Thursday, 8 January 2009
The Man Who Drank Too Much Coffee - page 1 (mid-point review)
My main project for my MA is to produce an illustrated story book, based on my own narrative, The Man Who Drank Too Much Coffee, a cautionary tale about the perils of consuming too much caffeine. Last term I did some preliminary work, establishing what my story would be, and doing some rough storyboarding, but for my Mid-Point Review, I wanted to dive in and begin work on producing an actual page.
Where my initial sketches and plans were more directed towards producing more of a picture book, with single full page images on each spread, after doing some background reading and research into narrative illustration, I wanted to be able to develop the character and story a bit more, so that the reader can begin to understand him a bit more. To this end, I've decided that my book will be a combination of comic strip style panels and larger images, to allow me to expand on certain areas where needed, and also so that the full page images, when they appear, will have more impact. I need to rework my storyboards to take in this new direction, but for now, I've produced the opening page, introducing the central character of the book.
I wanted to set up the main character as being someone who is rather lonely and as a result, consumed by his work. The opening panels show him working late in the office, and introduces his reliance on coffee to help him stay awake and work long into the night. I tried to add little details into the images to build on his character – the pencil on his desk in the first panel is chewed, to show his nervousness, and in each of the panels, he's surrounded by trembling lines, a hint to the effect the coffee is having on him.
In producing this page, I've developed the technique that I began to experiment with earlier (see Colouring experiments), combining hand-colouring with computer-based work to create more of a textured appearance to my drawings. After drawing the outlines by hand using pen, I scanned the image, and then applied the flat colour in Photoshop. After working out the basic image, I then added shading effects using a range of greyscale pens and ink pens, scanning these and adding them as layers to my computer file. I'm very pleased with how the results this has achieved, and feel it adds an extra dimension to my work.
I sketched out the overall plan for the page, and then worked on each panel as a seperate piece, building the composition in Photoshop to create the final page. In terms of colours, I've tried to keep to a relatively simple palette, using different shades of a single colour to build the backgrounds, and then letting the shading pick out the individual elements. The foreground elements are more colourful, but still keeping the range of colours as limited as possible. I like the effect I have achieved and the way in which the panels relate to one another. I've framed the panels with a black background which helps to bring the colours forward.
As the story continues, the Man heads home after spending five days in a row at work, not sleeping and drinking a LOT of coffee, and as we follow him home, he sees all sorts of wierd and wonderful hallucinations, a result of the increased level of caffeine over-stimulating his brain (I tried to foreshadow this slightly, by his visions of an angelic and devilish version of himself talking to him in the third panel on the first page).
I would like to continue using the same colouring effect throughout the book, but experiment with using other mediums to achieve the shading. My ultimate aim is to have produced enough of the book to be able to approach publishers with the complete plan for the book, plus a substantial amount of completed spreads, plus a cover proposal.