Exercise – sketchbook doodles

Just posting some random sketchbook doodles that have been completed over the last while.  I picked a few and chose these as they were closest to hand.  I have a few sketchbooks full of odd bits and pieces so hopefully this gives you some idea of things.  The bits and pieces ones tend to be doodles on the bus into work.  More detailed ones are when I have more time to give the image or I’m focused on a specific thing.

I’m using drawing-tutorials-online for life drawing as there are no classes close to where I live.  This website is subscription for me but they give a lot of free pdf images away and they’re well worth the subscription.

The sketch of the city landscape is a very very rough sketch of my desktop wallpaper.  It was found randomly online on a google search for streets but I don’t have the artists name for the original image unfortunately.



Exercise 15 – Reading an image

mark oliver dragon illustration

Mark Oliver – image sourced from a google search and located at http://www.amazon.co.uk linking to the book ‘Toms Clockwork Dragon’

Reading an image – Mark Oliver illustration


In the yellow circles we see how the colour red has been used to lead our eye from the top left corner down through the middle to the sleeping dragon.  These are the only areas drenched in oranges and reds.  They give off heat and danger.

In the red circles we have hints of green, reds complimentary colour, but they’re around the main character and lead from the bottom left up into the centre of the image and focus on the chair.

The main characters are circled in grey and the girl character wears green to link in with the other elements with tones of green.  She is also facing the dragon and her arms are angled and so your eye moves to the area her hand in pointing in.   Her green dress links in with the green chair which again helps lead the eye to the centre.

The cool blue tells us we’re in a place that doesn’t see light.  The angle of the roof leads our eye to the centre of the image as well as serving to convey a sense of closed in space.  The contrasting elements to help us make sense of things lie in the shapes and black and white dragon horns.  The dragon sits in a circular position but the sharp triangular shapes of his claws, teeth, head and spine ridges indicate danger.  Hi tail is curled onto the chair indicating possession.

The characters are short and have oversized heads to indicate cute and children.  They’re in the entrance part and in the coolest section of the image.  Their body language is poised to run without waking up the dragon.  However, there is armour and weapons to either side of them and the body language of the girl is stronger and suggests she would face the challenge.  Although the dragon sleeps the threat is evident and the boy character is eager to leave.

The roof of the cave with the stalactites dripping down in the glow of the fire look almost like the ceiling is melting  suggesting intense heat and so danger.  The direction of the roof is angled and leads down to the centre of the image where the dragon lies.  The illustration makes great use of cool and hot colours while using the complimenting colours to good effect to lead your eye to important elements and flow through the stages of the image.  The sharp swords and spears echo the sharp claws and teeth while the oval shields echo the round coins and arched entrance.

It’s a really well thought out image with a proper balance in the elements within the scene.  The space to the top right leads you to imagine the potential size of the dragon should it wake up and raise its head to strike.

The floor of the cave has stones that echo the circular coin shape and scales.  A lot has been considered in conveying a texture, tone and mood and the light used is well balanced with shadows thrown against the walls and on the floor which just adds to the drama of the moment.


image sourced via http://www.amazon.co.uk

Mark Olivers illustration is taken from a book called ‘Toms Clockwork Dragon’.  As it is a story it means that there has to be a continuity between the elements of each character.  The setting for the dragon is possibly the first encounter and it looks like they’re on a quest to find a chair.

Mark has a lovely illustration style and this image is quite different from the style on his website.

His work can be experienced here – https://markoliver.myportfolio.com/ and is well worth the visit.  His range of skills are just amazing and inspiring.  His use of colours and how his layouts are so clean and stylized and amazingly rendered are just gorgeous.  He has a beautiful way of conveying a message through simple and clean images that appear effortless.

It was interesting to read his image and compare it to his other work, as it is really does stand out on its own and shows how diverse an illustrator he is.

Exercise 14 – Illustrating visual space

For the images gathered I composed a variety of layers and put them in traditional set ups first before adjusting the angles and scales.  The images were sourced via google.ie and were free png images from http://www.123rf.com and google.


Here we have the images all at similar scales.  The house is slightly smaller and the running figures are the top layer.  As a result they appear to be running towards the house.  The second image implies movement and the figures scaled down show them nearly at the house.

But when the running image is scaled down and the tree is brought forward and the house scaled up, the figures look as though they are further away but arriving at the house.  The first two images have more of a continuity whereas the third image would be better if it showed the figures stationary as to indicate they’ve arrived.


If the elements are at differing angles to each other and at an angle to the frame, what dynamic is suggested? 

At an angle the image takes on a more dynamic aspect.  It could be perceived as covering a huge distance.  It does give the impression of urgency and tension but not the impression of a steep hill.  The third image however is clearer with a single figure, a stronger angle and the impression of a hill is much more obvious.



If all the elements are completely horizontal and vertical in relation to the frame what dynamic is suggested?

There is a sense of order in the image when the elements are all horizontal and vertical.  Depending on the scale of the elements you can shift what is important to focus on or provide a sense of depth the image.

In the first 3 images although there is no obvious horizon, the fact that all elements are horizontal and vertical to the frame gives the impression of a horizon line.   Plus the house in the middle of the frame implies some sort of horizon line.





What is your opinion about this image and what sensation does it communicate?

These images suggest that there is a horizon line in the middle of the image.  The two elements remaining static allow for you to focus on the third element and that gives the impression of movement away from the house.  Depending on which image goes first you can play with the direction of the running children.


I tried some other positions for the elements, adjusting the scale, playing with the horizontal and vertical aspect, and I found some interesting results.  Not using the frame as an anchor can confuse the viewer.  There is nothing to use as a reference so the scale has no meaning and the image becomes too confusing to understand.  Even putting in a rough line to try and imply a horizon line, it still doesn’t work because there is too much chaos in the image.

Putting the images side by side in a box format doesn’t work as you can’t make sense of why they’re in those positions.  There is no message conveyed here.

The element of the child running enlarged and the two different horizon lines for the house and tree imply height.  The running child may be running down a hill or up a hill and some distance is between him and the two other elements so you get a sense that there is a story behind that.

I tried some other ways to play with the images using Photoshop, each time trying to establish was there a story being conveyed, what message was it and how did the scale and angle help or hinder it.

I found that keeping the horizontal and vertical within the frame gave the image a more solid structure.  Playing with the position of the elements and turning the tree on its head was interesting.  It looked a little like lungs when inverted.  After doing this I found that adding the house was an interesting element and the dark around the trees really made you focus in on the house alone.  Adding the running child on the top of the house looked like he was jumping over it.  Not great.

A faded out running children image with trees as their heart was promising.  I was thinking of how the image could give the impression of a ‘Hansel and Gretel’ type story with a horror twist.  The eyes being the trees and the mouth being the house implying danger as it was in the distance.

Which is your favourite composition? Explain why you feel it is most successful.

My favourite was the running kids and the house above with inverted tree upside down.  The trunk of the white tree leads you into the image, you get the feeling of a claustrophobic house.  It definitely implied something scary and the kids are running away from the house.  The house seems to be in a wooded area and the extra tree upside down leads the eye out of the image and implies that the kids are escaping.


I felt that it would work as a book cover or a horror DVD cover.  It felt successful as the elements had been pushed to be used in different ways and conveyed something more as a result.  The house and the kids running gave the impression of a story being told while the tree acted as a background which gave the impression of a small confined space in a wooded area.  Adding a bright red background suggested danger and blood, so the clearest message conveyed was one of a dangerous house in the woods with children trying to escape it.  There is no obvious character involved but the suggestion in the image was that something about the house and location were dangerous and so a story was being hinted at.