The exercises that you have completed in this part should have helped you identify the forces which shape a commission and the processes to go through to create an illustration ready for print. You should now be ready to work as an illustrator.
This assignment is an opportunity to consolidate the understanding you have gained so far, reflect on the work you’ve enjoyed, the successes you have had and the areas of illustration you feel most drawn to. It allows you to create certain parts of the brief yourself so that you have the maximum capacity to show off your interests and talents.
As you think about what you are going to produce, keep on with your ongoing visual research by looking at examples of existing work or contexts. Above all, be open-minded and analytical and try several variations until you arrive at a brief which feels most interesting for you.
The title is Seven days.
These can be seven days of the week or random days that tell a story. Your interpretation can be objective or subjective. You can produce seven separate, one large diagrammatic or a continuous strip illustration. You can decide on the media and methods you will use; the context – magazine, newspaper, book, brochure or poster, and the intended audience.
You need to write yourself a brief that is clear and challenging but manageable.
What to do
Be aware of the processes which have so far led you to your development in ideas in generation, visual research, image construction, understanding contexts and media usage.
Make sure that you are clear what the final size should be, but you can work at any proportional size. Use worksheets and sketchbooks to explore solutions and refer to examples of work which solve similar types of problems. Think back to how you have treated similar briefs.
You need to submit all your working stages from thumbnails to final art work.
I began this assignment by researching various options referring to ‘seven days’ (along with other topics that are associated with the number seven, which I thought I might be able to use). These included:
- Origins of the names of days of the week
- Seven sins
- Seven seas
- Seven colours of the rainbow
- Seven Wonders of the World
- Seven continents
- Symbolism of the number seven
- Monday’s Child poem
However, none of these really appealed to me in the context of this assignment. I also had the idea of a creating an illustrated strip of a character at work (e.g. Monday ‘blues’, Friday ‘feeling’, etc), but I also was not that keen on expanding this.
I then thought of ‘seven-day challenges’ and after searching for this term, I came across the Seven Day Climate Challenge, which is aimed at children and young people. This really caught my imagination and became the option I wanted to explore further. However, I found the description in the link quite wordy for children and thought this could be adapted for younger age groups. I then progressed to looking at a similar concept in Sweden, which although not aimed specifically at children was equally, if not more, relevant for my idea.
Writing the Brief
Before progressing any further, I decided to set out my brief so I had clear goal to work towards.
Brief for Seven Day Climate Challenge Poster
Seven illustrations are required for an illustrated strip promoting a Seven Day Climate Challenge. Each illustration should refer to a day of the week and its associated challenge (further details of these to be provided).
The target audience for the poster will be children aged 8-13 years old.
The role of the poster is mainly to persuade its target audience to take on the challenges/understand the seriousness of the issue, but this should done be in an entertaining, informative and engaging manner.
The poster should be eye-catching and easy to understand (i.e. not overloaded or too ‘wordy’ – the illustrations should communicate the intentions).
Any text used should be displayed in an informal style that is suitable for the intended audience.
The illustrations should be provided at an appropriate size and in a format so that rescaled versions can be produced.
The colours used should be appropriate in relation to the target audience and stand out. Bright colours are suggested.
The choice of tools is up to the illustrator, but it should be noted that the finished illustration should be provided in a digital format.
Now that I had more of a clear concept that I wanted to pursue I began searching for examples that I hoped would influence my designs. I recalled, a few years ago, seeing details of a competition to design a poster for a new advertising campaign aimed at encouraging children to eat more vegetables. I really liked to style and concept of the winning design and could understand how children would be drawn to it. This helped me to form the idea of using a superhero character/theme for my illustrations.
I then began to form a potential idea for the character and wanted to get this sketched down on paper in very rough form, whilst fresh in my mind. This then enabled me to think about how to incorporate this character into each scenario.
Although the 7 Day Climate Challenge example did provide specific tasks for each day of the week, it is an America organisation so I felt using ‘Trashy Thursday’ would not be so effective for the UK as we generally refer to waste as ‘rubbish’. I chose to combine some of these suggestions with the Sharing Sweden examples. I preferred the results, but it made it difficult to associate particular days with each illustration. I decided to come back to this issue at a later point.
Initial Composition Ideas
I moved onto sketching out some rough concepts for each composition. Some of these came quite easily, but other took a great deal of contemplation in order to come up with an idea remotely worthwhile. I also decided that I would be flexible in the order of my illustrations and so may change this at a later date.
The obvious choice to associate with Day One was Meat-Free Mondays. I wanted to show the hero thoroughly enjoying his meal.
For Day Two, I selected growing your own food. I wanted my illustration to show that it can be possible to do this with limited space, e.g. even just a windowsill.
For Day Three, I based my idea on ‘Friends’ Friday’, i.e. encouraging others to partake in the challenge.
Day Four was to be based on connecting with Nature.
I based Day Five on Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. I chose to have my hero refusing to use plastic bottles and clearly holding a reusable bottle. I also wanted to incorporate an example of superhero powers in this illustration.
Day Six was to demonstrate using alternative methods of travel rather than a car. I did consider having the hero flying, but decided to go with a classic superhero running pose (which was to cause major headaches in terms of looking believable!).
The final illustration, Day Seven, was in reference to conserving water and I decided to show the hero turning off the tap when cleaning his teeth, which I felt, although simple, was an easy relatable option for children.
I felt that this was going to be a very challenging exercise and I really had to focus on making steady progress with each stage. I wanted to create a series of illustrations that I would be proud of and choosing character design encouraged my enthusiasm for the task.
Moving into Illustrator
I scanned all of my composition sketches onto Illustrator and used these as the basis to work from. The progress of each can be seen below (in much edited versions!). I initially created outlines of the illustrations as I wanted to get that right before moving onto adding colour/tone. The hands of the characters caused me endless amounts of frustration, but I was pleased with the results overall.
Once I started adding colour, I decided to refer back to the original inspiration for my idea, the VegPower winning poster, and used coloured lines rather than black ones for the outlines, which I felt was much more visually satisfying.
After colour, I moved onto adding tone. Following the previous exercise, I felt more confident in my application of this and, again, I was glad of making the choice add this aspect as, in my opinion, it really boosted the illustrations. I felt I had improved my application of light and shadow, but must continue to work on this area.
I moved onto adding texture to certain elements in the compositions, which I felt enhanced the results. I then remembered that I needed to add a logo to the hero outfit. I was not sure what this should be and, after some thought, I decided to go with a simple ‘C’ for Climate Challenge. I was very near the deadline for submission, so I had to restrain myself from going back and adding any major detail to the designs, just tweaking instead. If possible, some of the additions I would like to have made included:
- adding detail to the zipper of the blue hoodie.
- adding more to the Nature composition, perhaps a squirrel and/or bird on the tree and some more foliage/flowers.
- adding another character to the water bottles composition – I considered having an adult with a shopping trolley/basket looking on in shock as the bottles fly around, but this would have taken a great deal of extra time.
- adding water ‘sprinkling’ out of the watering can.
- adding detail to the towel in the bathroom.
- potential using a simplified ‘Earth’ logo on the outfits rather than ‘C’.
Once I had reached this point, I had to resign myself to stopping and the ‘final’ illustrations can be seen below.
As with previous exercises/assignments, I spent a great deal of time not having any concept of what I was going to create and starting to slightly panic! However, once I had come up with the potential idea for this assignment, which was going to revolve around character design, I became very enthusiastic about developing and working on it. I decided to set out a clearly defined timetable, which I managed to keep to, and this was a beneficial tool that I will definitely implement in future projects.
The illustrations required much more work than I initially anticipated and I had to remain focussed, methodical and disciplined in my approach throughout. Additionally, I was very glad I incorporated tone and texture into the compositions as these, I felt, really added to the outcome.
One of the main issues I had to work through was creating believable proportions for children – I had little experience with this and had to consider muscles, relative size to surroundings, etc. I did employ a little artistic licence when it came to the running pose and increased some of the muscle definition for effect, but he is meant to be a superhero! It also affected the layout for the bathroom scene as I had to think about the character’s size/height in relation to the sink, cupboard, etc.
I felt the weakest compositions were:
- ‘Reduce. Reuse and Recycle Day’ – as previously stated, I would have liked to add another character to this composition as it felt a bit empty, although the bottles did add movement.
- ‘Connecting With Nature Day’ – again, as previously stated, I wanted to make additions to this composition (squirrel, bird, flowers, etc) and also more detail to the trees, such as shadow.
I was generally pleased with my attempts at creating realistic poses for the character and managing to produce believable hands was an achievement in itself!
I felt the strongest compositions were:
- ‘Resist Using A Car Day’ – this was a real challenge and I was pleased with what I managed to achieve. It is a classic superhero pose.
- ‘Recruit Fellow Superheroes Day’ – I was happy that I managed to create a range of characters in similar style and I thought adding the pink background (which I was unsure about to begin with) really boosted the final composition.
I did not manage to compile the illustrations into a potential final format of an illustrated strip with some captions. Additionally, I would like to have taken the original sketch I had of the hero standing with a rotating globe in his hand as the title illustration for the strip.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this assignment. I pushed myself to create something of a high standard and I hope this is demonstrated in the final results.
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