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Exercise 1.5: Research & development

Following on directly from the last exercise, I now needed to select some of my designs to refine and develop into a mock-up through the research and development stages.

Reviewing My Ideas

I was initially still unsure which book related saying that I wanted to choose, so I considered what the strongest options were from each that still had some room for growth. For Bookworms, the book cocoon grabbed me as something to keep developing in ways that could incorporate elements of my other ideas, though some of my sketches felt similar to other projects that I have done before and I wanted to branch out to try something new.

Instead, I chose to continue developing ideas for You can't judge a book by its cover. As I've mentioned before, I didn't feel that my responses had enough depth in their focus, so this was slightly more of a challenge to work on ideas that were not as firm in my mind as with the other prompt.

Researching My Ideas

I looked back on my quick sketches and saw that some of them lead me to thinking about classic fairy tales, as those stories often have similar morals and plot devices where things would not be as they first appeared, such as the wolf in Red Riding Hood or the witch in Hansel and Gretel. These stories are thematically relevant to the idiom and offer up the fantasy genre of images that I could interpret. After some searching for similar titles, I was reminded of many other classic fantasy stories that carry similar themes of duality and deception set in a fantasy world such as, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Ugly Duckling and The Frog Prince.

The Frog Prince was one of the earliest fairy tales collected by the brothers Grimm and I although I hadn't thought about it since I was a child, I felt this would be a good opportunity for me to try and create an image that captures the main elements of the old folk tale. The story goes that a princess loses her favourite toy (a golden orb) in a pond and a human prince that has been cursed to live as a frog offers his help to recover it. In return, he asks to live with the princess and although the princess is initially repulsed by his appearance, she grows to appreciate him for his kindness, until eventually she breaks the curse.

The tale is designed to teach the importance of keeping promises and more importantly to my prompt, to not judge others by appearances. It has a lot of key visual elements to use such as the frog and the orb, so I gathered a mood board of related images to help inform my new designs.

Mood board for illustrating "The Frog Prince"

Developing My Ideas

Using my mood board as reference, I recorded a range of colours that would work together well in my sketchbook and tried out different compositions to see what worked best. I sketched for around an hour and annotated my ideas until I reached a design I was happy with.

To test out compositions, I spent around an hour sketching out rough options on small pieces of paper, making notes on their strengths and weaknesses as I went. Many of my first set of ideas used my earlier thoughts about mirror effects and a true self being caught in a reflection, and I wanted to do that here with the prince reflected using the surface of either pond water or the golden orb. I also eventually reintroduced the presence of an open book that the frog and orb would rest on together as This way there would still be something visual to connect with the words of the saying, but the focus would be on the story of the frog and the orb in my final design.

To help me as a first hand reference for sketching, I composited a photo together of a ball resting in the pages of a book, and a photogenic toad that had blocked my path as I was walking home many years ago.

Personal reference photos

Visualising My Ideas

With this composition, I took it through to a full drawing and inking stage. If this was a final piece then I would have perhaps used watercolour to give an impressionistic painting effect, but for speed and effectiveness I used inks, markers and pencil crayon as I know those materials well and can work work with them at a quick pace. I wanted the toad and the book to have a muddy and "ugly" appearance, with the prince inside the orb glowing gold. I think this turned out well in my rendering and I was pleased with the initial result, complete with muddy water for added effect.

Composite mock up | Scanned Illustration

I scanned the illustration to take into Photoshop for further adjustments and mocked up a book cover arrangement with a new background and baroque style text showing a variation of the prompt. In my designs I had changed the start of the saying slightly from You can't judge to Don't judge as a shorter version that would fit easier in a text composition. I chose the darker regal colours of red and purple to reflect the royalty of the frog prince and to set them into the background so the yellow of the orb would still draw the viewers eye the most.

I didn't wanted to get caught in the trap of constant readjustments at this stage as I would usually spend more time balancing the image more, but I exercised some restraint and left the cover as it is for now. I was also aware of an upcoming exercise where I could better practice arranging content like this for different formats and this exercise had said that this image only needs to be a demonstration of a concept and not a final piece, so I felt that any extra nudging and resizing of text would not be helpful at this stage.



Wikipedia (2021) The Frog Prince At:


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