A tantalizing option initially, being a quick turnaround, open ended brief with a fun subject to work with. The possibility of payment and an online feature added to the appeal of the project. Knowing that the magazine appreciates physical, handmade work, I saw this as an opportunity to practice with watercolours, and seeing how they would respond to digital touch ups, resulting in a more textural and vibrant outcome, but the result looks like it was created entirely digitally. The idea was also to use the brief as a means to practice design, an aspect I wanted to improve to make more interesting comic page layouts, but in hindsight wasnâ€™t successful, having this result being rather uninspired in that sense. The image has grown on me since my first evaluation, but I was certainly pertaining to a rut and playing it safe with this work, eventually resulting in the need to switch things up later in 603. The lacking detail of the brief also taught me to be more cautious about the desires of the client also, to avoid doing unnecessary work like this brief.
A brief to create a short festive animation to be projected within a business complex in central Leeds, on the lifting tower. The possibility of payment was far too appetizing to turn down, alongside the opportunity to practice animation and recap with after effects, tools that I have previously used with successful results. Yet another bonus atop those reasons would be that it was a a real world application, to get people to see my work. The only real considerations and suggestions outside of the theme was to keep it as simple as possible, using bold colours that would show against the rough murky wall. It was also suggested that the animation be family friendly, being visible by the general public. Generation of ideas and thumbnails was simple enough, with my first proposed idea okâ€™d. Being a while since I had used after effects though, the initial animations worked fine separated, but when pasted together in after effects looked flat and disproportionate, resulting in the need for the work to be scrapped and re started.
Having a short time span to finish the animation, I decided it would be quicker to create the animation frame by frame, than to have to re cap and learn after effects entirely. This created a smoother animation, and still acted as a re cap for after effects, needing to mix two animations within a snowy scene. Working on the brief paid off in this respect, instilling new knowledge in frame by frame animation, alongside the after effects reminder. The brief did have its issues, resulting in both no payment and the animation itself being miss shown. Despite sending a appropriately scaled version of the animation, an earlier version was used, only showing the top corner of the video. Another reminder to be wary when agreeing to briefs, somewhat like the so young competition.
The brief was to create a new cover design for George Orwell's animal farm. Being both a big fan of Orwell and giving the opportunity to practice design skills, it was inevitable that I work on this brief. Previous animal farm covers all follow the same themes mostly, looking like Russian propaganda. I wished to deviate from this theme and bring some personality to the work. I started in entirely the wrong manner, focusing on character design rather than the far more important design opportunity. This was, much like the so young competition, me retreating to a safe zone.
Despite being the wrong approach to the brief, I was at least somewhat experimental with the tone of the imagery, aiding in the conclusion that the work should follow a darker tone. Thankfully I eventually came to my senses and started to focus more on design. I decided to try a propaganda approach to the imagery, but still didn't feel like I needed to re tread that subject matter. The idea that stuck was to bring the links between the antagonist and Stalin together. Outside of characteristic, the book doesn't inform the reader that the pig is in fact a representation of Stalin, so felt it would be nice to allude to this with symbolism and design.
Starting to work digitally made the project take a turn for the better. The idea was to follow the image of Stalin biting on an apple, like a suckling pig, but felt the work didn't convey the idea effectively. This also went for the screaming pig mouth and teeth shaped like a moustache The idea was to have the animals within the mouth, but compositionally didn't work out. Thanks to peer feedback the portrait of the pig with features of Stalin was chosen. This at least didn't render the previous character design work pointless. In hindsight I consider the resulting image to be the least interesting in a design sense, and also feel that the image wasn't tonally appropriate for penguins representation of the book. That being said, I really started to be considerate about layout and the way type can be used as part of the illustration, rather than simply placed atop or behind it. The brief also helped me to learn and understand what the Ipad was capable of, resulting in three quite different, experimental outcomes.
Resembling the so young brief, PlayStation held this competition alongside the re release of one of my favorite games. A quick turn around and open ended, I saw the opportunity to get to know the IPads capabilities with this brief, being done during the Penguin brief. In this sense it did serve as an appropriate introduction, but this also shows in the outcome, being rough around the edges, and showcasing some weaknesses I was yet to iron out in my transition to entirely digital art. These issues were addressed with the cover designs for penguin.
Feeling that live briefs werenâ€™t resulting in portfolio pieces as I had hoped, I opted to change direction and focus entirely on self initiated briefs, tailor made to stretch my skills and address some shortcomings troubling me within my work. This started with the idea to make a zine based on my travels to Japan. I started the brief to both document the trip as a passion project, but also to be sent to people I met on the trip and maintain contact. Having a selection of photos, I saw an opportunity to work from those, playing with style and practicing environments as a subject matter. Just finishing a comic for COP, the backgrounds left a lot to be desired in that project, resulting in the choice to practice within that area.
With the ultimate goal of improvement, It was essential that I become stricter and more ambitious with my output. Some of the pages required complete re starts, failing to live up to the idea or quality of image I had in mind. The images also had to have a stronger implementation of typography, corresponding with the goal to make better looking comic spreads. For this I tried to have the text interract with the environment or characters on show, simply to make the text more interresting. Following the variety of the Orwell covers, I tried to approach each image differently, to find new methods and rid myself of the stale methods holding my work back previously. As a result the end product does feature a selection of differing works, but thankfully still comes across as a cohesive whole thanks to the application of vibrant colours and considered type.
Lots of issues were addressed when creating this work. I had finally created portfolio worthy work, reassuring the importance of self directed work in the progress. I reflect on the Japan zine as my favourite outcome from my time at university, holding both sentimental value, and bringing me out of an illustrative rut. The work also received glowing responses from peers, with the new direction of the work being greatly appreciated. There was still some clear unfinished business for myself coming out of this brief. Having addressed my need to create more interesting and accurate scenery, and graspinh how to effectively draw with point perspective as a new skill, I still was no closer to being able to make my own environments, relying entirely on photography for this project. This resulted in the primary concentration of the next brief.
Scenery and environment was the subject to strengthen for the next brief, being another self initiated zine. This time I opted to create image responses to a selection of song lyrics, a theme partially inspired by the return of the secret 7 brief. With this I would be able to continue working on typography, and creating scenes to match the words. This also enabled me to experiment with storytelling, what context can a scene add to the lyrics, or how could they even build upon what is being said. Wishing to strengthen accuracy within my scenes, finding a method more efficient than using grids, I started to research various modeling and sculpture programs. With this I found sketch up to best suit my needs. Learning the basics of the program was simple enough, being able to struggle my way through my first environment within the first night of use. Upon completion, a glaring flaw with the program reared itâ€™s head, a lackluster lighting system. Finishing the model, and having the ability to find an appropriate position for the camera was an unexpected bonus brought upon by the program. Finding the scene, I could simply draw over the rendered image, applying texture, more shadow, detail to the environment, and most importantly the characters and song lyrics. Creating this scene was so much easier than using grids thanks to sketch up, and also accurate proportionally.
Continuing on to more environments, I found there was no need to sketch layouts, being able to find compositions by moving around within the scene. As time went on I also started to pick up on more tricks and possibilities offered within the program. Looking to the first scene, It became apparent that I could create a segment of the building, and duplicate it, making the task of building a Chinese slum city far easier. For the bedroom scene I discovered the warehouse of pre made models free to use, meaning I could decorate and embellish the room much quicker. This makes quite the impact to the scene. Comparing the room to the first shopping cul de sac, the environment seems a lot more lived in and interesting. As a testament to the layout being found through looking around the scene, most of the details go unseen in the final illustration of the bedroom, with the bed completely out of shot etc. Without using the program, I would have felt a need to layout the room and draw a view showcasing everything. Using sketchup has forced me to be more mindful of shot composition, something that would prove to be incredibly useful later for work experience.
Not wanting to focus entirely on scenery, some illustrations had more of a focus on the use of type, or their overall aesthetic. The two above images being prime examples, the gig scene really stretched my character design muscles, wanting to have a visually intricate and interesting crowd of individuals. Working digitally greatly streamlined that ambition, letting me draw over failing character designs or step back on errors. Alongside that, It was an opportunity to take a more dimensional and painterly approach to the focal figure, making him an immortal golden god, with this I was practicing the rendering of metallic shapes. The second image had a pure focus on type. Rather than having it floating around within the environment, it was instead built by it, a physical part of it.
I wanted to see how my new found process would affect my comics work, and it certainly has. The first draught of the page found here features some hefty rookie errors. Creating scenes in A3 for weeks had me forgetting to work to the ratio of the panels. The above panel was to stretch across the width of a portrait A3 page, and take a quarter of the page in height. Instead I made it A4 in scale, working on autopilot, resulting in a visually inferior layout for the final layout. Although there are still issues, this was my first attempt returning to a comic. I feel that the paneling is far more interesting than the original, and despite the mistake made with the sketch up panel, there's certainly potential. I intend to shelve this project for now, to be continued after uni, and hopefully become a submission for the cape comic prize, depending on whether they run it again or not.
Shown in the pdf!
An unexpected and brilliant opportunity arose during my Easter break, the chance to travel to Ireland and work on a TV production: AMC's into the badlands, I got to work in multiple areas of production: Concept art: My first task was to create a concept for an environment pitched to me. This was a real challenge, being an illustrator that to this point has worked mainly with flat characters, and a lacking skill in making environments (especially without sketch up to my disposal), I was admittedly lost, feeling a overwhelming sense of imposter syndrome. But when tasked to do a job, you've got to try your best at it, I did what I could and created an outcome. This was met with an unsure response, being that "the image was too illustrative" And needed to be more photorealistic, so that the other departments could match the image in reality when building the set. Following this I was tasked with yet another environment concept, and again got the same response from my first outcome. This caused me to do some research on the creation of concept art, and found out about the art of "photobashing". When photography is used within digital painting to quickly and effectively convey the idea. This worked a treat and finally achieved a positive response. I also got the chance to make a little poster to be used on a set, speaking of which..
Set preparation: I got the chance to work on a set, doing some odds and ends to bring the environment together, sticking up vinyl's, spray painting. Quite a lot of fun, and really satisfying to see the group that I met in the art department bring their vision to life.
Prop and model making: Probably the most fun I'd had within the whole experience, I'm not a sculptor, so it was really interesting to start this new medium and learn the basics, making a mold for a cleft lip and nose prosthetic. I'm really interested to learn more, both digitally and physically. I even had the chance to collaborate with their digital sculptor, who sculpted a robot design from my japan zine, and 3D printed it.
Storyboarding: This one was right up my alley, simple sketches to convey position of actors and set pieces. I felt like I was in control the instant I started working. This reflected in my feedback from the story boarder, saying I worked quick and would be well suited to the position.
Thinking that I had an understanding of what was necessary to further my practice, headstrong, I started working on multiple competition briefs, creating uninspired, safe work. I thought that by following this path, I would become a better designer, and have professional looking works to be featured within my portfolio. With nothing going to plan, I had to re shape my proposal, focusing more on projects that would challenge and advance me as an illustrator, whilst resulting in striking, portfolio worthy illustrations tailored to me. This revelation caused me to consider what was important as an illustrator/ creative. Because of the rocky start to 603, knowledge was imparted as to what should be important to me as a practitioner. Being that there is no such thing as a set way to work as an illustrator, it’s crucial that I continually challenge myself to be better and introduce/ build upon new skills. Alongside this, I had to consider what was most important to me, using my craft as a means of expression, or as a way to make an income. Focusing on my work as a means of expression instantly resulted in better work, and a healthier output. The ability to send the Japan work to those that I met on my travels was also immensely gratifying. I’m not so concerned about becoming a big illustrator thanks to this, feeling contempt with the idea of getting a day job whilst creating personal work alongside it. This may not have to be a concern thanks to my time working on the TV show. Things are hopeful from those that I worked with, maintaining contact and sharing information with me. Even if this doesn’t come to fruition, I still have the experience on my CV, meaning I could get further work showcasing it. I was especially fortunate with the placement, having the opportunity to try almost every different area of the art department. Each required specific skillsets, finding myself most effective when working on storyboards. Being quick and having an understanding of composition with camera movement thanks to a love of cinema and comic creation undoubtedly impacted this. Returning to the module itself, this brief was the first time I got to grips with time management, this time being a necessity to complete both of the zines. Being strict with how long I could take for each image made for an effective process, and was surely the reason I was able to complete two zines. Some illustrations surprised with unexpected challenges, taking more time. This wasn’t too drastic of an issue, with spare time being considered and included for such occasions. I must continue to work in this manner if I am to maintain a healthy output, factoring in research and downtime to ensure I don’t return to a rut or burn out.
I worked on a variety of briefs, from the small, quick turnaround competition briefs for So young and Playstation, to the bigger brief for penguin and the much larger zine projects. I reflect on the earlier briefs negatively, seeing many problems and shortcomings from the work, but when considered as a whole, they were all essential in impacting my practice, changing how I approach process and my mind set on what is important to me as a creative. As a result I tailor made the zine projects to better my skillset as an illustrator, and challenge my way of working and thinking. These have greatly impacted the way I approach image making, resulting in far more interesting imagery, with an understanding that there is still room to improve, and to never settle from here on out. Most importantly the project has resulted in work for the end of year show, and can be used as portfolio pieces. Over the course of 603, I have continued to follow the goal of making my own comics, but now alongside this, as a possible reliable source of income, there is the opportunity to become an in house storyboard artist. Two different roles that I feel work perfectly with one and other.