Wrote and edited first draft proposal on Drive, and handed it in
Assembled notes and ideas for next stage of development on Drive docs
Picked a few ideas to work further on.
This week I didn’t feel like I managed to do as much compared to the past couple of weeks. I think this is due to the fact most of the work I did was based around writing (such as the first draft of my proposal), and my previous work was primarily sketching and ideational work. However I think I did really well with my proposal, and it’s definitely helped me put my plan into more eloquent speech.
I’m also testing out making weekly lists of tasks ahead of time on my Action Plan document, to give myself a bit more depth into each development stage, but also to have a sheet that I can quickly refer to if I get lost. Over the next few weeks I’ll see if it’s helpful or not.
I made a shortlist of the ideas I liked the most, and whittled it down until I only had a couple left to explore. My second stage isn’t very long, so I know that I can’t explore too many different things, but it’s a shame as there are more than a few ideas that I really think that has a lot of potential. Although, if this project goes well and I learn enough from it, I can possibly continue with some ideas as personal projects!
Created double-page spreads for Pandora, Arietty, and Dorothy.
Read a few articles on character and costume design.
Wrote down game ideas on a Drive document, delving further into some ideas from my initial sketches.
Though I’m only planning to design a character, I feel that thinking more about what type/style of game they would appear in is fundamental to creating an exciting and well thought-out design. Game mechanics are often based around the protagonist’s abilities, physical and mental health, and more, and I think that looking into that can also be really helpful (and was a part of my game ideas Drive document.)
My actual sketches have been a bit too similar to each other in places, but I think I managed to overcome this somewhat by taking inspiration from different fashion trends over time. Once I pick a character to work with, my idea generation and costume variation should be much better, as I’ll pick a few of my favourite initial ideas to work from.
For my FMP I have chosen to create character concept art for a hypothetical videogame.
Here is a log of my work for my FMP so far:
Started sketchbook #1.
Created an intro page about my idea.
Listed possible characters from fiction and history.
Created/started double page spreads with ideational sketches for Red Riding Hood, Medusa, and Alice.
Read some articles about concept art, in order to get some tips about the development process.
I learnt that some concept artists do lots of quick sketches to explore lots of different ideas at the beginning of a project. One tip was to draw the most obvious design first, to clear it out of my mind and be free to play with more ideas. I’ve also chosen to write on tracing paper as much as possible, to improve the layout and quality of my annotations.
I recently started using Adobe Illustrator, for my Unit 10 project on abuse through social media. It’s not actually as confusing or as hard as I initially thought it would be, and honestly isn’t too different from using Photoshop, except that Photoshop primarily works with pixels, and Illustrator with vector.
Here’s my process while going through some basic tutorials, testing different tools and functions, and making a draft poster.
On a separate document, I tried out some of the different tools and functions on Illustrator through making and altering shapes. Thankfully, even if it’s on the same layer, each shape can be selected and altered individually (unless you’ve merged them using the Shape Builder tool), so if you make a mistake or need to alter something it’s pretty easy.
Some of the functions and tools seemed a bit buggy at first, or needed specific keyboard commands to use properly, but the tutorials I was following – “Adobe Illustrator – Mastering the Fundamentals” on Udemy – may have been on a different version of the software than I was using.
As I use Photoshop quite a lot when making work, it’s strange to find myself restricted from drawing and editing freely. So far in Illustrator, I found it’s easier to try making a new shape rather than trying to edit an existing one, but I do need much, much more practice.
Using different skills I learned from a day’s worth of tutorials, I made this draft version of my favourite design from my thumbnail sketches.
I later reworked the symbol on the poster, as I felt that it was too tall. I shrunk the entire image, widened the Xs, and altered the circle size and line thickness, and also spread them a little further apart.
Next, I started working on type. I tried using different fonts, colours, and effects. I also used old World War propaganda posters as my main source of inspiration.
I found that quite a lot of old propaganda posters used primarily black and red inks, and as the paper got older it turned into a creamy yellow tone. I kept this in mind, though when I found a final design I did still experiment with colour schemes later on.
Looking at my design from afar, I noticed there were a few issues with the text and symbol. The drop shadow of the text was contrasting the flat symbol too much, and all attention from the eye was drawn away from it. I did however like the font style, but wanted to play around with the dimensions and line spacing.
By this point, I also decided to change the actual wording of the poster too, as it didn’t sound as smooth as I initially thought it would. I dropped the word “online” from the bottom text, and switched to “Think before you Link” for the top text. I feel like this is a much better title for a poster campaign, and suits the image really well. I also made some minor adjustments to the share symbol itself, making the line width thicker and making the Xs stand out more by adding colour. Though I was a really big fan of the red, cream, and black, I wanted to just test out some colour variations to see how it might change the mood of the image.
Surprisingly, using Adobe Illustrator has actually been really fun, though I still only have a grasp of the basics. I had enough time on the project to make a second poster, using a different share symbol (which took significantly less time), that I think really makes this look like a real poster series.
The Unit 10 project is only a few weeks long, like our projects from the first year. It’s meant to help up develop our contextual skills and understanding when structuring a project.
Our focus for Social Action (the theme of this project) is on Ethical Dilemmas. We each need to find a topic and its ethical dilemma, and try to base a short project around it. We can choose from:
Booklet / zine
Essay (1,500 words)
Creative Writing (1,500 words)
I had already been thinking about what my project would be before and during the winter break, except I had been planning to make an editorial illustration before learning it had to be something from this list.
My original idea was based around cyberbullying and slander, particularly on social media. What inspired me to pick this was the controversial #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown movement on Twitter. Through my thumbnails I wanted to try to find a design that would ask people how they see others – or themselves – who partake in online abuse.
I was really excited by these concepts, and if I could have continued with my original project idea I think it would have helped quite a bit with learning about editorial illustration and my potential involvement.
As I reworked my project, I decided to try out making some thumbnails, and putting together a few different project ideas to choose from.
I was really interested by some of the ideas I came up with for a potential poster campaign, so went on to create more thumbnails and experiment with my ideas even further.
In the next post, I’ll go through my process using Adobe Illustrator to create a final poster design.
This post is going to cover some of the business decisions I have made for my Design to Sell project.
Getting my poster printed
I have to check printing services regularly for my professional work, and have previously used the company Mixam for magazines, posters and flyers, because their products are a good price and quality, and they have a quick turnaround. I chose to use them again for this project.
I chose to order 100 colour A3 posters in silk with a paper thickness of 170gsm so that they were of good quality that would be hard to rip. I ordered them flat (not folded) planning to roll and wrap them myself.
Mixam has certain specifications that they want for uploaded artwork. For my upload to print at its best quality, my file needed to be in pdf format, at 300dpi, in the correct size including a 3mm bleed and a 5mm “quiet zone” all around. Below is how that setup looks in Photoshop.
I put in my order to the correct specification and followed the (simple) on-screen instructions to verify everything and then pay.
Setting a price for my posters
I went through several steps to set my price. First I worked out my costs, including my time as an illustrator and the printing and materials costs, as well as a budget for display and wrapping of my product and a 10% contingency budget, then I worked out what I needed to charge per item to break even.
I then researched to see what the price was for A3 posters. I found there were three main price brackets – some types of A3 posters (for example, recent film or game posters) were usually on sale for around £2-3; posters for vintage movies or albums were a little more expensive, at approximately £5-8; rare cult movie posters and art posters (showing work by famous artists) were around £8-12. As I do not have a market yet for my work and am not well-known, I thought my work must fit into the lower price bracket.
Lastly, after my poster had arrived I asked my friends and family how much they thought my poster should be priced at, based on the quality of the poster and my artwork. Here are my results: 50% said £3-4; 36% said £5; 14% said over £5 (up to £10). No one suggested anything outside of this range.
I set my price accordingly taking into account all of the above. I may put the price up slightly in the future but as an introductory price I set it at £3.
Setting up my display
Although I know that a lot of people put posters directly on their walls with blu tack, I wanted to show that my illustration is a good quality piece of art that looks attractive framed. So the first thing I bought was a suitable frame. Unfortunately the frame didn’t stand up well on its own so I used my tabletop easel to hold it. I think that this worked out because it emphasises that my poster is a piece of art, even though it is affordable art.
I did look at postal tubes to pack my posters in but they were quite expensive, so I chose to instead buy plastic wrap from the flower arranging section of an arts and crafts shop, and I rolled and wrapped my posters with gold tape to keep them secure and be decorative. I did think about using tissue paper instead of plastic to be more environmentally friendly but again the cost was higher, and the weather has been really rainy recently – I didn’t want anyone’s poster to get wet on the way home! I put a sticker on every roll with my contact details on so that people can add me on social media and contact me if they are interested in working with me.
I bought a vase to hold the poster rolls and chose one that was good value. I wanted my display to be interesting and also refer to my design, so I purchased some artificial narcissus flowers and made them into a bunch, I also bought a real pomegranate fruit. I couldn’t buy as many decorations as I wanted with my budget, but even though my display is simple it still has a theme and I think it does look interesting and appealing. I think that this actually worked out as too many decorations would have detracted from the poster itself.
To finish my display I wanted to tell the story of Persephone in a short and straightforward way to draw people in and give context to my illustration. I included a small image of my design just in case the lighting created glare on the glass of the frame, so that people could still see the whole image. I printed this out, and laid it on the table where people could read it. I did see several people stop to read my piece so this did work to attract attention.
This post will cover my digital work process assembling my scanned hand drawn illustrations, and then colouring them. I used Photoshop to create my illustration from this point.
I scanned in my hand drawn lineart of cascading flowers then cleaned the image up and edited it to create a pleasing archway of flowers.
Next I scanned in my arch and column lineart and cleaned and edited it, then combined this with the flowers.
I combined this image with my illustration of Persephone and checked that it fit together well and that there was no leftover white from the page scans.
I used clipping masks to block out the different areas for colouring on separate layers. Then I started to experiment with colours, sometimes using instinct and sometimes using reference photographic images of various elements. On the below image you can see how I used a reference photograph of the insides of a pomegranate. I kept a colour reference palette on a seperate layer throughout my work, which you can see here on the left.
For the hair, I used a light base colour then hand-made a gradient using clipping mask layers – this gave me more control than just using a gradient tool so that I could create a more organic look for the curves and waves. This multi tone effect was also inspired by Art Nouveau posters.
I continued to add colour to my illustration. I used a cloud brush tool on the throne to give an interesting shaded effect so that it looked less flat.
To give the flowers the effect of being full of life at the top, gradually wilting until they were dead at the bottom, I used the gradient tool, choosing a murky tone which blended out to transparent. This makes the change in colour gradual. I like how you can still see the difference in tone of the different types of flowers.
I sampled colours from a photograph of a peach and experimented with them to find shades for Persephone’s skin, adding rosier tones in places to give her depth and life. I also looked again at Mucha’s posters to examine the skin tones he used, and the places he added rosy tones.
I added colour and shade to Persephone’s dress. I looked at images of linen to find a colour I liked, but didn’t find one I wanted to use. Eventually I found a colour I liked in a photograph of a statue of Persephone. I played with the value of the colour to find one for the shade, which gives the fabric drape shadows and folds. Again I looked at reference images from Art Nouveau posters to see how the artists painted fabric, and found a great example from Henri Privat-Livemont.
I used a photograph of some rocks to sample the colours for my archway, choosing grey tones. I used the cloud tool technique I used earlier on the throne to add some interest, so it wouldn’t look completely flat. I also used more clip layers to change the lineart colour around Persephone and the throne to two dark brown shades, as Art Nouveau always seems to use coloured outlines rather than black, and Mucha often chose to use brown.
I started working out how I wanted the frame to look by using a curved rectangle tool to lay out shapes. I didn’t like how the flowers cut off on the edge of the columns, so I went back to paper to draw new flower and vine elements to add in and make the flowers look more full. Once, they were done, I scanned, cleaned, combined, and coloured them until I was happy with the illustration.
At this point in the process, I was making regular prints of my illustration to find any errors or areas that needed cleaning or editing. I circled sections that did, and worked through each one. I intended for my final posters to be printed at A3 size so I printed some of my test pieces at that size too, to check for any errors that would show up. One element that I changed completely after looking at the test prints was the colouring of Persephone’s hair, which I wanted to be brighter and more vibrant.
I created a border design with curved corners and a dark brown layer, sandwiched between lines of a darker brown, again inspired by Mucha’s advertisement for Lance Parfum. All of this was on a background inspired by the colour of creamy weathered paper. I was already using a background in a blue shade with a noise filter behind Persephone.
My next step was to try different colour schemes for the frame. I came up with a few different ideas, and printed them out to get a sense of how it would look on paper.
I chose the combination of colours that I liked, and applied it to my illustration. The colours I chose were actually taken from Persephone’s dress fabric and shadows, and then I experimented with darkening and lightening those tones until the combination was perfect.
Seeing it all printed, I found that I didn’t like the blue background at all. It was too flat and the noise filter felt too forced. I followed a tutorial to make my own backgrounds using other filters. The ones I wanted to use weren’t available in Photoshop, but I searched for support on the issue and learned that I had to design in RGB in order to use certain filters (I was using CMYK because my intention was for my posters to be professionally printed). I created a new document of the right size in RGB format, and played with the filters until I found a style I liked.
Eventually, I created one I liked. I used this as a base layer, and covered it with a gradient layer using the brightest pink in my pomegranate against the darkest red of the pomegranate juice (which I intentionally coloured to seem bloody). I set this pink gradient layer at 60% and together they gave my background shadows and highlights that seemed to glow, and brought out the pinks of the pomegranate and Persephone’s skin.
Next I created a gradient using the same pomegranate colours to use for the lettering, and I used this “upside down” compared to the background colours as they looked better that way. I coloured the Cerberus motifs with the same dark brown as the frame and used the brightest pomegranate pink to colour their eyes to give them a demonic look.
Finally I added my signature (dark and small, as I wanted it to be included but not distracting). I also added my copyright information and Instagram name, @midnakit, together at the bottom, very small so the information is visible but does not detract from the illustration. I tried these out in a few positions, colours and sizes before I was happy with them, eventually using a pale brown/gold shade.
Here is my final illustration:
I will cover the process of getting my posters printed and put on sale at the Design To Sell event in my next post.
This post will cover my process work designing the decorative elements of my illustration, surrounding Persephone and her throne.
I wanted to look at iconography for Demeter, Persephone’s mother, and Hades, her husband.
I really liked the vines and flowers I sketched in an earlier draft, so I decided to work with that as inspiration. Since Persephone was also queen of the Underworld, I decided to experiment with some ways to show that through symbolism in the decorative elements.
After doing these simple ideational sketches, I looked at my lists again of recurring themes associated with Demeter, Persephone, and Hades.
Demeter is often associated with red poppies and grain, so I made sketches of these to get a better sense of their shapes, contours, and colours.
I also took another look at Persephone’s associations with pomegranates, their flowers and fruit, and the Narcissus flower.
I would have liked to have sketched these elements from life but as they are seasonal that was not possible, so I had to instead use reference images from the internet and books. Below are some of my mood boards collecting images to be inspired by.
I had to figure out a structure for the decorations around Persephone, so I played with basic shapes to see what layout was most pleasing to look at.
Originally, I had intended to create a decorative border similar to the ones seen in Art Nouveau posters. However, I really liked the last layout on the page, and how she looked like she was framed by columns and an arch, so I decided to draw some Greek columns instead, but include some decorative spaces inspired by the Art Nouveau look. These I would cover with three types of flowers – poppies, narcissus, and pomegranate. In order to use symbolism to reference Persephone being both the Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Dead, I drew the flowers full of life at the top of the arch, gradually wilting as they descended, until the flowers at the bottom were completely dead.
Here are images of my final line art of these elements. I only needed to do one side, as I wanted to them mirror each other.
One of the last things I needed for my illustration was the name tag panel along the bottom. Since I have Greek myths as the theme for the print, I could have used a lettering style similar to (or inspired by) old Greek carvings, but I also looked at the types of lettering used in Art Nouveau posters.
I wanted to include an element to link Persephone with Hades, and I decided to use Cerberus, the Hound of Hades. I designed a motif for the three-headed devil dog to add interest to my lettering.
The final element I needed was my signature, which I wrote by hand and scanned, and my copyright notice. I researched how to do this, and found advice to include it in the format “copyright symbol, date, name of copyright holder.” I also added my Instagram username, @midnakit, because I want people to know how to find more of my work.
My next post will cover my process assembling and colouring my illustration digitally using Photoshop.
I have thought a lot about what I want to do in the future, but I haven’t made a definite plan. I can see value in planning ahead and working through goals, so I will be making a detailed plan for myself. For now, here are some ideas for what I’d like to achieve in the next five years.
Achieve a Merit or Distinction in my current course
Achieve a good grade in BA (Hons) Illustration or Game Arts
Find out more about Post-graduate degrees, and have achieved a grade high enough to continue study if I want to
Set up an online shop
Keep tabling at events and spread beyond Plymouth
Be commissioned or employed to do illustration work for e.g. books, games, albums
Improve my zine and comic work, and work on independent comics, perhaps with a writer
Help YEA Plymouth to take on at least one more project, and pass on the organiser/director role
Achieve my Mayflower 400 project for Plymouth Zine Library, and potentially get funding for expanding the library, and a permanent base
Start earning an income from my work in the arts
Start/join a band, and write some of my own music
Spend more of my time organising and playing in D&D campaigns