4.3 Conversations with pictures

The purpose of this exercise was to explore ways in which to build strength of narrative by using an extension of the ‘what if we make it different’ approach from 3.4 Interpretation & communication on previous drawings.

Key words from the brief:

  • Emphasise narrative and start to draw from earlier work
  • Balance between the text telling the story and image telling the story is an important part of how illustration works
  • Learning to play with questions about what your audience might read from your images and how you set up prompts for this game is part of developing your illustrative skills
  • Return to your figurative images and add in dialogue to a selection of these
  • Write a letter to someone from one of the characters in your sketchbooks or from one of the spaces you have drawn and visited
  • Could your illustrations be redrawn and included in the letter?

How I answered the brief

I had fun with this exercise.

For the first part I reviewed all of my observational drawings from PART 3 and PART 4 and printed out contact sheets of them all.

Because a very large number of the drawings are made about the subject of commuting and because I observe this activity most days I thought it would be a good starting point for a series of one-image narratives/commentaries.

Here are the top six….

For the second part of the exercise I followed the same process of reviewing my work from previous exercises to see what would spark an idea based around the idea of writing a letter either to a character or from a character. This required a minimum backstory and simple narrative development.

I liked the character and location in that I created as part of 3.4 Interpretation & communication. It was already loaded with meaning. The inner city skyline, dark foreboding window frame and larger than life stoney faced character are quite evocative.

The image suggested a situation where the character has received some important/dramatic news that he has to communicate urgently by scrawled note.

Rather than redraw the image to include the letter I decided to create a two panel sequence:

  • Panel 1 – the original image of the man and the window with the addition of a caption ‘He had to warn them’.
  • Panel 2 – A hastily scrawled note, ‘They know everything’.

I wanted to maintain the feel of foreboding in the second panel and used part of another image to create the black background to provide continuity across both panels.

The letter
The letter


What went well

  • Creating a series of commuter images was a really interesting way to reuse and extend existing sketches.
  • Brief research on Instagram shows that there are numerous hashtags related to commuting. I’m interested to experiment and see if releasing this series of images, one-by-one every couple of days generates any reaction/interest.
  • The interplay between image, caption and speech/thought bubbles is a really interesting dynamic.
  • The second part of the exercise started me thinking about story arcs and character backstories. Something I’m keen to explore in Assignment 4.
  • The letter may provide a starting point for developing Assignment 4.
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