5.4 Finish images

The purpose of the ‘Finish images’ stage

This phase of work is where all of the previous research and ideas come together into finished work.

The outputs are three illustrations.

Each illustration is covered separately in the order in which they were created.

A video summary

William Clarkson artwork

The first illustration was to function as an adult book illustration. The subject was William Clarkson.

Making approach

The making approach was very experimental for me because it combined a number of different print based media approaches that were controlled using Frisket masking film and liquid masking fluid. Although I’d been aware of masking techniques for years after seeing graphic designers using it for spray painting, I’d never used it myself.

Final media tests

I needed to finalise the media mix and approach for the patterned areas of the image. During my research I’d made a set of lino stamps that I was going to use to create the repeat patterns that make up a large proportion of the illustration. What I hadn’t done is test these using gouche or acrylic paint.

I carried out a number of tests and found that the nature of the paint meant that the stamps didn’t always retain enough colour to make them usable. I did a lot of relief printing during Printmaking 1, and realised immediately that using printing ink would solve the problem. Unfortunately, the stock of coloured printing ink that I have at home is all oil based and would take too long to dry for the purposes of these tests. So I took a different approach and carried out further tests using heavily textured wallpapers and acrylic paints.

Media test 01
Media test 02
Media test 04
Media test 05
Media test 06
Media test 07

These tests gave me the information I needed to create all of the patterned areas within the illustration.

Final colour thumbnail

I mocked up the image using the correctly scaled cemetery plot shape. This meant I had to adjust the composition slightly, so I remade the colour thumbnail and tested a couple of options.

Making the final image

The nature of the making meant that I had to carefully think through the order in which different parts of the image were painted and printed.

I used gouache and acrylic paint on A2 220gsm cartridge paper.

The work took about 2-days of effort spread across 3-days, with lots of starts and stops as I masked areas and waited for paint to dry.

I took photographs of each step because I wasn’t sure whether the next steps was going to be successful.

My starting point was my design thumbnail which I scaled up to A2 size and printed on thin paper. I used this on a lightbox as my template/reference for the final image.

The full sequence of steps are:

I photographed the finished painting and added the text layer in Photoshop.

The final version of the image:

William Clarkson illustration with text elements

I was quite happy with the final illustration came together. One of the challenges I still face is getting a good/accurate colour balance in the artwork when I photograph it. I spent a bit of time reading the manual for my camera in order to learn how to manually alter the settings. This did give some improvement, but I seems like I need to spend more time experimenting to get the best combination of settings. (Since re-reading this I’ve booked a one-to-one training session with a local photographer to sort this out once and for all).

Fricis Freienbergs artwork

The second illustration was to function as a narrative sequence.

Making approach

The making approach really involved just following through on the research and design work.

My biggest constraint was having to work at A2 which is the size of my largest lightbox. Because of the amount of detail packed into the image, my instinct was to work bigger, but with hindsight working at A2 was fine and probably saved some time.

It did feel like making 95% of the image on one page was taking a creative risk, particularly because some of the ‘fast’ processes, such as using a relief printing technique to add colour and texture to the background, was unpredictable. In this respect, I benefited from my lessons from the previous illustration and was able to use masking film to good effect to get the light beam effect.

Making the final image

I recorded each step:

The final text elements were added digitally using Photoshop:

Fricis Freienbergs illustration with text elements

Edith Thompson artwork

The final image was to function as a contextual illustration, in this case a book cover.

Making approach

During the design phase I decided that this illustration would be made as a woodcut. I’d experimented with this media during Printmaking 1 and really enjoyed the experience and the stark black and white visual results.

This meant that apart from having to buy a wood block and some appropriate paper, I had all of the tools and materials necessary to do the work.

Making the final image

Similar to the two previous illustrations, the first step was to mock up the design with the scaled plot map shape and text elements. This was particularly important because the illustration incorporates headings, subheadings and other text elements, so the layout had to be precise before I started doing any cutting.

My original idea for the book cover was to use the title and author information from an existing book; there are a number that all deal with the same subject. However, I ran into a potential copyright issue. After checking with the OCA Librarian I was advised to seek permission from the publishers. I called Penguin and was directed to their website where it’s possible to submit a request. The problem was that he response time was estimated at 10-weeks and I couldn’t wait. So in the end I made up a title and author name.

I used a similar book to get the front cover dimensions (13.2 cm x 19.3 cm).

I scanned and digitally reversed the drawing (because it’ll print in reverse), and then transferred the image to the wood block using tracedown.

I sharpened all of my tools and the process of cutting the plywood block took about 3-hours.

During the cutting process I occasionally make ‘brass-rubbing’ type images on the image to see how it’s evolving. It occured to me that this might provide textured layers that I could combine with the pen and ink line art digitally.

I created two brass rubbings of the final woodblock One using a soft pencil and the other using conte crayon.

I then combined these with the lineart in Photoshop and experimented with colour overlays.

I only needed to print one copy that I could digitise but ended up doing two. The first wasn’t inked up enough so the large black areas weren’t even.

I compiled the final artwork in Photoshop.

Additionally, I created a mock-up of the book to bring the illustration to life.


I was really pleased to see how all of the research and experimentation fed through into the final into both the content and media choices of the final illustrations.

Using masking film was a revelation and opens up many creative possibilities for future projects.

I enjoyed using relief printing techniques and feel so pleased that I’ve found a way to start incorporating my learnings from Printmaking 1 back into my work. I think there’s a lot more to explore here.

I feel a bit sad that 85% of my research didn’t get used because some of it was really interesting. I almost felt like some of the subjects could have been turned into short documentary videos – one for the future?

%d bloggers like this: