Saturday, December 21, 2013

Concept, Technique & Illustration

We are now concluding my fifth semester at AAU…my first semester as an illustration major, and I must say that I have learned so much!  I won’t say that it hasn’t been a frustratingly painful journey because it has been. 
In my Clothed Figure Drawing class (ILL610), I’ve been learning to draw figures, expressively, in line (bold, soft, thick, thin) only.  It has been a journey, one that I will continue beyond the semester.    
More on that class later.  Today, I want to share what we are doing in my other class!

In this class, we are learning the process of creating an illustration, from concept to completed artwork.  We are still on the first two projects because each project takes weeks to complete.  The great thing about this class is that we ARE learning the process!

Project #1—Inside Book Illustration

In the first week of classes, we were giving about 10 different story scenarios and were asked to choose one to create an illustration.  We learned that there are two kinds of illustrations:  symbolic and literal.  Literal illustrations are those that come with very specific instructions, including what is to be included in the illustration.  Symbolic is more like an idea wherein the artist comes up with the best way to communicate that idea.  This first assignment is literal.  We were given scenarios in different genres. Since we are studying “literal” instructions on these first two assignments, the description gave all the components of the illustration.  It is our job to compose it.

For my inside book illustration, I chose to illustrate a scene in a circus!  Scenario:  a clown applies his makeup in front of a small mirror in his tent and draws a small crowd which included a couple of “little people,” a bearded lady, and a strong man. 

The first stage of the illustration process is to generate some layout ideas.  The “characters” of the scene were given to us (literal), so we move on to the first stage of the illustration process:  the thumbnail (preliminary) sketches.  This is the stage where the artist generates ideas without being partial to any single idea.  One thing I learned here is that these thumbnails are for me and my benefit…and no one else.  There’s no need to be self-conscious of them!  The key is to generate as many compositions as possible.  This is not the stage to be “judgmental” of any composition idea.  It’s like a brainstorming session (during the creative stage) wherein ALL ideas are great ideas!  I generated several.  Here are two of the preliminary sketches that I submitted for approval:

Another rule is don’t get attached to any one composition idea because that could hinder future ideas.  I got attached to the reflections in the mirror idea…and it actually did hinder future ideas.  When I got my feedback, he chipped away at the idea, although he liked it in general.  But we had to make it work, so my original composition wasn’t doing it, although it was a great idea.  I had to let it go so I could generate a better composition based solely on that idea. 

Here’s a revised sketch of the scene.  I came up with after looking at some pictures that I had already taken and heeding the professor’s advice.  He liked this one much better…and I still get a bit of my reflection idea in the mirror.

The next week, we were to submit a more refined drawing of the “approved” sketch.  Here is mine:

From this point, the instructor and other class members gave critiques with many pointers that would help strengthen the message.  The objective is to be sure that there can be no mistaking what is happening in the scene, so all changes help to clarify the message to the viewer.  Also, at this point, my value pattern isn’t nailed.  So, I worked on developing that better so that every character is separate and distinct.
Here’s the result of that work along with a copy of the final revision submitted today:

Finally, this is the version that was submitted today! 

I'm so proud of my very first illustrated image!  But secretly, I'm still not entirely satisfied with the outfit of the short person on the left. If I change it I will post the new image. 

In all, we completed four projects.  I'm sharing three, including the one above which shows the long process involved in creating the image.  I will post the other three projects, original submission plus final submission, but I won't show all the steps list above.  Just know that each project went through the same process.

Paperback Novel Cover


Magazine for Lysol Kitchen Cleaner
Tagline "they had made breakfast for their mother."
Type of artwork: Photo manipulation 

To be continued…

On a side note…working on this project has given me an idea for a project idea that has been in my mind for 11 years!  Yes!  I said 11 years!!  I will work that project into my schedule beginning this weekend… more on that later, also!

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