Sunday, 30 March 2008

Illustration course part 5

Day 3, and we were set a brief to create an illustration based on the short story The Snow Child, by Angela Carter. The story is about a Count and Countess who are travelling on horseback through the snow, when they discover a beautiful girl with skin as white as snow, hair as black as a crow's feathers, and lips as red as blood. The Count is instantly taken with the girl which makes the Countess very angry. She keeps trying to get rid of the girl, but the Count keeps stopping her. Finally, the girl goes to pick a rose for the Countess and pricks her finger and melts away to nothing.

Reading through the story, I was taken with the repeated references to red, black and white in the text, so wanted to use those three colours in my final piece. The dark undercurrent running through the story, combined with the very visual imagery, made me think of a lot of Japanese and Korean films. With these ideas in my head, I began looking through a whole host of magazines that our teacher had bought in for us to collect ideas from. I found this method of creating ideas very useful and something I will definitely incorporate in my future work.

Having collected a variety of images, I played around with some ideas and collages to create the basis for my finished piece. After talking with our teacher, she suggested I try to use the drawing style I'd developed the previous day to create the various elements I'd suggested. Below is a quick thumbnail sketch of the image I wanted to create, based on images I had collected. The idea was that the Countess would be large on the page, her hair sort of extending into the scenery to create sort of wintry, cloud-like shapes, while the Snow Child would be quite small in contrast, sitting naked among a large expanse of pure white snow. I wanted to have the horizon quite high on the page, and use red in the sky to symbolise the sinister elements within the story.


After a few unsuccessful attempts to draw from the photographs and images I had collected, the next day I decided to go back to drawing from life, using some of my classmates as the basis for my characters and then developing the images slightly to fit with my picture. This next drawing is based on a pose that I found in a magazine. I liked the rhythm of the lines in this picture...

I was then stuck with depicting the Countess, and eventually worked on making some reference sketches from observing another of my classmates, adding in my own flourishes, so that it wasn't a completely literal drawing of that person. I felt the sketch on the right in the image below fitted better with my drawing for the Snow Girl...


Taking these elements and pasting them up on my page, I made some copies so I could play around with the image a bit more without worrying about spoiling the final thing. For the Countess's hair, I wanted to retain some of the freedom and spontaneity of my initial thumbnail sketch, so I took my eyes off the page while drawing the circular patterns (this is where it helped to have a few copies to play around with).

For the red sky, I initially blocked in the colour using a marker pen, but something about it didn't feel right. Using a technique I had seen one of my classmates using, I decided to make up the colour from scraps cut from magazines, to add another texture to the page.

I was pleased with the final piece and feel it manages to capture the essence of some of my drawings from earlier in the week, as well as illustrating some of the themes and relationships from the story...

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