Katy Harrald Narrative Unit SilverFin
Title: Narrative Reference: ILL551 Level: 5 Credit Points: 40 Weighting: 2.0 Duration: 10 weeks Study time: 400 hours Commences: 28 November 2012 Deadline: 04 March 2013
The unit builds on experience and knowledge gained from previous units. it seeks to broaden your awareness of contemporary narrative forms through an engagement with the ways in which illustrative interpretation can act as a vehicle to carry a story line and reinforce the understanding of the seuqence of the plot. You will research a chosen text, identify its meaning, and develop illustrations which progress the interaction and direction of the narrative. Your sequence of illustrations may be intended for print or screen-based outcomes or may be artefacts such as photographs, drawings, film or animation. Your personal choice of narrative and medium will be negotiated with your tutor, and a group critique will provide critical reflection on your study.
Learning Outcomes: LO1 Demonstrate your understanding of the qualities of narrative through your sequence of drawings and your understanding of possible audiences, and relate your chosen narrative to the context of contemporary narrative forms. LO2 Indentify the meaning and intention of a narrative through textual analysis. LO3 Demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of key historical and contemporary critical theories and contextual issues. LO4 Evaluate and justify your proposals through debate with your peers.
My Objectives: Throughout this unit, I have used my time to develop my understanding of core narrative theories. Anything from Todorovâ€™s theory of narrative structure to more contemporary ideas of participation culture. I am still unsure whether this theoretical reserach will continue to help with my illustration practice. However, for the purposes of the Narrative Unit, it has played a large role in a lot of my decision making. My work previous to this unit was that of a few pages of a graphic novel, based on â€˜Othelloâ€? by William Shakespeare. Having never undertaken such a huge project, my time- management could have been more structured and economic. The previous unit has given me a chance to improve the way I work, and structure my research and image development. Working my experimental research and contextual research alongside one another, allowed them to inform one another at an improved pace. I very much enjoyed working in graphite for the last project, and so for this unit I tried to focus on my drawing skills, taking it right back to basics and indulging my passion for drawing. Following the feedback from the previous unit, the contextualisation of my final outcome was something that I needed to think about at the beginning and keep in mind when thumbnailing and producing ideas/ sketches. The level of interaction for my illustrations was something I tried to keep in mind at all times.
nar路ra路tive [nar-uh-tiv] noun 1. a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious. 2. a book, literary work, etc., containing such a story. 3. the art, technique, or process of narrating: Somerset Maugham was a master of narrative. adjective 4. consisting of or being a narrative: a narrative poem. 5. of or pertaining to narration: narrative skill. 6. Fine Arts. representing stories or events pictorially or sculpturally: narrative painting. Compare anecdotal ( def 2 ) .
My understading of narrative before this project, was in hindsight, naive. I believed whole- heartedly that a narrative was the same as a story. My research into narrative theories has since proven this belief wrong. Throughout this exploration into my work, I will explain how the theories have helped to inform my work, and my understanding of narrative in a wider context.
My choice in Narrative I considered only three books for this project, a number which I considered to be large enough for options but manageable.
The wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame The Penguin Design Award 2013 was to produce a front/ back cover for The Wind in the Willows. There was only one reason for my considering this as an option. Now in my second year, I should be pursuing more competitions and trying to show my work in the public domain (other than my online blog). It would have been interesting to see peopleâ€™s reactions and opinions on my work and to enter something notable. However, I had never read the book before and was generally unfamiliar with the characters, setting and plot. After reading it, I was left rather uninspired and felt that I wouldnâ€™t be able to enjoy working to a text I did not enjoy reading from the start.
Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgson Burnet The second book I considered for the narrative unit was Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgson Burnet. A personal favourite. The setting of this book, is one of my favourites visually. I very much enjoy the plot and the characters, equally the morals behind the story. The audience for this book is obvious, even from looking at the front cover. However, I have experimented with producing illustrations for young girls books before and decided that in this unit, I should try and produce work for an audience I hadn’t previsously worked for. The book Sara Crewe was adapted into a film in 1995 by Alfonso Cuarón, A Little Princess. I feared that if I pursued this book as a project, I would fall into the trap of watching the film too many times and drawing inspiration from it; instead of testing my own abilities to produce original visual ideas.
SilverFin by Charlie Higson Silverfin isn’t a book I would have been drawn to naturally in a book shop, having not looked in the teenage section for quite a few years. When my younger brother suggested reading the book, I was immediately struck at how ‘young adult’ books had changed since I read that genre. The way it is written is very mature and gripping, and very similar to the Ian Fleming novels of James Bond. Because it is targeted for the younger audience, the plot moves forward at a constant pace. I genuinely love the book, and wanted to illustrate it. Following on from the previous unit where I focused mainly on conceptual ideas within the narrative. I wanted in this unit, to do the complete opposite and produce something with more movement and action. The presence of a character then, would become key for this narrative, and would allow me to practice drawing people and maintaining character likeness in my work. I think the book would benefit from being illustrated. The characters and setting are described in great detail, at times maybe in a confusing amount. Some readers could benefit from having the scenes mapped out before them visually to get their head round what is happening, and the layout of the action. This book covered my personal objectives for this unit. I enjoy the book, wanted to illustrate it; but it also presented it’s own challenges.
There’s something in the water at loch Silverfin. Something deadly. Something that muct be kept secret... It’s James Bond’s first day at Eton, and already he’s met his first enemy. this is the start of an adventure that will take him from the school playing fields to the remote shores of Loch Silverfin and a terrifying discovery that threatens to unleash a new breed of warfare.
The next logical step for me in this project, having decided on Silverfin, was to read the book again. While I read the book I jotted down in note form : 1.Everything that happened 2. Character descriptions 3. Interesting quotes 4. Landscape and setting details 5. Contextual objects, ie: cars 6. Directions in which actions happened 7. Changes in time 8. The emotions of characters 9. Ideas for visuals At the time it seemed rather tedious, and it quickly became a chore. However, this planning had helped me majorly in the process of the project. I decided to do this because I knew at some point I would have to thumbnail the events of the book, and instead of plunging straight into this, having the book in my own words; would not only make it easier, but also a lot quicker. But for the time- being I was focused mainly on the basics of the story.
For example: At the beginning of Chapter 14: The Massacre of the Innocents In the book: â€˜The magnificent stag stood proudly on the hillside, its forlegs up on a granite boulder that was almost completely covered by a cushion of pink- flowered moss campion. It was a big red deer, standing nearly five feet high, with wide, heavy antlers. It looked like it was posing for a picture- Monarch of the Glen. It sniffed the air, then roared once. It knew that there was danger nearby.â€™ My notes: .Stag on hillside, forlegs on granite boulder, pink coloured moss. . Big, red deer. . Wide, heavy antlers. . Sniffs air, roars once.
After this initial planning, I leaped straight into exploring the characters of the book. Anybody who was mentioned or spoke in the book, I gave a page. I used the descriptions given by the author and included any information (such as their heritage and nationality) that would help me to get to grips with their appearances. I knew my illustrations at this stage weren’t meant for the purpose of final illustrations. As well as experimenting with different techniques, it helped me to determine the important characters in the story. How the characters moved the plot along, and which characters wouldn’t necessarily need to be portrayed. After this, I had a tutorial with Roy Brown, who helped me deside how to progress with my project more logically: .research 1930’s clothes .hairstyles .postures . research further into Todorov’s narrative theory .look into Propp’s 8 character types .events in fashion history, i.e: Hugo Boss and the Nazi party His overriding advice was to: BE RESPECTFUL TO THE TEXT. NOT A SLAVE TO IT.
Pecha Kucha During the Pecha Kucha presentation I discussed very briefly my chosen narrative, and an idea for a final outcome. Because the book was for sale in book shops in the ‘young reader’ section, I persued that age- range, with no particular gender specific. However, there aren’t many specialist books for young boys in the shops. In the last units essay I undertook research into Specialist Limited Edition books. Specifically, those available to buy on the Folio Society website. Folio has an extensive collection of beautifully created books. I would like to design a few illustrations to be placed throught Silverfin then finished as a ‘Folio’- style book. Or..... To have my illustrations separate in a box/ ‘suitcase’ as loose-leaf pages. Finished to look like ‘Top Secret’ or official documents. It might sound a bit over the top and childish. However, if I want my book to be sold to young teenage boys in particular ( or for parents/ grandparents to give as presents), I think it could work quite well. If they were to be sold as loose-leaf illustrations, I think the receiver should be able to re-use the illustrations as pictures to place in frames for bed-room walls or desks. I find it a shame when images remain in closed books, or when I read a book and I like the illustrations but don’t wish to tear the pages out. If the images were in the book itself, I could use photo-corners to hold the images in place and then they are able to be removed when and if the reader wants. On the opposite page are the images I drew up from Folio and a lifestlye blog, to inform my final outcome.
At this point in the project I started attending Roy’s ‘FIlm Club’ to watch films that embodied the narrative theories set out by Tzvetan Todorov and Vladimir Propp. This was my first introduction to any narrative theories, and it set out the basic fundamentals for me to look into further. Using Vladimir Propp’s 8 character types, I tried to relate this back to SIlverfin: .The Villain- Lord Randolph Hellebore .The Dispatcher- Mike Moran (Meatpacker) .The Helper- Red Kelly .The Princess or Prize- George Hellebore .Her Father- Red Kelly [asks James to help find his missing cousin] .The Donor- Uncle Max .The Hero- James Bond .False Hero- possible George Hellebore or Lord Randolph Hellebore. I used these assumptions when researching into 1930’s clothing, to guess the colours and cut the certain character would wear. For example: Lord Randolph Hellebore, being the Villain, needs to appear to be a powerful and clever man. Thus, the coats I looked at had clean lines and were very industrial looking in cut and colour. Looking at how to represent these character types also helped me in deciding how to portray the characters using differnt angles to show the character’s traits. Secondly, I learnt of the Narrative Structure as set our by Tzveta Todorov: .Equilibrium- James joinging Eton and his new friends .Disruption- The Hellebore cup, Charmian’s letter, seeing George on the train .Recognition- Seeing George take pills, meeting Meatpaker, seeing his body being dragged from the loch .Attempt to reconstitute an equilibrium- helping to win the Hellebore cup, trying to enter the castle, Algar killing his brother .New equilibrium- back at Eton, standing up to bullies, Uncle Max dead, Hellebore cup used to hold golf balls.
When I had dissected Silverfin, it was much easier in the final selection process to choose what would be important to illustrate, and what could be left out. Around about this time, I began my initial research into 1930’s clothing, which included both female and male clothes. Using what I had learnt about the character types, it was a much narrower search. I made sure the clothes I looked at included those from 1930-1933, and both rural and city wear. I believe that when illustrating something that has to be historically correct, the key is the detail into accessories and patterns/ cut of the clothes. At this point, I didn’t know which scenes I would be illustrating, so didn’t know which characters I would have to ‘dress’. Looking back at the initial sketches of characters, I also needed to look at hair-styles/ hair accessories.
In SilverFin, there is a great presence of cars, something very synonymous with the James Bond universe. Because there is a lack of 1930’s cars on the road nowadays, I took a trip to Beaulieu National Motor Museum. Opened in 1952 as The Montagu Motor Museum, it contains a grand selection of classic, historical motor vehicles; land-speed cars and a few vintage anomalies. Before hand, I took the time to research online the type of cars around in the 1930’s, not just the ones mentioned in the book, but also, taking into account public transport and cars from the mid to late 1920’s. Following advice from Roy, when talking about how to research for my project; I remembered to bear in mind the ‘weird’ and ‘random’ from the 30’s. I decided not only to take photos for my project, which would come in useful when illustrating the finals, but also, I took along my sketchbook to get some quick drawings as well. I find that drawing on location can sometimes produce honest, and effective solutions to complicated subjects. Recently, the museum became the proud owner to the most important vehicles used in the Bond films. Although not relevant to my project, I used the opportunity to look at how the cars were painted (usually Bond cars have something special that sets them apart from the run- of-the mill). Of all the cars I looked at during the visit, the one I was particularly drawn to was the Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Supercharged. Luckily enough, this car features heavily in Silverfin (the car driven by James’s Aunt Charmian). One of the workers at the Motor Museum was kind enough to remove the safety ropes for me to get some great shots and have a closer look inside the interior. He also gave me some great trivia about the vehicle. I used this opportunity to experiment with different camera angles and camera settings. When illustrating my thumbnails of the book I found these particularly helpful, and the quick sketches helped me gain a feel of movement from the car. The following are a selection of photographs and images I collected on the day.
I took special care to photograph the accents on all the relevant cars. Many had special details on the bonnets and bumper. I photographed the wheels to ensure the spokes in my illustrations would be correct. The Motor Museum also included a range of commercial vehicles that would often be seen on the streets of Britain, selling a variety of produce. Although these were never mentioned in the book, I thought it might come in useful, if not for this project, for future reference.
As part of the Museumâ€™s extensive collection of motor related items, it also features a 1930â€™s Garage. Complete with dummies stuck under cars and in the toilet, with an audio- track of their voices discussing their business. A lot of detail- and evidently, time- had been put into making this garage as close a replica as possible. All the tools looked well- used (whether they were real antiques, Iâ€™m unsure), and the posters appeared weather- worn. There was a great selection of motor posters scattered throughout and even a few petrol- pumps outside. There was also a small shop on the outisde selling anything from sweets to petrol cans. I took a few photos, just in case I chose to illustrate the scenes that include the garage in Scotland. The amount of detail present in the installation is something I aspired to replicate in my illustrations.
At the Motor Museum there was also a small parade of shops, complete with milkman and 1930â€™s bicycle. The photos I took were solely for the details presented on each individual item.
As part of the â€˜Bond in Motionâ€™ exhibit, there were some illustrations hung from the ceiling. The sheets of fabric showed some thumbnails, from, what I guess is the pre- production, of the films. This find prompted me in later research, to keep referring to example thumbnails from films. Instead of thumbnails for graphic novels, I felt they had more movement and attention to direction of action. Throughout my visit I kept in mind my goal, of including more movement in my images.
The following images are a couple of sketches completed at the museum.
In my sketches, I paid close attention to the small details, and how the different fabrics and materials ‘sit’ on each other. For example: the bolts used to hold down the roof on the Bentley and the rope on the steering wheel. Something, without research I never would have included. These small details made the car look used and well- loved. Without this acknowledgement, the cars I could have drawn would have looked brand new, and ‘out of the show room’ perfect. I used a lot of graphite in these images, something, which I think prompted my desire to do something similar for the final outcome. As part of my objective to keep prior- planning in mind for this project, I thought on the spot of interesting angles that could be used later.
This visit marked the beginning of the next stage in my project development. I began re-reading through the book and my notes to start thumbnailing the story. I spent a good two- weeks completeing this, which was probably, in hind-sight, too long. I used my re-written version of Silverfin to thumbnail everything that happens, and all interactions between characters. The thumbnails included annotations about lighting, facial expressions and alternative solutions to what is said to be happening. I used the thumbnails to experiment mostly with angles, but also how I could show the movement and direction of people, cars, trains, crowds. Also, the emotion and tension between certain characters. Specifically the interactions between Lord Randolph Hellebore and James Bond. There are also some ‘softer’ more friendlier moments between characters, e.g” between James and Unce Max, James and Red Kelly and James and his friends at Eton; and with his Aunt after Max has died. At moments, I only exaggerated what was happening. I tried to keep in mind that my final selection of images would have to work as a sequence and almost act as a ‘caricature’ of the story’; accentuating certain aspects. When I found a character’s actions to be intimidating, I used this to my advantage, and explored the idea that as a young child, James would see them as huge imposing figures.
Critique My final selection of images 19 that I put forward at the critique were based on Todorovâ€™s narrative principles: 1. Equilibrium 2. Disturbance 3. Recognition 4. Attempt 5. Equilibrium
The feedback from the critique was to decide on my final illustrations. I also had a chance to speak to illustrator Paul Kidby about how my work was progressing, his advice and talk were insightful as to how he handles commissions to illustrate books. Again, he said the next critical step was to choose the events to portray. I went back through my thumbnails and chose 7, 1 from the first section (prologue), and two from each part. These images, I feel express the mood of the chapters and the vital parts in the narrative. The events I chose to illustrate are spaced evenly throughout the chapters, so as not to be clustered together. I wanted my illustrations evenly distributed as in many illustrated books.
Initial choices taken to Critique: Equilibrium: Bond joining Eton Being bullied by George New Uniform Meeting the ‘Beaks’ Eating ‘Mess’ with new friends Disturbance: Meeting Lord Randolph Hellebore The Hellebore Cup Letter from Charmian Seeing George on the train Recognition: Seeing George take some pills Meeting Red Kelly on the train Meeting ‘Meatpacker’ Seeing ‘Meatpackers’ dead body Attempt: George writing to his Mother James and Red climbing the tree James and George destroying the research and serum Algar killing his brother Equilibrium: James standing up to the bullies Hellebore cup being used to store golfballs
Speaking to Salvatore, he gave me some useful hints and tips as to how to approach sketching out ideas for the images. He suggested I take a trip to the library, photocopy any interesting and/ or relevant images/ photographs. Then lay them out on my desk and begin sketching the elements I want to include. This was a great help, and I was able to find inspiration quickly and effectively. The following images show the process I took to complete my images. It included, a simple pencil sketch, then a wash of sepia water colours, finally building up tone and texture in the different elements. When all my images were complete they only required small touch- ups in Photoshop to clean up the edges and adjusting the levels to bring out the detail in print. I chose two types of paper to have my work printed onto. One a 300 gsm cream coloured paper and another a water colour paper with deep grain. I chose these because of their quality feel, and I wanted them to feel heavy individually, not flimsy.
The previous page demonstrates the designs I tried and tested for the front page of my illustrations. I began using some simple sketches of eels , changing the size and positioning, then adding in the title. I found this method hard and decided to start again. I first placed the basics on the page; title and author, and their position on the page. I then added the tag- line used on the books original cover.The choice of font had to relate to the books setting, the 1930â€™s and the idea then when presented in an envelope/ box it would have to appear as if it was an authentic secret agent report. For these rasons I chose a simple type- writer style font. This simple design lead me to design a front cover/ slip for the book that would come with the illustrations in the presentation box. I used the information on the back of the Silverfin book that already exists. I also copied some of the information given about the author (also provided). However, I used the dimensions of the last Young Bond book, as this was hard-cover and the size appeared more suitable in relation to my illustrations. Also, the edges of the book are dyed red, which, I think, gives the book a higher quality of finish. The following pages show the process on photoshop to create the cover and a photograph of the book within my final box. I had never set out to design a front cover, so the design is very basic, which does work within the parameters I set myself; however I would like to develop it further for my personal practice. Perhaps, experimenting with using a typewriter/ screen printing a simple design onto the front cover. I feel the same about the box I have presented the work in. I never allowed time to think about it for this project, because my focus was purely on the illustrations themselves. I wanted to go back to basics with my work.
As soon as I had my prints ready, I started sketching out ideas for an envelope to presnt them in. Althoguh I had previously said I woud have liked to present them in a clam- shell box, I feel as though my illustrations would ‘drown’ in huge boxes I have found online/ in the shops. I also took inspiration from the latest Bond film: ‘Skyfall’, in the last scene Bond is handed a black evnelope by ‘M’. I like the idea of presenting my work as if it was a mission assignment or photos from a recent mission used to document it. I found a metal window in a craft shop that can be stuck onto an envelope to reveal what’s inside or place a slip of paper into it. I tried a number of envelope nets, and different papers of different weight and colour/ texture. I settled for a heavy duty, almost water colour paper texture. This was finished with silver buttons I found in a local department store. I chose them because they had small insignia on them that I thought would fit the idea of a spy’s dossier, they are tied together using white twine. Although the envelope only resembles that of a spy’s dossier, I think it fits the original brief I set myself.
Other workshops and tutorials
Salvatoreâ€™s Narrative workshop: Salvatoreâ€™s workshop had us choose an event that happened to us, and use small rectangles to express this visually. I decided to illustrate the time I was on the bus going back to the hotel from The Vatican in Italy, and a nun was running after the bus with her habit flying around her comically. Later, I was pick- pocketed by a group of gypsies on the same bus, and when I realised, I tried to chase them down the street. I broke the story down to the basics, choosing only to illustrate what was happening instead of other things, like how I felt or what people were doing on the bus. Doing so, allowed me to focus on what was important to the story. The other things could be added later on.
Talking to Paul Kidby: I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with artist/ illustrator Paul Kidby who works with the narrative publishing sector. I very much admire his use of traditional techniques and the detail that goes into each and every image he produces. He explained that many of his images were based on famous paintings which is an interesting idea I would like to explore, but would feel I was ripping off his genuinely unique way of working. He also explained that many publishers/ printers disliked his use of dark colours and was told to steer away from brown. Dark colours are something I am comfortable working in and slightly disappointed at this. I do not wish to change my favourite colour palette, however, I can see where this argument lies. On a practical note, he explained how he begins painting his images using a wash of sepia colour onto his canvas to help distinguish the shapes when it comes to painting in the colours. I used this technique on my images and it deifinitely helped a lot when using graphite.
3D Model- Making Workshop: I signed up for this workshop purely on a whim, producing 3D artefacts is not something I find myself interested in. Maybe it’s due to my hatred of ‘knick-knacks’ and other similarly, vile objects to be found in christmas sales in department stores. I chose to use this workshop as an extension of my other practical work. I modelled a very ugly head based on a character from Silverfin. They’re not something which many people, including myself, would buy at an arts fair, but the results were interesting. I tried a range of coloured resins, later I tried using only white with a black swirl, trying to recreate the idea of an eel inside the mans skull. It didn’t work. I also got to try some expanding foam as a way to replicate the mans head. I can’t forsee any situation in which I would use this, but knowing it’s possible might open up a few ideas in the future. I think this workshop was a great, positive lesson, I think that I would very much like to incorprate some form of 3D work in my drawings in the future, i.e: drawing over photographs or using them to paint onto. As the next unit is a moving image unit, I will probably find myself drawn back to using 3D objects.
Paper Cinema This one day work shop taught me a great deal about my work ethic and my time-management skills. The aim of the workshop was to produce a short (3 minute) live animation of a subject of our choosing. Me and three other girls based our story around David Attenborough. Whilst washing in a lake in the jungle, he drops his soap which is eaten by a bird, he conseuqnetly starts hiccupping bubbles. David gets trapped inside the bubble, and floats off into the distance. A rather obscure story, but we believed it would provide enough opportunities for visually interesting work. We created all the cut- outs we thought we would need, being able to reuse a few for different scenes. Using simple charcoal and black fineliners we thought we would emliminate the possibility of the colours not working well on screen when projected. I chose to draw/ cut out all the scenery, including many rock faces and plants. When it came time to practising, I was genuinely stupmed as to how it was going to come together. We practised the sequence of events numerous times, trying to get it to all run smoothly, and I think we definitely did the best we could have done in the short time span. As the paper cinema provided music, and a soundtrack it all appeared finished to a higher standard than I would have thought.
This workshop reiterated the point I’m always trying to tell myself. Prior Planning is Essential! I think,if maybe I had thought more about the end ‘animation’ I could have used my time more effectively and made more scenery decorations to make each shot unique. Overall, I very much enjoyed this workshop, although I never wish to produce a live animation again, I would definitely like to experiment with producing more pencil sketches for animations, possibly in the next unit.
Image References Fig.1. Beowulf. (2013) [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.foliosociety.com/book/BWF/beowulf [Accessed 23 February 2013]. Fig.2. Semikolon Document Box. (2013) [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.houzz.com/photos/240140/Semikolon-Document-Box-traditional-storage-boxes[Accessed 23 February 2013].