3.3 Image development


The brief was to explore how changing the format of an image can change it’s meaning.

Keywords from the brief:

  • Take an image which has a range of content – a family photo, and interior from a magazine or another artist’s work
  • Create edited versions of each image
  • Retain the content but try presenting it in different ways in different formats
  • Choose a word for each image that relates in some way to the content
  • Using one of the images as a basis for an illustration
  • Use the word you selected as the title and reproduce it in a typeface you feel suggests or reflects the meaning of the word itself


I started by selecting a family photograph that contained a subject with foreground and background elements. I initially explored using more ‘unconsidered’ pictures that I’d taken at different locations in the City of London but quickly discovered that this exercise would only really work if there was a clear content hierarchy to start with.

I initially used ‘L’ shaped card to define the different sized formats and framing position and then cropped and enlarged each re-framed image using Photoshop. I then added the word(s) that described each image.

I decided to develop ‘Cathedral’ into an illustration.

As well as exploring format I also wanted to take what I’d learned from the previous exercise Reading an image in terms of content hierarchy and use of colour. My inspiration was some of the London Underground travel posters which I think are fantastic examples of how to construct beautiful and engaging poster illustrations for a very broad audience.

This example is also a masterclass in using content hierarchy in terms of both colour/colour temperature and layout of the visual elements.

Greet the sun, Edward Purser Lancaster, 1939, http://www.ltmcollection.org

I sketched out several different colour schemes and created a colour swatch.

The final illustration was drawn in pen and ink and then coloured in Illustrator. The choice of font was influenced by the London Underground posters that were originally created in the 1930s – so it has a retro feel that I think supports the illustrative style and presentation.

Ely Cathedral poster artwork

What I learned from the exercise

What went well

  • I liked using the paper ‘L’ shapes to quickly explore different formats
  • The London Transport online image archive is a fantastic resource for research and inspiration
  • I spent a long time adjusting the colour balance of the final illustration. It was striking how simply changing the colour temperature of the fence foreground completely changed the reading of the image

What I could have done differently/better

  • I started colouring the illustration using liquid watercolour but quickly realised that I needed a lot more control of the image if I was to explore different colour balances. I abandoned this approach quite early on.
  • If I’d had time I wanted to take photographs in Highgate Cemetery as a starting point. I think this would have provided a strong subject and made the combination of words and pictures work better/more easily


%d bloggers like this: