3.5 Giving instructions


The brief was to create a diagrammatic illustration around a pre-defined theme.

Keywords from the brief:

  • Work out the information you need to impart and the steps involved
  • Try as many possibilities as you can
  • Hierarchy of the elements
  • Use as few words as possible
  • Keep all your sketches and notes in your learning log
  • Check that it works both as an attractive illustration and in its main function


I decided to do an illustration based on ‘Getting to my work’ which is a slight twist on the brief but more interesting.

I started by listing out the audience requirements and different approaches:

Sketchbook 01

My research involved picking up existing travel leaflets and taking reference photographs of signage.

I also looked at several illustrators for guidance/inspiration:

Laura Hallett - Bristol Map
Laura Hallett – ‘Illustrated Map of Bristol’, http://www.laurahallett.co.uk
Mike Ritchie - Drum Castle Rose Garden
Mike Ritchie – ‘Drum Castle Rose Garden’, http://www.mikeritchie.co.uk

The research I did for the artwork was a mixture of my own photographs and screen shots from Google Earth for a ‘birds eye’ point of view reference. I then glued these into my sketchbook in a logical step-by-step sequence and worked up ideas around them:

The final artwork was created through creating monochrome line art using ink pen, painting this with liquid watercolour, and finally adding colour and text in Photoshop.

Route to work

What I learned from the exercise

What went well

  • I think the final artwork meets the requirements in the brief quite well
  • I really had to think about what level of detail was required in the illustration to convey the instructions. I ended up ‘dumbing down’ quite a lot

What I could have done differently/better

  • I did get a bit mixed up with using different types of perspective although I think I just about got away with it
  • I should have thought through how text was going to work before starting the illustration
  • Using a combination of monochrome watercolour and Photoshop has limitations in that becomes difficult to make sweeping colour changes/adjustments using this approach. I would have got more control taking the line art into Illustrator and then doing all the colouring in Photoshop. However, this would have lost the painterly feel that I quite like
  • I was also aware that the instructions only work for people able to climb stairs out of the Bank tube line Exit 6. To be truly accessible I would need to provide an alternative route for people with disabilities
  • I realise that the red dashed line is tonally too similar to the other colours to make it reproducible in black and white. If this illustration was to be used digitally e.g. as a downloadable/printable PDF, I would adjust the colour balance
%d bloggers like this: