Course: Illustration 1. Key steps into illustration Part I
Activity I: Research
For this exercise we were supposed to explore the work of former illustrators and from nowadays. The idea was to identify differences in style, context and production between the two. I chose Kathleen Hale from the reference list of illustrators from the past 50 years, and Abbey Lossing as a contemporary illustrator. Then I reflected on the following questions:
Did the work of the illustrator that you chose from the list seem old- fashioned? If so, what was it that made it seem so?
In general, I didn’t find Kathleen Hale’s work old-fashioned, in fact many of her watercolors look like the work of some contemporary illustrators I follow, especially her series of landscape painting’s of Portugal. These were my favorite pieces and the main reason why I chose these artists from the list. Kathleen was well known for her child’s book series “Orlando the Marmalade Cat”, which after 70 years is still being published by the same publishing house that did it in the beginning, Penguin Books. In these series of work, the elements that might seem old-fashioned are the settings, clothing and accessories around the characters, however, I find it unsurprising as it is a reflection of the times it was drawn on. To me the value of this work is number one: understanding the capacity of an illustrator to create and tell stories, and secondly the ability to produce a long series of related work, in this case 19 children’s books.
What was it about the work of the contemporary artist that attracted you to their work?
The main thing that attracted me to the work of Abbey Lossing was the simple lines, yet complex messages she addresses in her illustrations where human figures are the main focus. Also, I appreciate her use of patterns and colors. Her style is eye-catching and she makes it look effortless but without neglecting harmony.
How did each artist produce their illustrations – what tools and materials did they use?
Hale used mainly watercolors, which she combined with gouache and crayon pencil sometimes. When creating her books “ Orlando the Marmalade Cat”, she wasn't happy with the lithographic process, so she did it herself.
Lossing’s work is mainly digital. She says in an interview that her current favorite working tool is Photoshop and she includes some animation with After Effects in her work. The main difference of the work of these two illustrators is of course the use of technology, another difference is the number of elements and detail in the illustrations, while Hale said she cared a lot about the details, one can easily observe a more minimalistic approach from Lossing. However, I’d say they have a similarity in the way they use color: bold combinations.
Activity II: Draw in the style of a contemporary artist you like
I decided to start with the digital illustration in the style of Abbey. However, I choose using Procreate instead of Photoshop. In order to make this illustration I had to look at various tutorials since it was also my first time using Procreate. By doing this I found a couple of different approaches to drawing and painting with the tool, so the first hours I had to spend getting to know the program as such. I would say it took me four days of use and about four different drawings to feel comfortable with the tool.
The most interesting thing that resulted from this part of the exercise, is that I ended up deepening into the style of another contemporary illustrator instead of the one I chose. Working in the style of Abbey felt a bit unnatural to me, so I went with a second designer that I also really like (Soleil Ignacio https://www.choleil.com/personal-illustrations ) and made something in her style. The result of this second set of drawing was much more appealing to me and they were closer to what feels more authentic to me.
Creating my traditional illustration with watercolors, the pressure was much higher. I think it’s a medium that is closer to art than illustration and doesn’t feel as practical, but is the one I've been using the longest so I have more experience using it. I think I need to make it a bit more simple and not be so precious about these types of pieces, focus on simple shapes but beautiful colors. Think on a more graphic approach.
Overall, the exercise was interesting to me since it isn't what I normally do: looking so closely at other people's style. It was the first time to me actually approaching my practice this way because I never looked into the work of others with such detail. This gave a big understanding of the possible techniques they used, and therefore the ones I could use. It also showed me the results I could achieve and compare more closely my results with others.
Digital Illustrations inspired on Abbey Lossing and Soleil Ignacio
Watercolor illustration inspired on Kathleen Hale
Pages of my visual diary that resulted from the thoughts of this exercise