Using the reference images found in my research post for this project, I sketched out some images of the four animals. I used these sketches to get a feel for how to pose and render the animals. (in the pine marten sketches, you can see me considering exaggerated shapes and more geometric forms.)
I then rendered these animals as individual digital collages in Photoshop, often referring back to the research photos and other google images for inspiration.
This was done using the technique I have recently adopted of building up elements of a drawing on separate layers and then adding drop shadows. (I've demonstrated with a GIF of one of the beavers above.) I decided to use block colours as I knew it was going to be a complicated scene learning from my experience of my 'Explorers!' woodland image that I made in BAIL301.
Rendering up these individual animals took a fair amount of time - perhaps a bit more than it needed to, as they were inevitably going to be reduced in size. However I suppose I now have them at a larger scale to use them for another purpose if I need to, as they were rendered to fit either the height or width (roughly) of an A4 page.
After completing the animals, I sketched a rough composition to figure out how to use the elements as a cohesive image. I left some of the page blank, as I wasn't sure how much space I was going to dedicate to the text until I had it made up in my working file.
Using this rough comp I began to render the environment using the lasso tool and block colours, just as I had done with the animals. I used my sketch to begin with, but quickly moved into a more spontaneous way of working, constantly editing the position, size and shape of the elements as I went.
I tried to break up the woodland floor by using a brush preset and varying the stroke size and using a custom brush of a shrub shape that I made up for a previous project.
Once I had roughly half of the image made up, I decided on how much space to allocate for the text. I decided to build the text into the environment by having it appear carved into the bark of a tree in the far left area of the foreground. Once deciding on a size and layout I used the lasso tool to build upon an existing font, trying to achieve a carved aesthetic by exaggerating the shapes with tapered edges.
I then used the remaining space to create a suitable environment for the remaining pine martens and squirrels.
I used the multiply blending effect on grey shapes to create the illusion of shadows being cast and to create a depth across he whole image, with the light areas being the left-hand side of the image and the foreground, with the shadows in the background and to the right of the image. (see draft 1 below.)
In an initial crit with Phil Trenerrey, he mentioned how he thought the image was successful and demonstrated how far I had come since starting out with BAIL301, he also suggested I change the colour of the text to improve it's readability against the tree.
In a crit with Tristan Manco where I went over my BAIL303 projects, he commented that he felt that the shadow effects weren't working, stuck between looking real and unreal. He also noted that he felt the sense of depth could be improved by re-scaling some of the elements. Cam and Holly, also in the crit session, agreed.
Taking these comments on board I made some changes to the image. (Above.)Unsure as to how to approach the issue of the shadows I consulted Caroline Pedler, She suggested trying to imitate the reflections of water, rather than shadows. She also noted that I ought to desaturate the whole image to look at areas of contrast that could use improvement.
Image full bleed.
Alongside further scaling edits, this advice led me to my current version of the image. (Above.) There was quite a drastic colour change over the whole image in order to make the elements stand out from one-another, though I enjoy the twilight-esq nature to the colour palette as I think it communicates an air of mystery and woodlands ability to shut out sunlight.
Left page detail.
Right page detail.
As a whole this image needs to be printed on an A2 sheet, so I went to local artsupplier/prnter The Artside to get a full-colour A2 poster printed for £4.25
Initially this was on an off-white paper stock, similar in texture to the 120gsm recycled drawing paper I have been using for my A3 prints.
The grain of the paper really affected the quality of the print, although not bad it is rather muted.
Out of curiosity I wanted to see how it would print at home with half of the image on an A3 sheet. Unfortunately I was running low on paper, so only got the one image printed. The colours are a bit off and the contrast between the darker colours is quite low, I think as a result of the settings I chose.
I returned to the artside for a another print, this time using their standard paper stock with a matte finish. The print quality is far superior to the previous prints.
When cropping the first print from the artside, I realised that I had made an error when making up the template in Photoshop, omitting 5mm worth of canvas on the vertical axis. This was a quick fix and is represented in the digital submission as a final outcome.(above.) However because this change was mostly functional for the context of being bound and cropped as a book, I decided not to get another print, as the aesthetic value is represented by the former print quite adequately.