Visual Properties

Exercise: Image Development

The photo I chose on which to base my work for this exercise was taken in New York. It is of a tiny park hidden in the area under Brooklyn bridge. I chose it because it has a range of content; Manhattan bridge in the background; Brooklyn bridge over the top; the summer house building that sits just in front and below; the garden and trees in front of that. The left side of the photo contains different content to the right side.

The task was to make edited versions of this image using a viewfinder, to crop in different ways in different formats. The compositions this activity gave me fell into groups. The first group, shown below, kept the summerhouse as the main focus. With some of the background cropped out, the image could have been taken in a back garden. This is especially so in the image in which the bridge is cropped out and the shed and birdhouses left in.

In the next set, I cropped out even more of the surroundings. Removing this and part of the summerhouse gives it a mysterious quality, because the areas like the path that suggest a public place are no longer there, leaving the summer house looking abandoned. With the spring daffodils also taken out, the winter vegetation makes it look almost overgrown and untended. There is a lot more drama and narrative around these images.

Below are a set of images cropped to focus on the Manhattan bridge. Framing it so it is centre but just visible through the trees shown in ‘majestic’ makes an interesting composition. In ‘elevated’ I cropped the top lower which made the bridge appear elevated, hence the name. ‘Bare’ is the tree from ‘tangled’ turned round to appear upright. This set of images looks totally different to the others as the subject has changed from the summerhouse to the bridge and trees.

The final set of images focused on the shed. Again, the content in these is different to the others. It feels like it has been taken in a different season with the spring flowers contrasting with the bare wintry branches in the images above. These images also suggest the presence of people tending the area more than in the rest of the original image. The shed, pots and bird houses could be in anyone’s back garden.

I then chose words that reflect the feeling the content of the cropped images gave me. This was easier for some than for others so I made a mind map and asked someone to add to my ideas. Mine are in black with his in green.

The next part of this exercise was to choose one of the compositions to make an illustration of that could be used to make a poster. I started by making a sketch of one of the images from each set. The sketches were made of: Intriguing, sweet, elevated, quaint. These are shown below in that order.


When there, the place had a feeling of seclusion about it; it was a small haven in a large city. So that was the angle I wanted to take my illustration. Therefore having the Manhattan bridge in the background was important to indicate the city ‘outside’ the secluded haven. To include both the majority of the summer house and the bridge would make the illustration landscape. The photo is landscape. But posters are usually portrait. So I needed to problem solve and started to play about further with the composition, moving the bridge closer to the summer house to try and make it more portrait. I also brought the tree on the right in closer thinking this helped create more of a sense of seclusion.

The first sketch still wasn’t portrait enough so I drew out further versions and added the area for the text to be placed. One contained more foreground to elongate it and featured the text vertically along the right side. The other places the text at the bottom, serving to elongate the illustration.

I still wasn’t happy with these though and looking back at my cropped images and their sketches, the one titled ‘intriguing’ caught my eye. It is portrait in layout and suits its title really well because the way it is cropped adds to the intriguing feeling. The viewer is led to wonder what the surroundings are, what is on each side. It arouses curiosity.

Having made a collection of posters on Pinterest to reference, it is clear the most effective ones are graphic in style. This type of illustration lends itself well to creating eye catching visuals. Below are some I am particularly drawn to.

I am looking to experiment more with graphic illustration during this unit but was quite unsure how it would work with the image I had. There is a lot of detail in the image that I couldn’t see working in large graphic shapes. Then I found the poster below, by Carson Ellis, one of my favourite illustrators. The design for this poster is much more detailed than the others. Although quite intricate, it still uses bold lines and contrast to make it eye catching.

My next step then was to try to make my image more graphic. I focused on the dark and light lines and made them bolder. I zoomed in on the original photo to draw ivy from observation before drawing my own simplified, more graphic version.

While attempting a more graphic style, I also needed to keep my chosen word in mind. Intriguing. The colouring in the original photo is mainly green and brown with a blue sky. To add intrigue, I decided to use a purple colour palette in addition to green and brown. This would also make it more eye catching. I chose a watercolour wash for the background because the translucent nature of it suggests intrigue. In contrast to this, I used gouache to illustrate the body of the summer house because I wanted a more graphic feel with bolder flatter colour. I find gouache difficult to work with but it is a medium I want to make more use of and intend to practise. The door, roof and windows are again in watercolour to create intrigue about what is inside.

The think the colour palette works well in communicating the word intrigue. The detailed nature of the illustration meant that I found it quite difficult in terms of layers. I found I was filling in fence colour through the foreground foliage I had already put in. A learning point from this is that next time, I will either plan and mask the the layers more effectively or complete each separately and put together in photoshop.

I adjusted the colour and tones slightly in photoshop next. Below are the results. The top is the original artwork. In the second, I added highlights which made the colour pop more. In the third, I adjusted the brightness and contrast. I don’t like this effect, I looks too dark and foreboding, not intriguing. The bottom one had its hue changed. I like this one, it certainly looks intriguing!

Now I had the completed artwork, I needed to add the text to make it into a poster using Indesign. In all of the examples below, I added the text horizontally at the bottom of the image. It seemed to make most sense in that position. I tried out a few different fonts. Firstly I tried Sans serif fonts because they are bold and easily readable. However they didn’t say intriguing so I went for a script instead. I used kerning to add space between the letters and make it more readable.

I also tried placing the text in a different position but I don’t think it has the same impact. To make the text vertical I had to type on a text path and I can’t work out how to remove the line. Something to work on!

My final chosen poster is below. It uses the image with highlights added to make the colours more vibrant. I think that the poster does reflect the word ‘intriguing’. The purpose of a poster is usually to tell people about something, to coax them to attend or use something, and I think mine definitely arouses that curiosity, makes them want to find out more. It didn’t end up being particularly graphic in style, but I think the textures I used emphasise the word intrigue and the feeling I wanted to create. I will continue to explore graphic design and experiment with a more graphic style in the rest of this unit.