Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Flipping Nora ... Pam Hogg AW12 illustration for Amelia's Magazine

This is the illustration I did last week for Amelia Gregory's review of the rather amazing Pam Hogg AW12 collection. This design is strangely prim and puritanical, especially compared to some others in the catwalk show - but perhaps that's whole point:

 This was an earlyish stage in the illustration, with inktense crayons used over gold acrylic:

I quite like the larger size of just having a single figure but having just discovering how to 'flip' and use layers, I couldn't resist the 'double up' approach for the final illustration.

Read Amelia's review here ... lots of fabulous photos and illustrations.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Taking Stock One Year On .. Prophetik AW12: Illustration for Amelia's Magazine

Some of my very first illustrations were for Amelia's Magazine exactly a year ago - and of the wonderfully romantic Prophetik collection: 
This year's Autumn/Winter 2012 collection is equally rich in nostalgia and costume, the 'story' being 'Courtly Love' but with references to Princess Grace and, I thought, a rather 'Downton' look. You can read the article, by Matt Bramford, here.

Well ... one year and quite a few illustrations on (as can be seen by the tag cloud on the right), I could not over-state the positive influence that Amelia's Magazine, Amelia herself and Matt Bramford have been. The opportunity to have a brief and a deadline - and REAL ones - has been simply amazing....

A year ago I was only able to draw/colour by hand, and could just about scan, then suddenly, thanks to Amelia's Magazine and my trusted copy of Amelia's guidelines to illustrators, I had grapple with things I'd never heard of like dpi, resolution and resizing (I relied on 'Gimp' at that stage - which, it has to be said, is a great (and free!) program). 
I bought Photoshop Elements but didn't have the courage (or time) to open it for over 3 months, then it took me nearly 8 months to get to crude grips with layering. 
The illustration above is actually my 1st attempt at 'colouring' digitally ... for me meaning with my mouse on the wooden kitchen table top (no Wacom tablet/pen yet). And also a little line work .. as you can see all too clearly, the mouse skids off like on those things you sign for parcel deliveries on.

I still have mixed feelings about the whole digital thing - the possibilities are both endless and exciting, but I do struggle with feelings that it is not really your work and also that you do not have an original for, say, exhibitions. And I do get driven to stomach-curdling anxiety when images inexplicably lose their sharpness and definition at some point(s) in the long-winded process.

However, over-riding all that is the sheer joy of sitting down to an illustration task, and also the real warmth and support of the community of illustrators, writers and magazines (especially Amelia's) out there - Twitter has been another revelation.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Of Mermaids and Mackerel, Trout and Tutors...

I've just come across these sketches, in watercolour and metallic felt tips, that were done towards the 1st project (good old 'Change') in my foundation year. My idea was Change in the sense of Metamorphosis but it did not go down well with my tutors ... as mermaids 'aren't real'; fair enough maybe, as clearly there would be no chance of observational drawing. 

This early 'rejection' left me feeling really quite dejected and disheartened, and questioning my ideas and also skills ... as I had in fact done quite a bit of work on fish - their colours, their markings, their luminosity, their fleshiness ... resulting in the paintings of trout and mackerel below. So one of the mermaids is really quite 'trouty' and another a 'mackerel mermaid'.

It is good to have come across all these watercolour pieces again - maybe a tendency towards illustration was already making itself felt, and I can now look at the mermaids without feeling they are a bit naff.

ps. In the end I changed tack completely on the 'Change' brief -  I became aware of what I was actually looking at while dejectedly mulling it over early one morning: the changing light, and also condensation, on the bedroom window as the day dawned; this became my subject matter.