Assignment 1

This assignment required me to collect objects that had some sentimental value, I looked around my family home to find anything that would resonate.

The camera belonged to my late father, he used to enjoy photography as a young man, he developed his own photographs in a makeshift darkroom.
After my younger sister was born the pictures seemed to get fewer and fewer, we do have some lovely pictures of Mum, my older brother and sister and I believe those were all taken on that manual camera.
No Memory cards back then of course, just the prints and negatives remain as a record of those times, we lost my older brother in a road traffic accident when I was three years old, I have only a couple of memories and they indeed may be false, generated from stories and the old photographs that this camera caught with a wink of his one big eye. It’s nice to think that this camera had captured some precious happy times, and while the images captured on the negative are reversed, swapping  light for darkness, the memories captured on the cellulose acetate or negative, are far from that, what a badly named part of the photographic process.

I picked up my first real acoustic guitar, this was given to me by my father, my father was always supportive of my creative endeavors and this guitar while certainly not being the high end of acoustic guitar price tags it was certainly a lot of money to me and a most appreciated and cherished gift, a guitar is more than wood lacquer and strings it really is a friend, someone to keep you company, a companion. Even the language used when naming the parts of the guitar are based on a living being, a body, a neck and a head, the chords have different voicings, it can tell a happy or a sad song or just be held while listening to music or watching a film. I even named her Prudence, not because she is careful or cautious, all the guitars I have owned since have been assigned names from girls from Beatles songs, Jude, Molly, and Rita. Maybe, if finances permit, one day I will cherish a Lucy.

The final part of my image is a black glossy piggy bank, this belonged to my older brother, I remember as a child it being an almost sacred object, I wouldn’t touch it, on the rare occasion I did it was heavy and smooth, a few coins remained inside, by brother had two dreams he wished to fulfil, he wanted his own judo dojo’s all over the country and a TVR sports car. This little collection of coins in this smiley little pig represents the determination and plans of an 11 year old boy who had his whole life figured out, a dream I know from the few stories I have been told about the spirit of this young man he would have exceeded again and again. Until it was taken from him by the carelessness of another.

My image represents the fragility of life and the fine fibers that hold them together. Past present and future.

I used Conte crayon, white pastel and acrylic paint for the brightest whites as in my last exercise.
The soft mediums when rubbed and worked into the paper do a good job of creating soft gradual tonal shifts, the tooth of the paper when applied directly with no smudge or smear allows for some nice textural effects. The money box is a little of both, some softer application around the dark areas and where the light hits sharper and brighter reflected light.

This image did get my emotions running quite high, it would be hard to understand why without any context but never the less I was happy with the outcome, there are a few bits I would change, the guitar neck ad floral decoration would benefit from some more accuracy. The areas I’m most happy with are the  difference in approach used with each material.


Exercise 3: Material Differences

Using my previous 4 drawings I picked the viewpoint that offered the most interest. I decided a focal point and looked at the tonal values.

The white walls and fireplace are surrounded by the dark table, the table had a lot of objects on it. This table serves as a Memorial to my late father and our beloved pets that have passed. on the table is a silver cherub, its size and light tonal values made me think this would be a good focal point.

Using Graphite pencil, I blocked in the darkest parts and basic shapes, I don’t normally smudge pencils but as the walls are light and smooth I took too smudging in some hb pencil and then using a rubber I “lightened it up”

One thing I did notice is that my eraser soon become very slick and heavy soiled with graphite, this actually become a useful tool to block in large areas of lighter tone, used flat I followed the shapes of the walls and the archway, the graphite transferring from the eraser to the paper.

Studying the values in front of me I established my darkest tones was to be some of the black box frames on the table, the lightest would be some objects on the table and the wooden dado rail on the wall, these light shapes cutting through the darkened tones of the table helped draw the eye to the cherub.

The research I did just before this drawing did help me make some choices, for one I didn’t want to be too picky about the accuracy of my perspective, imperfect lines might add to the character of the drawing, and mine certainly wasn’t perfect or true to life, in the end after several attempts to get a straight line by hand I did use the edge of a metal pencil tin to get a clean line, the hand drawn ones I was making didn’t really look rough enough ti be intentional but wasn’t smooth enough to represent the solid structures of the fore place.
The research also made me aware of how you can show something that at first seemingly mundane can have some secondary focal points that surround the main subject. I tried to do this with varying degrees of detail and contrast.

Overall I’m happy with the end result, and the lessons learnt. I chose graphite pencil as I thought it would allow me a good amount of detail, it is problematic to work with in a large format and I do not think my paper was up to the heavy layering of different grade pencils I used. It got to point where the graphite didn’t hold to the paper anymore, and it would almost “clump” in certain areas, it certainly added texture but it also shows every movement and mark I made with my pencil. I would benefit further from experimenting with different toothed paper and layering pencils to prevent this “effect” when trying to establish dark yet detailed tones.

Exercise 3: 360° studies

I visited a nice clearing in the forest next to my local park, this exercise required a set of consecutive drawings that was taken from the same spot but facing four different directions.
These sketches were to be completed within 15 minutes, I set up a timer and stuck to it. Having a time limit is a challenge but also forced some productive direction in the way I needed to approach the task.
One of these things was to work over the whole drawing ensuring my composition was mapped down and working as it should be. Another was extracting the minimal information to make the drawing successful.

I think I would like to incorporate these time limitations into my drawing flow, they would work really well at the initial experimental and discovery stages, allowing me to quickly feel my way through what works best and not so well.

Exercise 10: A Subjective Drawing

For this task I was required to choose a word from a list, the Idea here was to illustrate the qualities of the item rather than its function. I chose Umbrella, i created a mood board to try to recreate the qualities found in an umbrella, I used plastic bags among other things to try to recreate the look of a wet umbrella.

I then  found an old umbrella and photographed it. I produced a simple line drawing including some tone to render the creases and folds of the crumpled material.

I photocopied the drawing and cut out the parts to make a stencil, I used bin liners and pva glue to replicate the wet looking material then creased and stretched it tight in places and crumpled in others, I used silver foil to add in some struts and metal under frame.

If I could do this task again I would do this on a much larger scale, as it was small I struggled to get the control and detail needed to convey what was in my head, I  photographed and tried to add some structure back in the image  with my procreate software.
While I wasn’t 100% happy with the outcome I was mostly pleased with the effect It created.

Exercise 8: Creative thinking and problem solving

For this project I was tasked with producing Illustrations intended for use in Magazines. The main focus of this project is graphic communication, the challenge being that it had to have a narrative and satisfy the requested function, in essence solving a problem visually, I really enjoyed the challenges it presented and it really forced me to think about the message I conveyed.

Click for brief 1

Click for brief 2

Exercise 6: Mark Making

In this exercise I was asked to make as many marks as I could, This was more of a challenge than I first imagined, As I did find myself repeating the marks I made. I will like to use more in my drawing, I have used a lot of hatching lately but would like to do something with a lot of stippling.


Twisted pencil



Croonhatch three directions darkest

Cross hatch

Diagonal lines

Arrow heads

Small circles


Hatched lines


Arrow heads

Small circles


Bounced pencil


Scrubbed pencil edge

Contoured lines

Random curves vertical and horizontal

Exercise 5: Giving Instructions

In this exercise I was asked to create a set of instructions accompanied by visuals, I thought making tea would be an interesting one, I also wanted to settle the age old argument about when the milk goes in, this will hopefully clear it up.

I wanted to use one image and split it up into incremental steps, using numbers and clear text boxes, after some experimental thumbnails I opted for an isometric view like lego instructions or an exploded diagram.

Some Examples of Instructional images

I broke it down into the simplest steps, I wanted it to be clear and easy to follow.

The top down and to the side view I chose did offer some challenges as the visuals while more interesting at this angle still needed to be descriptive, I had to consider the order I displayed the steps in so it was a functional diagram.

I used warm colours on the numbering to make sure they stood out from the diagram.

The style is playful, and not quite as clinical and detailed as a medical journal or Haynes manual, and not as CAD looking as a lego manual, which are colourful but offer little character beyond that. I feel the style I chose works in this context, its light and doesn’t patronise, my test group found it was straight forward and clear to follow.

I was thinking if I had picked playing an instrument or how to get to the house this would have called for a more direct no nonsense approach, I then considered who might be using it, a change in direction would have been led by my audience, if it was for children then this approach would have been intimidating to a youngster or too detailed to be able to focus on so the informal one would work.

Deciding on an audience wouldn’t be my decision to make, that would be a question to ask if it wasn’t clear in the brief, either way it certainly got me thinking about how to approach diagrams and was a good challenge that involved more communication than drawing.


Exercise 7: Character Development

This task called for some research on different characters and producing my own original one.

I collected up some interesting groups using Pinterest boards, from there I decided on creating a space pirate type character.


I made a list of some pirate costume/characteristics;

  • Parrots
  • Eyepatches
  • Waistcoats
  • Long Coats
  • Boots
  • Guns
  • Swords
  • Tricorn Hats
  • Wooden Leg

The next thing was to try to give to a sci fi spin, on this list I had;

  • Space suit
  • Lasers
  • Hard Shell Flight Suit
  • Breathing Apparatus

Next I drew a blank figure from the front, side and back.

basic figures template
basic figures template


I worked up in layers, first was the hard shell structured pressurised suit, then the coat. I wanted some of the coat to be hard and some soft, the shoulder pads were to be hard and almost like armour. The pirate boots normally fold over, I tried to make that effect but shape it a little to make it more interesting, these would be hard shell too. The hair was covered in a hard helmet which echoed a bandana.

The pirate is nearly always depicted with a parrot on his shoulder. My parrot was a droid, and would act as a life support system and reconnaissance drone, I named it B.I.R.D, Biologically Integrated Reconnaissance Drone. This would eventually become a tricorn hat, the hat would generate a breathable atmosphere and also an augmented eyepiece, which would look like a pirate eye patch.

I was happy I had captured a pirate essence with a modern twist..

Here are the first designs.

Space Pirate

And with the Tricorn/B.I.R.D hat.

More concepts

When it came to adding colours I didn’t want to look like the traditional dark colours of a pirate, black browns and reds, I wanted dark colours still as she was a pirate and therefore a bit of a rogue. I decided to use the opposite of red on the colour wheel as a jump off point. The old comics always used secondary and tertiary colours for the bad guys, to give them a less than heroic look. I like the way green works with purple, and to soften it up I used a blue, both these colours are used in the colour mix, so it seemed to be a good choice. I chose a lighter tint almost a blue grey. I was quite happy with these colours but thought I’d try some more colour ways.



colour ways
colour ways

I liked the green so I explored this further with some orange accents and then more of a yellow. After that I took the complementary colour of yellow and added purple. I partnered this with brown. I still preferred my original, I decided to move forward with a concept piece.

Final colour choices
Final colour choices

For the next character I had to do something different, I kept in the same sci-fi genre, but decided on a robot character. I wanted him to be more like a deckhand or skivvy, his colours were to be dull. I saw this character as being part of a group of similar looking robots but if it was a story I would need a way of identifying him in a crowd. I decided to add a large number on the face, that way he was easily identifiable when being addressed and would be distinguishable from a distance, this would be sprayed/stencilled on. I also gave him some battle damage, a scarred face to make him stand out. This is something I noticed they do in movies, It could be a hat, a scar or a different coloured shoulder pad. I felt the stencilled number added to the “junk” nature.

Here is a coloured version.


And here is a concept.


Exercise 6: Visual Distortion

For this exercise I had to draw either a cat or a dog, the first image was to be drawn with some realism and accuracy, the second just with 5 lines, the third was to be a collage. Once they was complete I had to redraw the collage adding context and a background.

I chose a French Bulldog as they have a great expression and character. It was that I wanted to capture.

I found an image online, it was actually a toy or a sculpture but it had a nice pose and was looking up, showing off his jowls.

This was the first image.

The next part was the 5 lines, these could be joined. I’m not sure if I broke the rules here but I told myself if the pen wasn’t lifted it counted as one line no matter the complexity of the stroke. I drew the bare minimum that was needed to convey the shape and character of the dog (we named it Frank). I was pretty happy with this approach, it still looked like a dog and the same character was present despite a more economic approach to the line.

The next image was the collage, I really enjoyed this. I had been collecting magazines after reading about this section before I started, so I knew there was a collage coming up. I poured through the magazines for texture and did a separate pass for blocks of flat colour. I separated them into two piles and then divided the flat colour pile into different hues. I began by gluing the flat colour down the I tried to blend the colours so it went from red to orange to yellow. I then cut that out into a dog shape. Next I sorted through my texture pile and found some creases, these would serve me well in getting some body and depth to the dog shape such as his belly and legs.

This was the outcome.

Next I had to redraw the collage and add in a background, I decided to use the dogs angle and viewpoint as if he was looking at a bone to eat. Here was the final artwork.


Overall I’m happy with this, it was another project that made me think outside what I’d normally do. It restricted my choices and forced me to approach the exercise in a way I would not normally have done,  it did not hamper my creativity.