Part Five Reflection

It was an aim of mine at the end of Part 4 to start a supporting sketchbook alongside the one for my development work in which I could explore and experiment with new techniques and media.  This worked very well to begin with, with the techniques I had been exploring influencing my work in the exercises. Towards the end of this part though I have struggled for time and ended up using this sketchbook more for trying out techniques specifically for the exercises.  I have a separate sketchbook for drawing people because I still feel this is a weakness. Again, I started well, but have struggled for time in the latter part of Part 5. Although improved, I still feel I am not using sketchbooks as effectively as I want to, which is why I am considering the Illustration Sketchbooks unit as my next one to complete.  

Use of different media and techniques

I have tried out completely new media to me like pan gouache and wax pastels.  I have also explored using these in different ways. The Editorial illustration is an example of using a light touch with the wax pastel while in the packaging exercise I applied heavier pressure and explored blending. I have also tried out using a different coloured paper in the Travel guides exercise.   I have used a lot more pastel in this part, particularly for creating backgrounds and have tried different ways of applying it. I have also started using graphite pencil with colour to create illustrations and this is something I wish to explore further along with the grisaille method of using gouache.  

I have found creating backgrounds difficult in this part.  I would like to do some research into this and then lots of experimentation in order to improve my practice in this area.  

When reflecting on Part 4 I wanted to continue exploring the use of different techniques in the same artwork.  I did this in both illustrations based on the word ‘festival’ for the ‘working for children’ exercise. To create the festival parade I used watercolour, pastel, wax pastel, gouache, coloured pencil and cut paper.  In the festival of lights image I used pen, pastel, watercolour and coloured pencil. It is clear to see that different techniques have been used in both but I don’t think it worked aesthetically. My work since then has still been mixed media but without being obviously so.  I think my style is developing but don’t think it is distinctive yet because I think I am still enjoying exploring and trying out new things.  

One of my areas for development was to continue referring to my research throughout the exercise and I think I have been a lot more mindful of that.  For the final assignment I kept referring to my initial research about the relationship between words and pictures and how to create pace and drama, throughout my development process and into my final artwork.  I have also tried to develop more ideas to provide more choice which I think I particularly demonstrated in the Packaging and travel guides exercises, and through thumbnailing for my final assignment. This development point ‘be brave to think beyond the norm’ is a slightly more difficult one to assess myself on, I think this is something I still need to develop and will probably continue to develop through all my future creative work. To help this development, I’m going to start a sketchbook in which I record my more wacky and unique ideas.

Assignment Five - Seven Days

The brief for this assignment was to create one or a series of images to illustrate the title ‘Seven Days’. The choice of content was totally open. I had previously written a children’s story and I thought an abridged version of this would work well for this assignment. The story was fairly easy to abridge because there is a natural break part way through so I used that as the end of the story. My next step was to consider the events in a seven day format so I could work out text content for each page/ image. Before starting the illustration process, I looked into the relationship between word and image in children’s picture books. Martin Salisbury describes ‘In picture books, the relationship between words and pictures is a unique and sometimes complex one. The respective roles of each need to be considered and balanced, complementing rather than duplicating each others statements.’ Salisbury, M (2015)

Randolph Caldecott is considered to be the pioneer of this relationship between word and pictures that is described by Maurice Sendak as ‘rhythmic syncopation.’ I looked for examples of this in children’s books. The example below left is from ‘The Immortal Jellyfish’ by Sang Miao. The text is very limited giving only a brief description of what could be seen through the door. The rest is left to the illustration. The text tells us they ‘discovered a great and beautiful world, bursting with life’ but it is the illustrations that show us what that life is. It depicts an amazing cavernous setting full of plant, fungi and animal life. In the example below right the reader is shown how the character is feeling about his Grandpa’s death through the image not the text. The text tells us about the death and the text adds the extra information.

Similarly, the text and picture shown below work in synergy with each other with the words describing his thoughts and fears about how other people would react to him and the picture showing us exactly how they do react. The reader is then able to work out that the Lion’s thoughts and fears were unfounded.

While writing the story I had been very mindful of not telling all events through text so that inferences can be made using the pictures.  As a teacher I know this is an important skill for young readers to learn. Therefore there was a lot of scope for the illustrations to do the talking and provide extra information to complement the text.  

My brief:

Create seven illustrations to represent a seven day period.

The seven images should illustrate a seven day period in which Magpie learns a lesson and changes her ways.  

The illustrations are for a short story picture book. 

The audience is 3 - 6 year old children.

The illustrations should be created in a square format 25cm x 25cm.  The artwork can be produced to scale.

The images must be in sequence and varied compositions must be used to maintain interest.  

The illustrations should complement the text providing extra information for the reader.

Typography should be hand drawn.

Choice of media is open. 

I started my idea generation by brainstorming initial ideas around the text for each day, then followed this with a visual mind map. This second step enabled me to make initial choices about what to include in each image to ensure I was complimenting the text and providing the reader with extra information rather than decorating it.

Once I had chosen an idea for each of the seven images, I used thumbnails to work out composition. In this first image I wanted to include the magpie and a dressing table littered with jewels in the foreground with an open window and the outside beyond. In my thumbnails I played about with cropping to include different amounts of the dressing table and window. I also tried depicting the window at different angles eventually choosing one at a slight angle and cropped so that only one side of the window is shown.

Originally I wanted to include two ideas in the illustration for Day 2. Both were images of magpie stealing something shiny. In my thumbnails I explored ways of doing this including depicting each idea on opposite sides of a tree, as vignettes and cropped at each corner. None of them looked right and eventually I decided to choose one idea to focus on. Once chosen I drew that thumbnail alongside the one for day 1 to ensure it followed on well from the first and that the compositions didn’t look too similar. This also gave me the opportunity to check that the illustrations were complementing the text and providing the reader with the information needed to understand the story.

Having decided that I wanted Magpie’s stash of shiny things to be depicted as a tall pile in order to emphasise just how much she has stolen, my thumbnails for this image 3 focused mainly on the position of Magpie and where I would leave space for the text. The image for Day 4 was to depict the other side of the nest with the woodpecker at the door. At this stage I thought this would work well as a double page spread.

The text for day 5 required two images on the same page. ‘My love for glittering gems had put me in a dark, lonely place. With a lot of time to think about where happiness really comes from.’ The reader needs to be shown how Magpie initially feels about being in jail, then what she does to find that inner happiness, and I thought the best way to do this would be to use vignettes. My thumbnails explored composition of these.

For day 6 I needed to show the reader that Magpie is still in prison but is marvelling at the beautiful night sky and I thought the best way to do this would be to show her looking out of the prison window. My thumbnails explored how cropped I made the window. Thumbnails for day 7 explored composition of a full page spread depicting Magpie flying amongst the stars while others are also enjoying the night sky. This was the most difficult composition to work out because I wanted to give a sense of distance while keeping things in proportion.

Once I was happy with a thumbnail for each illustration I drew them out together to check the sequence and ensure pace in the illustrations. Adding pace and drama is discussed by Martin Salisbury, ‘The pace of the narrative is critical in keeping the young reader interested in the story. This is controlled in various ways:by varying the size of the images, by changing the viewpoint or by altering the actual design of the image on the page. These changes create an ebb and flow and enhance visual interest. Cropping tightly on the image can also add drama and can be used as a means of punctuating the story.’ Salisbury, M. (2015)

I could see straightaway that I needed to change the direction the characters were walking in image 2 because it looked as if they were walking into the window. This was easy to change as it was just a simple flip. Putting the thumbnails together like this enabled me to check whether I had managed to create interest and drama while still maintaining visual continuity. I think I included different viewpoints with front facing in the first image; side in the prison and nest images and from above in the final image. My page design is also varied as I have a mixture of full page illustrations, vignettes and part page with content positioned on the left and on the right. The text position is also varied appearing at the top, bottom, left and right.

My next step was to create the characters. I started by drawing magpies from observation then distorted to create a character which I then drew in different positions. Likewise, I drew the woodpecker from observation, then redrew as a character. I knew what position I needed the woodpecker in so to save time I didn’t sketch him in lots of positions.

When drawing up my visuals I made some slight changes from the thumbnails.  In the image for day 2 I wanted to create drama and movement. Drawing the loop created the movement I wanted in order to depict Magpie swooping down to steal the tiara but I also wanted to create movement in the other characters.  I thought back to my research into pace and drama and tried cropping part of the mother character so that it appeared as if she was walking off the page. This creates the drama I wanted because to the reader it looks as if she is hurrying her daughter along.  

I had originally intended to have day 3 and 4 together to make a double page spread but when I came to draw it up I realised it would then look like one day rather than two separate days within the seven.  This change also enabled me to have the right side of the nest showing in image/ day 3 leaving more space for the text on the left.

Before creating these visuals I quickly sketched items I would need in my illustrations from reference.

In my brief had specified that the typography would be hand drawn and I looked at some examples of hand drawn lettering in children’s picture books before starting. Timothy B Ering’s typography in ‘Frogbelly Ratbone’ is scratchy and quirky in nature which goes perfectly with the visual and textual content of the book. The letters are not completely uniform and don’t sit on a straight line. Isabelle Arsenault’s lettering is more uniform but she uses lots of devices to create interest and further complement the illustrations. She places text underneath each other almost in list form and uses upper case and boldly drawn letters for emphasis. In the photo below, she has used a slightly larger uppercase for the word ‘OUR’ to emphasise it and used big bold letters for the onomatopoeia of ‘BUZZ’. Although not hand drawn, I looked at some of Lauren Child’s lettering because she is very creative with it. In her books you will often see the text swirling, forming shapes or in a loop. She also uses completely different styles of typography as shown below. All photos: Briony Dixon

I wanted my hand drawn text to be slightly quirky, not to the extent of the scratchy font of Timothy B Ering, but just with a small variation in the position of the letters in a word so they don’t all sit in a completely straight line. I practised my font then started to think about adding it to the visuals in order to get an idea for exact positioning. I started this process by writing out the font on layout paper over the image but quickly realised that this didn’t give me the opportunity to play about with how many words I put on each line, unless I wanted to keep writing it out over and over! So I made the decision to explore typography options digitally on scanned final artwork , then when happy I could add my hand drawn lettering using the layout I had decided on.

To choose a colour palette for the final artwork I used a Dulux trade colour palette. It has a huge range of colours and I am able to compare in order to see which work well together. I wasn’t happy with my use of colour in the festival piece in an earlier exercise and have been trying to tone down my use of colour since. Through research for that exercise I found that bold bright colours aren’t actually necessary for children in this age group. I chose the palette shown below right so I still have colour, but it is more subtle than I have used before.

When it came to the final artwork for the woodpecker scene, I started colouring the nest in brown but it didn’t seem right. It didn’t fit into my colour palette.

I then started thinking about the shiny objects that I had yet to colour. They would be silver and gold which gave me the idea to use grey for the wood of the nest so it ties in with the silver. I used a graphite pencil for this and I am happy with the effect. I also used the graphite in other images to create continuity. The other media used were gouache, coloured pencil and metallic acrylic paint. I have been able to experiment with using gouache on this project which was one of my aims at the start of Part 5. I used a mixture of opaque and transparent and have tried different ways of applying it using different brushes. All experiments are in my supporting sketchbooks with a snapshot shown below.

Final artwork

The final artwork after adjustments made in brightness, contrast, hue and saturation in photoshop.

When I started exploring text possibilities on Illustrator I came across a font that I felt looked slightly hand drawn and suited my images. I made the decision then to add the text digitally rather than hand writing it all. In image 2 I kept the two sentences separate. I placed the first at the top of the page because the text leads the content. We then see what sort of things Magpie’s wanting to have more looks like in the illustration before coming to the second sentence below which leaves the reader with a question. In the image for day 3, I used a different font to emphasise the word ‘pretty’ and on day 4 I used uppercase to communicate the loud noise of the door knocking. On day 5, I positioned the words' ‘dark, lonely place’ in a downwards slope to symbolise her fall from grace. The text for day 6 is a lot of short sentences with the final two starting with the same words. I thought it would be effective if these sentences were placed in list form rather than continued in order to emphasise the directness in them. The change in Magpie is occurring, these are very definite steps in her change and I wanted the text positioning to reflect that. I think my text positioning works well, it can be clearly read on each page and I have considered the hierarchy between text and image. As discussed before, I think I have been successful in ensuring my illustrations added to the text rather than duplicating it.

Once I had all my pages completed I made a book in Indesign and exported it to PDF format. Please click on the link below.

Seven Days

I feel that I met the brief I set for myself except that I changed from hand drawn to straight typography. This I feel was a good decision though. I have learned a huge amount over the course of this unit and I do feel that I have demonstrated a lot of it in this final assignment. Having said that, I still kept exploring new techniques and media possibilities while completing it and have explained how I want to take this forward in my reflection on Part 5. I would have loved to create a front cover for this but unfortunately ran out of time.


Salisbury, M. (2015) Illustrating Children’s Books: Creating Pictures for Publication. 8th ed. London: Bloomsbury visual arts, p 82,- 84

Educational Strip

The brief for this exercise was to create an educational strip about puberty for use in schools. Before beginning to generate ideas, I looked at some comic strips to get an idea about layout, sequential imagery and typography. I looked at strips from Asterix, Hilda and Gamayun Tales. All three are similar in that they all use different sized frames according to the content. For example, in Asterix, a longer horizontal frame is used to show distance in a scene while a small square one is used to show the heads of two characters talking. Long vertical rectangles are used to depict things like waterfalls. In ‘King of Birds’ and Hilda, small frames show a character's head and thought or speech bubble while larger frames show multiple characters or action. Whatever the shape and size of the frames, they all fit into a large rectangle the size of the page. The typography in all is simple uppercase font with variation in size and bold used to create effect.

The aspect of puberty on which to focus the strip was open for my choice so my idea generation was initially focused on the actual changes puberty brings. The brief suggested using humour and visual metaphor so I watched the television show ‘Big Mouth’ which is a cartoon based around puberty. This gave me an idea of the sort of visual metaphor that could be used. One of the main characters has a puberty monster that is used to represent the reason for the changes puberty brings. I then thought more deeply around use of visual metaphor and added ideas to the brainstorm under the heading ‘What’s happening to me?’ and made a visual brainstorm of them.

The brief for the educational strip also asked for it to show children how to cope with the effects of puberty, so when thinking of the narrative for the strip I needed to include a ‘solution’ to the problem. To start the strip I wanted to show the character confused about what is happening to them and wanted to use visual metaphor to depict that. In the next frame I wanted to show what specific part of puberty was being focused on, again, using visual metaphor and humour. I thought it was important to depict the emotional side as well so I felt that the third frame needed to focus on embarrassment, loneliness etc with the final slide showing a potential solution. I chose an aspect of puberty for boys and girls and jotted down a potential storyline based on the criteria I’ve explained.

In the end I chose the boy character and started sketching him in different positions. I also sketched other characters that I wanted to include in the story, then made rough thumbnails to check whether the sequence of the narrative worked from one frame to another. I then refined the thumbnails before producing visuals for each frame and for the front cover which needed to depict the character. Although I found that comic strips use varied frame sizes and shapes in my research, this brief was for an educational strip and for a leaflet so I made the decision to keep each frame the same size. Each frame measures 15 x 15 cm.

The title of the education strip is ‘What’s happening to my body? It’s all going mad!’ so I wanted the character to appear to be asking this question.  From reference I drew him in a position that makes him look like he is asking a question and added signs above his head to further depict confusion.  

The first frame shows him looking fed up because everything feels like it’s going mad.  I included cogs and gears as visual metaphor to depict hormone change. This image also shows him with a few bristles of facial hair which links to the next frame in which he has suddenly sprouted a full moustache!  This is where I added the humour with the hairy caterpillar. The composition for this was fairly simple because I knew he needed to be facing front as if looking in a mirror.  

The composition for the third frame was more tricky and I tried out different ones while refining the thumbnails.  It needed to show the main character embarrassed trying to cover his moustache. I wanted the other characters to be staring at him, but not for the reason he thinks.  To include an element of the sexual changes that happen at puberty I depicted the taller boy and girl who are attracted to him. I also wanted to show that puberty affects everyone at a different rate so I wanted a younger looking child who is curious about the changes in the main character.  I think I was successful in showing that the girl is attracted to him but haven’t achieved what I wanted to with the male characters. If I was to do this again, I would use speech bubbles in this frame to show more clearly what the other characters were thinking of him.  

The final image depicts a solution which in this case is shaving and being supported by dad.  Again I wanted this to be in front of a mirror. I drew this from reference to ensure I got them engaging with each other and the mirror. 

The visuals are shown below.

I kept the final artwork simple in terms of colour, choosing to use only blues, greys and greens. Only the hormone liquid was a brighter colour in order to emphasise it and make it stand out. I mainly used watercolour, gouache and coloured pencil with a small amount of wax pastel. Watercolour worked well for the mirror, particularly in the second frame. I used opaque gouache laid on thickly to depict the shaving foam but while it does look like shaving foam, it looks a bit odd with the style of the rest of the illustration.

I think my depiction of the main character developed over the course of this exercise with the final one I created being the illustration for the front cover. I also think that in general my character illustration has developed since the character development exercise in Part 4 in terms of giving them more life. I will continue to sketch and draw from reference to continue this progress.

I chose to use uppercase typography as this was what I had seen in my research into comic strips. My usual handwriting in capitals is quite uniform so I went with that. At least I thought it was uniform until I had done it! I feel that the letters all look different to each other and actually think a digital font would be better for this brief. I didn’t see any hand lettering during my research. If I was to repeat this exercise I would use a digital font. I would also research leaflets and their different layouts because this may have given me scope for changing the size of the frames to add interest.

Working for Children

The first part of this exercise was to collect examples of imagery for children in different age groups. I have selected a few to analyse in this post.

Pre reader

Illustration for children of this age tends to be in board books focusing on basic concepts.  At this age, there is not much text in the books therefore the message can be conveyed using simple imagery involving bright, flat colour and bold graphic shapes. This allows children at a young age to be able to distinguish between the different elements and begin to name and talk about them.  Some are a little more complicated such as the Babylit ‘Wizard of Oz’ in which contrasting coloured lines and shapes are used to create detail. This detail isn’t fussy and over complicated though keeping it suitable for this age group. Books for this age do tend to be brightly coloured and use a lot of contrast. All photos: Briony Dixon

Pre school

Little Red by Bethan Woolvin is a retelling of the fairytale for 3 – 5 year olds.  Bethan uses a limited colour palette featuring just red, black white and grey. By depicting Little Red in red and keeping all other elements in the monochrome colours she creates a contrast and directs the reader’s eye straight to the central character.  This works well for this age group because they can immediately work out what is happening in the story by quickly identifying Little Red, then exploring the other elements in the image. Use of flat colour makes the imagery bold and simple to read for pre schoolers and I don’t feel that the limited colour palette makes the book any less engaging for children of this age.  Bold and simple also describes the shapes used, with trees and plants depicted with just an outline and minimal detail inside or a simple flat colour shape. Simple lines are used to draw the facial expressions making them easy to read and discuss.

The content included in the illustrations visually communicates everything described in the text. This strikingly simple imagery means children aren’t distracted by lots of unnecessary detail giving them the opportunity to concentrate on the main events in the story.  At this age children aren’t necessarily reading the text. Their ‘reading’ comes from repeating stories that have been read to them and telling their own story from the pictures. This is why effective illustration for this age group is kept simple and stripped back to the necessary elements needed to visually communicate the story successfully. Photos: Briony Dixon

‘Triangle’ written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen is another example of use of a limited colour palette in children’s books for this age group.  This is a hugely popular book proving that lots of bright colour is not always necessary in illustration for children. Klassen uses shades of brown, black and grey so really not colourful at all!  In the final illustration shown here, the dark tones adds to the meaning in the text. “They were shapes with no names” creates an eerie feeling and the browns and blacks used emphasises this feeling. There are a lot of simple shapes in his illustration with contrast between them created through use of different tones rather than different colours. As in ‘Little Red’ this simplicity makes the book easy to engage with.  Both books feature a likeable character, one that appeals straightaway to children. Eyes drawn as a simple outline with the pupil perfectly placed to capture the intended expression make a character instantly captivating. I think that if the imagery is simple and engaging enough, lack of bright colour is not a problem.  

Early Reader 5 – 7

Illustration for this age group tends to get a bit more detailed.  Children of this age are more able to be able to comprehend what they are reading or what is being read to them and can use extra detail in illustrations to help them make inferences about what is happening.  Understanding of simple story patterns are already established so they can now begin discussing additional elements away from the main events. There is more detail in the text, therefore more detail is needed to visual communicate that.   The illustrations by David Roberts for Rosie Revere Engineer are examples of this higher level of detail. They depict very detailed machines and inventions. The colours he uses tend to be realistic but not especially bright. Photos: Briony Dixon

Similarly, David Litchfield’s illustrations for ‘The Bear and the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle’ are full of detail and wonder.  His use of colour is quite complex in that he uses lots of brights which are either brightened or toned down by the addition of light. The complex nature of his artwork make it perfect for this age group and above but would be too much for younger children to cope with. Images:

Established reader 7 -9

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez is a graphic novel and is told primarily through illustration with minimal text.  The vivid, captivating artwork would engage early readers upwards but some of them depict scary events making it appropriate for the more established reader age group.   At this age it seems that it is the content that makes the illustration suitable for an older age group rather than the actual style of illustration. The photo on the left is quite a scary image while the one on the left depicts nuns and a school setting with older children, all of which mat not be suitable or appeal to the younger age groups. Photos:

Hilda and the Hidden People is a text novel version of the Hilda graphic novels. Being a novel, there are only occasional illustrations to add interest and some visual reference to the text. Photos: Briony Dixon

In the first image the thunder of stampeding rabbits is depicted and illustrates that particular part of the text beautifully. IThere is a sense of movement that creates the feeling of Charge! In the second image the Midnight Giant is depicted. He is a main character in the story so an illustration is provided to give the reader this visual image. Despite being for an older age group, the illustration is very simple with just bold outlines and flat colour used. This is probably because it is there almost to decorate the text rather than an integral part of the storytelling as it would be in illustration for younger age groups or in graphic novels.

Older age groups

The Wolves in the Walls is a picture book for older children written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave Mckean.

Although it is classed as a picture book, it is often used in Year 6 classrooms with ten and eleven year olds. The story is quite scary and the illustrations visually communicate this perfectly.  Dark and sinister in nature, they would not be appropriate for a younger age group but provide that edge that older children like to engage with. Dave McKean’s illustrative style is quite varied in the book so the stylistic consistency isn’t as strong as in the illustrations I have looked at for younger children.  He uses a mixture of photos, collage, ink and paint depicting the wolves stylistically different to the human family. This could be confusing and overwhelming to a younger reader but provides interest and talking points for older children.

I chose three of the words from the list to brainstorm ideas around focusing mainly on the early reader and pre reader age groups.  I found that my thinking was based very much around appropriate content for a book linked to the chosen word rather than an image in isolation.  For example for ‘festival’ I thought about an early concept book based on colour or musical instruments for the pre reader age group and festivals around the world for the early reader group.  

The next step was to choose one of the words and an animal appropriate to two of the age groups and brainstorm further ideas and themes involving the animal.  I actually decided to do this process for three of the words before choosing which I wanted to explore further.

In the end I chose the word ‘festival’ with the preschool and early reader age groups and used the ideas from both mindmaps to choose an idea for each illustration.  

Early Reader

The animal I chose for this age group was quite an unusual one.  I remembered seeing a photo of a bird with bright blue feet which immediately gave me an idea of a story linked to festival.  The bird’s unusual look makes him feel different and insecure. He has the feeling that he looks strange and doesn’t really fit in anywhere.  Eventually he comes across a Mardi Gras type festival parade full of colour and he feels he belongs amongst the children celebrating the beauty of nature. He walks proudly at the front of the parade.  I found that I naturally created a story around the word ‘festival’ and my animal character because it makes it easier to illustrate. When thinking about the other members of the festival, I considered having all animals but then thought about the idea of having children dressed as animals.  I made a quick visual mindmap of my ideas for these characters. They are all dressed in costumes inspired by beautiful creatures.

In order to tell the story properly, it was essential to place Bert the blue footed booby bird as a focal point in the illustration. He is the star of the show. I used thumbnails to explore composition experimenting with side, front and diagonal views of the festival parade. In the end I chose one in which the parade appears to be coming round a corner which allows Bert to be front facing while the other characters are looking slightly off to the side. I felt that this made Bert more of a star.

Once happy with my composition, I developed the characters through sketches and then created a line visual.

The line visual communicated what I wanted it to. Although not in colour I felt I achieved a sense of festival through the character’s expressions, something I think I have improved in since the character development exercise in Part 4. I didn’t like the boy leaning out of the window because it seemed to complicate things so I decided to keep the houses plain keeping the attention purely focused on the parade. Although the line visual doesn’t show the amount of detail I intended to include in the final artwork, I could tell that once finished, the amount of detail would be suitable for this age group.

Because I was illustrating the word ‘festival’, I just went for it with colour rather than creating a more careful palette as I have done for some of the other exercises. In my mind festivals are bright, vibrant and colourful so I wanted to depict this in my illustration. I made a colour visual which gave me the opportunity to test out what colours looked like next to each other and enabled me to work out how to achieve a sense of balance in the colour. I also made a very quick tonal version on a photocopy because I wanted the front of the illustration to be much lighter than the back in order to highlight the main character Bert. This helped as I was able to reference it when producing the final illustration.

To produce the final artwork I used mixed media consisting of: watercolour, coloured pencils, pastel, wax pastel gouache and cut paper.

I did a poll on Instagram to see whether people thought I should splatter paint over the top to resemble streamers and confetti. It was an overwhelming yes so here it that version. I think it does give the picture more of a festival atmosphere.

I then made slight adjustments in photoshop.

I’m really not sure how I feel about this illustration. I think the colour and content communicate the word festival and I’m happy with the composition for the reasons previously mentioned. The level of detail seems appropriate for this early reader age group; there is a lot to look at which also suits a festival. I’m not happy with the background space however, in particular the part at the back behind the boy pushing the balloon cart. Larger areas of background are something I struggle with and I don’t think I got it right here. I thought about adding more colour to make it even darker but I didn’t want to over work it. I think the area in the foreground is much more successful. Backgrounds are an area I really need to work on and explore.

Pre school

For the second age group I chose the slightly younger one, pre school. Through my original mind mapping around festival, I had come up with the idea of festival of light. I thought an illustration based on this idea could work well for this younger age group due to the contrast in colour and bolder less detailed content that could be used. Again, I imagined a narrative on which to base my image. I imagined a firefly who finds home amongst the lit up sky during a festival of light, perhaps part of the Hindu Diwali celebrations. To creating the firefly character, I started by sketching one in different positions from observation, then distorted and changed from there. I wanted to ensure I kept all the features that make him recognisable as a firefly, while making him appeal to younger children by simplifying them.

The I started thumb nailing to work out composition. I knew I wanted him to face the reader staring forward with his happy face so the thumb nailing was to work out where in the frame he would sit and also where to position him in relation to the other lights. I toyed with the idea of having people at the bottom looking up at the lights to make it more obvious it was a festival but decided against it choosing the final thumb nail shown here (bottom right). I thought the people made the image too fussy and weren’t actually needed when the image is considered in a narrative. I think the lights are placed well in this composition, the firefly looks like he is really part of the festival in and amongst the other lights.

I made a colour visual which also gave me the opportunity to try out different media and choose which I wanted to use in the final art work.

To produce the final artwork, I used pastel, coloured pen and pencil. The yellow pastel ground worked better than my usual watercolour because it gave a more even finish. Using black pastel over the top allowed for the yellow to show through where needed and provided some blur around the light areas. Using the coloured pen for the firefly worked well because the bright colour made him stand out against the background and is easy to add coloured pencil to.

I prefer this image to the one for early readers aesthetically and I think younger children will engage with the character. There isn’t too much detail for them to process. I don’t think however that the word ‘festival’ comes through as strongly. As part of a narrative it would, but perhaps not as a stand alone image.

I feel that the level of detail in an image for children depends on the text it is supporting and the intended message the author wants to communicate. Sometimes it may be the intention that the image needs to depict everything mentioned in the text to support understanding. Sometimes more may be required in images than stated in the text to help children make more inferences and extract meaning at a deeper level. Sometimes the illustrations may only illustrate the very key parts of the text. I don’t think the age banding is as clear cut as described in the brief. Children all learn and develop at different rates meaning imagery that is suitable for one child of a certain age may not be for another of the same age.

Text and Image


The brief for this exercise was to design packaging for organic biscuits for children. The term organic makes us think of fresh, high quality healthy food, not necessarily snacks like biscuits however, ‘one of the most highly demanded organic categories right now is snacks. Lots of on-the-go snacking options are highly processed – the ingredients required to preserve, colour and flavour them are often a far cry from natural, let alone organic. However, busy lifestyles with a health conscious mindset have set the desire for quick and healthy food options at an all time high.’ Interact. (2017) . This naturally extends to parents wanting the same for their children.

Before looking at some of the packaging design in this area, I wanted to look into what makes effective packaging design which is described by Stanford. A in an article for the website ‘design bridge’. She describes the four principles of effective packaging design as being:

Impact - It can be seen on shelf

Relevance - It engages shoppers

Advantage - It communicates key messages and/or a point-of-difference

Conviction - It sells

I used these principles to analyse some similar products on the market. On this box for Organix Goodies, the product branding takes centre stage as it immediately catches the eye before allowing it to search the rest of the box. The white text contrasts well on the green background. This typography is rounded, playful and fun with each letter sitting at a slightly different level to the others and the last two letters being randomly joined. I would say it has been hand created and it gives an overall impression that these biscuits are fun. The other text looks like it could have been computer generated. The farm animal biscuits wording has shadow effect created in green. This could be to give the suggestion of green, healthy and organic. The packaging features an engaging farm girl character with a bucket of feed for the animals which are photographs of the biscuits themselves. The character is smiling and looking at the viewer to engage. She has red rosy cheeks which are a sign of healthy country living. There is also a rolling pin, biscuit dough and farm animal shaped cutter, all of which give the impression of home baking and therefore a lack of chemicals and preservatives. The background is a bright blue which could have been chosen to give the impression of a clear blue sky. The colours of the detail in the image all contrast well against the blue ensuring all elements stand out clearly. I think this packaging appeals to both adult and child. The character and animals are there to entice the child, but the idea of the healthy home baking and farm living are all there to convince the adult they are a healthy, organic choice to make. Further to this there are further endorsements to their credibility in this arena. Not only is this selling organic biscuits, it is selling the idea of wholesome clean living. In terms of the design criteria previously mentioned, I think it meets all of them.

Just like the previous packaging, engaging characters are used to entice children. Initially it is the bear that catches the eye, followed by the whale and kangaroo. In the background are a glorious blue sky and sea. The whole image has a healthy outdoors feel to it. There aren’t any images of the actual biscuits on this box which could could impact on ‘pester power’. Giving children a glimpse of the delicious biscuit may be more powerful in making sales. They are called wildlife biscuits but it isn’t clear whether they are in the shape of animals. Again the packet is littered with endorsements for the organic, looking after the planet type vibe which will appeal to the adult buyer. The typography on the name label is hand created. The word organic is in green and is all lowercase. Perhaps the lowercase is to emphasise that nothing is added in organic food. The word wildlife is very obviously hand lettered, create in 3d lettering and shaded in pen. I think this packaging covers most of the principles, but I wonder whether having a picture of the biscuit itself would make it more enticing.

This is my favourite packet I have looked at. I find it aesthetically pleasing because everything has been incorporated into the design, the typography is all the same apart from brand name and the colours have been limited. My eye was initially grabbed by text in the balloon. The white writing on the orange balloon which itself is on a white background creates brilliant contrast and draws the eye in immediately. The orange sphere not only acts as a balloon but also as a sun shining in the sky which is also enticing. There is a really cute and engaging explorer toucan character which will catch children’s attention. Unlike the other packaging I’ve looked at, all of the endorsements are integrated into the design in the form of flags hanging off the balloon. The same white no frills hand lettered typeface has been used on all of them. Aside from the orange colour of the sun/ balloon against the white clouds in the background, the majority of the colour is green which links to the apple flavour but also to healthy and organic. The images of the biscuits sit neatly in the balloon basket and using a balloon in the imagery like this gives a sense of the lightness of the biscuit, and in turn, healthy. I think this ticks all the boxes and is the one I would choose!

Before starting work on the illustration for this exercise I decided to set myself a brief to help me focus on what I wanted to achieve and ensure I fulfil the needs of the client.

The brief

Produce a series of illustrations for packaging to be used for a new range of organic biscuits for children. The flavours will be raisin, chocolate chip and ginger.

Each illustration will feature a different extinct animal character interacting in a fun way with the biscuit in order to appeal to children.

The colour palette will reflect the flavours of the biscuits.

An impression of organic, health and wholesomeness will be given to appeal to adults.

Any endorsements of the brand will be integrated into the design.

Typography will be hand lettered to give it that more ‘personal’ touch.

I started with a bit of research into extinct animals using the book ‘Animals of a Bygone Era’ by Maya Säfström.

In the end I decided that dinosaurs would be the most engaging for the majority of children. and my brief required the extinct animal character to appeal to them. I thought that baby or child dinosaurs could be even more engaging for children, particularly the younger age group who I think these biscuits are probably aimed at. In order to create these characters, I started by drawing dinosaurs from observation then distorted from there.

I imagined the Diplodocus with a head and neck larger and longer than its body because young children and babies often have large heads that look slightly out of proportion. Similarly with the Pterodactyl, I widened its head and made it proportionally larger. With the T - rex, I just made him shorter and squatter and gave him a generally cuter look. I didn’t want any of the dinosaurs to look scary. Once I was happy with the dinosaur characters I started to think about how I wanted them to interact with the biscuits and created the mind map below.

To make my choice of idea, I referred back to my initial analysis of the packaging design. I had found that the designs used character and colour to engage children while appealing to adults by promoting the organic and healthy element of the products. Therefore I wanted to have the dinosaurs doing something that would communicate this and needed to choose ideas that linked to health and being organic to explore further. I also felt it was important to create visual continuity across the three flavours meaning that the ideas I chose would need a common theme across all designs.

From my original mind map I used this criteria to choose two ideas to develop using thumbnails. One of these depicted each of the dinosaurs playing a role in baking the biscuits. I felt this would give an impression of being home baked and therefore free from preservatives, however it didn’t say anything about being organic. The other depicted the dinosaurs growing the biscuits. I felt this design fitted the brief more successfully because it engages the children while also communicating the fact that they are organic.

I then used thumbnails to further develop the composition including text position. When researching packaging, I had found I preferred the design when the text was part of the image rather than separate. The idea for placing the text on signs came from wooden signs in farmer’s fields advertising produce for sale or on allotments marking what has been planted. I originally planned to call the biscuits organic dino biscuit bites but didn’t think it catchy enough for children so took out the word organic and positioned it separately.

When designing the text I remembered the previous exercise and started by trying to make the typography emphasis the dinosaur element by using sharp edges and pointy corners. I felt it was a bit contrived though and decided the font should fit the brief, not necessarily the theme or the subject. So I create a playful lowercase font that looks quite childlike. I thought this would add to the appeal for children. I made tracings of the text so I could place it over the visuals I had drawn to check it worked as part of the whole design. I decided to have the writing on the smaller signs in a plain handwritten font for simplicity in the image.

My next step was to consider colour. The brief required the colours to relate to the flavour of the biscuit so I made that the starting point for each design. I then created a colour palette for each by trying out different colours combined with the main colour. For each design I kept the palette quite limited in order to privilege the colour representing the flavour.

Then I made quick colour visuals to work out which part of the design would be finished in which colour. I didn’t consider tones or shades at this stage. Instead I later explored colour and texture techniques together before starting the final illustrations.

To complete the final artwork I used watercolour, pastel, coloured pencils and wax pastels. I chose to have the character the most colourful element of the design in order to catch the eye and engage children. I made the signs white to provide good contrast to the typography. The backgrounds, both sky and solid were kept light so as not to detract from the main content.

I think there is is visual continuity between the three designs and it is clear they are packaging for the same brand. To evaluate the success of my designs I refer back to the four principles of effective packaging design referenced previously in this post.

Impact and relevance - I think the T rex and Diplodocus characters are engaging for children. Their colours make them eye catching meaning they can be seen on the shelf. I’m not so sure about the Pterodactyl though, perhaps the colour isn’t bright enough to draw the eye straight in. If I was to do this again, I would make it a darker or brighter pink colour. I found this the most challenging design because the main colour needed to be brown to represent choc chip and brown isn’t a particularly vibrant colour. The typography stands out well on the white background of the signs.

Advantage - The key messages to be communicated through this design were that these are biscuits for children that are healthy and organic. I think my design depicting the dinosaurs actually ‘growing’ the biscuits sends this message. In addition to that, there is a further endorsement on the smaller sign.

Conviction - I don’t know if these biscuits would sell. I think so!

Text and Image

This exercise was all about creating typography that conveys a message. I started by writing different sets of opposites in my own handwriting. This was followed by re writing them in a descriptive way. I made choices about shape, size letter position and spacing in order to convey meaning.

The next step was to choose a font from computer software that would suit each word. For the word big I chose a bold uppercase typeface and stretched it to make it larger and wider. I felt that it needed to be an unfussy sans serif typeface. In contrast to big, I reduced the size of the font right down to represent small and used lowercase to make it appear even smaller. Again I felt that a sans serif font was most suitable. To represent the word fat I chose a wide, rounded typeface. The ‘bubble’ writing nature of it leaves space in the middle which I think suits the meaning. The letters are placed very close to each other which also emphasises the word. For thin I chose a simple font and stretched it upwards to create a thinner look. I used uppercase because it looks thinner. Lowercase has curled bits on the i and t, therefore not looking so slender.

To represent calm I used a lowercase sans serif font with slightly rough edges because it looks like it has been written in a relaxed way. The letters have got a soft and dreamy look to them. In contrast, mad has sharp pointy edges and angles. I have used a mixture of upper and lowercase because it conveys a message of unpredictability.

I chose a font in which the letters look like they have been drawn rapidly to represent the word fast. I tried upper and lower case and chose lower because it gave more of an impression of quickness than upper. I also changed the size of the letters so that each letter in the word gets smaller as if something is zooming into the distance. I actually think the meaning would be conveyed more if the letters were even smaller. For slow I wanted to have something in a cursive script. It takes takes a long time to write in a decorative script therefore I thought it would symbolise slow well. I also left large spaces between each sound in the word to make it appear longer and slower.

I chose a serif typeface with lots of extra bits on it to represent the word fun. It has squiggles and swirls and a ray of sunshine on the n. Lowercase seemed a more fun choice than upper which is more formal. In complete contrast to this, I chose a simple sans serif uppercase font for the word boring.

With fonts chosen, I then traced each one and coloured it ensuring my choice of colour would support the expressive typography. I felt that BIG needed to be coloured in a bold primary colour and chose yellow because it stands out the most. For fat and thin I thought about the colours of the foods that can cause people to be either body shape.

Blue is a very calming colour so I chose that for calm contrasted with red, the colour of anger, for mad.

When thinking about fast, flame type colours came to mind while a old grey colour came to mind for slow. Fun needed to be colourful while boring is just black!

To build on these ideas, the next step was to make a moodboard for each word in order to consider texture, line quality and combinations of colour. This was easier for some than for others. Big things create big shadows, they loom over other things so I explored adding a 3D shadow effect. The colours needed to be big and bold and the line crisp. I got a bit stuck on small. When thinking about very small things I thought about grains of sand so explored using tiny dots to create the letter.

When thinking of calm I think of clouds drifting gently in a blue sky. I felt that the edges and line should be soft like clouds so I explored different media to create this effect. To me, mad is all about anger or passion, red and spiky. I found bits in magazines that I thought could be used to collage. I also explored creating jagged edges to further emphasise the word.

Bubblewrap came to mind as a texture for fat and from that the pink blobs. I also thought about making the line slightly wobbly. Thin was a bit trickier. I considered creating the letter with lots of very thin lines and also creating a letter outline rather than filling it which made the letters look thinner.

Fast was all about go faster stripes and flashes which I tried in different ways on crisp lines. For slow I tried blurring the edges of the letters a bit to create more of a slow effect. For colour I thought about adding some green to the grey because slow makes me think about sloths who are grey. They move so slowly that green algae grows on them.

Fun puts me in mind of rainbow carnival colours, while again, boring is just black!

I then drew the words out freehand and rendered them using different media, materials and colour to create the expressive typography. I found the moodboard process really useful in extending ideas about what could be used to make the word even more expressive visually and conceptually.

Editorial Illustration

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.

This cover is quite different to the others in that it features a full page image and limited text. The orange Rough Guide logo is located on the spine with just a small part of it evident at the top left of the cover. As with the New York guide, the text is in large white lettering. The dark purple background provides great contrast to the white. The text is in lowercase but the bold font ensures that this doesn’t impact on the clarity. The photo behind the text banner is quite dark in tone meaning the white text stands out even more and makes this the lead on the cover.

Whereas the imagery on the other guides have focused more on the buildings, this cover features people buying and selling food at the water’s edge. This imagery is selling a culture more than touristy sights to be seen.

As the brief asks for illustrations for three book jackets, it is important there is a visual continuity between them. Therefore I thought it important to Iook at a series of travel guides by the same publisher to analyse how they visually relate to each other. All images:

The continuity between design of these covers is striking. The orange backed logo is in the same place on each, top left and the png logo is at the bottom right on all versions. The location heading text is placed at the top, in the same font, uppercase and in the same colour. Each shows a full page photo of the location with the text laid over the top. To ensure the white text shows up, the composition of the photos ensures a darker colour at the top. This is plain in the case of the sky in Poland and Belgium and Luxembourg, while Paris is slightly different in that the text is placed over detail of the Eiffel tower. Although the detail is dark in order to create contrast, it still hinders the clarity of the text meaning it is the image that leads the eye rather than the text as in the other two.

All three covers depict buildings in the images to show the viewer the sights they can see in the locations. The composition of the Paris guide is interesting because it is taken from underneath the Eiffel tower looking up which is a view that you see when visiting it. It is also intriguing because it is cropped to show only a little part of the tower but just enough to make it recognisable. This is a device that can be used when depicting such an iconic sight as The Eiffel tower. The buildings featured on the other two covers are not so iconic meaning that more of them needs to be shown in order to provide a sense of place. Different compositions feature dependent on hierarchy of subject. For Belgium and Luxembourg the focus would be to show the frontage of the buildings. These are architecturally beautiful and indicative of this part of the world. If the photo was composed differently, such as to the side as in the Poland cover, the features of this architecture would not be displayed in all their glory. It also allows for some other sights to be included such as a market and town or city square. In the Poland guide the focus is the building with the beautiful spire in the background. The image has been composed so the eye is led from the front, along the street to reach it at the end.

Although the images are totally different in subject and composition, it is clear that these guides are all part of the same series due to the same font, colour and placement of text and logos.

Next I looked at the Lonely Planet series.

As with the Rough Guides, there is a clear visual continuity between all of these titles. The logo is placed centrally at the top of the cover. The location text is in the same font, lowercase and the same colour. The size of the text does differ according to length of location name. All of the covers have a full page photo behind the text. In most of the covers the text is placed over a dark, plain background. In these situations, the text leads over the image. However in cases such as Prague and the Czech Republic, being placed over the tree detail makes it harder to read because there is not so much contrast. All covers have the same blue box at the bottom left which boasts the benefits of buying this particular brand of guide. Each location is represented completely differently in terms of subject and composition but this does not detract from the fact that they are clearly all part of the same series.

These travel guides all feature photographs rather than illustration so I wanted to explore some travel illustration. I have looked at illustrated maps previously so I decided to focus on posters and leaflets. I started with David Klien who designed and illustrated many iconic airline posters during a mid century time when air travel was seen as glamorous and exotic. I have looked at some of the more iconic ones previously so thought I would look at some of the less familiar ones. This poster for Rome depicts a large figure in the foreground dressed in traditional clothing with the two most famous sights behind him. The illustration definitely leads the eye with the brightly coloured figure grabbing the attention. From there the eye is lead quickly to the destination name, down to the Colosseum, further down past St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican to the name of the airline company. Although colour is used in all elements of the poster, it is the bright primary colours of the figure that catches the eye. He is also a large figure and is placed at the front of the composition. The two buildings appear set back in the distance because most of the building is represented in just a small illustration. They are colourful but the tones are muted. The green colour for the word ‘Rome’ is not particularly eye catching, it is the placement of the red feathers in the man’s hat that leads the eye to it. This red is also used in the name of the company with bold text, all of which ensures it stands out. The text used for the destination looks like it was hand created. It is a serif type font with some embellishments which match the traditional feel the poster creates. The posters makes Rome seem an appealing place to visit, somewhere you can be immersed in tradition, history and culture.

This poster is very interesting in terms of composition and text placement but it is not diagrammatic so is not a style appropriate for this brief.

The poster below designed by Eric Pulford is perhaps a little more diagrammatic, in particular the illustrations inside the elephant’s head. It depicts a range of sight seeing elements from animals on the Safari to buildings found in Africa’s cities. The representations are fairly realistic but I don’t think there is any accuracy in location. The elements have been arranged with effective composition in mind.

I then looked at designers Max and Oscar who create modern and inspired destination graphics. I feel that it could be possible they were inspired by posters like Eric Pulford’s above. Their poster below could fall into the diagrammatic illustration category because it depicts a slice of Copenhagen, a cross section almost. The purpose of a diagram is to communicate information which this image does. It gives information about the whole city starting from the Nyhavn canal and waterfront in the foreground, to the top tourist sights set behind. A bicycle has been included to represent Copenhagen’s bike culture. This is a very appealing illustration to look at. The colour palette is bright and engaging while still being fairly limited. This limited palette creates a theme that ties all elements of the image together. In particular it is the colour used in the canal that creates the connection because it is also used in the townhouses on the Waterfront and in the buildings behind. Definition between the townhouses and the buildings behind has been created through the use of different colours. The townhouses are brighter and feature yellow and red in addition to darker tones of the turquoise colour. The buildings behind are softer and are depicted in pinks, greys, muted yellow and a lighter turquoise.

The composition probably doesn’t depict the actual locations in the correct places, however it is accurate in that if you were standing on the waterfront looking in the direction of the city, the tourist sights would be located behind the townhouses on the front. Some of the background buildings appear to be further back than others, for example the white spired building is smaller and more set back than the two buildings either side. This could be based on actual location.

The text is a simple digitally generated sans serif font all in uppercase. It is crisp and clean and suits the modern graphics. The use of black on a lighter plain colour ensures it stands out.

Although clearly created in the same style, Max and Oscar’s poster for Berlin is quite different to the one for Copenhagen. The composition is very different with the river Spree winding its way through the city rather than running along the foreground. The Brandenberg gate and TV tower have been placed centrally in that order from the front, around and behind which other important buildings and sights have been positioned. Again there may or may not be accuracy in the position each element in terms of location or it may have been down to what created the most effective composition. The eye is immediately drawn to the TV tower. Not only is it a tall structure and placed centrally, it is bright white against a dark petrol blue background. At the bottom of the tower is a red heart which leads the eye to the red in the destination text. This is the same device as used by David Klien in his Rome poster. In contrast with the text used in the Copenhagen poster, a bold serif font in different colours is used. From the text, the eye follows the river, taking in the sights along the way. As with the Copenhagen poster, a limited colour palette, this time influenced by the German flag, is used creating a visual continuity throughout. Other iconic elements such as the Berlin Wall, mug of beer and tram have been included to give a viewer further information about the location.

While thinking about illustrated maps as an option for the illustration I decided that one showing exact locations and street and place names wouldn’t be appropriate for a book jacket. However an illustrated map in this style by Max and Oscar might be. It is diagrammatic providing accurate information about California while still remaining completely pictorial, a style which may suit a book jacket for a travel guide more. The icons representing California’s buildings, culture and food have been placed in roughly the correct geographical locations. The background to the state outline indicates what surrounds it, the sun could be there to represent the neighbouring desert state of Nevada. To the left the Pacific ocean is depicted with waves and sea animals.

I decided to start researching each of the locations before creating myself a more focused brief. I made mind maps from information found on the internet and also made a gallery of photos for reference for each location.



My Brief

Produce a diagrammatic illustration for each of the following locations: Istanbul, Helsinki and Milan, to be used a book jacket for a travel guide.

The illustrations will be for a full size travel guide at 198cm x 130cm. Artwork to be to scale.

The images should capture the essence of the location and provide information about what can be enjoyed there. They should make each place appealing to visit.

In order to be diagrammatic, images need to be based in realism and objectivity.

Colour palette to be limited to colours representative of the location.

There is free rein on composition, viewpoint and media used.

Each illustration should visually relate to the others as it should be clear they are from the same brand.

Text to be hand lettered. This can be the same on each to maintain continuity or created individually to reflect each location.

In order to fulfil the diagrammatic, objective part of this brief, I started by drawing landmarks from each location from reference before starting to illustrate. Including these landmarks in my illustrations would fulfil the providing information about the locations part of the brief.

I had a few ideas for the illustrations and made thumbnails to explore them. My first idea was to create an illustrated map of each location. Although I was interested in this idea, I didn’t feel it would work as a front cover. I also came up with the idea of using a public transport map as the background on which landmarks and sights are plotted at the correct locations. I really like this idea but again, I feel it is too diagrammatic for a front cover. I would like to explore this idea in the future though.

My other idea was to create a composition of the main sights in each city. This would fulfil the brief in that it would provide information about what can be enjoyed in the locations but would also look appealing as a front cover. I created the compositions for this idea digitally so I could freely move each element around.

The first two compositions show the Basilica Cistern at the bottom which I thought was important because it is an underground sight. I tried the text both at the bottom and top but felt neither of these had an element that leads the eye. Everything is too jumbled. The text in the third leads the eye with diagonal movements up to the top. The next three compositions focused on placement of the Blue Mosque which I felt should take centre stage. Number 4 is too disjointed and looked strange having such a large Blue Mosque at the front. I did quite like number 5 in which the eye is caught by the blue Mosque and is lead down to the text. I also quite liked number 6 in which the buildings were placed roughly in the shape of Istanbul.

The next three are all versions of a similar idea. They all feature the buildings positioned in a dome shape. There are a lot of domes in Istanbul and I thought it would work well to reflect this in the layout. I also felt that the eye is led nicely from the text up to the top of the dome.

Happy with the composition, I drew the visual.

My brief asked for a limited colour palette reflecting the location. I researched traditional Turkish costume to see what colours reflect the place and found them to be pinks, purple and gold. I also wanted to include blue to depict the Blue Mosque. I then made colour visuals on photocopies. The first was all wrong because the pink background didn’t allow for enough contrast. Also the blue was all on one side, rather than running through the whole artwork as intended. The pale blue background on the second was much better and so were the colours on the buildings but I wasn’t entirely happy. Istanbul is surrounded by sea so I thought I could reflect this in the background colouring. The third visual has pink as a background for the dome part with blue surrounding it. Although I was happy with the provisional colouring, something was still not right with the composition. Everything seemed a little disjointed.

I felt that having the buildings overlapping more would address this issue. I was much happier with this composition. All of the main sights are included, the text leads the eye up to the top of the dome and it isn’t disjointed.

I followed the same digital process for the other locations. I chose the composition on the far right. Helsinki is surrounded by sea and this composition gives a nod to that. It has a strong lead from the text upwards through the various sights. The buildings are overlapped to prevent the image appearing disjointed.

Milan was tricky in that it has a few buildings that are quite similar to each other. I wanted to ensure there was enough contrast between each one which is why I started with them spaced out. The first five compositions didn’t work at all and these are only the ones I saved! I tried so many different layouts trying to make it work. Milan is famous for fashion and shopping so I wanted to make that a strong theme in the illustration. I remembered from my research about Galleria Vittoria Emmanuele ii which is Italy’s oldest shopping arcade and is a beautiful piece of architecture. I drew a sketch and added it to the composition. Placing it at the front, just behind shopping bags really privileges Milan’s fashion and shopping history. I then arranged the other buildings ensuring they look balanced.

The text used on the thumbnails was just for placement because the brief requires the text to be handwritten. My next step was to create the text. I had originally intended to have the same text on all book jackets but once I had developed my compositions I didn’t feel this was appropriate because each city has such a different feel to it. I felt that Istanbul needed a gothic look, perhaps like Arabic writing in style but that wouldn’t work for the others. For Milan I wanted something elegant and stylish while I saw Helsinki as needing a clean, modern and minimalist look. Before creating the text by hand I made a digital version for each location.

To create the hand lettered text I started with my normal hand lettered text that I use in my sketchbooks and when writing greetings cards to people etc. Each one then became a variation on that.

For Istanbul I used gothic angles and lines thicker than others. Milan is in a flowing script while Helsinki is a variation on a sans serif type font. They are all quite different but because they all originate from the same style, I hoped there would still be visual continuity between the three illustrations.

Below are the visuals for the three locations. Although they all have different text, I think the compositions have ensured there is a similarity and continuity between them. The text is also placed in the same position on each.

With the colour development work I had previously done for Istanbul, I made that my choice for the final artwork. I felt that artwork for Istanbul needed to be sumptuous and opulent and it was this that dictated my media. I wanted to use Neocolour crayons because of their colour rich qualities. I had been doing some exploring in my sketchbook at about the same time, playing about with gouache under painting, particularly black. I was trying out which media and colours show up when laid over black. This gave me the idea to try out using black card for this illustration.

I tried out the colours I wanted to use and drew experimental bits to see how well they would show up. I was happy with the results so went on to complete the final artwork on black paper.

I wanted to create a feeling of opulence and I think I have achieved that. The black paper provides great contrast both to the images and the text which makes the whole book jacket eye catching. My research identified the need to include content that would engage a viewer and make the location appealing to them. As a diagrammatic illustration, it should give information about what can be seen and experienced there. In the brief I set myself, I wanted to capture the essence of the place. I think I have achieved all these things. I think it is enticing, both as a book jacket and a place. I created hierarchy by placing the text at the bottom of the dome leading up to the the Blue Mosque which I considered to be the pinnacle of all the Istanbul sights. My only worry is that the use of a black background reduces the visual continuity between the three travel guides as black wouldn’t be appropriate for the other two locations. Referring back to Max and Oscar’s work though, in particular Copenhagen and Berlin, for which completely different fonts and colour palettes were used but they still maintained continuity due to use of a similar style of composition and layout. I think the composition style and design layout is maintained across my three travel guides.

I have questioned whether the illustration is diagrammatic enough due to my colour choices not being accurate. Aside from colour though they are recognisable and it does provide information about Istanbul. I found getting the balance between creating a diagrammatic illustration that make an effective book jacket tricky to juggle. All of the book jackets I researched feature photographs. I thought my illustrated map ideas were too diagrammatic and thought that other ideas I had of featuring just one of the sights as part of a scene would not be diagrammatic enough. I was conscious that I didn’t want to make it narrative. When I refer back to the quote by Alan Male at the beginning of this post in which he discusses contemporary diagrams as being aesthetically pleasing which makes them effective in advertising and promotion, I think my artwork fits that description well.

I really enjoyed this exercise. I am very interested in travel illustration. It makes me want to go to all the places once I’ve researched them! I also took the opportunity to explore what is a fairly new medium to me trying out the different colour combinations you can make by layering over each other. I also played about with use of gouache and acrylic underpainting and Neocolour over the top to see what effects I could create.


Male, A. (2007) Illustration: A theoretical and contextual perspective. 2nd ed. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

Editorial Illustration

The first part of this exercise was to analyse newspaper editorial illustration.  The images I analysed were all from the Guardian on Saturday 11th May 2019

Generosity in Politics.  Written by Gary Younge. Illustrated by Thomas Pullin

This  conceptual illustration relates to the text in that it shows legs rushing around individually without concern or awareness of each other.  The legs are large which connects to the idea that people with a lack of generosity shout loudest and like to make their opinions known. This extends the meaning and content of the text.  In the centre of the illustration is a person offering a chair to the hoards rushing by. This person represents those who do not fall into a ‘right’ or ‘left’ camp and who choose silence. They have an opinion but choose to attempt to create peace and offer generosity by keeping out of the argument. The person is visually tiny in comparison with the legs which extends the meaning through visual metaphor representing the concept that the minority appears to be those of a charitable nature.  These people are seen as small and insignificant in a world of selfishness and ego.

The colours used are interesting .  The legs are blue suggesting right wing conservative self reliance and profit making.  The figure wears a yellow top, the traditional colour of the liberals. His shoes are red and he offers a red chair.  This could be a suggestion that the way to find generosity in politics is through cross party collaboration. A union between Labour and the Liberal Democrats perhaps…

Alan Male describes the best editorial illustration as being, ‘ thought provoking and contentious. Normally couched within the journalistic remit of political, economic and social commentary, it challenges both popular and alternative opinion; it obfuscates and presents arguments; it poses questions and leaves them unanswered; it makes provocative statements.’ Male, A. (2007) . This illustration does all of these things.

Great English Football.  Written by Barney Ronay. Illustration by Lo Cole.  

How English is English football?  This is a conceptual illustration using visual metaphor.  The image shows an English knight dressed in chain mail and vest adorned with the St George’s cross.  This symbolises the history and tradition of English football. The knight has a football stuck in his mouth.  The significance of this is that with foreign players, managers and owners in the English game, can we really say that English football is great? This illustration relates to the text and meaning and adds a comical element.  

Make a Friend of your Anger.  Written by David Woolfson. Illustration by Leon Edler.  

This article is about anger being a natural human emotion that we can’t get rid of, but can learn from it.   It then gives tips on how to make anger your friend. It features a conceptual illustration of a man with a heart and arrow  tattoo in the style of a traditional ‘mum’ tattoo, but with ‘mum’ replaced with the word ‘anger’. This mirrors the meaning of the text in that tattoos usually symbolise something or someone people love and want to remember or keep close to them.  

Mediocre man?  Then you’re probably leadership material.  Written by Oliver Burkeman. Illustrator not referenced.  

The misguided idea that over confidence and self absorption are qualities for effective leadership means many incompetent men are in leadership roles.  This is a conceptual illustration showing a group of faceless men. The lack of faces could symbolise mediocre, as could the similarity between all of them; they all have the same shaped faces and wear the same colour clothes.  However one of the men from the middle of the pack has a speech bubble containing an ellipsis. This relates to the main idea in the text in that an ellipsis is used in place of superfluous words. People who talk less about their own capabilities,  are more emotionally intelligent, calmer and more resilient make more effective leaders. Not the narcissistic man in an arrogant pose depicted at the front.

All of the illustrations I found in the newspaper and supplement were conceptual and use visual metaphor.  

My brief for this exercise was to create an illustration providing a visual interpretation of a heading chosen from a list. I chose - How green is your food? I searched the internet to find some text that suited this heading on which to base my illustration and found one that suited perfectly. I read through and highlighted the key messages and made a list of them.

I then did a visual brainstorm which I used to make a list of potential ideas.

I believe the heading I chose didn’t require the illustration to be contentious, however in order to deliver the messages in the article, it did need to offer opinion. I didn’t want the illustration to just decorate the text, I wanted it to add further comment so I chose to take a conceptual approach. However I found it difficult to cover all of the messages in the article without creating a narrative illustration. When I was generating the ideas, I felt like I was squeezing elements into an idea and losing the potential visual impact. In the end I chose an idea that covered the messages I thought most important; buying local; cooking fresh and eating more fruit and vegetables. Below shows my process from thumbnailing through to visual. I started by trying the rider of the bike in different positions, eventually deciding that a side view would best portray the content. During this process the baskets full of vegetables got larger because I really wanted to emphasise that element of it.

The image I created did communicate the messages but wasn’t conceptual so I thought about how I could make it more so when creating the actual artwork. With the heading being ‘How green is your food?’ it made sense to colour the whole illustration in green. Alongside working on this exercise I had been experimenting with techniques in a different sketchbook playing about with the idea of creating shape and space by drawing outlines. I explored and adopted this technique for this illustration.

I thought having a clean, but blurry soft outline would give the content a green glow which would really emphasise the message and thought wax pastels would be a good medium to create this effect. I tried out different shades of green on a visual then created the final artwork.

I think the illustration delivers the key messages from the article and offers opinion. The inclusion of the bike adds more meaning because it highlights the shop local message and also promotes a general healthy lifestyle. Although slightly narrative, I think the oversized baskets of fruit and vegetables that also actually form their shape, the green ‘glow’ and the colour being used only on the outlines make it slightly conceptual too.

Authorial Practice

Your Own Work

The first part of this exercise required me to look over my previous work and choose pieces that I find aesthetically or conceptually pleasing in their own right and make a gallery of the images. The focus wasn’t purely on finished artworks and didn’t have to be the whole illustration.

The next step was to choose an area of authorial practice that my images might be suitable for.

Decorative Illustration

I think this illustration would be an appropriate design for the greetings and surface patterns industry for a child audience. It could be in the form of cards and wrapping paper but also stationary for children. It could also be used as a surface pattern for soft furnishings like children’s cushions, bedding and curtains. The objects in the image could be rearranged, repeated and re coloured as needed to create the artefact. It could also appropriate for the fashion and accessories market as I can imagine it on children’s t shirts, backpacks and socks. Similar products are shown below.

I thought the flat colour version would also work well and it is this version that I thought I would use to actually produce the artefact. I was unable to remove the background from the cut paper version successfully enough.

I decided to have a t shirt made and this is the result.