Friday, 23 May 2014

WBL: Illustrator Top Trumps

Just a quick exercise to get us applying our research from the Illustrator Hunt.

Top trump style cards, each statistic is out of 10.

Don't take these judgement too seriously as they're based on basic research.

Holly Macdonald: A clean style, consistent through her work. Perhaps lacking a bit in originality, sometimes not communicating very well.

Humour: No funny business to be found here, a strictly professional, ornate sensibility, which is fine if you're not illustrating a chortle-tastic book of course.

Influence: Clean and ornate doesn't really fit the description of my own work, though she does have some decent colour combinations and compositions I could look at if ever designing a cover myself. Not a particularly well known artist as far as I know.

As far as I could see, a very niche practice in terms of discipline and media used.

Miriam Latimer: A style that communicates well and is obviously suited to children's book illustration. Style comes off as fairly original, though her editorial work is familiar - though I can't think of who it reminds me of.

Humour: I giggled on occasion at some of the background details. Suitable for kids books. ( I used to love the usbourne duck)

Influence: Slapped her in the middle, I think her work is neat and I'll look at it again. I'm partial to fit little narrative easter eggs into  my narrative work too, so there's that to explore. A relatively new illustrator, I couldn't say if she is a big influence to others.

Breadth: Though she only documents two disciplines on her websites, she seems more open to more than one niche of work at least. She explores various media, using mixed media in her illustrations and adopting different techniques for her editorial work.

Jim Field: He has an original style that is flexible to various briefs. A hint of Disney/Pixar and a hint of Axel Scheffler. Formerly an animator.

Humour: He draws trumping trumpeting elephants. Frogs have visible buttocks. Just go look at his 'Is this art?' work too (for more adult humour) Jim got a few hearty belly chuckles from me.

Influence: I really like Jim's work and I think I'll be looking at his painstaking method of neat pen strokes for fur mark making. Though I can't say he's a major influence on me at the moment. Or particularly well known.

Breadth: Animation used to be his thing, though he focuses on children's books now, he dabbles in editorials and has a crack at switching up his style and the materials he uses.

Well there you go, some potential Illustrator role models.

WBL: Illustrator Hunt

Below are the results of my 'Illustrator Hunt' - 3 illustrators taken from 3 different sources, examining them through their work practices and qualities.

From Waterstones: Holly Macdonald - Book design and illustration.

Style: Macdonald's style varies between works as she is a designer as well as an illustrator, some of her covers are quite generic, in that they use photography from other sources and pre-existing fonts.
Her illustrative work is far more interesting and contains some consistent elements, such as silhouettes, block colours and illustrated borders. She sticks to a niche of working with digital media.

The Cowards Tale is a book about a boy who is sent to live with his grandmother in a welsh town, who begins a friendship with the town storyteller and beggar. The cover captures these two main characters and the theme of history/ memory well, however the colour scheme and style of the bottom half of the cover connotes a Mediterranean theme; the red and yellow, bold geometric shapes on the hills and the image of the fish. 

This cover for the romance novel God is an Astronaut brings in a key element of the story, Jess'  greenhouse, and combines it with a big cheesy moon to convey the romantic elements.

Art director and freelance designer. Doesn't list any work other than book cover design, all of which is paid work. Not a lot of personal info either to find influences etc. Though I assume she enjoys design and narrative.
Clients include; Oneworld Publications, Bloomsbury Publishing,

Her websites: and

AOI Images 35: Miriam Latimer - Children's books and editorials.

Style: Latimer displays two distinct styles, that for her children's book illustration and that for her editorials.

Her picture book images utilise acrylic, coloured pencil and collage. Human and object forms are round and exaggerated. Colours are not flat, the strokes of mixed colour can be seen. Texture is often included in the images; as hand-drawn patterns, mark making or as photo-collages, such as the curtains. Colour brings definition to the shapes, rather than relying on lines. Generally the colours in the background are less vibrant than those in the foreground to provide contrast between figures and the setting.

Her editorials adopt a looser style of pen drawing, made up of cartoon style sketches which are coloured via digital media. Proportions are less exaggerated. Detailed backgrounds are less frequent and occasionally backgrounds are completely omitted to utilise the focal point of the image. 

Studied illustration at Bristol UWE in 2003.

Clients include; Ladybird, Devon Life magazine, BBC Who Do You Think You Are magazine, Barefoot books.

Her website:

From a previous project: Jim Field - Children's book, book cover and editorial illustration.

Style: Exaggerated proportions, cartoon feel, curved forms. Combination of block colours and pen stroke patterns/marks which suggest textures of fur or feathers etc. Occasionally form is reinforced by line work, which is either black or complimentary to the main colour. Illustrations sit on white or block colour backgrounds.

Editorial work varies in style, some has a similar feel to his work for children, some in the form of caricatures and other work utilising similar mark making techniques but more realistic proportions.

Graduated from Hull School of Art and Design in 2002, now based in Paris.

Clients include; Harper Collins, Usborne Publishing, Oxfam, Channel 4, Nokia.

His website:

So it seems that it's important to take a broad approach to illustration, taking part in several different practises. Though it's probably easier to be more productive finding a practise that you enjoy/are passionate about.

It's appropriate to be flexible with the style that you use, as different styles will be relevant to different contexts/briefs/practises. That doesn't mean that you have to adapt a completely new way of drawing though, as you can use the same techniques.

Though there weren't any examples in my hunt, it's not uncommon for an illustrator to have another career on the side or have a purely recreational career as an illustrator.

There's LOADS of different clients out there, it's just a matter of exposing yourself to them (tee hee.)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Work Based Learning: Picturebooks for children and concept art

So our final module of the year has kicked off, it has us applying and exploring all the different types of work we've produced over the year in a career context. The module takes places over next year too, where it'll take on a 'work experience' direction, but for now it's all about reflective research on the job roles within the industry.

To begin, we've spent a day looking at the 'disciplines' of illustration. This post covers some visual research on two particular roles which interest me, that I couldn't saturate my formal written response to the session with!

Children's books:

I was looking around Toys'R'Us with my girlfriend and mate earlier today (because who doesn't like having a nostalgic, embittered, longing browse of toys after they've 'grown up?') and came across a couple of children's books. The one I remember was of the interactive variety, this prompted me to do a bit of research.

You're not so Scary Sid - Sam Llyod

A combination of a children's book and a puppet? What genius is this?!

Touch and Feel books

Good Morning, Good Night! - Teresa Imperato and Melanie Mitchell (Art)

'Touch and feel' books are mainly aimed at toddlers and younger children, they educate through words and sense of touch. These books may focus on one particular texture, or contain several. Often made from thick board rather than paper for durability against rough treatment.

Pop-Up books

Robert Sabuda - Winter's Tale

The good old pop-up brings the 3rd dimension in to play, language is usually contained within the composition of the artwork. These can be designed with the pop-up function in mind, or specific editions of an existing 2D book.
Like Oliver Jeffer's 'Lost and Found'

Hidden object books

Mary-Eve Tremblay - 'Questions and answers about your body'

Stephen Cartwright - Usborne books (Numerous titles) 'Find the duck'

Parts of the illustration are cut and pasted separately to create interactive flaps, or a specific object/character is hidden somewhere within the illustration.

Concept art:

Concept art isn't just crazily masterful digital painting. Here are a few examples of different ways of working and how stylistically different concept art can be to the final product!
(Disney seem to have a good rep for releasing concept art and showcasing a wide variety of concept artists)

Teddy Newton - collage concepts for The Incredibles

Unknown artist - An even chubbier look for Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear 

Michael Kutsche - Thor concept art, with a more comic-book look for Thor. 

Unknown Artist - Monster's Univeristy's Sulley in a simplstic, cartoony sketch. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

CS: Module Evaluation

I had initially planned on producing 10-15 seconds of animation, but felt confident that I would be able to achieve producing something closer to the 30 seconds suggested in the brief.
I didn't meet these initial expectations because I designated less time to the project than I thought I would, having prioritised other project work over it.

Reflecting on the process that I've gone through, I feel like this plan would've been achievable if I had decided to use rotoscoping for the whole animation. The style that I chose to try and implement into my animation was particularly laborious to draw by free-hand. Also with free-hand animation I had to work out how the characters were moving, which made the process costly in terms of time too. I found that when I came to the rotoscoping section of my animation, it was a much faster process that wielded a higher quality of animation and I enjoyed using a lot more. Even if I had only drawn the rotoscoped segments of my initial plan I think I would be a lot more satisfied with the results of this project.

If I were to work on an animation project again I would plan a stage of production where I filmed all of my animation, edited it and then imported it to the program to begin drawing over. So that when it came to producing the animation I had a clear idea of what I would be doing and where I would be heading.

Something that I think worked well was the style of the animation; I think the surreal colours are visually interesting, although I don't think the influence is particularly clear.
I find the hand-drawn scene a bit underwhelming, especially how the characters relate to the pavement and camera angle.

What I enjoy about the process I've explored is to be able to bring character designs to life through movement. However, I've found using Adobe Flash quite frustrating; it's drawing limitations, certain behaviours, periodic freezing and how it's really slow at saving.

Will I explore this process in the future? Maybe. I doubt I'll explore a career as an animator, however I wouldn't mind using animation as part of concept work. It'd be cool if I ever found work as a concept artist, if I had the opportunity, to produce rough moving images that further illustrate more polished character or environment concepts. Though I'll bear in mind that I've learnt free-hand drawn animation really isn't for me.