Exercise 1: Illustrating Visual Space
In these experiments with space, I re-arranged printed images and noted on the type of illusion of space each of them created. The images were selected on the internet, moved into Photoshop and resized to three different sizes each, then printed. I cut around them, then started playing around on different pieces of paper, sometimes adding a horizon line, and photographing images I liked.
This composition functioned as my control group, since it was so simple. The building is obviously distanced from the tree and the tree from the child. And even though the tree and the child are a bit too similar in size while they are on the same horizontal line, because a child is traditionally small and a tree is traditionally larger than the child, one can assume that the tree is, in fact taller, even though the child is only slightly lower or “closer” on the page.
The building creates a lot of vertical and horizontal lines, the fact that the child and tree, which are placed vertically, stand on the same horizontal line creates a very static composition. Simple, but can be boring if not used intentionally.
Here, the size of the building and the distance between them, combined with the fact that the motion of the child is angled to the outer edge of the page, all make it look like the child is running away from the building towards the viewer.
In contrast, the small size of the house and tree create the illusion that the child, who is comparatively similar in size, are much farther away. Because of the child’s more dynamic pose in comparison with the other two elements, and because he is angled towards them, it looks like he is moving to the tree and building and away from the viewer.
In this composition, the scale of the child completely changes the meaning of the tree and building. They have become toys. Alternatively, the child has become a giant. This might be my favorite of the set, because it is simply so extreme and whimsical. The fact that there is not enough information to tell whether the child is enormous or if the building and tree are tiny just makes it better for me.
The angled images in comparison with one another and with the frame create a sense of falling, chaos, and disorientation. The scale of the objects does not matter anymore because the lack of order or horizon makes it irrelevant. This creates a very surreal composition, reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrations.
Exercise 2: Reading an Image
This is a fantastical illustration in bright warm and cool colors, depicting a dragon sleeping on its hoard, while two adventuring children argue about what to do.
The focus of the illustration is the dragon itself, since it’s the largest, warmest, and brightest element in the entire illustration. The eye is first drawn to it, then it travels along the direction of the dragon’s sleeping head to the two arguing children. Though not as bombastic in color or size, their energetic expressions and movements draw the eye from the dragon to them. The eye is also drawn to them simply for having human faces and forms. The human eye is conditioned to instantly identify anything humanoid, so they are our natural second point of focus. The children are also highlighted by their green clothes which come in complementary contrast with the red dragon and the bright light of the torch the girl is holding while gesticulating.
The last point of focus would be the treasure, by virtue of detail, since we see every coin carefully drawn and every sword and shield decorated. These all stand in contrast to the loose texture of the cave walls.
Exercise 3: Image Development
The Hustle and Bustle
The Black and the White
The Seamstress Photograph
The Seamstress Illustration
After finding a suitably busy image and printing it, I started taking photographs with differently cropped compositions. I realized that the story could be changed completely depending on which part of the photograph is shown. For example in “The Bride” the image is pretty straightforward, a bride preparing to walk down the isle; however, when the image is widened to the left to include the cameraman like in “The Photoshoot”, the image is no longer about a real bride about to walk down the isle, but about a model trying on a dress, or about a photographer taking part of a photoshoot. In some images, like “Self-Reflection” I cropped the image to extremes and de-centered it in order to make it more personal, in others like “Knick Knacks” or “The Path” I excluded the characters entirely in favor of objects to suggest the story of the people out of frame.
The image I chose for my illustration was “The Seamstress”, because I felt that she was, despite being right in the center of the photograph, the one most likely to be overlooked in the brilliant light of the bride. I also felt that the angle of her face and the delicacy of her hands create a meditative moment amid the chaos.
I chose my usual medium of watercolor and ink on paper, which I then transferred into Photoshop and found an appropriate font to type the title in. And as a final touch, I created the needle and thread design right under the title to bring everything together.
Exercise 4: Abstract Illustration
The piece I chose to listen to was George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. I love the energy of this piece, and the range of emotions it evoked while I listened to it on repeat and painted.
After listening to the song a few times, I realized that, to me, the song felt like it was separated in three parts. The youthful, energetic first part, the romantic second and the grandiose third. There also is a lot of overlap, since there’s plenty of energetic-grand and romantic-grand. In my first sketches, I tried to capture that energy and movement of the first part using watercolors. Mostly in blue, obviously, though I did add hints of red for depth and because red feels like the most energetic color to me. I chose to work with watercolors both because I’m familiar with them and because they are a very free-flowing medium, perfect for the lively piece I’m looking for. I used a lot of people and buildings, or impressions of people and buildings, because to me it feels like the song sounds like it’s emulating a busy city at various levels of crowded during the day.
In the second part, I focused more on the grandiose element rather than the movement element. Though these came out a little less than abstract. The lovers in front of the full moon (trying to capture some romance there) who focus less on each other and more on the moon, which is so large and whose light is so bright it looks more like an explosion. Next, I tried to incorporate the romance and the grandiosity by drawing skyscrapers with exaggerated perspective with the viewer looking up (grand), with red flowers their bases (romance). The third is perhaps the most literal in the aspect of grandness, since it’s a literal giant standing at the dock of a city, again with the viewer looking up at him.
In the end, I chose to go with the most movement inspired drawing, with a few adjustments. I kept the red and blue color scheme, but added some greens. The composition is similar, with a few additions from all the others. I changed the top two figures to look like they are about to clash in a flurry of movement high above the others, like enormous forces of nature colliding (stealing from the drawing of the giant to add the grand element), and right in the middle, the light colored character creates a small area of quietness and innocence (romance by contrast with all the angular, dramatically posed figures).
Instead of sticking with just watercolor, I used acrylics over the watercolor and ink sketch to add texture to the piece. The brushstrokes are dynamic and fast, most of them either moving with the figures or going upwards in order to further create a feeling of grand, of looking up, and of action. Most of these lines are done in black ink, which I used because the black creates the greatest contrast with the white of the paper.
The spots of red in the painting are supposed to point out what could be the “main character” of the piece, whose prominent nose points to the character on the left who literally points to the giants on top, the last element noticed being the kernel of peacefulness in the middle.
Exercise 5: Giving Instructions
My vision for the final product for this project was a small, cute poster meant to be kept in the kitchen. Something with pleasant colors and pretty shapes. So when researching, besides looking for reference photos containing information I needed (like the chart) I looked for examples of pretty cups and utensils.
I started out by outlining the steps I would be illustrating and changing things around until I was happy, so that I could plan exactly how many illustration my little poster would have. Then, I made thumbnails with various set ups and shapes for both the poster itself and the illustrations within the poster. I eventually decided to make eight steps which would be symmetrically placed on a vertical paper, with a final ninth step only depicting a simple cup and biscuit.
My choice of colors was influenced by the fact that I wanted to depict clear steps for each individual type of tea wordlessly, so they each needed to have a corresponding color so that the viewer can easily follow differing steps just by looking at the colored circles. Green for green tea, yellow for fruit (or herbal) and black for black tea. The illustration still needed to be warm and pleasant to look at, so I chose warm versions of green and yellow (sap green and ochre) and the black could fall into the background without disrupting the mood because of the black linework. To complement the ochre and green, I added a warm brown (burnt umber and beige) and a warm grey (burnt umber and a little ultramarine blue).
Because I have no skills calligraphy-wise and because my own handwriting leaves much to be desired, I looked up a font I liked on the internet, then uploaded it and wrote out my title on the computer, so that I could copy it on my own piece.
Exercise 6: Viewpoint
The word chosen for this project is “Workshop”. The tools depicted here are supposed to show the workspace of a wood carver, though I admit that the carving tools are better suited for clay than wood. To add texture to the black surface underneath (which is there for contrast, the wood on the handles and the wood blocks themselves are all very light) I chipped wood shavings some on the paper to add texture. Though there is plenty of texture to be had with the sandpaper and cutter knife in the composition.