4.1 Identifying tools and materials


The brief was to identify and research a range of illustrators that use a particular medium and then select one and explore a specific image in detail. The final part was to rework a piece of artwork from a previous exercise in the style of chosen artist.

The purpose of the exercise was to make students start to think and reflect on what a visual style is and to explore new and unfamiliar tools and ways-of-working.

Keywords from the brief:

  • Find a range of illustrators who use a particular medium
  • Catalogue the illustrators according to similarities
  • Choose one image
  • Write about the way the illustrator works
  • Go back to a visual you created for an earlier exercise and now render it using the same tools and materials as your chosen artist


The medium I wanted to research and explore was contemporary illustrators that use collage. The starting point for my research was to look through the recommended reading books that provide a wide range of different artists and illustrative genres.

The list of illustrators I came up with included:

  • Eda Akaltun
  • Daniel Chang
  • Martin Haake
  • Graham Rawle
  • Sara Fanelli
  • Archer/Quinnell
  • Andrzet Klimowski
  • Lou Beach
  • Eduardo Paolozzi

I catalogued their work in the following way:

1. Working digitally with found images

Digital re-colouring and retexture. Juxtaposition of imagery to dramatic effect.

2. Pure collage

Creating new meaning by cutting and positioning found pictures to make a new image.

3. Combining collage and illustration

Using found images, text and illustration.

A more detailed analysis of an illustration by Andrzej Klimowski

Nakarmic Kruki is a Polish translation of a Spanish film entitled Cria Cuervos. A brief synopsis of the film taken from Wikipedia is:

Cría Cuervos (“Raise ravens”) is a 1976 Spanish drama film directed by Carlos Saura. The film is an allegorical drama about an eight-year-old girl dealing with loss. Highly acclaimed, it received the Special Jury Prize Award at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.

Read more

Andrzej Klimowski 03
Nakarmic Kruki – Film poster by  Andrzet Klimowski

How is the image composed?

The figure in the foreground of the poster is the eight-year-old Ana who is also the central character in the film. The image consists of a collage of found images that have been recoloured, with the handwritten title of the film placed across the top of the poster. The most striking thing about the image is the figure. The gender of the figure is ambiguous and the facial expression is flat and devoid of any emotion. It’s made stranger by the fact she has a white mouse climbing her shoulder and she’s holding a metal device, although it’s not clear (to me) what it is. Overall, the way the figure is presented is in no way representative of a typical eight-year-old girl.

The feeling of strangeness is compounded by the background that has what looks like huge bones from a ribcage sticking out above a hedge.

How are colour, tone, and texture used to evoke mood or convey an idea?

Colour is important. The figure has black hair and is all dressed in black. This is directly contrasted with the white mouse on it’s shoulder. The only warm colour in the figure is a tinge of red around the eyes, and this attracts the viewer’s attention and makes the eyes look gaunt and drawn. There is a subtle contrast between the pink foreground and green background (pink and green being opposite colours) which has the effect of pushing the foreground forward.

Tight busy texture is used in the background vegetation and foliage, which is in direct contrast to the figure which has virtually no texture and consists of predominantly flat colour.

Both the use of colour and texture separate the foreground and background and draw attention to the figure’s face.

When I first saw the image, I assumed that it had been digitally manipulated. However, the film was released in 1976 so the recolouring and image construction are all analogue.

The black handwritten headline text adds to the overall gothic feel.

Has the illustrator distorted the content within the imagery and how does this work for the purpose the image fulfils?

The illustrator doesn’t use distortion in the image but elements of the collage are surreal; oversized flowers and bones that stick out above the hedge. These elements add to the strangeness of the image and to the impression that the world the figure inhabits is unsettled.

Applying a different visual style to a previous image

The challenge was to rework an existing image using the same tools and materials as the ones used by Andrzet Klimowski in his making of the film poster, namely recoloured collage elements. I decided to rework the image I created in the previous exercise, Using black and white, which, from a compositional perspective has certain similarities with the poster.

  • There is single predominant figure in the foreground
  • The image is quite reductionist in nature consisting of a small number of elements
  • There is something dark and brooding about the mood and feeling of the picture
  • The figure in the image has an inner struggle going on
  • There is a text element – albeit it’s a caption rather than a headline title

What I did

Here’s the original artwork from the previous exercise.


I reworked my image by applying the same tools and materials in the following way:

  • I printed out and early version of the artwork and carefully cut out the different components.
  • I recreated the background using photographic reference from the previous exercise and found images, and glued these on an A3 sheet of cartridge paper.
  • I then stuck the different elements of the foreground back into the picture and used liquid watercolour to give the effect of it being at night. This was the result.
Image remade from recut original artwork and photographic reference

Once I’d established that this approach and combination would work I created the final artwork digitally.

As well as the original artwork and photographic collage components, I also had Illustrator outlines of the tree and streetlamp and a collage text layer to work with.

I recoloured the figure using a combination of two blues to bring it forward and make it stand out from the background.

The final artwork was composited and recoloured in Photoshop.


What I learned from the exercise

What went well

  • I think the final artwork is a more interesting and effective image that he original
  • I like the technique of using collaged text as an overlay
  • The analysis of the film poster made me think carefully about the connections between style, composition, colour and texture
  • This is a technique I want to explore further


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