Friday, 18 December 2009

Book Cover

Obviously, the direction that I ended up taking the project moved away from cover design and towards producing images based on a theme. I decided to frame my final three images. It seemed the appropriate way to treat them - I imagined them being like the sort of things that Alice would have passed mid-air on her way down the rabbit hole. But I would also have wanted them to be displayed so that a viewer could contemplate their origins. I wonder if they would make the connection? However I thought I should have a go at making a cover with my images, especially since these are illustrations that should go alongside text and accentuate its imaginative possibilities. I think my teapot image signifies Alice and her wonderland quite well and when put in the context of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' is like a wink to the reader who knows at least the basic story and the associated imagery and would hopefully be amused by my take on it. Making a cover also allowed me to use my exploding pocket watch image that didn't work very well with colour, but was quite strong in black and white. I think this communicates the chaotic, warped nature of time in the wonderland as well as being a major signifier of Alice and her quest for the white rabbit.


I then played around with them on photoshop to colour them, and I'm actually quite happy with the result. The major drawback was that these were less developed than if I'd explored different ways of executing the final image. If I'd had more time, I would have tried mono-printing, which i think would have been perfect for the aesthetic I was trying to achieve, and also a quentin-blake like method of using pen and ink and watercolour and a careful use of negative space. I think I could have come up with a far more rounded outcome, but I think these are simple and successful in their own right. Three of the images I tried didn't work as well in the series of images, or with colour, but here are the final three that did make the cut.

Change of plans

My work didn't get a fantastic reception at the class presentations with Marcus Oakley ( and when I spoke to our tutor Joel, he said that the work he preferred the most was my first drawings of the tea cups. It sounds as though I'm just trying to please my tutors here, but I did realise then that my process so far had been quite forced and unnatural in my attempts to reach an 'cleaner' aesthetic. It wasn't me, and it was different to the approach I had taken with my more successful Anorak work. So I decided to start over. It was rather too close to the deadline for my liking, but it wouldn't have done me any good to continue if my approach wasn't working.
It was evident that I was better at drawing objects with character, rather than characters, so I decided to play to my strengths and continue to visualise the familiar objects of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - the things that signify the story immediately. The following are the sketches I came up with.

We're all mad here..

I also tried to create the Cheshire Cat, as he is a great symbol of all the madness and total nonsense that characterises the book. I tried to show him blurry and not 'all there' - I wanted to accentuate the Alice's odd experience of talking to him. I think it works, but obviously it needs far more doing to it.
As for the mad hatter, I wanted to create a feeling of chaos and madness but the way I envisioned the tea cups integrating into the image (in that 'chaotic' way) just didn't work.

Down the rabbit hole...

So far, I had tried to go for a balance between hand drawn elements and collage. I was particularly happy with the way Alice's hair had turned out and had also given her converses and a simple blue dress. Every image I've ever seen of Alice has her wearing a blue dress - that and blonde hair are signifiers of her really, so I thought I'd stick with that.
Then I moved on to photoshopping - to create the 'rabbit hole', however abstract - but it was really hard going. I didn't want the images to be too flat, or to 'steal' too much with my collage. I failed miserably on both counts. The last image was the closest I got. I liked the dark, multi-faceted look of the collage. The continued flatness I had to put down to the nature of collage full stop - its unavoidable, but the images can still have character and continuity, which thus far had evaded me. Here are my many attempts to get the sentiment right with Alice's fall down the rabbit hole.

The Mad Hatter

I wanted to move on to other characters after I'd done a few of Alice. This was my first attempt at visualising the Mad Hatter.

Visualising Alice...

I moved on from these to again trying to visualise Alice. I thought the best way to represent her would be when she's falling down the rabbit hole. I love how she is so unsurprised by what she finds - she gives herself over willingly. I also made another image along the same theme of Alice exploring the wonderland - her creation. Here is what i did.

My initial plan was to make backgrounds of repeated images that would have a hazy, hallucinogenic quality - of playing cards, tea cups and other recognisable Alice imagery, probably screen-printed. With this in mind, I drew these tea cups and saucers.

Image Research

To try to inspire me, I looked at a few different illustrators with a painterly/drawing lo-fi style and also had at look at some collage too. These have made me aware of the importance of not over-using colours. They employ the naive charm of drawing that I want to retain from the Anorak brief.

Alice in Wonderland

After the 30th October Anorak deadline, I began work on the Alice in Wonderland Puffin Brief. I was very anxious not to examine other Alice in Wonderland illustrations too closely as i was already well aware of the familiar imagery surrounding it. I wanted to move away from the familiar scenes that each illustrator has canvassed over and over. For example: Alice falling down the rabbit hole, the Mad Hatters tea party, Alice with the Caterpillar, Alice playing croquet with the Queen.. I decided instead to focus on the themes surrounding Alice in Wonderland, like her constant change of size as a metaphor for growing up and the madness of the wonderland which is a creation of her imagination and something she accepts quite readily. At first however, i was a little stuck, and decided first to try visualising the character of Alice. I didn't like them at all, but here they are.


I'm really pleased with the outcome of the Anorak brief. I think it worked coherently as an image and communicated the sentiment of the magazine well. It also had the child-like element i was trying to create. The only drawback was the 'happy mag for kids' sign which I don't think was in keeping with the style of the rest of the image, nor do I think it was big enough. I had chosen the size of it originally as I didn't want to crowd the image, but the reality was that it became part of the background. Had I have had the time, I think I would have experimented with a wooden-like sign like the Anorak one, which in all likelihood, would have worked much better.

Final Anorak Cover

This is the Final Cover Design that i sent into Anorak

Almost there..

The problem I then had was that my first image (the tree house with bike and all the other objects) was actually the one that worked best visually. It has a lot of elements to it, but doesn't look crowded, whereas the last version I posted does. My plan was to send three parts in - the cover without the cutout parts, the cutout parts as they would hopefully appear inside the magazine ready to be used, and the two put together, as shown below. My gut feeling however, was that that was just too much, and if the simpler image worked, even if it meant going back on my plan, then that’s the image I should go with. Above are the images that didn't make the cut!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The final thing I needed to do was the 'the happy mag for kids' part. I decided to have it as a sign hanging from the tree, like it was there to welcome friends to the tree house. I did wonder whether the sign could be a blank wood one that could be written by the reader and get stuck on with the rest of the cut-out parts, but then I decided that it had be part of the base, as its the whole message of the magazine!

And here is the front cover with the 'cut-outs' stuck on as a kind of sample for the Anorak people. At this point i was totally stumped as to how to submit it. Would they not accept it if i sent more than one idea??
My next move was to make cut-out outlines for the 'play objects'. It sounds absurd, but I couldn't think of any other way to do them than by hand, (of course I'm sure someone could have advised me how to do it on photoshop or illustrator!) but I'm happy with the drawing-like effect that it retained. The one drawback was that the lines weren't exactly equally spaced or the same size when once I'd scaled them up or down on photoshop. But sadly there wasn't time to change that before the deadline.

I thought that my cover should resemble the usual Anorak covers at least in layout, so I have tried to emulate the characteristic coloured border. I tried a few different colours that I thought would match the colour scheme of the image and found that the yellow worked best. I also tried putting the bike and the other bits and pieces on as I had planned to before I decided to do the cut-out idea. I think the result is quite a balanced image and I like it!


My next move was to add colour. This took me forever mostly because i was terrified of ruining it - i thought the black and white had a nice quality to it. I hand coloured the tree and used collage and photoshop for the rest.