Exercise 1: Writing the Brief

What I love about Pascal Campion is how he creates atmosphere and warmth in his illustrations of the small, but important moments in life. This is reflected in his “The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City” book cover. The atmosphere in the illustration is heartwarming. He used the cozy light of the lamp and fairy lights in contrast with the cool colors of the world outside the window, which frames the charming image of the girl and the piglet having a special moment.

Besides the fact that the cover is aesthetically pleasing, it also delivers information about the story effectively. I did not need to look at the description to know that this is a “boy and his dog” sort of story, with the twist that instead of the boy there is a girl and instead of a dog there is a pig. I also knew, from a single glance, that the female character is a star athlete because of the various medals, uniforms, and photographs displayed on her wall. Above her bed, there are photographs of horses, showing the viewer another side of her characterization.

Before writing the brief, I read a short summary of the book.


The brief:

A book cover for a children’s story of primary to middle-school age range.

Must include:

·         Title and author in an appropriate, legible font. It must be written in a large size for it to be quickly identified on the shelf, and for smaller children’s ease of reading.

·         A welcoming, happy atmosphere. The story is about connection and relationships, this must be reflected in bright, warm colors.

·         Both characters interacting in a meaningful way to emphasize the fact that the story explores their relationship.

·         A hint of the city, to show what type of world they’re up against.

·         Insight into the girl’s characterization. She lives in a too-small apartment together with a big family. Therefore, she puts great value in her space and personalizes it to her taste. She is a successful young gymnast, and she loves horses.

·         Feel free to expand on these points in order to further develop depth in the story.


Render illustration digitally in order to create a clean, modern final product.

P.S. Though the story does pay homage to Charlotte’s Web, please try to visually stray as far as possible from that in order to avoid any sort of confusion.

Exercise 2: Spider Diagrams

This was an interesting exercise for an art project. It was fun to see where ideas can go when stretched. I wrote my own words in black pen, those in neon orange are the second person’s input (sorry if it’s hard to read, I had assumed the orange would be more legible due to its brightness, not less). The checkmarks represent words which he repeated that I had already written. His words tended to be similar enough to mine, the biggest difference being in the “Childhood” section where he added “Village”, because that is where he spent his youngest years. I would have never thought of that word, since I have always lived in the city, and his perspective creates a completely different picture.

I have to say that the words easiest to find connections to were “Seaside”, “Childhood” and “Festival”. The stretch came at “Angry”, which is harder to find concrete visuals for, since it is and emotion. I mostly found words by either thinking back on my own experiences, especially for “Festival”, since we have those regularly in Transylvania, or by thinking of movies, notably “Hulk” for “Angry”. I was really out of ideas by that point. But it did lead the way for the “Abrupt Transformation” link, which I really like and would have not found without the previous word.

Exercise 3: Turning Words into Pictures

I chose the word “Wild” for this exercise. The two concepts which stuck with me the most were the ideas of “wild movement” or maybe “dancing” and “wild nature”. I drew or painted some of these in my sketchbook and some on loose watercolor paper.

My first drawing was the ink sketch of a girl with flowing hair. There, I tried to convey the “Wild” concept through the brushstrokes and  which are in contrast with her peaceful face. My second, the Tiger, is a bit of an obvious choice, but I wanted to take it further by making him truly dangerous-looking, so I Googled roaring tigers for reference to my quick sketch. It’s sketched with pencil, pen and pastel. The flowers in my next sketch had no reference, though, because I deliberately wanted them to not look entirely natural, but perhaps a bit alien and strange in shape. It looked less like a finished drawing to me and more like the beginning for a pattern. I liked the idea and decided to draw more on loose paper, this time repeating the wild animal motif I started with the tiger. These were all done with watercolors.  Next, I painted an abstract sort of landscape of a waterfall in a rainforest, again in watercolor.

I eventually decided to move back to using the human form again, though not like in my first sketch, I used pen and charcoal to make quick sketches of people in motion. I mostly used photographs of breakdancers for reference, since their movements looked exaggerated and “wild” to me.

Exercise 4: Making a Moodboard

This… does not seem to be my strongest suit. I did enjoy cutting out things and sticking them to the board, to an extent, but I can’t help but feel that there are better ways to do it than I did.

Searching for fashion magazines (and eventually buying some, because I realized I didn’t actually have any) and then cutting out the appropriate images was fun. My saving grace was the fashion magazine written for tailors and designers. It had some higher-fashion clothes than the magazines I had at home, and it also had sections about types of fabric and even sewing and tailoring guides.

I may not have gotten the idea of putting clothing-making instructions in my mood board if I had searched these on the internet, but making the mood board on an actual board and spending so much time just cutting stuff out still felt like wasting time to me, especially since I could have done a much faster job by just creating a mood board digitally. Which I have done, and have found much more effective and a little less frustrating. Simply finding images to cut out proved a challenge. I suppose I could have printed some, but that felt like cheating.

The best part was drawing the little fashion sketches and taping the paper on. I am not entirely sure what that says about my skills as a researcher.

Exercise 5: Using Reference

After looking at so many elements of the 1950s, the word that seems to stand out as most descriptive is “colorful”. “Bright” could also work. From their clothes and movie posters to their automobiles , things that used to sport more somber colors just a few years before, or were “colorless” (like pots or radios) shine bright reds and teals and greens. The most evident culprit for such an explosion of color is The Second World War. Once it was all over, everyone seemd to have made a sharp turn from the horror the world was subjected to during those few years and determinedly looked to the future, where the mud and the night should not follow. It a jaded world, it looks painfully idealistic, and it’s true that this turn did not solve the real problems of a post-WWII world, but it is a fact that color encourages a positive mindset, so perhaps they learned something we need to remember.

In the art world, this idealism translates to the then-emerging Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. In the cases of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism artists put aside the entirely intellectual and realistic side of art, in favor of using color and shape to express pure emotion.  An art movement is never influenced by a single thing, but it is impossible to deny that the flourishing economy of the United States after the War, created the inspiration and influence for the Pop Art movement, with its acknowledgement and appreciation for popular culture. All depicted with attractive colors, simple shapes and many beautiful ladies, in reflection of mainstream influences.

Mostly foucusing on the color, costume, and interior, I decided to keep the composition simple, only adding the things I found most distinctive. Such as a woman wearing a skirt with the distinctive silhouette and standing in her modern kitchen, a radio, a stylish clock, a subtle Coke bottle, and a old-fashioned stove covering in the background. These all tie up nicely with the vibrant colors of the piece and the patterns I used for the “rug” which doubles as sort of a stylized base for the composition. I was inspired by the advertisements for kitchens of the decade to create this sort of piece, using watercolors and ink (with a dip pen) to complete a old-fashioned sort of design.

Exercise 6: Exploring Drawing and Painting

I stole my sister’s shoe for this project. And I have to say that I had no idea how much supplies I accumulated over the years until I had to break out so many materials to sketch these pieces. I think the only things I didn’t end up using were the children’s glittery gel tubes and the oil paint. The paper also varies a lot in thickness and color. I very rarely use colored paper, but I liked using light mediums on toned surfaces. I ended up not binding the papers together, but placing them in a envelope.

Exercise 7: An Objective Drawing

I chose my old pair of glasses as a subject for the objective drawing. To me, this project the easiest of this section. Creating black and white life drawings is not new to me, so it was honestly relaxing. The interesting texture on my old glasses in comparison with the clear lenses added a little fun, though. I drew them on simple A4 printer paper with black pen.

Exercise 8: A Subjective Drawing

After a very short brainstorming session, I chose “Umbrella” as my subject for my line drawing and “Wet” as its description. Through the use of watercolor, I tried my best to convey the moisture, the way the droplets bounce off the top of the object, and the way they drip at the bottom. The  oversized droplets and the cool colors of the piece both further take home the impression of “wetness”.

Exercise 9: Using Black and White

The first two illustrations of my Sea were created digitally, in Photoshop. After I made my line drawing I simply inverted the image colors and then printed both options in a A3 format.
Originally, I had planned to cut out many more shapes than I did, as you can see in the outlines of the waves and on the little island, but after cutting out the light from the beacon and the light source itself, I decided that the clarity of the illustration would be compromised if I cut out any more white, so I left it with just those two elements and the white outlines. Creating a very dramatic sort of image in the process.

Exercise 10: Choosing Content

The main aim of this piece was to achieve a “Stark” feeling. That was the word that most encapsulated the text to me. I searched for images on the internet depicting that same feeling, such as a creepy hallway, forest or back alley. As for textures, I chose metallic and brick imagery. I also searched for images showing people from the circa 1940s time period.

The stern man in the excerpt has worked at New Scotland Yard, during wartime, and the text describes a jaded sort of person. When picturing his character, I imagined someone stone-faced, with haunted eyes, so I looked up photographs of soldiers in addition to the environmental and textural ones.

For the portrait itself, I adopted a mixture of the characteristics from the portrait photographs I chose. I wanted to depict someone solemn and introspective, in order to match with my “stark” atmosphere. I thought a brush and ink technique would give the greatest light-dark contrast, which is essential to the ominous atmosphere.  The brush also allows for interesting textures in the brick wall and in his clothes. I tried to convey metallic paneling right behind him, but it did not work out as I had hoped. But I did try to incorporate the pierced metal from one of my references into his tie.

Exercise 11: Visual Metaphors

The theme I chose was “Censorship of the Press”, sketched out with pencil and pen. Communicating clear and simplified ideas seems to be something I need to work towards more, since when I showed my illustrations to another person (my mom), she did not really understand what they were about.

After writing down some words regarding the subject, I chose to draw a reporter tied up and gagged, his camera smashed on the ground, but after consulting with someone, I realized that the camera did not much look like a camera and the character didn’t much look like a reporter. It just looked like some poor guy about to be executed. So I later expanded the drawing with two crumpled newspapers on the ground, though I am not sure how much it helped.

Next, in the drawing right underneath the first, I tried to convey the idea that the press has the options to either choose the “Truth” or to choose “Truth Plus”, meaning to sensationalize. The “Truth Plus” bottle I drew is much larger and “cooler” while the “Truth” bottle looks like a medicine container, symbolizing the fact that the truth will often be sacrificed for the more attractive story. Which is not a traditional form of censorship, but the fact that the “Truth Plus” bottle sells better creates an environment where the people who only sell “Truth” pills will get passively silenced by the fact that their truth doesn’t sell, which means they have no resources to seek it out in the first place…Overall, this is a good idea, but I did not find a very good depiction of it, so when I showed it to another person, I had to explain the drawing.

The next sketch, of a man sitting on a bench and reading a newspaper while it is being painted over, was a more successful, though the fact that the little gnome looked too friendly crated some confusion. I later darkened his clothes up and added more pointy shapes in his design to enforce the idea that he is an evil character.

The idea for the last sketch, the shackled reporter with a tied down mike, was not fully my own, but it is also the clearest in its delivery of the theme. After showing my mother the drawings and asking for her opinion, she said that the first image she thinks of when it comes to censorship of the press is a mike tied down with a chain. Admittedly, I expanded on the idea, but the credit goes to her.