Draw an illustration in the style of each artist –
Ernest Howard Shepard.
As discussed previously, Shepard’s work is very unique, so thinking of a design in the style of his work was challenging, but interesting. I began by sketching a tree – I decided to go with something naturalistic as I see this a lot in Shepard’s work. My first go at this, as seen below, prompted questions, such as: ‘What can I do to give this tree more life, but keep it abstract at the same time? Then the idea of leaves and wind to create life came to me, and I thought this was an excellent progression to achieve what I was trying to accomplish.
I then added leaves and wind in a very rough pencil sketch, and was really pleased with what I achieved. However, I then needed to further my image and decided on adding an animal, as this is very much Shepard’s style. I also decided that adding black ink and watercolour to my final image would define my image in resembling the style of Ernest Howard Shepard.
Picking an animal… This was time consuming to begin with as I thought too much into it and kept changing my mind. However, when scanning over Shepard’s work, I noticed that although his animals in which he brought to life were realistic, they also had a sense of difference, and were slightly humanised could you say? The point is, several of his characters wore clothes, which is obviously not the norm. Because of this, my decision was made to pick an animal that would look realistic, but slightly out of place in the scene I create. This developed into my creation of Klaus, the Koala. I named him in this process, because I feel as though this helped me understand how to create a personality through his image.
I chose to work in pencil for these beginning sketches, as this is a method Shepard uses, and it was the easiest material to work with in transforming my images. Anyway – Klaus jumped onto my paper after a few rough scribbles, and looked rather rugged and straggly. I was pleased with how I created the eyes as this is a significant stand out point to me from E H Shepard’s work, in that he kept the eyes of his characters like little black pin points. The scratchy effect I gave to the ears and head, resembled Shepard’s cross hatch method, but alternatively, when looking at Shepard’s work, I came to the conclusion that he kept a block simple outline of his characters, and created the scratchy/cross hatch affect within that line. I didn’t notice this to start with, which is why this mistake arose, but looking back over, I was able to discover this and was a learning curve for me to note down every tiny detail when observing another artists work, even if I don’t think it is vitally important. Referring back to my previous point about how Shepard’s characters were not quite the ‘norm’, I noted that I should potentially try out adding an outfit to Klaus, to further my image in Shepard’s style.
After trial and error, and realising that Shepard created his animals/characters with a simple outline, I was pleased with my outcome. Firstly, as it brought me closer to the style of E H Shepard’s work, and secondly, it made Klaus stand out more. I am still not quite decided yet, on the cross hatch affect on the Koala’s head, but am pleased with the visuals within his ears. Developing this image, I created a personality, which helped me in thinking of an outfit. I began by drawing a bow tie, which lead to a shirt and jacket, trousers and shoes and was really surprised at how it looked – better than thought! My next step is to determine whether to include stripes on the outfit as I have noticed this in Shepard’s work of ‘Winnie-The-Pooh’ and ‘Wind in the Willows’. I did, however, find the process of physically drawing the outfit on Klaus difficult, due to the shape in which I had created him, despite this I am pleased with the outcome and its simplicity. Analysing this next step, I thought more into Shepard’s style and did some more observations – this is where, as noted previously he occasionally adds a touch of watercolour. This was a little daunting for me, as watercolour is a material that I am not used to using, but every challenge has obstacles which can be learnt by and overcome. I asked myself a few questions when deciding on watercolours, such as: ‘Should I add watercolour to the outfit alone, or other parts?’ ‘Should I add a tiny touch of pale skin colour to his face, or leave it?’
Firstly before creating my final image, I decided to draw Klaus in pencil, slightly thickening the outline to make him more visual and stand out. I also added stripes to the outfit which I felt gave the image a unique touch, and I was really glad with its outcome. After studying some of Shepard’s sketches of ‘Winnie-The-Pooh’ characters, I made the decision to keep the cross hatch style on Klaus’ head, and the further along this development process I got, the more my opinion changed on how it was presented – positively.
And then… My final piece in the style of Ernest Howard Shepard was created!! My thinking, method and decisions all played part in my overall outcome. My original tree that was just a simple pencil sketch, was transformed into a tree that looks like its blowing in the wind and shedding leaves. I love this section of my final image, and the tiny touches of ‘olive green’ watercolour I added to the leaves, truly presented the tree in the exact visual that I had in mind. The overall setting/scene I decided on was naturalistic. I combined two shades of blue and splashed it onto the section on the left hand side to create a water area. I also maintained the cross hatch affect on the side paths. I used a pale grey watercolour to enhance the pencil cross hatch on the ears and face and I used the same grey for the wind streaks. I feel a subtle happiness with this illustration I have created as I feel with the tree and cross hatching, I have accurately made decisions and produced an image in the style of E H Shepard. Evaluating my process and this task, I have learnt to think more analytically and improve my observation skills. I have also understood that I need to practice and develop my skills with watercolour. I think the process of creating an illustration in the style of an artist is an interesting and useful task, although sometimes difficult and time consuming. I feel as though I could have potentially added another character into my illustration, or developed my image so that the Koala was doing something or in action. If a similar task was to arise again, I think potentially Klaus was too detailed and defined and I am disappointed with this, so I would change this aspect. Keeping a daily sketchbook, I take time on a few days a week to do this task with various different artists, so that I gain a wider knowledge and skill set, as well as improve my skills with materials I am used to and materials I am unfamiliar with.
I was beyond enthusiastic to start an illustration in the style of Julia Gash as I love her work. Her unique sense of style and her efforts to make her work stand out in such a vast industry was so appealing and inspiring to me, so this was an exciting project to begin. Pattern testing was new to me (as seen below) but I was intrigued to see what I could learn from this and what skills I could develop.
My first step for creating an illustration in the style of Julia Gash, was to do some pattern testing, a mind map of Gash’ style and my own ideas. My process of pattern testing came from looking at Julia’s work and noticing that her spaces, or building were created through patterns. Whether those patterns are used as a backdrop, or to fill the images created, they are stand out and bright, so I needed to evaluate several different means of creating this. The 6 key things about Gash’s work were ‘names’, ‘places’, ‘colour’, ‘paint’, ‘pen’ and ‘patterns. I then mind mapped my own thoughts and ideas from these branches with a list of places, colours and materials, and thought about the affect I wanted my illustration to have.
After this, I created a colour palette. I found this key to my understanding of what colours would best suit my piece of work, and which of these colours best defined Julia Gash’s style. There is something so satisfying about looking at a colour palette!
I then progressed onto my next development image which I created in a map style, as Julia’s work is essentially a contemporary map. I decided on my place, which was ‘Yellowstone National Park, Montana’ as this is something Gash had not done. I saw this as a slightly different take on Julia’s work as it wasn’t a capital city, however, I felt as though it could replicate her style excellently. Here, i drew a quick pencil sketch in an ideal shape that I thought would be suitable, and from there I noted how to present the place name title, whether I should incorporate dividing lines, and extend out of the map box. I also, scanned what I had drawn to see if a small image would be suitable, and listed a few pointers to help me with this. These were: ‘vintage’, ‘animal’, ‘old’ and ‘skull’.
Next, as shown below, I played around with different styles of presenting the title (name) of the place of my illustration. I practiced with lower and upper case lettering as well as size and layout. I found this exercise useful as it expanded my views on how things can be created differently and was also useful in eliminating what looked suitable and what didn’t. From this, I decided on the style, but asked myself questions as to whether to increase the size, and make the writing bubbled. In this process, I also thought about how I would present the title on the map… I had a vision earlier on when picking the place and creating the map shape. I have visited Yellowstone National Park, and one thing that I loved and immediately caught my eye, was the Park’s name on an old piece of wooden board. I loved the vintage feel and how well it suited and blended to its environment. I used pencil to create lines on the wooden board, and it gave the desired affect of looking old and worn.
Referring back to my pointers about an image: ‘vintage’, ‘animal’, ‘old’ and ‘skull’ – I went with a skull as I feel it covered all of these aspects. I used pencil as it is an easy and manoeuvrable material to work with in rough sketching, and I drew a basic, quick outline of the shape I wanted to create. After completing this, I made a note of how I didn’t want to make the overall size smaller, but slightly thinner. I also noted colour wise – I decided on black, grey and white.
Although not physical drawings as such, my next step was to make notes on names within my main chosen place. I listed these and decided on font style. Julia Gash kept her names sophisticated and simple so adjusting to this was key.
Following this, I again used pencil to sketch a few basic, simple images I felt were key to the place I was illustrating and images that suited the environment. Here, I also decided on a few colours – preceding Gash – blue and red were key to my illustration.
Succeeding this, I began my draft. I used a dark brown Stabilo fineliner pen to create the outline of my map and was surprisingly pleased with the shape and colour I chose. Adding colour to this made the visual of the map a lot clearer. I sketched a rough of the skull in the place in which I will illustrate it, and I also positioned my title on the wooden board in pencil very basically. I briefly drew the ‘state line’ in position and added my other chosen simple images for the map in the correct places. Furthermore, I scribbled lightly in pencil where I wanted to add water and I annotated the draft with colours, and what would be what. Within this step, I analysed my own notes and the words ‘vintage’, ‘worn’ and ‘old’ kept cropping up. I spent some time thinking about various materials which could enforce these feelings in my work which is when my mind stumbled upon the traditional idea of tea staining. I thought this would be a brilliant involvement in my piece, and would really represent the place and colours correctly.
And then… My final piece in the style of Julia Gash was created!! With the process of this illustration, I struggled to envision how it would turn out, and this concerned me. However, looking at the piece I have produced, I am pleased with its quirk and unique style that I feel (although not exactly the same as), really does resemble the style of Julia Gash. I used fineliner pens, watercolour and a base of pencil for this illustration. Although Gash does not ‘tea stain’ her work, I am proud of its outcome and how it promotes the ‘feel’ of my illustration successfully. The patterns in which I created in the water, volcano and wooden board behind the title follow Gash’s style exquisitely. However, my criticisms towards this piece would be that I should have potentially included more patterns, especially of a regular shape, and perhaps picking a different place would have allowed me to include more major images (landmarks). Analysing this illustration alongside the works of Julia Gash, I notice this and it would definitely be something that I would change next time. Even though the place I had chosen is sparse and largely spread out (making it difficult to fill), I think I could have potentially included more images to fill the blank spaces, or use patterns to fill these areas. The ‘tea staining’ process was a little fumbled to begin with, but when getting used to using the material, it provides a satisfying and enjoyable visual at end result.