‘Don’t get ahead of yourself’ working process

Stairpiece rescaled.jpg

This piece was more focused on the watercolour painting phase of the work. It also turned into an exercise of me working on my portrait skills ending up painting myself eight times.

I took a bunch lying down because that was how I originally envisioned the many mes within the piece would look. The plan was to make a staircase out of myself with another me running up it ‘getting ahead of myself’

20170328_132120weird collage thing that I wish I never brought into being

I did a couple of rough sketches and then a collage made up of the selfies I took to try and get an idea of whether the staircase would work. What I found was that it turned into more of a pile and lost the look of a staircase. Whilst the staircase wasn’t completely necessary I wanted to be falling off something at the end and it would be more obvious I was falling off a staircase whereas here it might just look like I’m stepping over something.


With the stairs added on top of me it more looks like I am inside of them rather than making them up. The final idea I decided to put myself on each step as if I was laying down on them. That way you get the running me getting ahead of myself whilst having the definite staircase underneath.

The self portraits turned out well and was refreshing to do something as detailed as these for a change as it has been a while. I used these as a template for vectors but relied a lot more heavily on the painted details underneath because of what they are.

The vectors are used to make the watercolour textures bolder and fill in the white gaps. I do think it is the watercolours that are doing most of the work here and with vectors it wouldn’t be obvious that it was me.

The shapes of the bodies were made afterwards using vectors that followed the loose lines created by the watercolour that had followed what body was showing in the selfies. I then used masking layers in photoshop to add watercolour texture to the shapes I had created after exporting the illustrator file.

I thought the idea of the piece was good and am happy with the portrait stage. I think putting it together could have been smoother and I maybe could have drawn the whole thing as one to achieve this. With the time I gave myself to do this I have a reasonable final piece that I could work on to improve later


‘Learn to Work With People’ working process


The imagery for this piece is based on Atlas the Greek Titan who is often depicted holding up a globe, sometimes in a hunched stance. It also fits in with the ‘weight of the world on your shoulders saying’ before you remove the actual world from the equation. The idea was to show me struggling with taking on too much by myself and show two people in the background having an easier time with a task highlighting the benefits of working with people.

Earliest Roughs


The early stages of the brief began just because I wanted an image that showed a contrast between working alone and working with people. Lifting a heavy object on your own was a simple thing that came to mind as being difficult and then I thought of Atlas lifting the whole world. It was suitably all encompassing. The first image I did was just from what I remember existing pieces possibly looking like. I was fairly sure I wanted to brought to my knees in the piece to really show I am struggling compared to those in the background. At this stage I wasn’t sure what the object was going to be or how the background characters were going to be lifting theirs.


After the initial sketch I moved on to look at actual poses of how Atlas carried the world to use as reference for the piece and try and pick out the best way  to show me struggling with it. I also looked at a couple of regular people lifting heavy objects to see if I could get anything there as I was fairly sure at this point I wouldn’t be carrying an actual globe. The pose I began to lean towards was the crouching on one knee pose as it looks like I have either sunk down into it or am struggling to stand back up because of the weight. The others look like I am struggling but getting by and would look too similar to the background figures. This adds a different level to me as I am crouching and they are not.
I also decided towards the end of this part of the process to add elements of my life that could be weighing me down at this point such as having to pay for food, money issues and the idea of not being able to afford a house. I considered just labeling boxes to put on my shoulders but thought having the actual objects was way better and that the text was a lazy option.


An early idea for the background figures was to simply have them mimic them carrying what I am and to have it being carried by a crane to show their collectively more intelligent thinking. I decided in the end to have them carrying a sealed and neatly tied up wooden box being lifted in the background with them directing it. It shows how in comparison to me they have their life all ordered and neat and tidy. They don’t have to worry about it spilling all over the place.

atlAS pose

To move further with the brief I got some reference imagery of myself holding boxes in the pose I wanted. At first I tried to do it myself. With great difficulty. I got help so I could get a full body shot easier. The main reason for this was I couldn’t quite get my pose right and how I held the objects didn’t look right either when drawn from imagination. I thought I would need to get more images because I was stood a different way around because of my earlier work but after some thought decided this direction of facing works as it shows me avoiding teamwork by looking away from the team.


After a couple of attempts at creating an image from what turned out to be a very awkward, unusual pose to draw I came out with this to use as a vector template and background texture. I moved the leg on the left slightly as it looks a little too high on the image. I later learned of the puppet wrap tool which would have been a better method of doing this but I didn’t know about it at the time so this was a crude cut and paste job but you can probably only tell if I point it out.

The vector I created using the same methods as the previous D&AD piece. The right image shows where I moved the leg and how the piece looks with the under texture. I find using a slightly brighter colour over the top helps define the light and shadow of these pieces. I rely on the texture to provide the difference. The vector acts as the solid colour whilst having only a little detail whilst the watercolour acts as the texture but has a lot of white showing through and isn’t as bold and image unless heavily built up.


At this stage I still had the block shapes on my shoulder that just served to give me an idea of how I would be holding things. Using these as a sort of group of templates I could add detail to what I was holding.


You can still see how these objects fit into the original shapes. I just had to tweak a couple of the lines and think up good objects to replace them. This worked better than the original idea of just labeling the boxes with text; when looking at the step just before this shapes on their own looked really uninteresting when you have this step to compare it too. The money was a way for me to make this figure connect with the rest of the piece. Having it fly out onto the floor grounded it so that it wasn’t just figures in a space.


The creation of the background figures was exactly the same as everything else vector and paint texture-wise. The pose the guy in red is in was based on signals given by a guy directing airplanes into landing. I originally had the idea of him pointing or directing the box in some way but pointing could be interpreted as him being less helpful. This gives the figure a better look of interaction with the figure helping move the box into place. The background figure was simply designed to look relaxed and at ease with the job he was doing in contrast to me in the foreground. He isn’t really having to lift the box as it is being lifted into place by the ropes. To connect these figures to the piece I gave them long shadows. It made them look less like they were stood in a green vacuum.

For the background I went for a ‘grass is greener on the other side’ idea. I was kneeling in a cracked dirt area whilst they work in a more pleasant grass with grey sky to sunlight being in the background. I did this using gradients to get the best gradual transition between them with some hard vector shading for the cracks just done with the pen tool. The angle of the ground in the back is diagonal because it draws the eye into the front of the image where I am and skews the scale and perspective a little bit. It makes it look like I am being cramped into that corner whilst the back figures have more room to work. It is also a lot more interesting than having a line down the middle like most other pieces I do.

I am reasonably happy with how the piece turned out especially the pose I got on myself and the objects on my back. I feel like the figures in the background are okay but could maybe be darkened a little  and the money could do with some work as the blurred look is a little odd alongside everything else.



‘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.

Hasbro D&AD Board Game Design Brief

I have been developing ideas for the hasbro brief which is to create my own board game. The specifications for the board game are:

  • Young Adult Party Game
  • Edgy but not too controversial, no drinking games and not as offensive as cards against humanity.
  • A game you and your friends want to play but others as well (Isn’t this everyone brief?)
  • Unique, similar game play and rules are fine but needs to stand out.
  • Simple, 2 minutes to learn 30 minutes to play
  • Self Contained, no apps or screens needed.

Outcome for brief is

  • Presentation (Max. 90 seconds) showcasing idea with clear gameplay designs and launch concept ideas. This is how the game is judged, it won’t actually be played unless it is shortlisted
  • Playable prototype if idea allowed without much difficulty, alternatively a proof of concept video
  • Research and development highlights (max. 2 jpeg slides or video max. 30 seconds)

For ideas I have been looking at games I have played myself as party games that I enjoyed such as Funemployed, Spyfall and Cards against humanity. Each of these have gameplay that comes largely from player interaction, something that is core to party games. To generate ideas I spread my thoughts out to see what came up.


Idea Generation

Because party games are a social experience I initially tried thinking of activities and locations that are also social experiences but began to decide “Why would you play a board game when you could just meet with your friends there” Whilst I know some board games maybe use these themes it may not be for this target audience who want something they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.
Social Media was my first promising idea in which players would be given a subject and have to play cards from their hand each being a most used phrase, hashtag or image used often in social media as a response. I started to go off this idea deciding that the links between subject and phrases in hand would be awkward to make. I think the idea does have potential but I could come up with better ones.
That’s nothing! was the latest idea I came up with. It is inspired by Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen sketch were four men converse about their humble beginnings then go on to outdo each other devolving the conversation into absurdity.
The idea of this game would be person plays a subject card and the other players play reaction card which help them explain why their subject is better or worse. A player gains a point when the person who played the subject decides that the topic hasn’t been one upped. The idea is to make a more and more ridiculous sounding item.

I will continue to flesh out these ideas and then come to the development of what I actually need to make.


D&AD Brief Choice

D&AD briefs I am interested in are:

Adobe – Design three posters or prints to celebrate life lessons and hard won wisdom personal to me and put it forward as advice within the designs.

Hasbro – Design a party board game for 16-26 year olds with simple to learn rules.

Adobe Pros

  • Subject is myself. I know me. In theory this should make choosing a topic relatively easy.
  • Subjects are likely going to be things an audience will be able to assosiate with as a lot of people will struggle with the same problems or will feel nostalgia when they see you found the same solution, drawing more people into the poster for being a recognisable subject.

Adobe Cons

  • Illustrating this sort of subject without words needs to be very precise depending on what you want to convey. Your message can be missed if you don’t do it well enough.
  • I seem to be doing a lot of posters lately. Unsure if this is good or bad.

Hasbro Pros

  • Board games are another personal interest of mine so I could get quite into this one.
  • Being a board game, the creation will give a lot of practice into what is required in the production stage of a brief.
  • Play Testing will also mean I will have a lot of feedback if I do this part right.

Hasbro Cons

  • The type of boardgame is party game, which isn’t my preferred genre which feels limiting, though this could also be a good thing as it will reign me in from doing anything too complicated. And this will be the first time I have ever made a boardgame.
  • There are a LOT of board games. Coming up with a unique idea in the market will be difficult and needs a lot of work.

I like both of these briefs. I think I definately want to do the hasbro one just because it is an interest of mine and it is also something completely new that I haven’t done before. I think I will keep the intention to do the adobe brief as well but will make hasbro a priority.