Letter 5: Reflections

I have taken quite a while to work with this letter as the tone of the writing is very different to the rest of the entries. The tone is more light hearted, using slang terms, but remaining honest about the troubles they face as part of their illness. I wanted to reflect the tone in illustrations, attempting to work this through narrative as well as style.

I focused on the word “cranky” in sketching out ideas, as I felt it strongly reflected the sensation of arthritis that’s being discussed. This made me think of robots, and how I say I feel like a tin man that needs oiling when I’m suffering with joint problems. This sensation I experienced was misdiagnosed as arthritis previously, so felt that this was something I could go along with as a reflection of the sensations.

Robots feel more playful as a motif for the pain, but there has to be a balance between playful and serious. I need to remember what the writer of the letter is trying to portray and reflect that in the imagery.

First page spread of Letter 5

This is the first piece I made for the book. I see this being more of a children’s style picture book, with similar production values, but this piece feels way too overworked. I have a collection of illustrated children’s books and am particularly inspired by Jon Klassen and his use of muted tones and texture. He creates images with shape and texture, where as I normally work primarily with line. I wanted to try and draw with shape as the starting point.

I made brushes from a previous workshop of textures and have made a few since. I used these to fill the shapes, and used other brushes to add details and shading in places. I’m happy with the way I created the effect of rust with the textures brushes I made and the colour palette, it I feel like I’ve really overworked it. There’s too many layers. It’s become very commercial looking, something I want to step away from, as this was part of the issue I had with material provided by medical professionals hen diagnosed.

Sketch for second spread

For the second spread, I much prefer the sketch that I worked into. I like the roughness of it, the texture within the lines. I feel that this roughness speaks more to the invisible illness than the sharp clean shapes of what I’ve been trying to work towards. I also really like the white space, a sense of floating, lack of reality, space to breathe.

After filling in the shapes

I persisted with the idea of using shapes and didn’t want to talk myself out of it too quickly. What I do really like about this piece if the effect of rust using oranges and teals in the texture brushes. I started to work details into it using watercolour brushes to add shadows and crayon line to add a door, ladder and railings. I still feel that the sketch is more interesting though, but don’t want to lose the textures if I were to go to sketches alone.

Sketch overlaying shapes

I wanted to say how the sketch would look combined with the shapes, so overlaid it. I feel that combined this is more successful at achieving a rough quality, enhanced with the textures. Obviously the shapes don’t match up with the sketch but I don’t think a small amount of displacement would be an issue, in fact could enhance the message. Lots to think about, but this could actually speed the process up a bit, which is important so close to deadline.


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