The brief was to produce seven separate, one large diagrammatic or a continuous strip illustration based around the title Seven Days. This is the final assignment in Illustration 1 so is the culmination of all practice and learning to date.
The purpose of the brief was for the student to:
- Consolidate the understanding gained so far
- Reflect on the work you’ve enjoyed and the areas of illustration you feel most drawn to
- Show off your interests and talents
Keywords from the brief:
- Looking at examples of existing work or contexts
- Try several variations until you arrive at a brief which feels most interesting for you
- The title is Seven days
- Your interpretation can be objective or subjective
- You can produce seven separate, one large diagrammatic or a continuous strip illustration
- Decide on the media and methods, the context and the intended audience
- Write yourself a brief that is clear and challenging
- Ideas generation, visual research, image construction, understanding contexts and media usage.
- Use worksheets and sketchbooks to explore solutions and refer to examples of work which solve similar types of problems
- You need to submit all your working stages from thumbnails to final artwork
I started thinking about the final assignment well before doing any work. I did an initial visual mindmap and brainstormed as many ideas as I could. I revisited and updated this over several weeks, and became more and more frustrated at the poor quality my ideas.
When I came to start the work, I explored several avenues but they all seemed weak and really didn’t demonstrate the breadth of what I’ve learned.
So, my starting point was a lot of half-baked ideas and a growing interest in the language and form of the comic strip. Following the Educational Strip exercise, I purchased several books: Comics Art (Paul Gravett) and Understanding Comics (Scott McCloud), that opened my eyes to further possibilities.
After a frustrating and increasingly anxious couple of weeks I had a flash of inspiration; I thought it would be interesting to make an illustrated strip about the process of making Assignment 5; a comic about a comic. This would give me an opportunity to explore the comic form and demonstrate a wide range of learning, reference and visual and technical skills.
After initial brainstorming and several days of pondering over ideas for this assignment, I decided on a brief.
Seven Days – Brief
Overview: Seven Days – The Final Assignment is an autobiographical comic strip about breaking through a creative block to finish the final assignment. It is a comic strip about making a comic strip; the creative process is the story.
It will explore the relationship between style, substance, form and content, and in so doing attempt to incorporate learnings and skills gained from Illustration 1.
It expands on the basic concept that underpinned Assignment 1.
Format: A continuous strip illustration
- To consolidate the understanding gained so far
- Reflect on the work I’ve enjoyed and the areas of illustration I feel most drawn to
- Show off my interests and talents
- Explore storytelling in a comic strip format
Audience types: Tutor, Assessors, Others
Audience needs: See ‘Purpose’ above
Illustration format: To be presented in a PSD format at no less than 300dpi at A3 size. Final output to be as an A4 comic.
Number of pages: Whatever is required to complete the narrative
Illustrative style: The substantial core of the comic strip will be black and white; pen and ink with spot blacks. This is a new style for me. Other continuous illustrations have either been all digital (Assignment 1), or liquid watercolour coloured in Photoshop (Viewpoint, Education Strip, An unknown intimacy).
Tone of voice: Irreverent and humorous
Typography: Handwritten title. Narrative text or dialogue will use SF Cartoonist Hand SC
Use of colour: Black and white
I started by creating a rough written script and went through a process of brainstorming the scenes and images that would work in the context of the story.
The script followed a simple three act form which gave the overall structure to the piece.
Visual research, thumbnails and design development
Once I had the script I broke it into pages and created a series of rough sketches and thumbnails in order to start shaping the visual narrative.
Some of these initial sketches were used to create final artwork.
Because of the large number of different pages/page elements I had to create I used a Kanban board to plan and manage the work.
I wanted to do as much design development as possible within my sketchbook. Ideas generation, thumbnails and more finished sketches and artwork were all developed in parallel in a chronological order; page 1 first, followed by page 2 etc.
Page 1 development
Page 2 development
Page 3 development
Page 4 development
Page 5 development
Page 6 development
The collage that I used in the final artwork for page 6 was taken directly from an earlier exercise: Making a mood board.
Page 7 development
Page 8 development
Page 9 development
Page 10 development
Each page of the the final artwork was created at A3 size at 600dpi, although the final printed size should be A4.
What I learned from the exercise
What went well
- Overall, I’m please at how I’ve interpreted the Seven Days brief.
- I think the approach answers the brief well and achieves my aim to demonstrate a range of skills and approaches wrapped into a simple narrative.
- My reading and research helped me to start thinking more creatively about the comic form.
- I pushed my technical boundaries by using more character expression and posture to help tell the story.
- I managed to squeeze in:
- Pen & ink
- Ink pen
- I did almost all of the creative development in my sketchbooks and only used digital to composite the elements together at the end.
What I could have done differently/better
- I should have polished the script and tested this with some friendly editors before starting the work.
- The character drawing is weak – I know I need to improve in this area. I know what I need to do, I just need to practice a lot.
- I probably spent too much time on this assignment.