Online portfolio and print on demand catalogs for Graphic Design and Animation graduates from the Department of Design 2012. On this page you will find our conference presentations, and by hovering over the menu groups on the left you can read contextual documents. You are welcome to attend our Grad Show, opening on 29 November 2012 at 6pm, and daily from 30 November to 6 December 9.30am – 4pm.
To investigate various techniques to ‘re’ illustrate a set of cautionary tales for a modern child audience.
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Time…one of life’s greatest enemies and death’s only friend. As every day disappears, another begins. An endless cycle that repeats it’s for all eternity, unchanging and unstoppable. What we do with the time given, defines us, creates us…and all that left is just a faded memory but it’s these tiny memories we hold on too which are most dear since it reminds us who we are and what we live for.
Have you ever wished you remembered a time in your past so vividly and detailed that you could tell the story excatly how it happened? I do…but sometimes the stories become more interesting when forgotten instances are replaced with exaggerated lies. This inspired me to re-illustrate a set of cautionary tales from a popular storybook, Struwwelpeter. The book was published during the 1850s in Germany by Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann, in which was intended to abolish bad habbits from children. I have chosen my target audience to be children from the ages of 6 – 10 since I strongly believe that it is important to educate and discipline children with proper morals and values to shape them up to be well-mannered and respectable adults.
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The key contextual references in my work are based on comparing and contrasting the differences between historical forms of illustration with the present in terms of the usage in color, stroke, tone/shading, character design, background, text and image placement . I have also investigated various perspective and silhouette techniques and how it is applied on the image in regards to depth, setting and emotion.
My interests with incorporating handmade/traditional with digital illustrations have been a reoccurring theme throughout my project. My intension was to mimic a certain aspect of an artist’s work and combining it with another to form a slightly revised image. For example, taking the pencil-made characters from Jim Lee and applying Lara Zombie’s watercolor techniques while adding Frank Miller’s silhouette, lighting and perspective qualities to the publication. By doing so I have managed to create this unique and interesting style which I constantly use in my work by mixing certain techniques which would be more appealing and suitable for a modern child audience.
Throughout my project I have been experimenting with several forms of mediums used between the two time periods, even some I have never used before such as watercolor and acrylic. “An illustrator’s inherent sense of visual language can enhance a seemingly mundane product. ” – Alan Male. His book helped me examine and measure the contextual operations regarding contemporary illustration practice. It provided me with theoretical and intellectual processes needed to get a better understanding of a subject matter. For example, the uses of bright and warm colored flowers in a black and painting changes the mood of the image from being completely dull to having a bit or life. He breaks down the images and completely tells you the reason on why a particular piece was used in an image.
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During the start of my project I decided to gather all the influential artist though out my years of study to use them as references within my work…but I realized that I had a very constant and narrow path as an illustrator in where my style drifted mainly on the areas of realism, comic books/graphic novels, storyboard/character design and publication. These were my strengths as a Graphic Designer but I realized I was quite limited and had nothing much to show for. This encouraged me to step away from my comfort zone and experiment with unfamiliar areas of illustration such silhouettes and lighting, angles and perspective, collage, caricatures and calligraphy.
Early spent the early stages of my projects studying children’s storybooks in terms of illustration, usage in color and text. I was able to mimic certain features artists used in their images and incorporated them with characters from the cautionary tales. For example, I used the famous moon-shaped irises used by Dr. Suess in the story of ‘Little suck-a-thumb’ and based the entire story on his hairy, slim, brightly colored characters as one of my experimental concepts. I then moved on to using traditional mediums which were unfamiliar to my practice such as watercolor and calligraphy.
I was always interested in calligraphy since it was a more hands-on method of experimenting with typography. I purchased a special pen especially for calligraphy with a set of different nibs that produced different line strokes. I was able to play with ink as well and creating my own typefaces out of calligraphy was quite enjoyable. My interests on watercolor , on the other hand, started with my search for different brush tools used in Photoshop. During my research, I stumbled upon an artist name Lara Zombie who had a very unique illustrative style which was strong influential to my ongoing work method. She combined different contemporary mediums in her illustrations such as watercolor, stencils and pen/pencil drawings to create images I have never seen before. Not only was it new to me but I was drawn in to this distinctive art style which mixes different mediums.
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Enjoying my new found love for these new and foreign styles of illustration I somehow ended up in the areas of silhouettes. This had the biggest impact throughout all the styles I have worked with. What I liked the most out of silhouettes was that I was able to use this form of illustrative media to design backgrounds, characters and to set a certain atmosphere within my work. I explored historical and present day silhouettes and how they are used then I was able to then mix traditional and digital silhouettes to form pieces of my own. During group critiques, they enjoyed my use and experimentation with silhouettes in terms of lighting and color. From these silhouette I was also able to form cutout characters and use them as a collage in one of my concepts for the stories. This art form has been a big part of my project this year and I advice every illustrator to have a play with silhouettes.
Midway in my project, I was influenced by my storyboard and page layout concepts to use different views and perspectives. In my opinion using perspective in an image gives the story more emotion and depth. Applying the use of different camera angles to capture character movement worked extensive and gave a slightly more animated impact on my illustrations. During my experimentation with publication layouts and character design I explored the practice of caricatures. I was interested of the idea artists illustrating a person while exaggerating certain facial features. Even though I was actually quite skilled in creating caricatures because I had a strong eye for detail, this art form didn’t correspond well with the certain themes I wanted to portray using silhouettes and perspectives. Mean while, I was exploring other cautionary tales for my research and decided to make a few of my own. I used caricatures of people and created modern day cautionary tales such as ‘The story of lazy Ivan’. The story was based on how being lazy and leaving everything to the last minute can destroy someone’s life. ‘The story of Suzy the Bully’, another story about a girl who bullies other girls until one of her victims commits suicide and haunts her for all eternity. These were actually quite interesting and I really enjoyed making them but they made me drift further away from my aim so I just left it as an enjoyable experiment in relation to my cautionary tales.
After exploring and incorporating new areas of illustration to my work I decided to look back to my aim. Realizing that the tales of Struwwelpeter were actually made to scare children out of their bad habits, I decided to test my illustrations on my target audience…the results were interesting. I discovered that most of the children I surveyed chose my illustrations that were more detailed, dark and graphic. This was the major turning point during my project, after a more in-depth research on children, I learn that children nowadays were more exposed to violence because of the media. (Television, Internet, Games) I realized I wasn’t answering my aim instead I was blinded by my eagerness to explore new areas of illustration. In a way it was quite ironic how I wanted to escape from my regular illustrative style only to get pulled back to it in the end. I decided to turn the notch up a lot and make my images more realistic, dark and demented to make sure to traumatize children to never do a bad deed again.
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After the current findings and observations I decided to change my target audience to children from the ages of 6 – 10, instead of the original 6 – 12. Detail plays a big part in what children find appealing so I carefully analyzed each story and predetermined what type of mood and emotions I wanted to portray for each tale. To be able to do this I concentrated on character design and studied the uses and effects of boxing/framing techniques used in comic books and storyboards. More of my illustrations became more detailed by adding a range of different line strokes and using crosshatching for shading. The colors which were used in my illustrations had became dull and darker while I used silhouettes for backgrounds and certain frames. I used perspective and camera angles to capture the character’s emotions since they held the entire mood of the story.
My initial intended outcome this semester was one A4 hard bound publication as it was designed to mimic the original Struwwelpeter publication with a slightly more modern look. It would have around 50 – 60 pages containing every story from the book re-illustrated to fit my target audience.
While talking with my tutor on how I would be presenting my work, they encouraged me to have more than one publication…so instead, I have decided to re-illustrate 5 – 7 cautionary tales (depending on how much time I have left) from the original book and turn them into mini publications which will be bound in a comic book style format. Each mini publication will be based on different illustrative techniques and artists. I believe that presenting more than one publication is more suitable since more people get the chance to interact with my work. Along with the 5 – 7 mini publications I have also decided to create one A4 hard bound graphic novel, in where all of these tales are combined which would contain roughly 60 – 70 pages.
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Illustration, A Theoretical and Contextual Perspective – Alan Male
Published by AVA Publishing SA, 2007
Play Pen, New Children’s Book Illustration – Martin SalisburywPublished in 2007 by Laurence King Pub- lishing Ltd, London
Exploring Illustration – Michael Fleishman
Published and Copyright by Michael Fleishman, 2004
This Book Contains Graphic Language, Comics as Literature – Rocco Versaci
2007, The Comtinuum International Publishing Group Inc, London
Children’s Picturebooks, The Art of Visual Storytelling – Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles
Published in 2012 by Laurence King Publishing Ltd, London
Artists on Comic Art – Mark Salisbury
Titan Publishing Group Ltd, September 2000, London