Monday, January 25, 2010

Final ideas for the Quetzalcoatl and Jormungandr

I've decided to produce my final images of the Jormungandr and Quetzalcoatl in the same style - the head of each of the mythical beasts will be drawn in a figurative style, The bodies of each of the creatures is to be based on a snake (- to refer to the serpent qualities of each of the beasts) and will have a simple pattern. I want the two beasts to be almost mirror images of each other, only with different heads - and may be slightly different patterns on the bodies.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Paper cut outs using simple shapes....

Heren are some pretty appaling photographs of the paper cut outs which we did in todays (Thurs Jan 21st) lesson. I chose to make a cut out of my Quetzalcoatl (a feathered serpent), which i tried to do usinf simple shapes.

Intial Beginnings......

I liked the image of Ben Newman's work which Ben had shown us earlier on, so i decided to try and replicate what he had done, hence the weird almost cat like arms and claws. I restricted myself to only using green and blue sugar paper, and tracing paper, as i felt that the final image would look better with a reduced colour palette as oppose to lots of bright colours, which may then detract from the shapes.

Here's the first version. I tried to stick with the idea of just using smple shapes, hence the triangluar wings and ears. I intially made the arms too long, (as you can see here) so they kind of got in the way of the creature's face when you were looking at it.....

Here's the finished creature (without a background)

I made the arms slightly shorter and added a triangular pattern to the ears, legs, arms and tail (not shown here). I quite like the idea of simplifying the creatures into simple shapes, but I'm not really sure that it's a technique i want to use when i illustrate the Quetzalcoatl and Jormungandr...

To try and tie in with the Quetzalcoatl's origins and history i added a background that features a kind of Mayan(?) temple (a series of steps up one side of the image) and then used pastels to shade in a sky. I'm not really sure if the pastels work, but it was kind of interesting to experiment with using 2 totally different mediums within the same illustration.

Here's a slightly blurred photograph of the final thing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Henrik Drescher

Mel lent me this book by Henrik Drescher - which i would definitely recommend having a look at - its called 'The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters' The illustrations in it are brilliant.. I've had a bit more of a look at his work, which is quite varied and was thinking of using him as one of the artists to research for the creatures which i have to illustrate for Ben..

I found some really good images in the book 'The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters', but there's also some interesting stuff on the net too. Drescher mainly illustrates children's books, but has done some other stuff too..
here's a link to his website:

This is an image from the book 'Yellow Umbrella' illustrated by drescher. I really like the style in which Drescher uses his pen, adding lots of cross hatched detail to the sea and sky, which creates a kind of stormy, moody feeling. The use of a very limited colour palette (pale yellow, black and white) helps to draw your attention to the singular bright yellow object within the image - the yellow umbrella. This illustration kind of reminds me of the work by Tove Jansson who created the Moomins.
I would like to have a go at experimenting with the style of linear detail Drescher uses here when illustrating my two mythical creatures for Ben.

Some other pieces of Drescher's work are really quite different.

This image is from a book called 'Runway opposites'  It's mixed media, done on what looks like a brown paper envelope. In this case there is less of the strong, dark linear detail which was present in the previous illustration and a greater use of colour. The vines at the top (from which eyes appear to be growing) are collaged on top of the image creating a 3D feel to final piece. In all of Drescher's work there is a really interesting scrawly, expressive sort of line which is what i would like to try and recreate within my own work when i illustrate the Quetzalcoatl and the Jormungandr. There's also always an element of fun to Dresher's work, something which i guess makes it totally suitable for children's book illustration......

Here's an image from the book which Mel lent me - 'The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters'

I really like the bright colours used in this illustration, which has a heavier emphasis on the patterns of the monsters body as oppose to shading and detail. This piece shows how different his work can be, especially when you consider this in relation the other images which i found.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The work of Charlie Harper

Ben suggested having a look at the work of Charlie Harper. It's really interesting. He was an American illustrator who produced lots of illustrations of nature - mainly birds. I found this interesting quote on Wikipedia:

When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming or unutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of painting; in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe. [1]

(Green Jay - Charlie Harper)

I really think you can see what Charlie Harper is referring to in the quote when you look at this piece of work. The bird is really broken down into a series of simple shapes comprising of different bright colours, but the shapes really work to communicate the birds body language and how it relates to the other creatures (namely a stick insect) within it's environment. The limited use of colour - greens, white, black and a bit of blue works really well in describing the plummage of the bird without being over complex....

I was thinking that i might have a go at experimenting with using this style of illustration. I could use some block like shapes to create the shape of a bird and then draw scales on top - this would illustrate the two main characteristics of the quetzalcoatl...

Illustration for the Giant book of Biology

This is probably one of Charlie Harper's most well known illustrations. once again Harper uses lots of block shapes of colours to communicate the body of an animal, before adding detail in the form of pattern, lines or smaller blocks of coloured shapes. I really like the chameleon and the owl (half way up on the left edge). Harper's work is simplified, yet interesting.....

He contrasted his nature-oriented artwork with the realism of John James Audubon, drawing influence from Cubism, Minimalism, Einsteinian physics and countless other developments in Modern art and science. His style distilled and simplified complex organisms and natural subjects, yet they are often arranged in a complex fashion.

Okay, just one more illustration...

I thought i'd add this one because i like the patterns that Harper has used to suggest the roots of plants - the larvae also make quite an interseting pattern. Harper simplifies an underground world to create an illustration that is both informative yet visually interesting...- the mouse is really cool too!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The work of Maja Sten

I saw a piece of work my Maja Sten in the Grafik magazine that Zoe and me looked at in PCAD 400. I thought it was quite interesting, so i had a bit more of a look at her stuff on the net. Her work is inspired by Nordic fairy tales, Scandanavian folklore / myths and legends. There is a strong emphasis on pattern and decoration and in most cases she uses lots of bright colours.

I really like the different patterns and swirly block shapes in this illustration. The cloud like pink shapes in the background give the image a  kind of dreamy feel to it. It also has a mermaid - and since one of my face cards is going to be based on a mermaid ( a Jengu - African mermaid ) i thought that this image would be particularly useful.

I like this image too, especially the way the feathery detail on the birds is drawn in lots of different lines. The way Maja Sten uses pattern to imitate certain details is really interesting - i am considering using a similar technique when illustrating my Jormungandr and Quetzalcoatl for Ben.

When i was looking at the work of Sten, i found this webite - which features her and other illustrator/ graphic designers... its pretty good. Here's a link.

I was really caught be this image. It made me think of a jack-in-a-box-toy. This led me on to consider illustrating the creatures i have been given by Ben (and will use for my two jokers) as jack-in-a-box toys....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sketchbook work - developing card suits

I have developed my feather symbol a bit further, so it looks more feather like and less leaf like. I like the blue one at the bottom right .. let me know what you think!

I have been thinking about how i might develop talons into a card suit symbol.....
here are some devlopment pages

First I just mindmapped talons and wrote down everything I could think about them - then I got some images off the internet and did some sketching.

I went to the natural history muesuem and sketched some golden eagle talons and the claw of a raven skeleton. I started thinking about how i might use a single talon to make a card suit symbol.

I then thought about how i might use the whole birds claw to make a card suit symbol from. I like the one on the top right, but am not sure if this would be too detailed to make into a symbol.

3D Quetzalcoatl

I tried to make my quetzalcoatl out of this weird coloured children's clay........ i don't think that 3D work is my strong point, so i won't be trying this again.

For some reason the whenever i added bits of clay on to each other it was impossible to smooth the join marks. This means that my Quetzalcoatl looks a bit lumpy.

I think he looks quite cute though.....

Since the Quetzalcoatl is meant to be half a reptile and half a bird, i gave mine some wings (which don't look very bird like) and attempted to give it a kind of reptile like body (hence the stripey belly which reminded me of a snakes underbelly). I then gave it a beak - the Quetzalcoatl is often depicted with a beak, and a kind of crest like a chicken might have. I stuck to just using 2 colours of the clay because i thought that more might make the model over complicated - and i know that we are going to be restricted to using only three colours when we produce our final illustrations. The trouble is that because i used red and yellow and put a crest on my model i think he looks more like a chicken than a mythical creature.. I wanted to put in more detail, but i found it impossible to do so when working with the clay.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Work of madi

I found this on an website of contemporary illustrators.... It features the work of an illustrator called Madi. She's illustrated a children's book, what i found more interesting was that her website featured some pages from her sketchbook leading up to the development of her book.

This is the final double page spread from the children's book - showing how some children are scared of the monsters that hide in their cupboard....

Here are the pages from Madi's sketchbook which show the development of the charatcers from intial sketches to final characters.

The final mosters look like they are a collage of felt and images - which is really interesting and something i had never considered.. The nice thing about using felt would be that it limits you to making a simple image. I might have a go at using some...
The intial drawings are quite simple,  and naive in style, one thing all the monsters share in common is pointy teeth and several limbs.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I just found quite an interesting website which features the work of loads of contemporary illustrators...
heres a link

I like some of the work by Eleanor Davis ( - check out the website for some of her other work - it's all monster related!)

I like the pattern of the trees in the background - they look like cut outs... The colours are muted and a limited palette has been used (3 colours i think) The bodies of the monsters are all quite block like, with thin arms and legs. I like this style and am considering trying to experiment with something similar for illustrating my jormungandr and quetzalcoatl.

Again, block like bodies with thin arms and legs, the trees in the background seem to be a common feature of Davis' illustration.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I've started thinking about how i might simplify a feather into a symbol for a card suit, my other card suits were going to be 'scales', 'talons' and i came up with the idea of 'eyes' when i was drawing some lizards as part of my research into how i want to illustrate the jormungandr and quetzalcoatl. I am going to have the four top suits in my card suit related to the four elements (see previous post) and was thinking that it might be quite interesting to illustrate the back of my cards with some symbology related to this. Apparently, the cross is the earliest symbol which depicts the four elements, a line representing each of earth, air, fire and water.

I researched a bit more, to find some images related to the other card suits i was thinking of having..

1. Scales
This is a close up of some snake scales. I thought the general  pattern which appears was quite interesting, also the way the light plays along the scales on the snakes body. To develop this further i would like to experiment with how i might make a symbol based on scales which would incorporate the shape of the scale with how light captures it.

It might also be useful to consider the pattern created by the way the scales fit together and see if i could make this into a card suit symbol.

here's another image, this time i think the scales are present on the body of some sort of lizard.

If you notice, the scales here appear to lift off the body of the animal much more than the snake (it is almost as if they look more 3D than the scales in the other image) this could be because there is no pattern on these scales. the general shape of the scales is the same, but they are much less closely packed, less jigsaw looking.

2. Talons
I have done a quick study of some parrot talons in my sketchbook and found that they are very detailed - the skin around them is really folded and scaly looking. I did a quick search on the internet to see if i could find some images of birds claws / talons, which didn't really yield that much, although i found a good book in the libray.

This is an image of some owl talons. It is possible to appreciate just how detailed thearea around the talons is when you look at this. I thought this image would be particularly useful as it shows the general shape of the talons and the incredible angle at which they can curve at.

Here's another image, this one showing the different sized talons of various birds of prey. There is something quite sinister about this image, the talons almost remind me of teeth. However, it led me on to think that when considering this card suit symbol i could attempt to simplify the talon into one block shape, and then feature another shape below which shows the 'root' of the talon. Or i might want to consider making some kind of pattern which simplifies the entire bird's claw area into a symbol.

I came up with this idea when i was sketching a lizards eye. Although i thought about using a birds eye as the starting point for creating a symbol for my card suit, i am quite intrigued by reptile syes which are incredibly detailed and mostly slit like.

Here's an image of a lizard eye i found on the web. It is possible to see lots of tiny lines within the eye - which i presume are blood vessels. I thought the most interesting thing though was the shape of the pupil which is a long vertical line, (punctuated with smaller, thicker horizontal lines) down the centre of the eye. This holds the potential to make a very interesting symbol and hopefully can be simplified easily.

Here's another eye.....

This is quite similar to the last image but the pupil of the eye is less elongated. I was thinking of maybe having a card suit symbol which is a ring that contains a simplified version of a lizards pupil within it. It would also be a possibility to somehow incorporate the pattern of scales which surrounds the lizards eye within this symbol.