Reflections: Key Steps In Illustration (Part 5)

Updated: Sep 13

My formative feedback has arrived for Part 5 and as I have done with the other four sections, I'll be once again picking out the key points to reflect on, including both the positives and areas that still have room for improvement.

Overall Comments


"You have a good balance between textual and visual research..."

To have found a balance between these two areas of research has been rewarding, as both methods have their own distinctive advantages. I now know that to have the best chance of success with an illustration, I need to explore as many relevant research avenues as I can to fully develop my visuals.

"...and your illustrative identity is emerging already at this early stage of your study."

As far as my illustrative identity is concerned, I can definitely feel a familiar rhythm when I'm drawing sketches and roughs, however I feel that I'm yet to see my style emerge across my final pieces due to the variety of experimentation I have tried at this time. This isn't a concern though, as this will continue to develop for me in a natural way and I'm still pleased that my methods have become cohesive enough to receive a comment like this from an outside perspective at this stage in my learning.

Project: Authorial practice


Exercise 5.1: Your Own Work

"This is a carefully constructed and interrogated project. Your repurposed authorial works sit very well in each of your examples. Your written observations are proof of a higher level of critical reflection and the liberation from the previous context revitalises not just the work but your awareness of future placements and sales."

I'm happy that my considerations for the different outcomes that my work could have were effective choices here. A large part of the fun of creating artwork for me is recontextualising images, so I enjoyed the process of reviving some of my older work into products that I wouldn't have considered them for before.


Project: Editorial illustration


Exercise 5.2 Editorial Illustration

"...a well- researched and pertinent topic, the message in the image is clear as the symbols and motifs carry the meaning. The most potent visual communication is the quality of light and shadow, semiotically you allude to confinement and freedom, emerging from the dark to the light and placing the lover on the step leaning into the sun has a poetic longing and excitement."

This project took me a while to complete as I tried to use many options for storytelling throughout a full scene. My later explorations into using light and shadow as an additional symbol for communicating a feeling has resonated well and I'm glad it has paid off in the poetic description of my work from my tutor.


Exercise 5.3: Travel guides

"Your drawing is developing a visual quality that is strong and consistent, it is especially good to see you thinking through sketches for a change, that’s not to say textual research and textual reflection are wrong, simply both have their merits as research tools."

I fully agree with this and I am wanting to continue use sketching methods more often. For this exercise in particular, filling sketchbook pages with an array of different subjects felt very beneficial as I could familiarise myself with shapes and textures first, before deciding how to interpret them to be used on the covers.


"The tram drawing is very successful its perspective and colour combined with the inkwork place it in an historic context. Consider dominant and subordinate scale in future designs."
"...you may want to look at grids as a tool for dividing text and image and creating underlying structures to hang the images from or sit then in the space."
"Also, more use of white space as a design component will have a positive impact of enhancement. This is in terms of framing your own work allowing it to breath and change the scale."

My overall compositions did falter slightly as I leaned too heavily on travel sketchbooks layouts as my inspiration. Rough sketchbooks do not need a strict visual hierarchy and can be as crowded or as sparse as the artist chooses as each drawing is made on impulse wherever there is room. For my travel guide covers however, I could have further refined how my chosen images interacted with each other by using concepts such as dominant and subordinate images as suggested.


Project: Text and Image


Exercise 5.4: Text and Image

"The use of text to express the meaning of the words was good. Separating each image given it space to be itself and use the page to enhance the meaning would improve the communication. For example, large takes up the whole page and is too big to fit the area of the page, and small could hide in the corner of the page."

I was hoping that my choice to combine all of the different words onto the same page would help communicate the differences between them, but I can see the advantages of the alternative suggested here. As my tutor goes on to suggest, it would help to sell the meaning behind each of the if I had shown them within their own space.


Exercise 5.5: Packaging

"The imagery for the biscuits is very strong and meets the intended audience needs very well. Your colours are fun and fresh and the creatures approachable, children would love them."

Younger markets can be tricky to advertise to, so i'm proud to have designed something that resonates well with the target audience. Colour selection is a process that i'm considering more often to enhance my work.

"More evidence of exploration and reflection of type would help your grades in future."

In my original post for this project, I can see now that I only lightly touched upon on my reasoning behind the font choices and I will be amending this with an update to the original post that will elaborate a bit further on my thoughts.


Project: Working for children


Exercise 5.6: Working For Children

"The Animal illustrations are well researched regarding readability and in each case they speak directly to the values expected of the very best of children’s illustrations. All you have leaned and your iterative use of drawing is clear here and shows a marked improvement. This is due to hard work and critical reflection of both content and meaning."

These comments are very welcome compliments as the caterpillar illustration has been one of my favourite drawings to conceptualize and produce and has definitely ignited an interest to produce more children's illustrations further in the future. Also, despite my own reservations on the rendering quality of my shadowy cat drawing, comments like this from my tutor further prove to me that to demonstrate an effective creative process to refine a strong concept has been the most valuable reward for exercises like this.


Exercise 5.7: Educational Strip


"The LEGO people and puberty are another success, inventive digitally translatable, and have a SIMS feel to them."

The Sims comparison was not a conscious thought while I was making this, but I can see the resemblance now! Both LEGO and The Sims use avatars to parody human behaviour and I'm glad to have made use of this quality to create something educational.


Assignment: Seven Days


Assignment 5: Seven Days

"This final assignment for core concepts shows some of your knowledge and understanding acquired during your study, it is inventive, grounded in research and enquiry, the use of card is inventive and evidences your sensitivity to the semiotic qualities of the medium re-presenting the intended period’s values."

The final assignment was not without its difficulties and once again I am relieved to have pulled through the pressures that I often put upon myself to produce an effective image and this project has been a good opportunity to showcase what my design process has evolved.

"The seven day Clock is a very good solution and professionally produced. I hope you do not move to solutions too quickly now you have finessed your design process."

The nature of such open briefs do carry the risks of rushing towards my instincts rather than carefully exploring a pre-existing topic, but I feel more aware of myself in this area than I used to be. At the start of the course, I would often follow through with the first idea I had and almost immediately start on the final piece of a drawing, but I can now enjoy the benefits of researching and sketching different options throughout the entire process when needed.

Part 5 appears to have been a success and contains some of my favourite work from the course overall, making it a positive conclusion for Illustration 1: Key Steps In Illustration!


Normally, I would write about my intentions for the next section of work here, but in that absence I will instead be doing a separate post to reflect on the course as a whole to support my work as I present it for formal assessment ahead of November.

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