Exercise 31 – Travel Guide

The brief was to create a book cover for a travel guide for 3 specific cities, but the mock up would be for just one city.


Key words:  City holiday, escape, guide, travel, sight seeing, key places, food, eating, shopping, fun, unusual, enjoyable

Respond to key words:  a city break must have ‘go to’ places so the front cover needs to draw you in.  Photography is usually best for this but how could an illustration do the same thing.

Generate ideas: surface patterns attract people and give you an instant sense of a place, along with the colours that mimic the land, sky or buildings.

Milan – blue, white, soft sand and golden colours with a soft burnt orange glow.

Helsinki – strong vibrant yellow and pale blue with a white and slate grey and strong lines.

Istanbul – strong reds and blues and very aged sandstone colours with a hint of green


Research:  This was swift for this exercise as I felt I had a good sense of the places after visiting trip advisor, reading about the experiences of people and finding out where to go if I was to visit these places myself.  I considered places to visit during the day and places to eat and any unusual shopping experiences.  Sight seeing was a prominent feature in images.

Pinterest board – https://www.pinterest.ie/Superhilbo/exercise-31-travel-guide/


I used my bamboo slate again as I find I use it as a sketch pad quicker than my book as I know that I can send the images to my email straight away.  This is one way of completing exercises but I know that it would be a better idea to vary this and not rely on it all the time.  However, for right now, and with the commute that I have, it is really really helpful.

I created a number of images that I felt represented Istanbuls patterns and designs from the various images that I have seen and from my own experiences of having visited the city.  It is still a very alien country and the older parts of it are in stark contrast to what we’d be familiar with in Europe.  It was a long time ago when I visited so no doubt a lot has changed.  A recent documentary on Istanbul featured the arts prominently and highlighted how the city was almost divided between progressive and past traditions.  It is definitely a city that is changing.

images board

My own experiences were that the markets and the areas of interest were amazing feats of design and the rich blues and reds stood out with a rich green to compliment and a burnt yellow gold highlight the richness.

I wanted to express that in the cover, but wasn’t sure how to do that without photography.  I tried sketching out the key things that stood out for me when I was there.  The Hagia Sofia was the most amazing building to experience.  The richness inside was only a fraction of what it once was and it stil blew me away.

The delicious tea was sweet smelling and delicious in the heat while the turish sweets were just a fantastic mix of textures to have with it.  So a combination of smells, patterns and tastes were my take home from the city.

The font was something downloaded from a free site – source for font – https://www.dafont.com/theme.php?cat=202&page=2

https://www.urbanfonts.com/fonts/handwritten-fonts.htm for second font

A pattern was created in PS using the assets created in png format and I then used these as a background for my image.  The bigger features were the tea, sweets and building that represented my impression of the city.  This was all dropped onto the rich colours that echo in the designs from Turkey, but the blue was left out to cater to a complimentary colour scheme.

A paper texture supported the colours and gave it that older worn out effect.

I think it works as a book cover, but not necessarily as a travel guide.  A history of the city perhaps but the patterns and textures and colours may be deemed a little too heavy and historic for anything other than a guide to the buildings.  It doesn’t represent the city fairly, as the modern side isn’t featured on the cover and it could be misconstrued as something else on the city.

I was successful in meeting my brief in completing the steps but the pinterest images I had collected were mostly bright and fresh looking for a travel guide.  They did have a lot of images on the front and the text was light and hand written.  This font is very old style and traditional so I don’t know that it would encourage people to pick up the book.

So I went back and adjusted the image so that it was less imposing and more refined.  After a while in PS I found a simpler approach worked better.  The final draft is more in keeping with the current trends on the market for travel guides, and feels like it is something you’d pick up quicker.


There is still a little issue with the layout but I couldn’t figure out what exactly so I was happy to go with this for the mock up and would then discuss what work for changing it.  Maybe a lighter font or a fainter background, not sure, I just know it doesn’t feel like the right hit for the brief just yet.

It’s definitely more on track though!

Exercise 30 – Editorial Illustration

I decided to continue with my new approach of gathering data on my sheet so I have a reference for myself and don’t skip steps.  So far it seems to be working and it is definitely freeing me up to do more so let’s see what happens.


I wanted to do a full page image with the ‘How green is your food?’ title and go for a genetically modified theme as that is a common theme featured in magazines when discussing organic or altered food.

The tomato was picked as this is a genetically modified food that is often on our radar, even though there are many more types out there that we are not aware of.



10 most commonly genetically modified foods – http://www.foodmatters.com/article/10-most-common-gmo-foods

According to this article, beets are now the most commonly modified food compared to the tomato.  In the 90s, when it was becoming popular to discuss it, tomatoes featured prominently but now they’re not modified as much as other foods.

Many people in the US are not aware that they are consuming genetically modified foods, whereas the EU has strict guidelines on it and on how food is labelled.  https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/11-gm-foods-commonly-found-grocery-stores.html

A number of people are mentioned in the above article, as not having a problem with it, but recently studies have found that GM foods can have adverse effects on your health. http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/GMOs-Health-Foods-Genetic-engineering/2015/02/09/id/622630/

So based on the small amount of research on GM foods, tomatoes were still considered a common food for being genetically altered but corn would also be commonly associated with it.  I decided to stick with images of tomatoes as it would be a vegetable/fruit that we’d recognise as easy to find here in Europe.  If the illustration was for an American audience I would change it to corn.

Draw ideas up

In this section I had a number of ideas that I wanted to go for but didn’t want to use the obvious injection in a tomato image…even though I did end up trying it out.

I wanted to try out my own style and make it a bit more obvious here, so I decided to try simply sketching out some the images and scanning them in for a layering technique in PS.  For the first image I went with the thumbnail that represented a tomato plant, with the intention of having a digital version of it on one side and an organic version of it on the left.

Using a variety of images that I had sketched on my bamboo slate, I imported the png files and tried to layer them with different fresh greens to provide a sense of clean, organic and healthy images.

The green was a little too strong but I kept it as a way of hinting at something a little off.

The sketches done were very loose.  The first was of a tomato plant with the left side being genetically modified and expressed in a logical manner, while the right side was organic and clearly not as organised.   I also wanted to include binary code and make it look like rain so on the left on the modified side this is the rain that is layered.  I don’t think it stood out so much and wasn’t obvious but I kept it in.

The quick sketch of the girl was not a deliberate choice, but I had randomly drawn her in and decided to test out whether she would work in the image.  She was meant to be holding a phone, and that isn’t super clear so I think the need to finish this exercise to a deadline impacted my decision on it.

My first attempt at the editorial was considering the size of the magazine.  It was created with a small half page spread in mind that would sit on the left and text on the right.

The image contains a lot of my own drawings from the background rain and text to the tomato plant and the texture behind the main text.  However it all feels a little dull.  I don’t think it pops but the inclusion of the tomato and the injection makes it obvious but was something I had wanted to avoid.



I went back to PS and tried out the same background with more random layering and removed the tomato and needle.

Hand drawn text was used this time as the brief did say it wanted that feel, but maybe this was too hand drawn and could have done with refining it more!  It looked scratchy, which is more me but may not have worked for an editorial piece.

Two sets were tried out, one with a very bright green to indicate that it wasn’t natural, and the second was more to test out paler colours that worked well together and to see if the text worked better in a different format.



The text was added to give a reason for the phone in her hand and insinuate that you should question what your food origins are or check if it is really organic.  The image backgrounds were all sketches I had done and played about with in extra work so I liked adding them to give a sense that the pattern repeated suggests altered food as most food comes in all shapes and sizes.

The colour scheme is complimentary (green and red) but the green here is definitely pushed into that bright green colour that is nearly fast food, while the red has been softened and brought into a pinker zone.  The image works well here but I don’t know if it would work as a full A4 spread as the colours might be too much for it.  I’m not entirely sure on it.

So I went back and flattened the image and then adjusted the vibrancy on it.  This feels more relaxed and yet gets the message across and fulfils the brief.  Most importantly for me, I feel that it reflects my style more and I only used PS as a finishing tool rather than the main event.




PART 2 – Editorial illustrations analysis

Editorial analysis

These illustrations were cut from magazines in my library.  Psychology Today, Food and Wine and Focus magazine.  The top left and centre images are from my own library of images from Dublin.

Psychology Today – had the most illustrations and they were very varied in style.

BBC Focus Magazine – had the largest number of stylized images linked to a single article.

Food & Wine – mostly photography used in this magazine, only one main illustration.


Are they decorative?

They put colour on the page and in some cases they serve as a very bright decorative piece to an article that would most likely be flicked through or dismissed.

So some of them are but most of them seem to tell a story or have a quick humorous punchline.

Are they conceptual?

Again, some are and some are a straight forward interpretation of the article they’re accompanying.  There are some abstract forms too.

Are they informational?

The posters designed to inform about the history of fashion in Dublin are informative drawings.  Most have a more conceptual or abstract approach.  The Focus magazine spread is a mix of images and illustrations.  So although the text will have a lot of information in it relating to alien life, the abstract images serve to support the piece in a ‘what if’ type of way.

The image below was also in the same magazine and put forward as a informational illustration but the twist of the dandelion type seeds blowing away was a great humorous comment on how little weight our resolutions hold.20171025_161514

Was it metaphoric?

The Creativity article had a lot of metaphors in it relating to art and chimps.  The links between being playful and childlike as being qualities associated with chimps instead of just kids.  It also plays about with the ‘origins’ aspect and how we are programmed to create so why not just engage with it fully.

Does it have a narrative base?

The waitress image has and the images with the dream sequence all have a narrative base.  They’re clearly telling a story.  A few other images are telling us stories related to relationships trials and challenges.

Are they representational?

The clearest examples of that would be in the poster art for the fashion illustrations on the street.  They represent a specific style and therefore have to be true to it as they are also providing information about a specific era.

Are they abstract?

The Focus magazine probably featured the most abstract art as it represented a piece detailing alien life.  We have no proof of this so the abstract aspect supported the writing on hypothetical situations and possibility of discovering aliens.

Are the diagrammatic?

None of them are truly diagrammatic other than the structured dandelion illustration but this is not fully a diagram and more an abstract informational illustration.

Reinventing the wheel from Psychology Today does look like it leans towards a diagrammatic format as does The Body Politics article.  However, their humour dominates the image so I think they’re more metaphoric and conceptual in nature.


Exercise 29 – Assess my own work



work part 1

Part 1 – These are some of the images that worked for me that I found really interesting.

work part 2

Part 2 – More of the same from the course so far.

extra work

Part 3 – other ongoing work that was being done in tangent to course work.

patterns and textures

Part 4 – some patterns and textures created for backgrounds and illustration layers.


I found this exercise a little daunting to say the least.  The focus has been on getting the exercises and assignments completed to a deadline as much as possible, so taking time to reflect and assess is an odd process but a valuable one.

For the first and second boards I put work that I enjoyed on it and work that I felt worked for me as well as the brief.  I also put up a variety because I found it interesting that I had such a mix of analogue and digital stuff.

However, there is a voice coming through but it is quite unfocused and a little quiet at present.  Some of the stuff I have done I feel works great in pencils and then when I go to digitally finish them they lose some of their appeal or shine.

That happens but I have to question whether I’m clear on my intentions before making that decision to go digital.  Overall, what I get is a sense that the job got done, but could it have been done in a better way by simply staying with a mixed media in analogue form?  Watercolour or acrylic or even print may have brought the piece to life more rather than detract from it.  It’s an interesting thought and I want to explore that.

For the images picked I still like the message conveyed in them and enjoy the lines and layout of them.  For me the Fishbones menu feels like a success because it has the fewest elements in it and conveys the message well.  I loved that I sketched it but used a png file to simply place it into the image rather than adjust it too much.

The lighthouse image is also a success as it came from a composite image I created using cut outs of bits of images.  I felt that the sketched version created was a lovely piece of line work to support the book cover.  The sketches of the 3 girls for it didn’t work out so well and I would have been better taking a different approach.

I think my sketches in black and white could lend to a print well and could be used as an image for a picture in the home or as a print on a tote bag or cushion.   Some of the more detailed patterns would work as cushion or curtain material while others might work well on a t-shirt.  The simpler designs work best on apparel I think.

For the fruit and tea instructions they’d work great on pictures for the kitchen while the lighthouse could be for a bathroom image.

For other designs and textures I created to use as a background in my images, I think they’d work as a surface pattern design.

Some of them are a little intense so I’d probably try and group them into a collection and tone down the brightness.

Here are some mock ups of the patterns and designs created originally for textures in illustration backgrounds.  Some of them work well in fabric form and using this great template from a Skillshare class, I could see how they would work on products.

Some of the scales are a little off as I wasn’t sure how to manipulate the image fully, but as a test this was great fun.  I even went back and manipulated some of the earlier images such as the Nancy Drew book cover, and although you can’t see the image there were some great textures that came across in the bag and lamp design.  My book cover for Alice in Wonderland made a lovely fabric print for the dress too.

Overall it was surprising to see how well some of the designs worked, as they hadn’t been created with that type of application in mind.  The crossover was interesting.

Exercise 29 - board





Assignment 4 – Feedback

I got feedback from Part 4 Assignment 4 and Exercises so I will breakdown my reflections upon it.  I normally go through it, highlight the areas that were successful and highlight the areas that need working on.

Overall Comments: Screenshot (111)Screenshot (112)Screenshot (113)Screenshot (114)Screenshot (115)

I’m happy with the feedback and felt it echoed what the energy was in the exercises and assignment.  At the time when I was doing them a lot of energy and work was going into them.  That didn’t mean the energy was well directed though, and I think this is something that I’ve been wrestling with for most of the course.  The steps are laid out clearly enough but there is something stubborn in my approach that makes me skip a step or two and actually create more work for myself.

Something that also tends to happen is a heavy reliance on digital format as the finish.  That is fine if I’ve been playing about with other mediums first, but it seemed like I was always finishing the work this way rather than exploring other options.

I really found the comment about ‘making the brief my own’ really interesting.  I think this kinda hits the point about me skipping a step.  It’s like I’m eager to get the work done instead of actually connecting to it and simply letting it in.  Maybe this is part of the process of finding my voice and my signature in all this.  Trusting myself more.

I really felt that the menu exercise was the first time I really ‘got it’.  I had to revisit it but it was the full steps process that made it less stressful second time around.

So overall the feedback was helpful and pointed out things that I had felt about the exercises, thus showing me that a neutral person picked up on the energy of that through the final image and the various exercises.

For Part 5 I have a few aims that I’d like to introduce.  They were initiated in exercise 28 as I revisited that exercise as at the time I felt it wasn’t fully realized.

Aims for Part 5:

1 – Use the template as a means of focusing and keeping a track on what steps I’ve done and need to do.

2 – experiment more with other methods of creating something.  Linocuts, paper cutting and pretty much anything that isn’t digital.

3 – Try to connect to the brief more and don’t be afraid to state a style strongly.  Be more willing to throw in something random and try to hold back on the ‘finished piece’ mentality.


Exercise 28 – Character design Part 2

I went back to this exercise as I felt that the original sketches done were not up to scratch.  Although I experimented with textures and backgrounds which was something positive, the character wasn’t the main focus and I wasn’t satisfied with the result.

For this exercise and for Part 5, I wanted to try and be more organized and stick to the steps when receiving a brief.  So I created a template for myself that basically helps me to tick each step off as it is completed.  There is still room for changing things but it feels a little more solid and it’s a way of helping me stay on track with things.

The key words were ‘character’ and ‘contrast’ for me.  I felt that it was important to show opposites, regardless of gender and genre of setting for the characters.  I had been playing around with an idea before the exercise was read, about doing something with some historical influence, so I decided to go with that idea and see where it went.

From the image below you can see where the thought process went:

With my new template in hand I felt I was sticking to a system rather than running at it head first and then grappling with changes as I saw fit.

I felt that the Tudors characters could be fun to do, with a slight hint of ‘Horrible Histories’ tied in.  For research purposes I gathered up various images related to Ronald Searles characters from St. Trinians, Roald Dahls characters drawn by Quentin Blake and the characters that featured in The Beano.

All of these styles were primarily ink based and coloured in either light washes of accent colours or primary colours.  All had a very distinct look and character and the contrast between them was clear.

The ideas drawn up were intentionally done using squares, triangles and circles.  The idea being that each character would adapt to suit that shape and the personality was reflected in the shape.

The next step was to put the Tudor history into a context relatable to current trends.  The Osbournes came to mind as this was one of the first big reality TV shows to hit the screen, giving us insights into the family of a famous rock star.  King Henry VIII and his wives and how court was conducted would give a sense of drama and definitely add a flavour to it.  However, I wanted to keep it fun.

I drafted up a few sketches in my sketchbook, aiming for shape and size rather than accuracy.  In contrast I wanted the women to be triangular in shape as the costumes for this period featured that shape quite prominently.

The garb for King Henry VIII had more square features and lots of texture.  The circular shapes of his accessories were a good contrast for his somewhat boxy demeanour.


For further references I created a number of other boards outlining characters for men and women at various ages.

These would prove helpful for a variety of poses and facial expressions.  However, for this exercise I ended up using the older men and women boards and the mood board from the Tudors.  I then sketched out some ideas in the sketchbook based on what the characters would be doing or saying to one another.


I managed to use a few of them in the inktober 2017 postings on instagram.  Either way I felt that the character for King Henry had a sense of energy about him so I went with that and developed it further.



This was my final inked version which I am happy with.  I didn’t do a profile and side view, which is what should be on a character sheet, as I just wanted to explore where this character design would go.

The contrast is evident and the facial expressions do well to give an indication on mood from both characters before any speech bubbles are put into play.

I could have gone another step further and put in more textures and colours on these two.  However, revisiting this cost me time and my deadline was looming, so it might be revisited after deadlines are finished.  I’d like to explore using patterns and textures in PS and maybe reuse the inky backgrounds that I had tried out in Part 1.