Monday, 30 December 2013

Monsters! Background research


With a name like Ahuizotl it's no surprise that this blighter is of Aztec origin:
Flesh eating Monkey-Dog! Apparently the eyes, teeth and nails are most tasty. Pointy ears. Slippery-smooth fur, which clumps up into spikes. Hand on the end of it's tail. Lives in watery pools/caves. Drowns victims. If there is no prey around it cries like a baby to attract them.

Might be interesting to have a play with mixing different breeds of dog with different species of monkey.
How would the physiology be adapted to living in the water?- sounds more like a creature that waits and strikes near it's home, rather than actively hunting on land.
Would it just wear a snorkel?
Described as black, slippery and rubbery- guy in a wet suit?

Representation in pop-culture:
From the name I was expecting to just find a few aztec carvings and artist representations on deviantART, what with it being so obscure, however the beasty has been adopted as an antagonist in my little pony of all places.

Amazing. I shall' forever refer to this guy as 'Brony-eater.'

Quite a faithful Aztec-feel to this one, which stood out to me on pinterest.


This medieval french dragon-beast lends it's name to a town, where it was supposedly tamed by a female saint through hymns and prayers and later killed by the terrified townsfolk. Though referred to as a type of dragon, it's body is composed of lizard, ox, horse, lion, turtle, bear and scorpion elements. Eyebrows and mustache. Face like an old man. Lived in the french countryside.

Though certain body parts are determined to be like certain animals it'd be good to have a play about, e.g. old man legs instead of bear legs...
Could play with scale, as it seems to change- in a lot of images it is the size of a crocodile, but in a few it is much larger, though not as large as a traditional dragon.
Bit of a music lover, could give him Pavarotti's face?

Representation in pop-culture:

A statue outside a palace in Tarascon.

The Tarasque still features in the traditions of Tarascon in France, where a remembrance festival is held every June.
It also features in the Corpus Christi procession in some Spanish cities due to it's involvement with St. Martha.

The 'Tarrasque' makes an appearance in dungeons and dragons, where it gorges an entire populace, sleeps for years and then goes out to binge-eat again. Oh, and it poos flaming turds of unholy death as a defence mechanism...

Monday, 16 December 2013

Interdisciplinary Practises/Experimentation: Narrative with Rob

Rob tasked us to take our more refined images and produce a narrative between the two. With one image serving as the begging and the other as the end, with 3 images in-between, or for those with more than 2 images a beginning, middle and end.
I approached this by listing common themes between the two: Flight, exploration,countryside, solitude, nature. I felt that there was a theme of adventure found in them both and that I would run with that. I came up with a couple of written ideas and then started producing thumbnails.

Rob came over for a discussion and we both agreed that there was an old-fashioned sense of adventure which brought cohesion to the two images, which carried on through my narrative ideas; coming across a map by chance, the map actually leading to something. I also decided that there needed to be a progression of colour in order to give the two individual images more cohesion.

I toyed a little with how to present my images, on  a single sheet/ as a comic strip, planning to produce rectangles and squares of similar dimensions to the existing images.

1. Swarm




5. Putrid

Peer review: Rob noted that the way I switched back and forth between an infront/behind view of the person, seeing previous image elements form a different perspective really gave the narrative a sense of progression.  Rob also discussed how the progression in colour also gave a sense of progression in time, the warmer greens hinting towards the afternoon and the cool blues suggesting the evening.

Phil also gave some gracious comments saying:

'you got great light going on here... all the way through actually, but the twighlight hour is apparent in the last and here its a little later in the evening and therefore darker... all these little visual and atmospheric clues you give in the colours is amazin....' 


'it also ... and it sounds really like an arty and wanky thing to say but im gonna say it anyway... " I get a real sense of the artist having fun and enjoying himself when i look at this... I feel the energy and can see the smile on his face in my minds eye.... which in turn , makes me smile." ... over the top? ... dunt stop it bein true innit.' 

A very happy coincidence that I will bear in mind in future work. If I were to progress with this narrative, I would try to refer to the previous elements, maybe turning the birds in the final frame into bats. Rob also proposed that as the narrative seemed suitable for a children's book or something similar, a real version of the map the boy finds would be a great addition to increase interaction with the narrative.

Interdisciplinary Practises/Experimentation: Rob G Fresson and his fancy ways

It's been a month since Vis Com hand in, whaaaaaat?

So with a new module came a new tutor in the form of Rob G Fresson. He introduced us to a personal way of working, which involves creating images through abstract compositions taken from mark making work.

The pressure and pace of commercial work can take it's toll on creativity, originality and experimentation. This process can be used as a way to dispel monotony and rejuvenate that creativity.

The way that this process encourages the use of imagination reminded me of some games that I would play with people when taking a break in art classes. We'd draw a squiggle or line, like a mini automatic drawing and then the other person would have to use the shape to create an image/doodle.

The process:

Mark Making

I've really missed the freedoms of the studio we had on the foundation diploma, considering my home studio is also the dining room. It was a relief to be able to be expressive with materials without having to worry about making too much of a mess. I spent my last unit of work in Regent splashing, flicking, washing, dropping, dabbing and all sorts producing textures/backgrounds for work revolving around depression. So I found it really easy to connect with and enjoy this initial workshop.

What I found quite interesting was that my favourite of my sheets was one of the first I created, simply using two colours of ink allowing brush dabs to bleed in small pools of water. The appeal may come from the colours complimenting each other, or the vivid hue produced by the ink, or even the odd mix of uniformity and randomness found in the pattern, I'm not sure.


Using viewfinders of several dimensions, a max of 2 X 2cm, we scanned through these painted pages looking for interesting blobs, dots, lines and marks, producing micro compositions.  It was difficult at first to focus on finding random collections of shapes, rather than just looking straightaway for forms which could be translated into images.


To familiarise ourselves with the compositions, we drew them as they were, abstract images.

We then interpreted the compositions to a set of words, which we chose from a list and theme set by Rob.
I suppose this was to get rid of any pre-set ideas people had for the compositions they had chosen and challenged us to interpret them by analysing the marks thoroughly and at different orientations.
5 compositions and 5 words, I didn't get around to doing all 25 thumbnails, but attempted at least one word for each composition. That's an advantage of this process, it's easy to run with just one composition and make something of it before refreshing the process for another image.

From these spooky-word themed thumbnails we then produced more refined images using media of our choice. As I only had my watercolours with me for that session I decided to use them.
What I enjoy about watercolours is that I'm not particularly technically competent with them and they produce quite transparent colours, so they encourage me to work over/into the image or utilise the brushes I have to bring in different textures.


In my thumbnails I found myself following a similarly morbid theme of skulls and corpses and so wanted to move away form that, with my final composition I decided to go with the word putrid and worked the word into the foreground of the image by including some manky looking mushrooms.
The theme of the picture came from two dots, which to me immediately evoked a balloon and it's basket.  I decided to try and be faithful with the colour scheme of the composition, because I found the complimentary colours to be effective and thought that to distance the image from it's influence would be a bit demeaning.
I had a bit of a hiccup when it came to drawing in the birds, the top left of the cluster is a bit messy and not spaced out enough in my opinion, but I may come back to it to amend it. I decided to use subtle changes in the thickness of line to give a sense of distance, leaving the cloud without any line as I thought that the marks made  suitable and effective line on their own.


Again rather than seeing a swarm in the composition, I saw a person at a cave entrance and decided to work the swarm into the image in the form of bats.The sun and two mountains also came from the original composition. I decided to break up the large amount of one colour by producing a multi-layered landscape, influenced by the South-West/Scottish countryside.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Vis Com: Finishing up Transit Mapping

The second of my postcards, which I subsequently cropped down a bit, was a bit of a wally and didn't check I was working with an A5 sized canvas when I started off, just relied on the dimensions of my scan.

Based on Camel's Head crossing between St. Budeaux and North Prospect, where I often focus on a rail bridge and the trees in the Autumn, which usually turn a golden yellow and stay like it for a few weeks, we seem to have skipped Autumn this year though and they're going straight from green to falling off.

Again I wanted to stick to primarily different shades of one colour, but couldn't resist the bridges blue and figured it would produce a nice contrast. I also became a lot more technical with this drawing, utilising marquee and fill tools to produce shapes, rather than drawing free-hand with the tablet. I also had a greater range of play with the layers, using opacity and clipping masks, as well as experimenting with brush settings to get various textures.

My final image is of a sculpture of a dove which is sat in Milehouse. My focus for this image was playing with shape and shadow.
The dove is sat on a very long and thin central reservation which gradually widens out into a small grassy area. The shape reminds me of the city of Minas Tirith in the lord of the rings, so as I had been playing with scale with the other images, I imagine the sculpture was a large monument of some sort on a raised platform.

When it came to thinking about how to introduce the road, I immediately thought of it being like a river, as there's a sense that the road has a current, in that travelling in to the city can be a smooth and fluid journey one way, but is often a bit of a stop-start slog heading out.
I added little bus-boats with paddles and oars to try and illustrate this idea of flowing traffic and congestion, but they're a bit rough and I'm not sure I like them.

That concludes Vis Com pretty much, there have been a few photoshop workshops with Ben that I think I'll probably refer to in a bumper post later this week when reviewing techniques I've learnt.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Transit Mapping Progression

Got around to installing photoshop onto my home computer!

Meaning I could finish off the first of my final transit mapping images today. 

I had initially planned on producing a fantasy version of a map of the route I take to college, but I couldn't see myself producing something visually interesting if I stuck to the format of a literal map. 

This lead me to producing this image of a landmark I go past every day:

My ideas for the project so far had been to pick out visually interesting things from different areas of the route that I take, with that in mind I just started to have a play with  the Celtic cross sculpture that was recently erected in Saltash. I kind of just went with this idea about how would these places look if they were in a fantasy setting. 

I then figured I'd probably be more comfortable producing 3 postcards rather than a map so decided to progresss with this image digitally.

I wanted to roughly emulate Paul Blow's use of a limited colour palette and not relying so much on line to create shape, but putting line into the shape to create detail.
I dunno what to make of it really. It doesn't feel polished, or of a quality that I'd expect to see as a final piece of work. I feel like I've started way too late on this project and should have been experimenting with ideas ages ago.
I'm still fairly new to photoshop, so I dunno, was it a mistake to use it? 
I suppose I just don't feel as enthused with this project as I did the monster portraits, so now that I've put so much time into making this image and it doesn't feel like a good result, I'm finding that I'm really frustrated. 

I forgot to scan in prelims for the other two images when in college, and my scanner at home has decided it doesn't want to work with this computer anymore since a windows update, so it's just one of those days. 

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Transit Mapping: Research

With the first monster portrait task finished, it's time to focus on finished the transit mapping project over the next two weeks.

Stage 2 has begun and I'm thinking about producing a fantasy version of my mapped journey to college.

I have a few sources of inspiration in mind and some names to research thanks to 'Illustration Next.'

Marina Kharkover:

Unnatural colours, limited palette, bright colours

Paul Blow:

Effective use of limited colour palette and omission of line work. Contrast of colours of shapes creates the lines.


Traditional fantasy illustration, vivid colours. Could implemented mixed perspectives in the map design

Paul Paetzel:

Work gives the illusion of cut papers through the use of  two contrasting and bright colours as well as one muted colour which serves as a separator of the two.

Olimpia Zagnoli:

Again a use of a limited colour palette. Forms are simple, if not simpler than those used by Paetzel, as the block colours are not drawn into.

Caitlin Keegan:

Another restricted/simple colour palette which doesn't rely on shading to give form. Line is implemented, in some cases heavily, but in colour rather than black. This reduces the contrast between lines and colour, creating greater synergy between the two where line work is heavy. Something I should probably give a go.

Jon Klassen:

Working with physical materials and transferring them to digital media, assembling collage on photo shop.

Carson Ellis:

An archetypal example of how I want my watercolour illustrations to come out! May work with the colour and the line separately, merging them on photo shop.

Now to have a play with some of these ideas before committing to a draft...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Monster Portraits: 'Sketchbook'

So the bulk of this task for me has been actually producing the images rather than producing preliminary sketches, or if I did sketches they were often worked on top of.

There are a couple of pages of notes however, which I decided to scan in and put on this blog to save the inconvenience of buying a separate sketchbook from my Transit Mapping project for the sake of a couple of pages, just for the moment. 

I've also kept trimmings from where I've cut out my images and squared them off, which contain thoughts/notes (not pictured as they'll be a pain to scan them all in.)

Notes made while watching the film:

Reference images:

Using up scraps from my collage: