5.0 Reflection on Assignment 4

The purpose of this exercise was to briefly reflect and summarise on the creative and visual approaches taken in Assignment 4 so that these could be reframed within the context of the coursework, and any lessons taken forward into Assignment 5.

Key words from the brief:

  • Write a brief, 200-word statement about what you think worked and what didn’t in Part Four
  • Bullet point some brief responses


Your visual approach to the theme 

Visual approaches:

  • Visual mind maps and rhizome diagrams/thinking
  • Cut-ups/composing pictures
  • Model making

Would I change it now?

  • If I had more time I would have explored model making and use of props further

The research you undertook. What did you learn?

Artist research

  • Paula Rego – model making as part of creative process
  • Dave McKean – The relationship between illustration and text and seeing text form and layout as an extension to the image making process
  • Jim Kay – Use of chance during image construction and simple strong expressive character poses to create narrative

Visual research

  • Reference photographs from Hampton Court Palace – Numerous figures and background reference from the Story of Abraham tapestries. 17th Century court costumes. Neoclassical sculpture reference and architectural reference

Market research

  • Audience research – Audience segmentation (in the UK), typical characteristics and interests of each segment and how publishers tend to approach each segment i.e. what sells
  • Book research – typical book sizes, materials, finishes and pricing

Practice research

Practice questions:

  • How do I use model making as a way to learn more about creating facial expression and caricature?
  • How do I use models/sets as an approach to create future narrative illustrations?

The creative and material processes. 

Ways of visualising and testing

  • Timeboxed thumbnails – 10 x thumbnails in 20-minutes. Repeated for each illustration. Purpose to test point-of-view and composition and break through procrastination
  • Text layouts to scale – Layered Photoshop document at final artwork size and resolution. Using scaled-up thumbnails as image placeholders and text layout based on 2-column grid. Purpose to test composition and text layout
  • Model making and visual style proof-of-concept – create clay face and dolls models in a mini set. Use this as the basis for a test illustration using layered gouache and Inktense colour pencils. Purpose to test model making and how this translates using observational drawing, and test the visual style so that any lessons/adjustments can be made

Creative making

  • Observational drawing
  • Drawing from reference
  • Redrawing and refining using a lightbox
  • Painting using layered gouache, acrylic, watercolour overlayed with Intense Pencil
  • Rapid gestural mark making
  • Overall the process was 70% physical, 30% digital

If you made a group of paintings, what were their strengths and weaknesses?


  • Composition – Use of leading lines, negative space and visual hierarchy
  • Visual style – Moving from black and white, into colour, and then back into black and white
  • The interplay between text and image
  • Text layout designed to work across double page spread i.e. each page needs to also stand alone


  • Illustration 3 – A strange masquerade the least successful composition. Layout didn’t really work with the text
  • The final illustration seems slightly at odds with the others because it was made using more digital techniques
  • Slight inconsistency in use of text because I got more experimental as the making process went on

What would you have done differently?

  • I would have been less ambitious in terms of scope; 6 x illustrations was too many given the available time
  • I would have been more experimental with text layout
  • I may have tried using more rapid making techniques. I wondered whether some of the cut-ups are more successful than the polished artwork. Practice research question: How do I test this?

Was the scale of the work appropriate to the ideas?

  • Physical scale – I worked at approx. A2. This seemed appropriate to the work and I achieved the fidelity I needed


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