‘Be More Proactive’ working process

Final Outcome

The process and idea behind this piece started out from a time in my life when I was a lot more sharing my artwork because I would only see the flaws in it. Whilst I do still worry about my work I am less concerned now with criticism and feedback I get from it. The image represents me literally sticking my head under a rock pretending I am a working artist without showing anyone anything I do.

Earliest roughs

The be more proactive imagery was originally going to be how I would procrastinate and doing other things whilst telling myself the minimal amount of work was enough. I moved this onto an older mindset I had described above because I thought the less literal rock piece would be more interesting.

The Tangent phase


The ‘sticking my head under a rock’ phrase fit with proactive and created the top image but under the more cumbersome ‘can’t sell your work if you don’t show it to anyone heading’. I realised after I made it and flicking through my book that it fit with the idea of being more proactive and being an interesting image at the same time.


The next phase was to use reference imagery to refine the ideas from my head I put in the rough sketch. I went through the different components I wanted to include individually deciding what shapes worked best and giving myself a few different options on what I could include on the final piece. I planned to use vectors to create the piece so tried to stick with simple shapes. The exception with simple shapes to me was the skull and the chains on the rock. The skull I had made one before so I wasn’t too worried but the chains were something I initially thought would be complex and fiddly but turned out to be quite simple to do.

Final Refinement 


Before I went into the vector stage I wanted to get some colour down so I didn’t need to worry about it as much layer and could just tweak it as needed. Things moved around a little bit from the rough stage and the rock itself widened, The eyes were also added underneath the rock to show it was about a person hiding rather than just a rock. The rest of the imagery represents the isolation and paranoia of the person (me I guess) underneath such as a tin foil hat, various keep out themed signs, chains keeping me in place and the sharpened sticks and barbed wire. From here I scanned this piece in to use as a template in Adobe Illustrator.

Vector Stagefe4a8cb639bb974219d08772327b26f5

I placed the largest vectors down using a mixture of the pen tool and the shape tools (used on all the shapes that aren’t the chains or barbed wire) I kept the colours close to what I did in the watercolour piece adding green on the landmines because I didn’t colour them before. The shaded areas of the piece were done using the pathfinder tools intersect function to cleanly add new colours within existing vectors. I used this method on the largest flat areas whilst simply using a couple of different coloured shapes on smaller pieces. I felt the smaller pieces didn’t need as much intricate detail as it wouldn’t be seen and a couple of different colours would be enough to make them interesting when viewing.

The signs were one of the flat areas I felt benefited from colour variance. The shading used brings the pieces closer to the colours of the rock bringing the piece together but the brighter pieces at the top and the images on them allow them to stand out at the same time. The skull was made using a template from a design I used on a Zeitgeist leaflet I designed earlier in the year. It is missing the crossbones and I gave it different teeth and a slightly more uneven edge line to make it look different.

Previous skull design

The wire and chains were made using the paintbrush tool with the exception of the large chain rings which were made using the circle tool and the minus front function to remove the center from the pathfinder panel. I used the paintbrush tool because it allows you to create a free flowing thin line easier than the more rigid feel of the pen tool. It is also more convenient to use when adding the smaller details such as the barbs on the wire fence and the final appearance looks non uniformed like barbed wire would be.


The final thing I did within illustrator was add a gradient on the darkest brown sand layer to represent a more realistic shadow underneath the rock where I am hiding. It also adds a more subtle variance that a shadow would create rather than the sudden change in colours that the rest of the shadows are.
After this section was done I exported the piece onto photoshop along with the watercolour template allowing me to keep the texture and add more in with access to the individual layers still.


The first thing I did in photoshop was add a texture to the hat to try and make it more obvious that it is a tin foil hat rather than just a vaguely triangle shape. The texture on the piece is actually a paper texture I scanned in that I have used a couple of times. It was applied as a masking layer to the shape of the hat and then shadows were painted on in photoshop to represent the colours around it reflecting on the foil. The sharper contrasts in colour this gives makes it look slightly reflective and closer to foil than just the vector did.


The final stage in photoshop and on the piece was to clean up the lines that I didn’t want from the template. To do this I set the hardness on the eraser tool to its lowest so that as little as the texture around the removed lines was lost. This also left very edges of the black drawn line on the piece adding an additional texture if I wished to keep it. After getting rid of the lines I wanted I added some darker colours using the brush tool in places, the most obvious being the shadow underneath where I made the top most bit darker. The final piece I think is one of the more successful mixes of digital and traditional media pieces I have done. The pieces came together more smoothly than they usually do.


Adrian Mole Font Choice and Positioning


For the text on the book cover I wanted a handwritten look due to the subject matter being about a diary. The end product of the title is a mixture of handwritten and found font. The smaller writing was done by me. I wanted it to represent Adrian’s own writing so writing a thirteen year old could achieve if they were careful with it. My actual handwriting is really messy so I imagine this as Adrian trying really hard to make his diary look neat but keeping the human error that comes with handwriting anything.
The larger writing is a free font called Helv Children. I wanted an emphasized part of a long title whilst still retaining the hand drawn look. The font looks like it had been hand shading in and when the handwritten and the font are together in the same colour it could all look like it was done by hand.
The two different fonts compliment each other well in balance. If just one or the other was used it would either too overwhelming or have a lot of blank space. The Daily Mail Text at the bottom was the same used as that which was provided with the blurb on the back. It made sense to link the two sides together and the font they used was fine for me.


The spine of the book used the same fonts as the cover just re-positioned as needed. This mostly happened with the smaller writing which wouldn’t fit in the original way.


The blurb was provided on the penguin random house and all that I felt was needed was to size it in a text box to a position that worked for the size on the back.

The paper backgrounds on the piece were scanned in from a notepad I had around. It was given a second texture of a scanned in sheet of screwed up paper and then I cut the edges digitally to make it look torn because of the size of the paper used. Again it was chosen because of the handwritten diary theme of the book. For the purposes of a book cover it added variation and draws the eye to the text and helps distinguish between that and the image. It also makes the spine look different so may make it stand out in a book store.

If I was to work on the text again I would probably work on the hand written element some more. It isn’t an area I am particularly strong in but I think what I came up with suits this purpose but may have limited use elsewhere.



Adrian Mole Parents Character Design

With the parents at some point in my development I thought it would be interesting to have them in the background but give them a sort of anonymity. The book is about Adrian Moles diary and the parents are in the background. By showing only their bodies it suggests they are involved but doesn’t make them a main character. I realise that the dogs face is on the cover but I felt this was fitting as dogs are more intrusive creatures. It is also more difficult to hide a dogs head with the design I wanted.

For the parents clothing I looked up different clothing and people from when the book is set (80s). It is a lot of big, faded looking dresses, big hair, plain jumpers and shirts and suits. Also because of the images being photographs from the time I imagine the colours to be a little washed out because that is how we, looking back see it.


The tv version of the parents show them as wearing loose fitting clothes, so no suits or fancy dresses. They were a poor family so plain, cheap clothes works for them. For poses I wanted to capture an aspect of the story happening with the parents. I decided to have them stood with their arms folded with one of them facing away from the other. This is because their is tension between them within the book, so on the cover they are separated by Adrian in the middle ignoring each other.

These were some of the poses which were chosen as templates from a group. I chose the top left male figure because I thought it looked slobbish, which is a look I thought suited the father. I also drew arm hair on which made it appeal to me more. With the mother I made a pose I liked but wanted to bulk it out a little with a bigger dress. A lot of poses I used as reference to figure out positioning of arms were taken from models which really didn’t fit. The bigger dress was easy enough to add and gives a more ‘housewife’ feel.

The actual templates used taken from the initial watercolour final piece. Colour-wise I was thinking browns, dark reds, dirty whites and faded yellows. Nothing really vibrant. I stuck to the above colours mostly on the final pieces except obviously they were made more solid with different shading methods.

The background figures in their final form. The same methods of colours were used as on the dog and Adrian Mole. A minor difference was the texture on the clothes was from a mono print I made a while ago.

mono 2

This is the mono print texture. I used the areas where some of the white are showing through do get a threadbare sort of look that worked on the clothing. It also meant that alongside the watercolour texture I had different variations.

The parents are the figures I am happiest with on the piece. If I was to work back into them I think the trousers and skirt are the weakest areas. They could do with more detail or better shading. Maybe even some specialized textures for that area.

Adrian Mole Character Design of Adrian

For the cover my design did involve including Adrian’s face, something that isn’t always the case on previous covers. There is a fairly well established look for Adrian Mole in that he has glasses, is a bit bookish and often depicted in his school uniform as his school life is one of the central parts to the story. There are also tv adaptation of the character so I looked at which actors depicted the character for inspiration as well.

This is what I would now consider the usual look for Adrian Mole. It is the most unique look from a tv show adaptation. I think it is because he has made to look like he stands out as a little odd. The big glasses and the smart clothing and the way the hair is positioned just seem like more deliberate effort than a lot of teenagers would make.

Another tv adaptation of the character played by Stephen Mangan, a more contemporary actor. The thing about using this look is when I see this version I see the actor rather than Adrian Mole. He is also a lot older than the character actually is. One thing I considered taking from this version was the curly hair, the reason being is that the ‘standard’ look resembles Harry Potter a lot which the curly hair changes.

Some of the later developments of the character. The one on the left was a combination of established look with curly hair. The image I got kept looking quite old for a teenage boy so I began to rethink it. The sketches on the right were done afterwards going back to the original look and trying to give it more youth. I also changed how I did the eyes moving them to the top of the glasses and enlarging them for the magnified effect glasses would give.

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The finished character I used in the final piece. The piece I feel came together once I added shading and smaller details to it which changed it from flat vectors to a piece that is a little more interesting. Features I like are the spots and the streak in the hair which add more character and interest. The piece has had watercolour textures added using masking layers. The original plan was to do the whole thing in watercolour but I couldn’t get them as bold and bright as I wanted the bookcover when I translated it to digital. Rather than abandon it fully I decided to use them this way keeping clean vectors and the texture at the same time.
If I was to go back into  the piece I would probably add more to the clothing and maybe go into more details of the hands but I’m mostly happy that it portrays the character well.

Adrian Mole Dog Design

When looking into the dog I decided to include on the cover for my Adrian Mole Book sleeve I sort of had an open field on what it could look like. The dog isn’t given a breed in the book and is simply described by Adrian Mole when asked as ‘a mongrel’. To me this just brings up the image of a really scruffy looking dog so no bright white fur or pedigree look.

These images are of the tv shows interpretation of the dog. To me it looks a little scruffy and run down. I think one thing that gives it this looks is because it is a long haired dog so dirt catches on it more obviously and with long hair it would be easier to make it look messy.

The search term ‘scruffy mongrel’ brings up similar looking dogs. At this point I was pretty set on going for this look just because I thought it conveyed ‘mongrel’ better than a short haired dog would.

Something I can see as an advantage to possibly using a short haired dog for the look is that the silhouette of the head is easier to recognize as a dog. It would just be a case of mixing this with a dirtier run down look.


These were the sketches I made to use as templates when making the vectors of the dog. For the most part I went for the first dog type that I looked at with the plan on using the templates as a guide to where I would spike out the vectors. I tried a couple of short hair dogs as well but didn’t like them as much when I tried vectoring them.


This is a screenshot of how the dog looks in the final piece. I added several different browns and overlapped vectors in order to show how dirt build up would change the colour of the fur, especially on the white at the bottom being really faded down.
If I was to revisit it I would try and make it slightly more symmetrical, the fur on one side looks a bit weird. I would also add some more colour to the dogs body and maybe have its paws over the paper in front of it.