Month: March 2015

Showing development

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I find showing my development of a piece of a work quite hard as it is not shown in set stages and is constantly changing. Therefore I am going to show one scene that has changed in different stages so you can get an idea of how I work.


So the images above and below are many sketches of the scene where the Jay is remembering when he heard a strange scary noise whilst trying to eat some acorns. I like generating different sketches as I can pick and choose which works best and then merging them together to create a rough final image.P1130011

After much deliberation I chose the following layout as I felt it emphasised the sound well whist keeping the flow of the story.

P1130018Above was the first main drawing and as you can see the text is large in the centre of the page and there are small thumbnail photos of the story unfolding. I picked photos as this tends to be a tool that we use to look at to remember moments in time and as the Jay is remembering a moment in his life I thought it goes hand in hand. I drew the Jay so it was flying towards the acorn and was increasing in size and then reversing the motion when it had been scared by the noise creating a full circle. I also highlighted it in black fine line as I thought this would be best to show the image but it didn’t and made it feel clumsy. The text is bold cap locks with spikes to show the power and rumble of the noise. It is very straight and as this was the early stages of development I was soon told that I needed movement in my scenes which I capture in my thumbnails but not in my larger drawings.

I felt that the first drawing could be improved by changing what was inside the photos and the way the noise was drawn. I felt the bird flying towards the viewer was hard to draw and looked funny and so I changed it to a side profile. The growl was re-drawn as the previous image was too blocky and I wanted it to flow. I kept saying the word out loud over and over and allowed my hand to flow with the noise. After having a crit, it was decided that the growl noise was better than the previous design but still wasn’t scary enough and was too smooth. Also, it seemed to be set in a set grid and didn’t have much movement as previously mentioned in other blogs.


This was the next developing scene, the growl now has spikes (as previously drawn on original idea) on the letters which gives a more menacing look whilst still keeping the flow of the sound. I erased the top three images and replaced it with the foot and beak of the Jay picking up the acorn (overlapping onto the previous page linking the flow of the pages) as at the time I thought this illustrated the motion of him picking up food and then hearing the noise to which he flies off scared. However, after having another crit it was felt that the image didn’t communicate efficiently enough and I had to explain what was happening in the images. The image was being read as the Jay is looking up at the giant feet which was hard to work out and the text was too straight and had no motion.

P1130014So I changed the bottom of the image to him flying away with the nut lying in-between two branches as the Jay had dropped it. I made it incredibly simple (as this was a suggestion in a previous concept panel) with the Jay picking up the nut at the top, it hears the sound and then the bottom image is him flying away scared. However, after another crit it was decided this was too simple and didn’t create enough excitement. Also, the birds feet was still hard to decipher and so I decided to take it out completely.

P1130016So I went back to the second original design which I thought I wasn’t going to do at the beginning. I placed the photos more tilted so it didn’t look gridlocked and added the spikes to the text as this worked. However, after another crit it was decided that the text was still too straight and needed to be emphasised to create a more atmospheric and flowing scene. Also the images could be slightly smaller to allow the noise to intertwine with the images.

P1130013Before I changed the scene I had already painted a previous design and I wanted to experiment with the colours. I chose to incorporate blue within the text to interlink with the dash of blue on the Jays wing with the noise. The spikes were grey which shows danger and has a sharp edge to the sound. I reversed the colours so the spikes were blue but it did not look right and so I chose this colour scheme.


This is the final design of this particular page. I have changed the shape of the noise by curving them along the page and added letters to the word to emphasis the sounds within it. Keeping the flow of the type allows the word to role of your tongue and I will be drawing the spikes back onto the letters to still give it a menacing look. The photos are still slightly angled and are smaller allowing the noise to breath. The images within the photos sometimes break the boundary to create interest and avoid sticking to rigid guidelines. I think this looks a lot better than the first image and so I am happy to start adding colour. I have not done this yet as I am still working on the other scenes, as I want to finish the all scenes and lay them out making sure they flow. After that stage is complete I will incorporate colour.

So as you can see there are constant little tweaks as well as large ones and this blog would never end if I explained everything but when you reach the “end” (designing a scene never ends just constantly tweaking) I find it is good to look at your original design to see how far you have gone and achieved. Also there might be something on the original design that you missed that could complete or improve the final image.

Incorporating Sound

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Another scene completed that uses a sound as the main focus, with the squirrel leaping away in fear. The wobbly lines of the sound grumble, is to show the movement and feeling you can experience when ones stomach is hungry. I painted this image using pastel pencils and using the specific colour palette. I tried to create as many finished images I could for my tutorial.P1130005

From my tutorial these are the pointers I picked up on:

  • Knock the colour of the branch back in this image
  • Use the watercolour paper as it has smoother finished
  • Draw larger images slightly smaller and then blow them up as I tend to lose the detail when I draw things too large
  • More details in the leaves
  • Make grumble text slightly darker

P1130009Here are the next sketches of some pages which look completely different to the final piece. I wasn’t too sure about adding a narrative and how to go about to it, so I asked my tutor and they suggested looking at text in other books and seeing if any would match the style of my work. From there I could just copy the font but maybe use a different colour instead of black as this again is too harsh for my style. I was also worried about how much text to add because I do not want this to dominate my images, a suggestion was made to maybe just use a symbol to express a moment instead of using words all the time. I knew that I shouldn’t put text straight onto the main image as this could create complications when editing work later on. So I am going to create the narrative when I have completed the final images and finished editing them.

Size of the pages

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Before I started to create some images I thought it would be wise to create a colour palette and so I don’t go over bored with the colour system. I was initially going to select three or four colours but then I decided to separate the colours into sections as there are so many layers. P1130008

I tried to pick colours that are natural and close to the colours of the forest. I avoided black as this is too harsh and as I am not using any black outlines would stand out too much and so I have gone for dark greys and browns. I had never done a colour palette before but it definitely helped as it focused my style even more.

The original drawing was slightly too big and the drawings weren’t as clear and so I was experimenting with making the single  page smaller and trying to fit the double page spread on one sheet of paper. The colours are working as they are very similar tones and some colours I will put throughout the book like the Jays flash of blue and so the book flows.P1130004 P1130003

I found trying to fit the whole scene on one page difficult as the drawings were hard to include detail as the tip of the pencil was too large and so looked clumsy. Reducing the size of the page on a single spread allows it to be big enough to add detail but not too big to be clumsy. I am sticking with a slightly elongated square as I find the sound can fill the page and be the centre of the page. Although the first image is the style I want to achieve throughout the book, I feel like some of the images are not working and do not help to tell the story.

Catch Up… since the concept panel.

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After the concept panel I have been working hard on images and developing movement in my scenes. Even though I know I have been working non-stop I feel like I haven’t got a lot to show for it but I know that I have sorted out a lot of technical things like the size of my book.


I wanted to start developing the other main characters within the book and one of them was the stoat (not a weasel, as stoats are bigger and I wanted it to be menacing). Similar to the squirrel I watched videos to draw from as I found this creates more movement compared to purely photos. Looking at them now I know I will probably use some of the within my book. I didn’t colour any of them in as I feel the colours would change depending on what scene or lighting the surroundings would be.


Researching into the facts of stoat so I am able to maybe incorporate in to the story. From here I will be experimenting with the size of the pages…

After the presentation…

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So here is where I am after the concept panel…


I tried to create alternative scenes for the grumble scenes, going for different angles etc.


I was trying to make it less complicate and flat whilst trying to keep movement and flow. I soon found that I was beginning to get worried about trying to get it perfect straight away and just came to a blank with ideas. This is when I decided to change the scene I was going to create ideas for.


I started to develop the Jay scene where it reminisces about the time it heard a similar noise when collecting food. I feel I can generate many alternative scenes but when it comes to enlarging them, the scene loses movement. Here is one of the drawings I drew up to scale, I am not using fine line in my final images but this is a rough layout on thin paper and so I decided to use a fine line to outline the drawing so I can easily trace it if need be.


I drew two other layouts but in pencil and took it to my tutorial. When talking to my tutor, she commented on how flat and rigid they are still when enlarged and that it has lost movement in the scene, looks more like freeze frames. At first I was disappointed because I wanted to hear that I have nailed it, sorted the issue out but clearly I haven’t and to be fair I agree but just didn’t want to hear it. My tutor commented how the thumbnails have captured the movement and it’s the transition of scaling it larger causes the movement to be lost. I didn’t know what to do but as she explained I understood what was causing the issue and how I could address it. One idea was to create the larger scenes in roughly the same time as the thumbnails and so I’m not over thinking the layout.

Another idea was to create the exact line from the thumbnail onto the larger scene and to not stiffen lines up e.g. the photos on the right side page in the thumbnail were freehand and not straight, as soon as I drew it larger I got my ruler out which caused them to become flat.

An alternative idea to combat the problem is to draw these scenes A5 roughly and then just scan them in on a high dpi to blow them to the scale I want. As I’m able to create movement in the small sketches, I should stick to drawing fairly small and quick and then enlarge them.

Other suggestions towards my work were:

  • Create a couple of alternative scenes/layouts for each double page spreads
  • When painting the scenes, don’t try and finish each scene at once. Start to paint one and then move onto another, swapping around creates movement I want in the scenes instead of rushing to get one finished and losing the fun in the scene.

Regarding the story, I was originally going to include an insect to create a variety of height and range of animals in the book. I then changed that to a newt as I thought I could have a different scene which would be underwater. However, after the tutorial it was decided that it would be best not to go underwater as this could affect the whole atmosphere of the book which is predominantly woodland and warmth. I was trying to fit too much in.

It was questioned, do I actually need the fourth character? Does it bring anything to the story? My tutor commented on how the squirrel will be known by children but the other two animals, the jay and the weasel, may not be as well as known. It brings an element of educational value as it introduces the idea to children there are more animals who live in the woods that aren’t originally seen. Also just using the Jay which is shown high in the trees and the weasel which moves along the ground still gives me a range of movement in the forest. Also it frees up a couple of double page spreads which allows more room for the noises to be explored.

So as you can see I have plenty of work to get on with and so I will be trying out the methods as previously mentioned. Hopefully by using them I will be able to inject some movement allowing me to move onto adding colour and life to images.

Before the presentation…

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So before my presentation last week this is what I showed them at the end of the presentation. I wanted to know which layout was best but it was soon decided that neither was the answer…


A complete double page spread that shows the sound spread across the spread which has been integrated in the illustration.


The small three squares show the difficulty of the squirrel getting through the sharp thorns of the Hawthorn bush.  You then see him with the fruit in-between his paws about to snack on them but suddenly he hears this noise which is spread across the page. The noise is integrated into the bark using natural elements to define the letters and so it was subtle and looked natural.


The grumble sound carries on travelling across the page which leads the eye onto three more boxes which shows the squirrel running away. KUK is the alarm call of the squirrel and so this is some of the educational information that is being integrated into the text and illustrations. I felt I had drawn the bark of the wood alright by using pastel pencils and watercolours. I wasn’t sure about the three boxes as I felt they weren’t defined enough as a separate area.

The second double page spread:


I separated the two scene making the squirrels battle through the thorns more prominent by using various shaped borders to highlight the squirrels goal. One branch carrying onto the next page which then creates a similar design as the previous double page spread. Taking out the squares and creating two separate large images and partially interlink.

left side

The berries are a demanding red, clearly showing the reader the goal of the scene. I created us usual borders to make the scene more interesting and to highlight the area of interest.

right side

I feel the squirrel at the top has subtle emotions but not enough to be easily read at a glance and so I feel like I need to add more emotions into the personality of the characters. Again I have used the detail of the bark to create the sound. I am pleased with the colours and warmth I have attained using pastel pencils but I feel there is a lot of white space and it could have an injection of another colour.

However, after the concept panel I knew I had to do a lot of rethinking and work as these as mentioned before are the points I needed to take on board:

  • Focus on a core or concept more – so I am thinking to focus on the sounds more
  • What are the main focuses on the page – what stands out more
  • Use the body position and angles of the squirrel to express personality and emotion
  • Watch more videos of the animals to achieve more movement in my drawings
  • Try to not overcomplicate the texture – vary the detail to create depth. Not everything has to be really detailed
  • To develop some of the small thumbnail ideas straight away and not change them
  • To maybe to develop the sound first and then fit the characters around it

I understand most of them when looking back at these pieces and as someone mentioned, they are really nice illustrations but they could be pushed and made into something better.