earlier drawing.

To create the final illustration, I used a mixture of gouache, watercolour, chalk pastel and coloured pencil. It was very important to me that I convey a sense of texture and I think I have achieved that. I was worried about adding the background in case it detracted from the illustration so I looked at still life paintings to see what sort of backgrounds tend to be included. Generally they are rather plain with a big focus on light and shade which is what I tried to create. I wanted the colours to be autumnal without being more of the same so I used browns instead of oranges. I am happy with the result and thinks it adds context to the image. Overall, I think it depicts the season of autumn and makes the produce look inviting. In addition to the shadow on the wall though I think I should have added shadow on the apple crate cast by the toffee apples.

As with the summer artwork, I adjusted the vibrance of the Autumn image and experimented with fonts. I feel that the fonts on the left and inn the middle are most appropriate because the serifs induce more of a textural autumnal feel. I chose the one on the left to use in my final artwork.

Part 2 final reflection.

I have been drawing more from observation and will continue to do this before illustrating. I will make sure I am more thorough in exploring the potential of each brief and draw upon creative process methods learnt so far in future work.

My passion lies in traditional art but I want to continue to stretch myself and can see the potential digital programs have in refinement and editing so I will explore these more fully in the next unit. This will also involve exploring my illustration in the context of graphic design.

Assessment Piece 2 - Assignment Three: A Poster

A poster

The brief for this assignment was to design an illustration for a poster for a music event. From the options given, I chose to create a poster for a jazz evening because of the striking visual imagery that came immediately to mind.

Before doing anything else, I did a little research about posters, starting with a definition. The Cambridge English Dictionary currently defines a poster as: a large picture, photograph or notice that you stick or pin to a wall or board, usually for decoration or to advertise something. Understanding what makes an effective poster was crucial to me creating my own successful poster for a jazz evening. “By its nature, the poster has the ability to seize the immediate attention of the viewer, and then to retain it for what is usually a brief but intense period. During that span of attention, it can provoke and motivate its audience- it can make the viewer gasp, laugh, reflect, question, assent, protest, recoil or otherwise react. This is part of the process by which the message is conveyed and, in successful cases, ultimately acted upon. At its most effective, the poster is a dynamic force for change.” Timmers, M. (1998) The Power of the Poster. London: V&A Publications

I then started researching jazz posters on Pinterest to get an idea and feel for content and aesthetic. Below are a few typical of those I found. All feature instruments, with some featuring people playing them. The illustration is quite graphic in style with bold line and colour. The typography is usually sans serif and non fussy. Some of the text used is quite quirky as shown in image 4 below. All four posters capture immediate attention through the striking artwork and colour choices. The two featuring the musicians have captivating movement in them while those featuring solely instruments seem more static.

Apart from my original mind images of jazz and the images I saw while researching jazz posters, my knowledge of jazz was very limited so I started with mind mapping, written and visual. First, I drew instruments I associated with jazz and wrote down things and people connected with jazz that I knew.  I then used internet searches to add to the written mind map and finally highlighted the words I wanted to use as a basis for my artwork. I also used this to create myself a mini brief for the type of jazz evening I was making a poster for. A twenties style jazz night in Chicago. I researched Chicago venues and thought the Houses of Blues fitted perfectly due to jazz having roots in blues.

Next I made a collection of jazz images and posters on Pinterest connected with the words I had highlighted, then made a moodboard using the images that most portrayed the feel and ambience I wanted to create in my poster.  The images I selected to use were mostly from the twenties, art deco in design and included posters for music evenings and Vogue covers from that era. I love the elegance of the 1920s and this was a decade known as the jazz age so I thought it would make a beautiful aesthetic and illustration style for a poster.  The images I chose also gave me the colour palette which I have shown further on the mood board through colour swatches.

References for moodboard images: From top left:,,,,,

While researching jazz musicians I found that most of the key figures were men and that most images that come up in searches depict men playing the instruments.  Women sang, but they rarely played the instruments. This led me to search for women jazz musicians. There are quite a few contemporary ones so I added these to my mind map and moodboard. Visual images from the twenties heavily feature women due to the radical change in fashion the decade brought so it seemed fitting to have women musicians as a theme in my artwork.  

To me, jazz is freedom, it can be improvised.  Likewise, the dance of the era, the Charleston, gave the dancer a sense of freedom that previous dances hadn’t.  Both are full of energy and movement and this is what I wanted to portray in my poster. I am inspired by the work of Jules Chéret and in particular posters he created for dancer Loïe Fuller. They are so full of life and movement and imbue performance.

Before I started creating thumbnails, I drew some jazz poses from silhouette images to support with my figure drawing for the poster.  I then turned some of these into female poses, trying to add more of a sense of movement. At this point I also drew some twenties figures from observation ( When creating my visuals I used an artist’s dummy to help get proportions right because I couldn’t find any images with the positions I wanted to portray.

When creating my thumbnails, I referred back to previous exercises illustrating visual space and viewpoint to ensure I explored all options for composition. I explored changing the number, size and positioning of the musician figures. I tried whole figures and some that were more cropped, large figures in the foreground with smaller in the background, and some with more equal sizing. All thumbnails though show the content face on. I didn’t try out viewpoints from above or behind because I knew I wanted to engage the viewer of the poster by connecting them with faces. I also thought front and side views would create the most movement in the image.

The thumbnails I thought were most successful in communicating my idea were the ones with larger figures taking up most of the frame. I chose two that were quite different to each other to produce visuals from.

I felt that having the piano player at the front worked best out of the two because the wave of the piano created the sense of movement I wanted. I felt that the continuation of sway from the piano to double bass complimented this with the other two figures fitting each other in shape and movement too. The second visual didn’t have the movement and The cropped foreground figures in the second visual made the image seem rather stilted, like the movement had been stopped.

Once I had chosen which visual to use, I created stronger line version to be scanned in order to make a colour visual in photoshop. The colours used were from my moodboard. My original intention was to use hand drawn text on my poster so I drew it onto tracing paper and explored laying it in different positions on a printed version in order to find the best one. If working for a client though, I realise I would need to include it on the actual visual so that necessary edits can be made before the final artwork is submitted..

I chose to make watercolour my prime media for the final artwork in keeping with the twenties art from the Vogue cover from my moodboard. However, in order to keep developing my use of photoshop, I decided to create the content and the background separately, then assemble it digitally.

This proved very tricky though with the white background being very difficult to remove effectively. I tried many different methods after googling the issue but none of them worked well enough. This first attempt is shown below. There is a lot of white that hasn’t been removed and there isn’t a crisp line around the foreground content. This did give me the opportunity to further explore how the poster looks with text. I had created a second colour visual with text this time!

For my second attempt, I went back to basics and did all the artwork on the one sheet of paper. The paper was scaled slightly down from A3 size. Starting again gave me the great opportunity of being able to make improvements and changes to the original. In my first version, I was trying to make my illustration a little more graphic in style, with colour in shapes rather than my usual more textural style. When completing it the second time, I stayed truer to myself and I felt so much more confident and enjoyed it much more. I feel that the face of the piano player is much improved and I prefer the piano without the black outlines. The text used in this is my hand written text, created after researching deco fonts and added in photoshop.

I also made the same poster using a font I had previously purchased. This font however doesn’t include numbers so I had to use numbers from a different font. I had to try a number of these before I found one that fitted well!

Having completed this assignment I wanted to refer back to the quote about successful posters earlier in this post to see whether my poster achieves its aims. I think my portrayal of women musicians in an Art Deco style creates enough interest to seize and hold brief attention. It is clear from the text and the artwork what message is being conveyed and the type of evening being advertised. The movement I have managed to incorporate adds life to the poster to engage and motivate the viewer, an important feature of posters for performance. I think the colour palette supports the poster in catching the eye. My use of light colours on a dark poster creates a contrast, with the eye being initially caught by the bright white of the piano.

If I was to undertake this assignment again, I would explore adding more distortion into the figures and instruments. I have used a little stylisation but think there is scope for more. I learnt a lot about using watercolour on large areas while completing this and will continue to explore letting the medium’s ‘free will’ do some of the work for me.

Assessment Piece 3 - Audience: Museum Posters

Exercise: Museum posters

I chose to design posters for a museum local to me, Dover Transport Museum, so I started with a visit to become familiar with the exhibits and take photos for visual reference. It is a fairly small museum but is packed full of interesting transport types from the past from bicycles to fire engines. In addition to this there is a working model railway and vintage shopfronts displaying items from bygone days. With so many exhibits, I took copious amounts of photos to catalogue the artefacts according to audience type and have included just a few for each on this blog.

Child aged 5 - 9

Having taken my own child, niece and nephew and my class on a school trip to this museum, I have a good idea which exhibits children of this age group like best. They tend to love the model railway, toy cars, the buses, steam train and fire engines.

Teenager 13 - 16

This was a little more tricky, I haven’t really seen any teenagers whenever I’ve visited so It will be a challenge marketing to them! I think some would like the extensive collection of model sports cars and the vintage scooters and motorbikes. Some who are particularly interested in history, mechanics or engineering would enjoy all of it. Having asked a couple of teenagers, they both said they are interested in how transport has changed. I don’t actually think it is age dependent, instead relating to personal likes and dislikes, therefore I think the poster for teenagers will be focused on visual style rather than the type of exhibit.

General Adult Audience

Similarly to teenagers, adults will be drawn to different exhibits dependent on personal taste. However there is much more of a nostalgia element for them, particularly older adults who may remember the types of transport and vintage items in the shops.

I then researched existing posters for Dover Transport Museum. I couldn’t find any for promotion in general, only for special events. The first and second posters both feature photographs and a lot of text.

On the models and miniatures poster, there are example photos of the exhibits with labels next to them. This area is quite cluttered and the eye is a bit bamboozled. There are large sections of text at the top and bottom giving extensive information about date, time and admission. The text at the top is quite clear to read due to the contrast between the red and white, however it is more difficult to see the black. On the second poster, the use of an art deco font matches the theme of classic motorcycles well and the text is clear to read in white on the maroon. As with the first, there are extensive details in text and photos of what can be expected to be seen at the event.

The Halloween poster features illustration rather than photos. The illustration is focused on Halloween though rather than the museum. Most of the poster is covered in text giving details about the event, with a banner illustration at the top and two other smaller ones in the main body of text. The writing on the yellow background is clear to read with the brightness of the background itself being very eye catching.

The ‘Drive it Day’ poster is quite different from the others featuring a large illustration and limited text. It is much more appealing and engaging. The illustration manages to visually communicate not only the special event but also the museum and its vintage exhibits as well. Textual details are kept to a minimum which I think is more suitable for a poster, especially when further information can be looked for on the internet in an instant. English art collector Joseph Thacher Clarke said in 1894, ‘Undoubtedly the commercial poster still exists in France, but the most astute advertising agent, looking at the matter from the commercial point of view, finds that the really artistic work pays better in cash results.’ (Timmers, 1998) . The artwork on this final poster makes it much more intriguing than any of the others and I imagine will be the biggest draw.

Some of the most artistic and influential transport imagery is artwork used in posters for London transport, so this is where I took my research next. “I feel like London is the only city in the world which is instantly recognisable by its transport images,” says Elizabeth Scott, head curator at the London Transport Museum. “The tube map, the roundel, the red bus – they’re all symbols of London itself.” (

The tube map is so iconic as a design that art is created from it, ‘[the] Tube map cover series brings art to everyone…putting art into the hands of millions of people everyday.’ (London Transport Museum. (2016) . Some of the cover series designs are shown below.

I have included some of my favourite vintage posters here. All photos: (courtesy of

I was first attracted to the first two posters because of the movement and vitality they portray. Both have the activity shown diagonally, transporting the viewer’s eye from one corner to the opposite one. In Roy Meldrum’s poster, the eye follows the activity to the edge of the page, then turns round and comes back to the left to start again a bit higher. It is like you are actually on the escalator, horse or boat with the people in the poster. It has a different angle to the other two posters in that it portrays all the exciting things you can be doing if you travel by underground or tram, things you definitely don’t want to miss out on. The limited, but bold colour palette gives the poster vibrancy which perfectly compliments the content and message.

I think Alfred Leete’s poster is so successful because it makes you feel like you are missing out if you don’t do what it is suggesting you do and the sweeping visual narrative makes you want to follow the crowd. The more realistic colour palette used helps make this seems like a normal things to do. A must. Both of these first two posters have a very clever slogans that match the imagery perfectly. Both have the slogan running along the bottom of the artwork.

Charles Frederick Herrick’s poster incorporates the text within the artwork a lot more. “It’s cooler below’ is placed underground, where it is cooler. An engaging rhyming couplet is positioned with the lines either side of the train imagery in an arc suggestive of the shape of the earth. This line is continued further up in the colours in the sky only to be broken by the sharp triangular edges of the burning sun that you must escape at once!

A more contemporary illustrator commissioned by London transport is Virginie Morgand. Her posters for the Brightest London campaign are shown below. Photo: Like the vintage posters previously discussed, these all exude life and vitality with the frame filled with activity. They are mostly flat colour, bold and vibrant. The posters have a brand, a design theme that is the same in each with the text positioned at the bottom in a banner in the same font.

I couldn’t actually find many posters advertising the actual transport museum in London, mostly they advertise London transport or London by transport. I wanted to look at some for the museum itself because it could be seen as competition for Dover. The poster below by Tom Eckersley does advertise the actual museum. Photo:,uk

It features an image of the iconic steam train and the bold shapes used are instantly eye catching. The flat colour and graphic style make it look contemporary. ‘Eckersley frequently used a limited range of strong colours to create designs that were simple to read, appealing directly and effectively to a wide audience.’,uk

Inspired by Tom Eckersley’s work, I drew a range of vehicles from the museum from photos taken on my visit.  I picked out the main lines needed to show the form of each without adding unnecessary detail.

Before starting thumbnails for the different audiences,I made quick mind maps to jot down ideas, influences and inspirations for each one.  

One of my ideas for the poster for children aged 5 - 9  was to make the poster look like a train track set up or road layout with different exhibits included as toys being played with.  Initially I found creating a road layout difficult because I was unsure what I was trying to achieve in composition in terms of position and direction.  Making smaller thumbnails to try out different road and track layouts without including the vehicles helped keep it simple and enabled me to decide on a layout which I thought could work well in a poster.  I wanted the road and track to work together but struggled incorporating them until I came up with the loop which enables a seamless transition from one to another.

Once I started adding vehicles and other elements however, it all got a bit cluttered. The text would not have stood out and there wouldn’t be much negative space to make the poster appear balanced.  The brief asked for one exhibit to form the main part of the poster and this did not hero any of them. In addition to all of this, I was worried that it may not appeal to the upper part of the age range.

After referring back to my mind map, I decided to take a more narrative approach.  I liked the idea of children being ‘in the driving seat’ so decided to use this as a basis for the design.  I chose an iconic looking vintage bus and car and put children driving them, no handed! After drawing a few thumbnails with the vehicles standing straight, I realised that I could make the image more fun if they looked like they were swerving or skidding, as if the children were racing them.

I chose to use photoshop to create my colour visual so that I could explore different colour options.  I started off very bright and bold to make it fun and eye catching for children but the colours just clashed.  I then chose less vibrant tones but then the sense of fun was lost. In the end I chose tones of the complementary colours orange and blue which I think is a much more appealing palette and the fun element is maintained.

The bus in Dover Transport museum has Dover Transport Museum in its destination panel so I thought it could work well if I mirrored this in the poster.  This didn’t seem enough text though so I tried adding the website address in different positions. There still didn’t seem enough so I looked at the leaflet for the museum on which they have the slogan ‘Driving the past into the future’.  This seemed perfect for helping to get the ethos behind the museum across. I thought placing the text in an arc to act as the road marking would be fun and work well with the design aesthetic of the poster as a whole. Initially I used Indesign to add the text but I couldn’t work out how to create the arced text so I switched to Illustrator which was much easier.  

To appeal to teenagers, I wanted to create a contemporary graphic visual style.  The drawings I had made at the start of this exercise had minimal lines to represent the vehicles so they worked well as a basis for a poster for this audience.  After scanning each one, I coloured them in photoshop maintaining a similar colour palette to that used in the children’s poster, in order to keep a consistent look across all posters.  I then started to make different thumbnail arrangements of the buildings to explore compositions. I originally wanted to arrange lots of the vehicles onto the poster with possible overlapping, hence the digital approach to the thumbnails.  Solely line drawings would get confusing. Once I had coloured in photoshop, I switched to illustrator because it allowed me to move the objects off the artboard but still see them.

I quickly decided against the idea of having lots of vehicles because I couldn’t seem to arrange them in a way that looked cohesive.  I explored different amounts of vehicles before settling on three because it looked most balanced on the page. I then made thumbnails of different arrangements of three vehicles to work out which had the most pleasing visual aesthetic and which worked together effectively in which order.   Below shows just some of the arrangements I tried alongside the text. I wanted a sans serif font for a contemporary look and after trying a few, settled for the one shown in the thumbnails.

Although using just three vehicles creates the contemporary minimal look I intended for the teenager poster, I began to think it was more suitable for the adult audience, especially as the age specified is the lower ages, 13 - 16 years.

Another idea on my initial teenage mind map was to show a vehicle split into two halves with one half from the past and the other from the present day.  Teenagers I spoke to said the change in transport was one of the most interesting things about the museum. While researching posters, I had come across some for the Natural History museum showing different exhibits morphing into each other.  This is the effect I wanted to create.

For the idea to work I needed to ensure the two halves worked together cohesively but look clearly different from each other.  Initially I kept them the same colour but then realised the colour needed to be different to create the contrast with similarity in shape creating cohesion.  I kept the colours the same as in the poster for the children but with brighter tones for the cars. As before, I used illustrator to arrange the cars and text to find the best layout.  

When working on my original idea for the teenage audience I had included text in my thumbnails as part of the composition to fully explore the most effective position. I decided that the text worked best at the bottom because I think it looks more contemporary than elsewhere.  I had also discovered that the name of the museum works better running the full length of the poster rather than on two lines. The design I chose for the visual below seemed to be the most balanced with the two side views of the cars facing alternate ways.

For the adult group I began to explore an idea based on nostalgia.  I wanted to bring in an element of the old railway posters but render it in a mid century style similar to the artwork of Miroslav Sasek.

In addition to vehicles, Dover Transport Museum also has vintage shop fronts full of items from bygone days and I thought using one of these in an illustration alongside a vintage vehicle would capture that nostalgia well.  There was a great exhibit of an old railway kiosk so I chose to use this alongside a steam train and made a quick observational drawing from a photo. Old train stations often have beautiful arches in them and it was another photo of this that gave me the idea for the arch that then creates a tunnel.  

The thumbnails show me exploring the positioning of the kiosk and train to ensure maximum impact was achieved. In order to make text and illustration as one, I also tried out different text positions. Placing the text at the bottom made the poster look more like the old railway posters but I finally chose to have the text added as if it were a sign painted onto a brick wall in white.  Before I got to make a colour visual though, I abandoned this whole design idea because the aesthetic would be very different to the posters for the child and teenage audiences, and I felt it was important there was a continuity between them.

Instead, I returned to my original idea for the teenage group that I had felt was more adult.  Looking back at the thumbnails created for this poster and after much deliberation, I chose the design below as my colour visual. I like the simplicity of the design and think the positioning of the text being the same as in the teenage helps continuity across the posters.   

I then explored different ways to complete the artwork starting with pen.  This didn’t work too well because I was limited in colours. I also think it would have worked better without the blue outline I included because I liked the outline effect on the visual that was created by making the line art transparent in photoshop.

I created a cut paper version which I really enjoyed doing but chose not to use because I thought flat colour would make the poster more striking in a similar vein to Tom Eckersley’s work. I also wonder whether the cut paper collage looks a bit childish. If I were to create final artwork for the child’s poster, I would probably use this method.

Next I used gouache to add flat colour and used pen to add detail.  I had been looking at some mid century illustration and in particular the work of Alice and Martin Provensen.  They often used flat colour and black pen. Both photos from

I laid my artwork on a flat colour background and made adjustments to shadows and highlights in photoshop then added the text in illustrator.  

I thought it important that a continuity in colour and style was maintained across all three posters in order to make it clear they are all advertising the same place. I think I have achieved that.

Book References:

Timms, M. (1998) The Power of the Poster. London. V&A Publications

London Transport Museum (2016) London By Design: the iconic transport designs that shaped our city. London. Ebury press

Assessment Piece 3 continued - Audience: Museum Posters (Revisited)

I have chosen to revisit this exercise because, like the children’s book cover one, I was never happy with my original designs. I ended up using the design I had used for the adult poster as a design for children’s clothing in the ‘Authorial Practice’ exercise in Part 5 which made me realise it wasn’t appropriate for an adult audience. My tutor had also advised that a more complicated design could be used. Feedback from my tutor also asked about text being placed in the same position on all designs in order to make them more solid as a series as I had identified in my original research on Virginie Morgand.

Taking tutor feedback into account, I made a list of the changes I wanted to make to my original designs in order to create more of a series and ensure that the artwork is more appropriate to each audience.

  • Place text in a banner of contrasting colour in the same position on each poster.

  • Use same font across all three designs.

  • Use different colour backgrounds to ensure they don’t look too similar.

  • Create a more complicated adult design.

  • Make the transport the characters instead of having children in the child’s poster in order to keep a visual continuity between the series.

  • Work on all three simultaneously in order to maintain continuity.

Using this brief I created the designs shown below, of which the children’s poster features final artwork which I completed using gouache to create flat colour. I felt that flat colour would be most appropriate for making a poster eye catching. The colour visuals for the teenager and adult are digital flat colour.

Compared with my original work, I feel that these posters are much improved. Placing the text on a white banner provides the contrast that was missing when it was on a coloured background. I think there are two ways the hierarchy could be interpreted. My original intention was to lead the eye from the top of the illustration down to the text; from the top of the road; the red bus, the largest car down. However because the bright text on a contrasting background is so eye catching, it could work the other way round, with the eye being led from the bottom up to the top. Perhaps it will depend on the viewer. It is clear that these posters are a series advertising the same place, but they are also different enough to appeal to different audiences.

Assessment Piece 4 - Areas of Illustration: A Children's Book Cover

Exercise: A children’s book cover

The brief for this exercise was to produce a cover illustration for a natural history book for children aged between seven and eleven entitled ‘Animals from Around the World’.

It seems to me that there has been an explosion of beautifully illustrated non fiction books onto the children's book market in recent years.  They are perfect for bridging the gap between story books and information books, encouraging all children to enjoy non fiction whether at home or in school.  In his book ‘Illustrating Children’s Books: Creating Pictures for Publication’ Martin Salisbury writes this introduction to non fiction illustration for children, ‘Although some people may think of non - fiction illustration as being a lesser or more prosaic art form, it can be a highly creative area that demands both technical, problem solving skills and aesthetic vision. The best non fiction illustration can be both informative and visually stimulating.’ Salisbury, M. (2004) Illustrating Children’s Books: Creating Pictures for Publication. London. Bloomsbury Visual Arts

In order to create a book cover for reference book called ‘Animals From Around the World’ I wanted to start with analysis of some covers from natural history books for children from the past in addition to more contemporary ones.  Below are the covers of ‘The Animal Kingdom’, by Charley Harper and Brian Wildsmith’s ‘Wild Animals’. Both were published during the 1960s.

The following is said about Brian Wildsmith in an obituary to him in the Guardian, ‘In his arrestingly powerful series on the natural world, which includes Birds (1967), Wild Animals (1967), Fishes (1968) and others, his vibrant illustrations are matched by a minimal text: “a stare of owls”, “a school of butterfly fish”. Despite the simplicity of the words, the books are sophisticated visual feasts containing images that encourage children to look closely, to imagine and to tell the story for themselves.’ Eccelshare, J. (2016)

The cover for this book has the text running along the top in black on a white background for maximum contrast. The illustration features two large tigers in the foreground with a smaller one some way behind. Of all wild animals, a tiger is a well known and loved animal, therefore perhaps chosen to engage children. The tigers are looking directly at the viewer but aren’t scary which is also important when appealing to children. Brian Wildsmith’s artwork is so textural you can feel the wild emanating from the cover.  You can just see the tiger’s legs coming through the layer of green paint over the top giving the impression that they are walking towards the viewer.

In contrast to Brian Wildsmith’s textural animal illustration, Charles Harper reduces the form down to the fewest lines and shapes as possible while still capturing the essence of the creature.  “When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don't see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, colour combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behaviour and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures.”

This is clear to see in the illustrations for the front cover ‘The Animal Kingdom’ which are minimalist and stylised.   Although stylised though, the animals are recognisable which is important in a non-fiction book. The colours used are realistic but vibrant and engaging. He has made much use of pattern in the illustration with spots being a common pattern connecting the different animal types featured.   

Harper chose to represent all animal groups on his cover which I think is important in a book with the title of ‘The Animal Kingdom, especially as it has the subtitle of ‘An introduction to the major groups of animals’.  He has created movement in the image by depicting all the creatures moving in the same direction with most facing in that same direction. Only the cheetah faces the viewer. The cheetah has been positioned in the centre of the image and is what the eye is drawn to first.  I think this is a clever device because it captures the initial attention, then the eye is free to move around the rest of the image.

The artwork on the cover is set on a white background with the text positioned at the top, in the contrasting colours of red, with black used for the subheading.  

Owen Davey and Dieter Braun are two contemporary illustrators who appear to have been influenced by Charley Harper.  Both have a minimal realist style, depicting animals through basic lines to indicate form.

Owen Davey has illustrated a series of books about animals shown in the images below. All photos except ‘Crazy About Cats’ from Crazy About Cats image from

All books have the same design aesthetic, it is clear to see that they are from the same series.   The text is always placed within a ‘bubble’ to ensure it stands out from the complex arrangement of the items in the image.  This approach enables the text to be part of the image while remaining clearly readable. All covers depict different species of the the focus animal in various positions.  He also includes elements from their habitats and other objects linked to them such as a magnifying glass in ‘Bonkers About Beetles’. Despite the similarities however, each book has its own ‘look’ largely created by colour choice. He tends to use a limited colour palette for each cover.   ‘Smart about Sharks’ has hues of blue and pink, ‘Bonkers about Beetles’ is turquoise, yellow and green while shades of yellow and orange are used for ‘Crazy about Cats’.

The latest in this series is ‘Fanatical About Frogs’ so I will use that to analyse in more depth.

Different types of frogs are shown from different angles, the poison dart frog at the top left of the design is shown from above, with a front view of the tree frog and the common frog depicted from the side.  A tadpole and frog spawn have also been included, together with elements from their habitats such as lily pads and trees. All of this is placed on a pond background. Although the illustrations themselves could be described as simplified, the arrangement and composition of each element is not!  The eye is initially drawn to the tree frog because, like the cheetah in Charley Harper’s cover, it faces the front and appears to be staring at you. My eye was then drawn up to the top with the tadpole helping to guide you round and down to the bottom right. The colour palette is limited to shades of green, yellow and black.  The black helps to create contrast in the design and prevent all the greens merging into one.

Like the books from Owen Davey, Dieter Braun’s series of two, ‘Animals of the North’ and ‘Animals of the South’ has a design aesthetic which makes it clear they are part of the same series.  Each book features one large animal who is looking slightly up at the viewer. The animal chosen for each is indicative of the region the book is about. In both, the text is large is placed at the top of the book, laid over the body and top of the animals head.  White is used for the text to create contrast with the colour and pattern of the animal. The geometric shapes Braun uses in his illustration make the animals look 3d, as if they are coming off the page which I think would make children want to grab it off a shelf to read.  

Another contemporary collection of children’s non-fiction about animals is the series by Yuval Zommer pictured below. All photos: Briony Dixon

His illustration style is more like Brian Wildsmith’s than Charley Harper’s in that he uses a lot more detail to create his realistic looking creatures.  He has a kind of trademark eye that he gives his creatures which gives them real personality and character. Like Owen Davey and Dieter Braun though, it is clear that his books are part of a series due to a similar design being used across all.  The text takes centre stage covering the whole cover, with animals being used almost to decorate the text. They walk on top, peek through holes and hang off it which creates a comical feel. These books are for a slightly younger age range than the other books mentioned for whom a more characterful approach works well for. The text is hand lettered, whereas the text on the other covers are type faces.

The title ‘Animals from Around the World’ is quite wide in terms of content and would include animals from across all different groups, much like ‘The Animal Kingdom’ previously mentioned.  To begin with I felt quite overwhelmed by the choice so I made a mind map of animals from each continent. The list mostly contained well known animals with some more obscure ones included.  I tried to include all main groups but think I ended up weighting it heavily on mammals. The age range the book is intended for is 7 -11 years so I didn’t want to choose animals that are known really well.  With the title being ‘Animals from Around the World’, it was my intention to include an animal from each continent if possible. With these two factors in mind, I started to make lists of possible animals I could put together in my design. This was time consuming though and I couldn’t visualise it properly leading me to the idea of creating a visual mind map of observational drawings of animals.  This was also time consuming and didn’t really get me any closer to working out what animals I wanted to include.

I then realised that I could start thinking of design ideas rather than choosing the animals first.  I knew I wanted to focus on the around the world part of the title so I started thinking about how I could portray this in the design.  My first idea was to fill the sea on an outline map of the earth with sea animals and the land with land animals.

Halfway through drawing out this idea though, I started to wonder whether it was a problem that the whole world wasn’t represented by the map considering the title of the book. The animals also weren’t placed in the correct habitats and the whole thing looked a bit chaotic. To try and correct these issues, I thought about showing the earth on a map rather than a globe, but that would make the book landscape and I’m not aware of many children’s non-fiction books being produced in landscape format. So I redrew the earth slightly distorted to fit the whole world in. I then chose a few animals, just one or two that live on each continent, to ensure it didn’t get cluttered. I used layout paper to explore text positioning which at this stage, I felt looked most effective running in an arc around part of the earth.

All of my colour visuals on this course so far have been created by adding colour digitally, so I wanted to make the visuals for this exercise traditionally. I thought it would be a good opportunity to practise some technique. Using watercolour and gouache for the land and sea, I allowed the two mediums to intermingle to naturally create darker and lighter areas. For this visual I coloured the animals in with coloured pencil for speed but for the final artwork I would use gouache so they work in harmony with the background. If creating a colour visual traditionally again, I will create colour thumbnails first to explore the right colour palette before making the final visual. The colours I chose seemed too dark. I think subtler shades of blue and green would work better or even completely different colours altogether.

When I started to build the cover on Illustrator though, the dark background seemed to matter less. In fact the artwork worked really well behind light coloured text giving me the idea to make the text large and placed over the top of the image. I like this look because I think it looks modern and the title of the book is clear, capturing initial attention with the artwork behind inviting further investigation once picked on the shelf. I tried the text all the same size and with the important words larger and I think having the important words larger has more impact. I did try text in other positions but don’t think it has the same visual dynamism.

I had some trouble with removing the background from my artwork in photoshop. The background is partially removed but there is still a shadow present. I don’t normally have this issue so am a bit baffled. This is an area I need to work on.

My second idea was to create a layered image showing an animal from each continent in its representative habitat. I started making thumbnails but found it difficult, I seemed to be rubbing areas out more than creating new thumbnails each time. I thought about using tracing paper but it wasn’t a case of just moving animals around. I was trying them out in different bodily positions.

I couldn’t seem to make the transitions in the habitats work either because it all seemed slightly disjointed and messy. So I simplified the idea and decided to show just a small amount of habitat with each animal. When drawing the animals, I wanted to strike a balance between giving the animals enough character to engage children, but not so much to make the cover appear story like. I was also mindful that the age range is for slightly older children.

With this idea I made artwork for two different colour visual ideas. The first (below left) depicts animals from around the world cropped with a space in the centre for the text. I think this looks unbalanced though because the koala is too small and uncropped. Cropping it and moving it down to give the toucan space would have looked much better. This colour for this visual was flat colour gouache with coloured pencil used to add the detail I felt was absolutely necessary.

I feel that the second idea (right) is much more balanced. I was still able to represent animals from different continents with less animals leaving more negative space. It also has all the animals facing forward, looking at the viewer which I think engages a potential buyer. I used this opportunity to practise a different watercolour technique , allowing different shades and colours mix naturally to add colour to this visual. For final artwork, I would use coloured pencil and pastel to add detail.

I started by trying different fonts positioned in the centre of the animals, but as with the first visual, the text looks most effective when placed over the top of the artwork. Once decided on this, I tried out many different coloured backgrounds. Again the photoshop issue caused a problem, this can clearly be seen on the versions with darker backgrounds where I made edits in photoshop before removing the background, which then didn’t remove properly.

I used what I had learned from making the other two visual when building the final idea. Again I chose the place the text over the artwork and tried out different background colours.

After making a decision about which thumbnail to use as the colour visual for each design idea, I checked whether it was a good decision by referring back to an article I read on the publisher Penguin Book’s website. It shares six essential things to consider when designing a book cover.

‘Think about the target market and who you want to pick up the book as the cover needs to appeal to them.

What do you want to tell the buyer about the book? What kind of genre is it? What do the other books in that genre look like that it will compete with?

You need to have read/have an understanding of what the book is about, so you can instantly visually communicate the story, characters, message, settings and ideas.

Make sure the author name and title are readable.

Identify what the key symbols and motifs are that run throughout the book.

Try to create something that captures someone’s attention and makes a strong first impression, whether that’s through the tiny details, typography, choice of colour or imagery.’ Palmer.R & Wakefield.L (2017)

I think the genre of the book is clearly indicated through the image and text and the title is definitely readable because it is in white on a dark background. There is space for author, illustrator and publisher name at the bottom. I think the animals have enough character to make them engaging for a child. I think the modern look this cover has due to the text taking centre stage creates a great first impression.

The genre of the book in this design idea is clear, as is the title. I think the light text contrasting with the background captures the initial attention and the artwork invites children to find out more. I think it will definitely engage the more curious child who wants to find out more about animals around the world and where they live.

I think this is the least successful of the design ideas. While the genre and title is clear, I don’t think the animals are engaging enough. Showing a mixture of forward facing and side views didn’t really work, there is no unity.

I really underestimated the amount of work involved in this exercise. To think of multiple ideas, create thumbnails and visuals for each is very time consuming. I would still like to explore some of the ideas I had here in the future.

Assessment Piece 4 continued- Areas of Illustration: A Children's Book Cover (Revisited)

I chose this exercise to revisit because it was one I was looking forward to but really struggled with at the time.  Out of the three ideas I produced at the time, my tutor felt the map idea in particular was strongest, so her advice plus my interest in map illustration made this a perfect choice to revisit and develop further.  

I decided to create three designs based around this map idea rather than three completely different designs as I did before. This enabled me to explore colour options and composition and layout in more depth.  To set myself a brief, I referred back to the advice given by Penguin referenced in my original post; the original brief and feedback from my tutor.

My brief

  • Produce colour client visuals of three design ideas for the front cover of a natural history book for children aged 7 - 11 entitled ‘Animals Around the World’.

  • The audience are modern children aged 7 - 11 and the cover needs to appeal to them.  

  • The cover needs to clearly communicate its genre and what the book is about.

  • Make sure the title is clearly readable.  Consider the hierarchy between title and illustration.

  • Think about the book’s place in the market for this genre.

  • Choice of media is open.

  • Size is open.

  • Format is open.

I left size and format options open because it was something I had originally felt was problematic with this design idea and I wanted to try out different shapes and sizes.

My original design ideas all featured the text placed over the top of the illustration because at the time I felt that it gave the cover a modern look. However after advice from my tutor and my own reflection and reference back to my initial research, I realise that it appears confusing to the eye due to a lack of contrast. There is no hierarchy as neither the text or image catch the eye first, it just appears as a jumble. The audience are children so it immediately needs to be eye catching and engaging. It was suggested that I further analyse the relationship between text and image on Owen Davey’s book covers to build on my original analysis. He uses a sans serif modern looking font that suits his graphic illustration style. It is placed in a bubble for contrast and the bubble is set in the illustration which ensures it looks incorporated, not just added on as an afterthought. In ‘Fanatical About Frogs’, I feel that it is the illustration of the red eyed tree frog that captures the eye first, with text lower in the hierarchy, while the text captures the eye first in ‘Bonkers About Beetles’. This is perhaps because the colours beneath the white bubble are darker than the paler blue in the frog pond, creating more contrast.

With this analysis in mind I created some thumbnails to see how I could make the text more part of the design, rather than over the top. At this stage I felt that the text in a semi circle around the top of the globe was a strong design. My tutor had suggested a square book format and this works well with this design. I tried it in a landscape format but felt there was too much negative space to look effective.

With the landscape map of the world idea I tried the text in all different positions including in bubbles as used by Owen Davey.

I kept the age of the children in mind when choosing animals to include on the cover. For slightly older children I felt that I needed to include animals indicative of living in each part of the world but that weren’t the most obvious. They needed to be recognisable and engaging but also ignite a curiosity in children making them want to find out about an animal they may not know so much about. I made a mind map to help me work out which to include on each continent. I also wanted to include a range of animal types, not just mammals.

I then drew each animal from observation before illustrating. When illustrating, I was mindful to try and achieve a balance between making the animals appealing, but without using too much distortion as it is a non fiction text. The artwork is mixed media using mainly gouache, coloured pencil and wax pastel. I made each as a separate image so I could then scan and assemble in photoshop.

The map background was created using watercolour and gouache. I wanted the animals to stand out so I didn’t want the map to be too brightly coloured which was the mistake I made in the initial exercise. I made two versions of the background, one with grey land masses and one with green and grey. I kept the sea quite a dark blue in each. None of the colours were heavily saturated because I felt this would lessen the contrast between map and animals. I did have to use a darker colour around the edges of the land in the grey version though in order to create enough contrast between the colour of land and sea.

The next step was to add the animals in photoshop which gave me the opportunity to resize and flip as I wished in order to create interest for the viewer. I felt it was important to have the animals facing different ways to maintain interest and I had considered this when creating the artwork, but photoshop allowed me to make extra adjustments. The three designs without text are shown below. I think I have a good mix in terms of type, shape and colour of animals, as well as the direction they are facing. The animals are clearer on the green map where the outline of the land is not so saturated with colour.

I explored the book background colour and text together to ensure I created enough contrast to make the title clear enough. When thumb nailing I had chosen a curved text as the strongest and the one to develop. However, in practise, using curved text limits the size it can be, therefore limiting how well it stands out. I think that the first and final colour combinations are the most striking in terms of contrast. I like the white writing on a dark background. I chose two different sans serif fonts after trying out a few different ones. I think sans serif gives it a modern look and is most unfussy when trying to attract children.

I went back to my thumb nails to look at other options for text placement and created the designs shown below. I think the text stands out well on these designs. It is what catches the eye first before allowing it to explore the illustration. I also tried out other brighter backgrounds with children in mind but don’t really think they work.

When working on the landscape design, I started by trying out the text laying over the empty part of the map at the bottom but this just wasn’t clear enough.

To make the text stand out clearly and lead the eye, I decided to try using a coloured banner on which to lay the text. I started by trying out white text on coloured background because that is what I felt worked in the globe design. I then tried out different coloured text on a white background which I think works most successfully. Using the eyedropper tool in photoshop I was able to match the text colour to colours in the animals on the map.

Below are my choices for the final three designs. I think I have fulfilled the brief I set myself. I have considered hierarchy in design and have ensured the text is clear and is what initially catches the eye. To compliment this I think my design invites children to look closer and gives them a clear idea about what the book is about. My artwork and colour choice is much improved ensuring the animals are clearer than in my original designs. Revisiting this exercise has also improved my skills in photoshop. I have learnt how to successfully remove backgrounds in order to assemble illustrations of of multiple elements which will be a very useful skill in the future.

Assessment Piece 5 - Character Development

Before creating my own characters I looked at a range of characters and thought about how they are illustrated, what has been used to describe the character to make the viewer see it in the same way the artist does. I looked at characters from different categories.

Young children

Noi from ‘The Storm Whale’ by Benji Davies.

Noi is a young boy living with his dad in a house by the sea.  He often only has their six cats for company while his dad is off working hard as a fisherman.  Noi is visually depicted as having fairly large head, with his body only being about two heads high.  Accurate proportions have been slightly distorted to increase the child like presence of Noi. From his appearance, he looks might he might be 5 years old, possibly younger.   He doesn’t have a neck which also creates a younger child look. Although it is short when related to his head, Noi’s body is in proportion with itself.  The arms and legs are the correct length and width and he has quite small feet. He is always shown wearing a snood type garment on his head which covers his ears and hair leaving just a round face shape.  Two dots are used for his eyes and a single line for his nose. He is never shown with a mouth which I find really interesting. Despite his facial features being limited to just two dots and a line, accurate expressions are created through angle of head, his body pose and the visual narrative.  Noi is often lonely and has sad moments such as when he has to let the whale go. The lack of mouth and smile gives him a sort of doleful look, one that makes you want to give him a hug!

Eddie from ‘The Marvellous Fluffy Squishy Itty Bitty’ by Beatrice Alemagna

Eddie is a fiercely independent and determined little girl.  Like Noi, there is some stylisation in the proportions of Eddie.  Her head is slightly too large for her body although not to the same extent as with Noi.  She appears slightly taller than him with longer skinny legs. She wears a neon pink oversized bodywarmer which gives her a real comical look but also suits her independent nature.  Young children often assert their authority over a piece of clothing they particularly like, regardless of whether it is appropriate, like only ever wearing wellies for example! The pink of the bodywarmer was also probably chosen by Beatrice Alemagna to match the pink of the marvellous fluffy squishy itty bitty.  She is quite excitable which is reflected in the way her hair is drawn. It is often flying in different directions as Eddie runs from shop to shop. Her facial features are simply drawn. A curved line for a nose with two dots for the nostrils accompany and simple line for her mouth. Her eyes do vary in how they are drawn, sometimes being just two dots while at other times an oval eye socket is drawn with the pupil.  Her ears are two curved lines on the sides of her head, often not level and not in the ‘correct’ proportion. Like Benji Davies with Noi, Alemagna uses body and head positioning that match the narrative in addition to the simple facial features to create Eddie’s expressions.

Older children

Pippi Longstocking illustrated by Lauren Child.

Created by Astrid Lingren, Pippi Longstocking is a fearless, adventurous and imaginative child.  Lauren Child depicts her with the the red pigtails we’ve come to expect from this classic character but draws them at crazy angles which accentuate the crazy side of her character.  She is drawn mostly in correct proportion for a child of about ten. She is quite skinny, especially her legs which also seem to be positioned in ways that make her look a little awkward and kooky, the latter of which again matches her personality.  Her facial features are fairly simple with a line for the mouth and simple ovals for eyes. The positioning of the pupil helps add expression. Lauren Child doesn’t use eyebrows to add expression .

Swatch from Swatch: The Girl who Loved Colour. Written and illustrated by Julia Denos.

Swatch is a colour loving wild girl. She is energetic and fearless, dancing with and hunting colours. Her wildness is reflected in her appearance. Her hair is black, long and untameable created with loose brushstrokes. She is always covered in paint of all different colours. Her body is drawn in a very loose almost impressionistic way with long sweeping strokes for her limbs and minimal use of line for her hands. Her eyes are vertical ovals with large pupils while her nose and mouth are created with just an impressionistic smudge of pastel of paint. Additional details such as a tongue sticking out are also used to create expression.

Elderly people

Quentin Blake

There are similarities between most of Quentin Blake’s elderly characters.  They tend to be quite skinny as in the case of Grandma from George’s Marvellous Medicine, Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the CHocolate Factory and the BFG.   The skinny appearance gives them a sort of frail look which suggests elderly. Lines are used to show their age with wrinkles depicted in the neck, across the cheeks and along the top of the lips.  The way he draws eyes varies a little, with the BFG having dots while Grandpa Joe has eye sockets and pupils. Hands are made to look bony by drawing long, nobbly fingers.

In contrast with Quentin Blake’s elderly characters, Benji Davies creates Noi’s ‘Grandma Bird’ without drawing any lines on her.  Instead he uses the clothes and body position to hint at her age. She wears a granny scarf on her head leaving just enough grey hair poking out to tell the viewer she is older.  She wears glasses and a woolly cardigan. She is quite short which could have been done purposely because people can shrink as they grow older.

Hector from The Bear and the Piano, the Dog and the Piano’ by David Litchfield.

Like Grandma Bird, David Litchfield’s elderly character Hector is created without using lines for wrinkles. Instead he is mostly bald, white moustache and a big nose. All of these features are used to show his age instead of the wrinkles.


For this group I looked at non fiction illustration.

Suffragette by David Roberts

David Roberts paints quite detailed characters. Generally they all have similar shaped eyes, horizontally oval with variations in iris size, colour and position depending on the character he is trying to create. He places the pupil carefully to reveal an expression or show where the character is looking. Noses are often long in his depictions of adults and tend to be attached to eyebrows. The characters often have rosy cheeks or red skin under their eyes. He is quite good at uglifying characters by giving them wonky eyes, eyes that are too close together or with huge bags under the eyes which which gives them a comic feel. HIs use of distortion is generally present in facial features rather than bodily which tends to be in proportion. He uses a lot of detail in hair, clothes and accessories to add to the character.

This is New York by Miroslav Sasek

Like David Roberts’ depiction of adults, Miroslav Sasek keeps his generally correct in proportion. The addition of clothing is central to depicting a character in Sasek’s illustrations for this set of books. The clothes tell us what type of person they are and what they do for a job.

All photos: Briony Dixon

The first character I wanted to create is one from a story I have written an outline for. Ki is an eight year old girl living in a slum who copes with life and keeps a smile on her face by creating a dream fantasy world all of her own. She is creative and uses scraps of material and other recyclable bits and pieces she finds to make art, clothes and costumes. She is skinny and often dirty but has beautiful big, soulful eyes.

The idea for my story about Ki was originally sparked by an image I came across which is shown below. The girl in this photo is younger than Ki but I still chose to use it to make an initial drawing from because I wanted to draw from observation before illustrating. My first attempt shown at the top of the page below was all out of proportion, I has squashed all her features up and made the area from brow to top of head too long. My second attempt was much more in proportion with the eyes midway between the chin and crown of the head. I didn’t capture the likeness though, I think because I found the mouth so difficult to replicate. From this initial drawing, I then used some distortion to create my illustration of Ki. I made her eyes big and slightly shortened the length of the forehead to create a wider head overall. I still struggled with the mouth but at this stage thought it was because I was drawing the faces in isolation without a narrative behind them.

When I added colour I was really happy with her face, even the mouth. I had managed to give her a smile that looks a little anxious, a little unsure. A smile someone would have if they are trying to make the best of things as she is. Her eyes have a depth and a longing.

From here I tried to draw her from the side which I really struggled with. All of my attempts seemed to make her look too old. She didn’t look eight years old in any of them, the lips made her look pouty. In the end I decided to try drawing the body, thinking that putting her in different positions would create a narrative which would help me draw her in profile.

I started with a front view and a drawing in proportion. In the book, ‘Drawing People for the Absolute Beginner: A clear and easy guide to successful figure drawing’ by Mark and Mary Willenbrink, it stated that a child’s body should be five heads high. I used this book to help me make an in proportion drawing of Ki before stylising her. She looked in proportion but so tall! Maybe because she is skinny. I decided that I wanted her to be shorter, to be out of proportion without looking ridiculous and depicted as eight years old. I tried her two and a half and three heads high but she looked too young.

In the end I went back to my mindmap to help me visualise her in my mind. What might she be doing that gives us a front view? How would her body look in that pose? I thought that she could be showing one of her creations, her dress. Having this story in my mind, I was able to just draw her without trying to adhere to number of heads high. It worked! This told me that I work better when drawing to a narrative and by feel, deciding what looks right as I go along.

I then imagined her in different situations and drew her positions. For some I asked someone to take a photo of me in the position for reference.

One of the big things about Ki is that makes her own clothes from scraps of material she finds on the rubbish dump. I wasn’t sure how this would look in my illustration of her so I decided to get in role and play about with some textiles, stitching and creating as she might. From my creations I was able to work out how I would show this in 2D. I did think about using collage and this is something I may do in future development of Ki as a character but I had decided on an orange colour scheme and I didn’t have any orange materials.

I wanted to explore using a limited colour palette for the artwork and I chose orange as the predominant colour because it is a symbol of hope, endurance and motivation, all qualities Ki has. Like I did with the kitten in the previous exercise, I decided to use a bright colour, in this case orange, as a base colour. In the first front view image of her I think this works, particularly for the face. I left areas free of added colour to act as the lighter areas of the face and added pastel to create the darker areas. I used pastel, oil and soft, and coloured pencil to create her rag dress using dark outlines to differentiate each piece as I did with the feathers in the vulture tattoo illustration. In terms of her pose, she looks like she is nervously presenting what she has made which is what I wanted to achieve. I’m not happy with the left arm, it is too wide and I completely ruined the hand. Hands are an area I need to improve.

I am also happy with how the side view below turned out and think I definitely improved in drawing hands! I think it is clear she is the same character and have kept the proportions the same, with the head slightly too large for the body. To improve this I think I need to work on her expression. There is an element of her looking happy about finding a piece of pretty pink material in a world of orange but it could be made more. Perhaps turning the corner of the mouth up more and/ or drawing the cheek pulling the mouth up would solve this. Perhaps a different pose with the other arm coming towards the material would make her look more enthusiastic about her find.

The next one was a really difficult pose. I wanted to draw her sitting down, looking downwards at some ribbon she has found. I think she looks like a gremlin! I’m not really sure why, maybe because I put lids on the eyes to portray her as looking down, maybe it is the angle of the face, or both! I had to remix the orange I used as the base and couldn’t get it right. It is too dark here. Learning point: Mix up LOTS of a colour to keep consistency.

Ki watches the birds and thinks how wonderful it would be to be able to fly away from the horrors of where she lives. Engrossed in her imaginary world, she makes herself wings from material scraps. Although I like her pose, I think her head is a little large in this illustration. Her eyes have the dreamy look I wanted but I haven’t caught it in the mouth, I really struggle with mouths.

My final illustration was the back view. This time she is reaching up to hang the ribbon. think I have captured the pose quite well in this, but again the hands need work. I gave her rag dress a less defined look in this one.

Overall I am fairly happy with my development of Ki as a character however I feel there is long way to go. I definitely want to come back to her, try her without the orange and experiment with using collage. This exercise has really taught me about the role the body pose of a character has in determining expression. It doesn’t need to be all in the face. For now, this has been a good start in drawing of figures which has definitely never been my strength and is an area I will keep practising.

For my second character, I had an idea but it wasn’t as formulated as with Ki. Based loosely on my grandad, I wanted to create an old man who is a mobile greengrocer. His name is Wilfred.

My first step was to draw lots of old men from observation. Unlike with Ki, I didn’t have a clear visual idea of what Wilfred looks like so wanted to explore lots of different looks. The first two thirds of the page are drawn from reference while the bottom third was more me experimenting with different nose shapes and jaw lines.

Looking at my drawings, I was drawn most to the one of the man with a beard in a hat. I thought this kind of look would work perfectly for Wilfred. I tried drawing him from the front and side then remembered about distortion. Old men seem to have large noses and ears so I drew him again with these features exaggerated . I really liked him with a larger nose but felt that with the ears enlarged too he looked too caricatural.

To draw his body, I made some quick sketches of ‘elderly’ poses and positions. I wanted Wilfred to have a slight stoop and pot belly so I included these characteristics in the sketches. Then I started thinking about Wilfred in action as a greengrocer. I thought about the different positions he might make. For front view I imagined him slightly leaning forward, partly due to the stoop and partly because he is leaning towards a customer to find out what they would like to buy. I also imagined him leaning casually on his greengrocer van, then changed it to leaning on a counter. I pictured him handing goods to the customers for side poses and made quick scribbles of these before making larger, more developed versions.

I then explored colour. I wanted to explore the bright base colour idea further and thought a bluish purple might work well. He is a greengrocer so I felt that green needed to be predominant colour.

I don’t feel that this first illustration (below) is very successful. Although I like his pose, I think his head is too big and his eyes too small. I used purple as a base colour to further explore this idea but after completing this illustration I wasn’t sure about this either. As with my illustrations of Ki, I struggled to create the right expression with his mouth. I think I have added too many wrinkles because some of the lines are unnecessary. The elderly characters I looked at at the start of this exercise are drawn either without wrinkles or are minimal but very carefully placed.

So I tried another front view. This time I used a conventional flesh colour for his skin and gave him bigger eyes. I gave him less wrinkles and made his mouth and laughter lines turn upwards more to make him appear more jovial. I think his pose depicts him as having a stoop and leaning forward. Out of all my character illustrations so far, I think this is the most successful.

Not wanting to put the purple skin to bed yet though, I tried agin with the side views. I am happy with these and think the think the purple works well. I particularly like the pose in the first image although I think the pupil needs to be directed down further at the tomato. In all of my illustrations of Wilfred I played about with layering of colour using coloured pencil and pastel. I enjoy creating a depth of colour by mixing and layering hues.

During this exercise I wonder whether I was too worried about making sure my characters are in proportion and look real enough. I feel that I could have been bolder and taken them further in order to portray their character more strongly. In order to combat this shackle, in future assignments involving figures and character I will try to be more confident to draw them without reference and use reference to check and edit.

Assessment Piece 6 - Assignment Four: Magazine Illustration

Magazine Illustration

The brief for this assignment was to create a still life illustration for a magazine based on one of the following words: lost, discovery, guilty secret, disaster. I started by making mind maps for each of the words. I also asked other people to add their ideas in order to get different perspectives.

The two words I was most interested in were discovery and lost. There was a lot of potential for still life for the word discovery because by its very definition there can an element of found objects. I left my mind maps for a day or two to give myself time to think more about the two words and it was lost that I kept coming back to and thinking about more. I liked the idea of lost souls, lost magic, lost youth and childhood, lost in translation and lost in conversation. However some of these could be too enigmatic or esoteric for a still life. There would be a danger that the objects I chose wouldn’t be understood by the readers of the magazine. So I settled on lost magic and in particular lost seaside towns because there is iconic imagery I could use. Before choosing the objects to include in my still life, my next step was to do a bit of research and make another mind map about seaside towns to ensure I explored all ideas. I also thought about how I could make the objects appear forlorn and lost.

From this I chose to include fish and chips in newspaper because it is an iconic seaside tradition and the newspaper is a thing of the past, a tradition lost. I decided to include a punch puppet because although Punch and Judy does still exist, it isn’t the ubiquitous sight at the seaside it used to be and seems to be saved for special festivals. I also think Mr Punch is engaging and will capture interest in a still life illustration. The popularity of seaside towns was at its height during the Victorian times when Londoners would take the train for a seaside holiday. With the present day obsession with cars and air travel for holidays abroad , the idea of taking a train to a holiday at the seaside is a thing of the past. For these reasons I thought that having a torn Victorian train ticket would add to the feeling of lost magic. Buckets and spades and seaside rock are other seaside traditions that I thought are visually indicative of a time gone by.

I didn’t actually have any of these objects to create a still life with so I collected some objects that resembled the shape and appearance of them instead. I then made different arrangements of these as I did in the previous viewpoint exercise. The king puppet is Punch; the flower pot and scraper are the bucket and spade; the plastic tube is the rock and the sponge and crayons are the fish and chips! The photos below show just some of the compositions I made from different viewpoints. In all of them I chose to have Punch lying down to create a lost and discarded feel.

I then made thumbnails from these photos.

I immediately decided that the views from above didn’t have the impact I was looking for. I liked number 4 because of the prominent view of Punch and all elements were included. I also liked number 11 but felt that Punch’s head next to the bucket might result in a clash of detail. Number 15 is similar to 11 but has the bucket and spade at the other end meaning no clash of detail. I still couldn’t decide between number 4 and 15 though so I drew objective drawings of them both. These were line visuals. I gave Punch a sad face because he is no longer the superstar he once was.

From these drawings I chose the second composition and made a tonal version of it which I created using graphite pencil and charcoal pencil. I varied the pressure but also the type and direction of stroke in order to create the different tones and used a putty rubber to lift off to create lighter areas. I used long pencil strokes on the newspaper to give a slight impression of text but I think this also works because it also shows the direction the paper falls into folds. The chips were the most challenging because I needed to make sure each was defined and that they didn’t blend into each other. I started by shading the shadowy areas darker but this didn’t leave enough definition so I used hatching strokes making sure the direction wasn’t the same on any two adjacent chips. I imagined the light source coming from the very front so that is why Punch is left quite light. I like the effect created by shading the outline rather than the object and wish to take this into future illustration.

Between creating the initial objective sketch and making this tonal version I decided to emit the seaside rock. I didn’t feel that it added anything to the image in terms of conveying the idea of lost and it just looked awkward in the composition.

While looking into contemporary still life art, I had come across a still life artist called Jean B Martin who creates hers using mixed media. What struck me about her artwork is that she creates compositions with the objects in the foreground and a building or place depicted in the background. I think this is a unique twist on the conventional still life and thought it was an idea that could work well in mine.

On my initial seaside mind map I had jotted down Victorian seaside piers but didn’t initially think a pier would work in a still life. However, after being inspired by the artwork above I thought it could work brilliantly as a backdrop to the objects in the foreground. My initial thought was to create a collage from old photographs, but before committing to that I decided to have a go at drawing it first. I searched for old photos of Victorian piers to use as reference and found that Brighton West pier is no longer there. This made it a must for use in my illustration. The fact that the pier no longer exists meant that using it in the artwork would convey that real sense of lost seaside magic.

I couldn’t find any photos of it from the side but wanted a side view for my illustration so I improvised from the photo above, changing the angles so it would fit around the foreground. I tried out colouring using charcoal pencils to give it an old fashioned sepia kind of look. I was happy with this drawing so decided to draw it on the final artwork rather than use collage.

It was important that to convey a sense of lost I needed to show lost versions of the objects I chose to include. I doubted that Victorian buckets and spades looked like the plastic ones we have now so I did some research and found that they were quite different. The spades were a different shape, much flatter, and were made from wood or metal. The buckets were generally made from metal, probably tin. Most interestingly of all, they were illustrated with pictures of children having fun at the seaside.

The colours used were primary colours with black outlines. The illustration style was similar to that of Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott depicting idyllic childhood scenes using minimal line. I wanted the bucket in my still life to feature illustration in this style to further enhance the idea of a lost time. On most of the buckets I looked at, the colours were quite washed out so I chose watercolour as a medium. Using white wax crayon under a watercolour wash, I was able to create simple clouds and waves. When drawing the bucket I made it look slightly dented to further enhance the feel of old and lost.

I was then ready to create a line visual ready for my final artwork. The pencil line is quite faint so I didn’t have to do lots of rubbing out before adding colour.

I wanted the Punch puppet to have some detail on his clothes so I tried out some patterns and techniques with different materials. I discovered that making an imprint with white coloured pencil then using wax crayon over the top makes a great effect and is one I used as decoration on Punch’s hat, shirt and trousers.

The final artwork is shown below. It is a mixture of collage, charcoal, pastel, watercolour, gouache and coloured pencil. I really enjoyed working in this mixed media way. I had a local Margate newspaper lying around so I cut out the text from that to make the fish and chip paper. This was great because it meant I could find words that would exaggerate the message of lost seaside magic. I cut out very small sections of relevant text and pasted them in different directions to show the direction of the folds in the newspaper. I also used white writing on a black background to create the darker areas. The tonal version I did of this piece really helped with creating light and shade and in determining the direction and is something I think I will make a habit of before producing a final artwork. I chose some words from the newspaper that I thought should be bigger to help describe my theme of lost.

The tonal version I did also really helped when creating the fish and chips because I knew where to create light and shade. When looking at photos of fish and chips I had noticed that the batter is sometimes bobbly and bubbly so I used painted dots to represent this. I went through a stage many years ago of painting whole pictures in dots after being inspired by Georges Seurat and the pointillism movement. I later refined this to parts of pictures and thought I might try a little of it here. The dots feature as pattern and decoration on Punch’s clothes in addition to the white pencil and wax crayon technique I explained earlier.

Red and white stripes are synonymous with seaside and Punch and Judy so I chose it as a pattern for the surround of the still life. I used pastel to create a loose, smudgy bygone feel.

Finally I made a slight adjustment to the contrast in photoshop.

I think my artwork does convey the word lost. The objects I chose all had a hey day that is now lost and I added features, detail to each to further enhance the idea such as Punch’s sad face, dented, illustrated bucket, torn rail ticket and newspaper with highlighted words. The pier in the background also adds to it as previously described. I really enjoyed creating this artwork. I enjoyed creating the tonal version, the mixed media approach and incorporating collage and wish to make all of this part of my future work. I also fell a bit in love with the Mr Punch character and decided to make a model of him. I have been wanting to try making a model for a while and thought this would be a great opportunity. I used super sculpey and acrylic to decorate. I really enjoyed this too!

Assessment Piece 7 - Editorial Illustration: Travel Guides

Travel Guides

The synopsis of the brief for this exercise is to create three diagrammatic illustrations for the book jackets of travel guides for the locations: Istanbul, Helsinki and Milan. Although diagrammatic illustration has been touched upon in Part 3, I wanted to start this exercise by looking into it further in order to see the scope I had for the illustrations. When discussing contemporary diagrammatic illustration, Alan Male explains, "‘But in a contemporary sense, one can apply the term ‘diagram’ to an array of innovative and richly colourful images that go way beyond the basics of pure information graphics: illustrated maps, detailed cross sections, engaging interactive features that not only facilitate an educational need but can also provide an appropriate visual alternative for use in advertising campaigns, for promotional purposes or for editorial commentaries.’ Male, A (2007)

This quote and the outline for the exercise both indicate that there is a huge range of possibilities for the artwork. In order to help focus and write myself a brief, I decided to look at some existing book jackets for travel guides and started with a few from my shelf.

This book jacket is quite busy. There is a lot of text. In addition to the location name, there is a list of sights that can be seen there and publisher’s details run in banners along the top and bottom of the cover. The text is all digitally generated with the largest font being used for the location name which is also in bold, and a different colour to make it stand out further. The text used for the list of sights is the same font but smaller, not in bold and in grey. This ensures it is subordinate to the location title text as it is that that is needed to initially catch the viewer’s eye.

The title text has been placed at the top with a photograph of the location beneath it. I think the text leads on this cover because it is quite large, almost half the size of the image and is in a dark colour on a contrasting white background.

The photograph shows an idyllic holiday setting and the composition has ensured that a range of elements are included in the beach scene to maximise the information given to the viewer. There is a strong foreground created by the boats which tells a reader boat trips could be a part of their holiday, then the eye is led around the shoreline and taken up into the hills via a castle and other buildings in the native style. The range of elements makes it appear that there is a lot to explore in this location. In addition to that is the list of sights. This is accompanied by a few images. One is a photograph of a mosaic which is there to advertise the roman remains to be found at Pompeii or Herculaneum. Another photograph is used to show that the area is particularly famous for lemons.

There is a diagrammatic illustration on the cover which depicts a castle and palace that can be found in Naples. This is a duplicate of an illustration inside the travel guide and acts as a map for visitors. On the cover however, it is another example of using an image to show the sights that can be discovered there. The diagram is very a detailed line drawing flat coloured with watercolour or digitally. It is realistic in its style.

This travel guide from a different publisher is very different to the previous one and much less busy. There is more negative space in which the location text has been placed. Placing it in this area on a white background makes it stand out really well. The text is digitally created, fairly large and in a darkish blue for contrast. There is a shadow effect behind the text which makes it stand out more. Although it can be clearly read, it is the photo that leads the eye on this cover. The text below lists the things the travel guide has to offer and is in a different font and colour to the location text probably to create further contrast. Small capitals are used for this list in compared with upper and lower case used in the title. Similarly to the guide for Naples, this list text appears in a subordinate grey, however the top point is in a bright red. This could either be to create contrast to the title or perhaps to highlight the fact that it indicates the top 25 sights, the best things to do in Munich.

The main image on the cover is a photograph of part of the city. The viewpoint is from above allowing more of the city to be advertised. Only the rooftops of buildings can really be seen though so I’m not sure it really advertises the city that well. There is a much better photograph just inside which depicts the historic buildings against a beautiful mountain backdrop. I know which I’d rather go to!

The other image on the cover is of a map to show that the guide includes a map. Again this is a photo.

This Rough Guide travel guide to New York is almost half text, half image. They have the familiar Rough Guide logo in the top left corner of the cover and the location text placed just below halfway down. Bullet points sharing what they guide offers are placed in a banner at the bottom. The location text is in the usual branding employed by Rough Guides consisting of digital text in white on a coloured background. The use of white on orange creates really good contrast and creates a contemporary look. The same text is used below though in a much smaller font. Again white is used on a darker background but the blue doesn’t create as much contrast as the orange. This ensures the location text is what first catches the viewer’s eye. Some of the words in the bullet point list are in a different colour to highlight key words.

The photograph shows two of New York’s iconic sights; the yellow taxi and great American diner. Two taxis are shown. The one in the foreground is stationary while the one behind is moving creating a blurred affect. This works really well when depicting New York because it suggests fast movement and New York is definitely very fast moving and busy. The image is very effective and is definitely what catches the viewer’s eye.