Assignment 5: Seven Days

For this last assignment we were given the “Seven Days” theme to write a brief around.


  • Create a series of seven illustrations for a personal development magazine. The article is about the importance of novelty for productivity. The illustrations must depict a character doing a different activity for each day of the week.

  • Give two formats: A horizontal one for the printed magazine (in a size no longer than 13 cm), and a vertical series for the online magazine.

After clarifying my brief, I revisited my research on editorial news and magazine illustration, and this time felt attracted to similar styles to Jim Davis (Garfield illustrator) and Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes illustrator). I wanted to illustrate these illustrations in a very simple and stylized, but effective fashion, mimicking the thick linework and minimalistic color palette used in this particular style of illustration.

After researching and deciding what style to use, I started sketching and planning out the days.

First, I made a spider diagram for brainstorming ideas, then I started sketching them out using a couple of thumbnails for each. I sketched with ink in order not to be tempted to keep perfecting a sketch instead of moving on to a new idea. After finalizing a general idea of my character’s actions, I created a few versions of that character.

I debated a few options, and decided that the one which most looked like a young professional would be the best to use, since a personal development magazine would be most likely to attract young professionals as their primary audience.

After I was happy with my ideas, I transferred my illustrations into a digital medium, because I felt that would create the cleanest result. First, I created the table for my days, then I drew over my initial sketches to create clean illustrations for each day. The font for the text that I chose was one I felt would most match the type of illustrations I would be making.

I wanted the coloring to be very simple. I chose two cool colors (blue and green) to stand out against the warm tone of the background or paper, then I alternated them as a foundational color for each illustration. After doing so, I chose to color the character’s shirt the “opposite” of the background color (if the background is green, then his shirt is blue and vice versa). But in order to accentuate his “daily novel activity”, I chose to incorporate a completely different color for each day. For example, for Friday I colored in teal for the woman’s hair because she is the focal point, and for Thursday, I colored in the purple paint, because that is the important action of that composition.

After I finished my illustrations, I separated the individual boxes in order for them to be easily translated into a digital format for the magazines webpage.

However, after I viewed the strip in its finished form, I noticed line variation of the drawing was lacking and that the colors looked haphazard instead of interesting. So I decided to develop the linework a little more, and even add some hatching, even though it changed the minimalistic style I had first been going for. Then, I started playing with the colors a little more. Instead of coloring each central element of the panels a different color, I decided to keep the color of the objects consistent. I also decided to color the entire character a different hue instead of just his shirt because the difference is much more visible that way. I played around with hair color a little, until I realized that it was best to just keep it brown in order not to distract the viewer form all the things that were already happening with color on the overall strip. I tried giving the text block a different color than the rest to emphasize it, but decided it was unnecessary, since the text was large and there wasn’t much of it, so from then on I kept the text block color in harmony with the rest of the image.

Next, I experimented with desaturating the colors for one strip and with warming them up for the next. The desaturated colors of the first strip look much better than the previous ones because the bright orange is allowed to stand out from them, the monochromatic orange was also interesting in its simplicity.

In the end, I most liked the desaturated red and green strip of all, because the orange tint of the other one, although eye-catching, felt a little more texting for the eye to look at. Orange is also a much more daring color than most others, so in the context of an article, instead of simply standing out in a positive way and adding to the article, I felt it might stick out like a sore thumb. The green and blue, however are much calmer colors, which our eyes are used to assigning to the background, therefore I felt they would not draw attention to themselves instead of drawing attention to the message of the illustration.

“Seven Days ” has been and interesting and challenging project. I am still learning to further analyze and improve my work after I already consider it mostly finished. Experimenting with variations of colors and ideas during the process of creating an image is not my strongest suit, but I’m hoping this is a start on a long road of improvement in this regard!

This has been an amazing first course. I have learned so much about illustration! Especially when it comes to the process of research and exploration for each project and how to further refine and target one’s illustrations towards a specific audience. I have made some great illustrations, but more importantly, I’ve made great mistakes which I have definitely learned from and continue to learn from. I can’t wait to see what this new world of illustration holds for me in the future!