Sunday, 30 September 2012

Exercise 17 - Abstract Illustration

This exercise asked us to listen to a piece of music by one of the named artists. I chose Beethoven and listened to a few of his tracks. The one which I felt drawn to the most and chose to represent was "Fur Elise". I started this exercise in my sketchbook listening to the music and making marks as I worked.
I must admit I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing at this point but just set about going with the flow of the music and trying to represent the different elements.

I experimented with inks and tried letting them run into each other and tried spreading them out with a pen and letting it run.
I quite liked some of these effects but wasn't sure if I was totally following the brief and getting a true representation of what the music meant to me.

I then worked on a large sheet and made some more marks , selecting different combinations of materials and colours which I felt represented the tonal qualities of the music. The marks I made were flowing and spirally at times as the music dipped and then would gather momentum.



The next part involved selecting a word that represents the tone of the piece and select an area and work into this further. I chose "Dynamic" and continued to work on mark making.
I then decided to try work on these with Photoshop and playing with filters and colour variations and I managed to create some interesting combinations.
We then could add in form to our image and I had the idea to try and make a representational shape of Beethoven and have it showing through the marks. I used Layer masks to create some interesting effects and used the shape outline from a photograph of Beethoven.
I quite liked some of these effects but got to thinking about what my tutor had advised and based on things I'm reading/ learning that sometimes less is more and I wasn't sure if these looked overworked.
I tried to consider could this by used for a CD cover type illustration as I worked.






Not entirely satisfied I re - read the brief and decided to work more freehand and create some marks/ shapes again to represent the music. The ones I came up with looked in a similar style to Miro and I thought these more effective as I introduced different elements which I thought portrayed the music.
I then scanned my drawings and did some colour adjustments with Photoshop and added some text to see how well it would potentially work if it was used as a CD cover.

I liked these images a lot better and think they're stronger than some of the earlier colour / texture pieces.
This was a useful exercise at practising my Photoshop techniques but also made me hone in my experimentation and stick to something slightly simpler which I think was more effective.

I've just had my feedback from my 2nd assignment and might try some more alternative colour palettes and experimented with some different colour palettes.



Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Other artists - Kate Miller illustration

After completing the last exercise I came across the work of Kate Miller and thought that my final image "Explorer" had elements of this sort of style (although Kate's is a lot more refined)

Kate's illustration originates from a screen-printing background and although now working digitally the processes of layering sketches, photographs and found objects remain constant. Kate is based in Edinburgh and her work has been used widely throughout the design, editorial and advertising sectors.
I really like the use of colour in her work and the montage effects she creates using a variety of mediums and think its clever how she has a lot going on in each image yet its not over complex or worked.  She also has a very distinctive style and her work is clearly identifiable as all her images seem to have common features of hand drawn, photographs and bright colour schemes. Thinking about finding my own personal style of illustrating is something I hope to work on and I can already seem areas where my work is stronger than others and identify mediums I prefer working in/ with.

online images Available from [30th October 2012]

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Exercise 16 - Image deveopment

For this exercise I had to choose an image preferably one with a range of content in the foreground and background. I then cut L shapes to focus on different aspects of the image but found that I liked working in Photoshop with the crop tool which I figured was the same as having two L shapes so choose to work this way.

Initially I found it difficult to select an image, but then remembered about a photographers work I liked namely; Frederic Baque.

I really love images like this with lots going on and each time you see it you can see something else or imagine each persons story. This reminds me of Avril Paton's work in particular "Windows in the West" and the childrens book "The Jolly Postman".

I did a photography course and that taught me a lot about composing a photograph in terms of where to position subjects for good composition and various things to consider depending on where you want the emphasis/focus to be in your image. It's also great how an image can be cropped to draw focus to a particular subject/ area and make the overall composition more appealing. I'm starting to think about all this in regards to illustration and the same concepts apply in that sometimes focusing on a specific section can have a good impact and be suitable for the illustrations purpose.

Original image

Online image Available from : [30th October 2012]

The original image is very busy but the couple at the front lead your eye into the image being positioned slightly off centre. This could potentially be one crop/ image in itself and makes me want to know what they're discussing!

Cropped to focus on couple initially where your eye is drawn
WORDS - Love, Picnic, Discussion

The crop below initially makes you look at the woman / figure lying on her stomach, but on closer inspection we can see another figure in the background doing the same thing.
Cropped to focus on woman and child/ partner relaxing
WORDS - relax, unwind, chillin, summer, flat out, stressed, busy doing nothing

The crop below could be part of a different image as the man looks like hes preparing for a journey and packing his bag.
Cropped to focus on man packing his bag
WORDS - packing, journey, adventurer

Cropped to focus on tree and building
WORDS - residence,windows
I think the crops of the building/ palace have some drama about them, in particular the one with the flag maybe its because of the strong lines in the image and how the structure of the building is prominent in the frame/ image.

Cropped to focus on centre of building
Words - palace, residence, doomsday

Cropped to focus on young people laughing
WORDS - friends, the joke

Cropped to focus on man reading
WORDS - quiet, contemplation, break time

By itself the crop below has less drama as we don't really know the context the sign is placed in. Whereas if we add some figures back in, it puts it in a better context and clarifies the meaning.

Cropped to focus on sign
WORDS - relax, chill, authority


Cropped to focus on man alone
WORDS - contemplation, me time, the future, pose

Cropped to focus on man - he could almost be praying
WORDS - prayer
Avril Paton - "Windows in the West"

Avril Paton, Online image available from [Accessed 30th October 2012]

I then chose words for each image/crop that relates in some way to the content (shown above an in versions below).
I chose fonts which I thought reinforced the words/ scene.
Doomsday idea - harsh wide lettering, Study Time - bookish font, Friends - similar to Friends the TV show - loose laid back, explorer - wider text, bold, Authority - bold, stencil like.

Photoshop effects with doomsday crop
The next stage involved developing one of the crops into a poster choosing a word to represent the image whether it contradicts the content or relates to the image.

I started sketching out some of the images above in my sketchbook just to get a feel for what might work as an image.
Reading the course notes I liked the idea of having some part of the illustration at the edge or overhanging the edge of the frame which could help to draw the viewers eye into the image so I thought I might experiment with this.

This exercise really got me thinking about the background to an image and how much detail is appropriate and how this impacts on the main aspect/ intended focus.

I then developed images from a few of the areas in the photo namely love - the couple looking at each other. I used pencil for this one and didn't think it looked that strong or conveyed the word.
I then tried unwind and did a few versions of this using very sketch like watercolour, pencils and ink.
I thought this worked better and added some backgrounds in photoshop to contrast with the figure.

In my first attempt at this one I wasn't so keen on the colours I used as I didn't feel they really led the viewers eye into the composition. I went back and chose some stronger tones emphasing more the areas of light and dark. I also had some struggles with the skin tone and trying to blend watercolours so that they don't look patchy yet still show the differences in tonal values. I still need to work on this but found that by spraying some water and blotting and by using lighter washes I got a better effect.
This is still something I need to work on and I'd like my tutor to perhaps give me some advice of how to achieve better skin tones and how to work with building up colour with watercolours.
I selected a font which portrayed the selected word "Unwind" due to its handwritten and loose lettering.

I still wasn't entirely happy with the "Unwind" image so had a look at another few areas of the photo.
I experimented with a man sitting reading for a "Serenity" Scene which I then put in front of a holiday snap.

Some of these I feel didn't work that great given that the background is quite harsh in contrast to the illustration which has become a bit lost against the backdrop.
I then produced an explorer type image and tried to make it look like the figure was embarking on a journey at the bottom of a mountain face with his rucksack by using another of my photographs from my travels. I then experimented with some cut out effects in photoshop and using HDR tonal effects to create different colour saturations and contasts and selecting a bold text to emphasis the journey.

Holiday photo with image
Explorer and serenity/contemplation images

Holiday photography with image - image a bit lost

Background grass effect and shadow - image not quite as lost against backdrop


Photoshop HDR effect

I think the image above is the strongest for a poster and the text and image match - in that the composition is appropriate. I still need to work on my drawing / painting skills which as ever is a work in progress but this exercise was really good at thinking about being selective in what to include in a composition and the positioning of items within the frame. I'm also really enjoying using photoshop and experimenting with effects but am aware I don't want to become seduced by it and over doing things! So far I've found it hard selecting appropriate backdrops for images which work with the illustration and I think I've just about got off with it for this exercise but is something which I need to continue to work on .