2.10 Choosing content


The brief was to read a descriptive passage written by Michael Innes, adapted from The Daffodil Affair, and to then generate ideas and carry out visual brainstorming related to the writing, resulting in a character illustration.

The brief is quite prescriptive in terms of the approach and steps required.

Keywords include:

  • Read the extract
  • Make notes on these questions
  • Collect visual reference
  • Visual brainstorming and idea generation
  • Create a simple portrait from reference
  • Use the colours, textures and qualities you assembled to render the portrait

The purpose of the exercise is to pull together learnings from previous exercises and apply them to a specific creative problem; how to generate ideas and content in response to a piece of editorial text.


Part of the tutor feedback I received from Assignment 1 was ‘Give yourself room to develop a range of ideas, and allow ideas to emerge from your sketchbooks, so you’re not always trying to create something finished but exploring what you can do with happy accidents and different processes’.

Up until this point I haven’t been successful in doing this. With this exercise I was determined to spend more time developing and exploring ideas in my sketchbook rather than jumping to something finished.

After doing some selective research, the word that captured the mood I wanted to convey was ‘steely’.


The extracts from my sketchbook best demonstrate my visual reference and ideas generation. They are presented in the sequence that they were created.

Developed ideas

I developed two different approaches:

  1. Compositing different components together in Photoshop
  2. Working with pen, ink and paint on paper


Compositing different components in Photoshop


Working in pen, ink and paint on paper

What I learned from the exercise

What went well

  • This is the first exercise where I felt I spent the right amount of time in my sketchbook. I found it a more rewarding and interesting experience
  • Choosing ‘steely’ as the word to develop was a great idea. I hadn’t realised how much brilliant reference there was to support visual brainstorming
  • I learned about using different overlay styles in Photoshop to pull through texture – I think the digital version better incorporates the textures although I think the pen and ink version is a more successful/interesting picture

What I would different/better

  • Next time I’ll try cutting ‘raw’ textures directly into the picture


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