Assignment 1 – Greeting card

The idea behind this Assignment was to create a greeting card to say hello to your tutor and express in the card what inspires and motivates me to draw.  I have to say I found this a difficult assignment to complete, simply because most of the tasks are asking that you go find information out, research and brainstorm and create something extrinsically.  This was a greeting card directly related to who I am and therefore asked for information that I hadn’t fully considered or researched before.

The first approach was to create a spider map of who I am to get a sense of what influences  are in there that help me feel inspired to create.  The brainstorming wasn’t particularly helpful as I think work was the focus rather than an honest brainstorm about what makes me tick.  The odd rabbits were not part of it.  I allowed myself to sketch down some further ideas and recognized that patterns are prominent and simple designs, particularly ones with a Japanese style of cute in them, they tend to feature a lot in my sketchbooks.

I thought about creating a self portrait sketch with a brush pen and then have various bubbles around me to express the attached influences but it didn’t work out into anything that I wanted to work with.

Then I tried focusing on patterns, in particular the type found in nature and very much a common pattern found in William Morris textiles and wallpapers.  I love the circular motion of it and felt this had to be incorporated into the card in some way.    Next I tried using a biro to create some rough sketches of the everyday objects that I find inspiration in, but it began to look like a list of things I see everyday rather than a list of inspiring objects.


After much consideration I found that the simplest form was to connect the many aspects of things that inspire me and give me a sense of wonder into a simple design related to nature.  The letters hanging from a tree, each letter representing an aspect of inspiration, felt like the simplest and yet clearest way to convey who I am and say hello.

Each letter represents an aspect of inspiration for me.

J is for Japan, I love so much of the manga and anime and styles that come out of that country.  The traditions and way of life are a major inspiration for me.  The simplicity of their designs and the fact that they have some cute illustration for nearly everything!

S is for Science, I love reading about how the world is moving forward and I especially love the various places in the world that are graveyards for technology.  The graveyard for airplanes is fascinating.

C is for Cats, as I love cats.

M is for music, there is so much inspiration in the music I listen to.  If I need to get started on a project I just need to put some music on and get going with it.  Smashing Pumpkins are a favourite.

P is for people, the amount of characters out in the world just makes me want to draw a lot.

N is for nature.  I love trees, I love gardens and I love sitting and just watching the world go by in my garden.

A is for animals in general.  There are so many species and the inspiration from them for action and movement and texture and colour…apart from the personalities displayed through movement only.

B is for Bollywood because I love the music, the colour and the elaborate stories.  One movie can span 3hrs and there is always a full spectrum of feeling in it.  Love, hate, revenge, karma…it’s all there.

O is for observation as I find beauty in the strangest places sometimes.  It can be a shabby looking city with the walls crumbling down but there is something majestic remaining that can still be observed.

P is also for photography and perspective.  There is always something to gain from looking at something from a range of angles.  If that is super close up or extreme sizes or a shot from above.  There is also a lot of landscape photography that is extremely beautiful and awe inspiring.

There are many more things that inspire me but these are the ones that I could actually nail down and go ‘yep, they’re definitely a part of what makes me create’.

I used bristol paper and colour pencil to sketch the tree, then placed the letters at staggered points around the tree trying to keep some sense of symmetry in it.  The branches felt bare and the pencil sketch wasn’t full enough, so I used watercolour to add a light wash and give the tree some life.  The tree was a silver birch design, a tree common to Ireland.  The tree represents my roots and who I am.  Without the leaves however the tree felt a bit barren.  It didn’t feel right to colour it in and it didn’t feel right to leave it without leaves.

So I used a rubber stamp to put the impression of leaves around the tree.  Black worked as it represents that side of me which is in shadow and dark.  The other letters in the tree are brightly coloured and light, and I wanted to maintain a balance of light and dark.  I appreciate beauty in decay and I also appreciate the candy colours of the setting sun sky and the all the tones in between.  The tree gives life and the cycle of life and death within each season fairly represents the type of cycles my creativity goes through.

The end result was achieved by finishing off in Photoshop, putting the background into a ‘divide’ layer mode and fading out the blue colour layer with a light gradient.  The original sketch and watercolour finish is seen lightly as an overlay and I think it is a fair representation of me and what makes me tick, for right now.  Two versions were done, one without the background design and one with a plain blue finish.

Does it work as a greeting card?

It’s a very simple and neutral type of card.  From a printing point of view the use of a strong blue colour influences things greatly.  Is it economical?…probably not and a simple effect on white or cream card would work just as well.  However, the burnt orange on blue background does work nicely but everything feels a bit small.

greeting card _alternative_a5greeting card a5

The sketch version on the background of pattern does work better, only the pattern is washed out in a printed version.  It shows that the printing options on Photoshop and the printer true print out are not matching as well as I thought.  It also shows me that the images on the screen are not as big as I think!!  It definitely shows up the flaws in the perception of screen size versus card size and also the printing colours.  There is a lot to take into consideration.  The design is good and suits a greeting card but there is room for improvement and there could be more experimenting (more than I thought) before deciding this is the final design and colour palette that I want to go with.  I’m happy with the conclusion for this assignment based on what I know so far.


EXERCISE 2 -Article from Newspaper

Illustration from a text:

The original article was featured in The Sunday Times newspaper in February and mentioned the fact that a famous actress, Kristen Scott Thomas, had made a comment regarding the wearing of mini skirts by English women.  It was quite a disparaging remark about the state of their legs and how French women are considerably more sophisticated (see image attached).


The key words that I found the article was about are highlighted in pink.  However, there are other statements regarding ‘never getting drunk on a Saturday’ and the reason why French husbands cheat on their wives.  I felt these were also relevant to mention but were not the key point of the article.  They were secondary pieces of information to support the assumed shock at the statement.

So based on the highlighted bits, I thought I would try a few different styles to see which one suited best.  The first approach was to gather an image of Kristin and see if I could sketch her and get some form of a likeness.  This proved quite difficult.


I went with it and tried to capture a likeness but ended up using a reference and just using colour to suggest a likeness for the digital image.

Various images that I felt were relevant to the article were the actress herself, perhaps in a class black dress that suggests sophistication and makes her more recognizable for her role in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’.  The image of a mini skirt, the union jack flag and a ‘banned’ sign along with a bunch of drunk girls wearing mini skirts.

The digital image was largely a case of trying to layer images with screen and overlay effects so that there wasn’t one defining image but a collage of them.  I felt it was important to try and get the likeness of Kirstin to be looking slightly disapprovingly at the young women drinking in their mini-skirts, while also referencing the flags of the countries mentioned.

The end result is a mash up of mini skirt patterns, bad legs, flags and a banned symbol over the young girls to suggest this is not approved.  The images were all referenced from google and very basic.  I created a reference/mood board just to make sure I had the key points translated into the image with a fairly good likeness.


The end result was a strong digital image that combined the elements outlined above and with the focus on the disapproving Kristin as the article was mainly about her judging others for how they dress and act.


Next I tried to loosen up the style and try to move away from the digital format.  The idea was to use the pattern theme of the mini skirt and contrast it with the covers of old dress making patterns as they often represented sophistication and refined style.

The sketches outline the type of direction I was trying to go in.  I wanted to try and loosen up for some and then try a more ‘patterned’ type of illustration.   Below are the sketches for the various attempts at doing this.

kirstin2Scan_20160405 (5)Scan_20160405 (6)Scan_20160405 (7)Scan_20160405 (8)

After reviewing the sketches I chose the mash up of patterns and quick sketches to move on with and I did a new sketch of the type of model you would have seen gracing the front cover of the older pattern books for elegant dresses.  They always reminded me of a sophisticated woman and since Kirstin mentioned this in her rant, I felt it would support the image I was trying to portray from the article.


I thought this was going in the right direction but it wasn’t giving the full message still.  It needed to show clearly that the focus was on English women having bad legs for mini skirts.  The face for the main woman in the image wasn’t anything like Kirstin, but I thought I’d leave that for the moment and just see where I could bring this image first.

The markers image was bright and this worked, but it didn’t look like the pattern covers, it was too cartoon like.  I decided to bring the sketch back into Painter X and AI and PS and try them out to see if I could soften it and maybe give that fashion sketch look to it.

It ended up pretty layered again, and although I had started out with pencils and markers, I was back on the computer to finish the image.  This wasn’t the original intention but I decided to go with it anyway.

The end result wasn’t bad and I am happy that it gets the message across.  It may not be as obvious as the first image but it has the elements of the British flag, the hint of the French flag, the suggestion of Kirstin in the female figure and a clear association with patterns and mini skirts.  The statement was very obvious but it seemed to fit nicely into the pattern layout.