Assignment 2

Assignment 2 – A sense of place

Brief: produce a series of reportage illustrations that celebrates aspects of local culture

Capture a sense of place through drawing from life.

Produce 3 -5 pieces of work, at least one in colour.

Keywords:  Vitality and Life, activity, destination, enjoying, views.

Final illustrations :  could be a selection of your best drawings or re-worked illustrations based on sketches. 

ASSIGNMENT 2 – Questions

  1. What reportage are you most interested in?

Social reportage is my favourite so far.  The others are very specific and I find that courtroom drama requires an accuracy and speed that I don’t have right now.  News reporting and investigation don’t appeal and the last one regarding conflict and wars is not something I want to draw on.

  • How did you produce your best drawings?

The tools used for the social reportage were mostly a mix of pencils, crayons, watercolours and digital formats.  I enjoyed working in a sketchbook first, exploring sketches and then transferring over to Procreate.  I also enjoyed using watercolour, although trying to achieve the intensity of colour for flowers was difficult and time consuming.

ASSIGNMENT 2 – a sense of place

Based on my interests, the social reportage will focus on events and places.  I’ve chosen to move forward with an event in the local area that relates to a walking tour.  The beach is used a lot for family, walkers, and exercise. 

As such, I want to try and convey activities, through a series of illustrations that lead into promotional posters for the area to encourage people to use the walking tour and general area.  These will be tourism posters that echo the ones used in the past but with a flavour of modern interpretation using inspiration from the research done on architectural illustration.

Part one:  reference board created for the area focused on the walking tours

Part two:  reference board for inspiration

Part three:  composition thumbnails with ideas for walkers, exercise enthusiasts and family outings.

Part four:   3 thumbnails picked for exploration in sketchbook.

Part five:  return to exercise on architectural illustration for using images to develop further here.

Part six: develop the images and check against the keyword checklist: Vitality and Life, activity, destination, enjoying, views.

Brush Pen Observational sketches

I used a brush pen for the sketchbook sketches as the nib allows you to use a dry brush effect, a heavy line and a thin line.  It is the easiest brush to bring with you when walking and it produces a strong line which I like.

The focus was on what would be a panoramic shot of the river.  At the opening of the River Nanny into the sea, we have the thatched cottage.  As we progress up the river we see the town on the right hand side before you meet the bridge.  The contrast is in the thatched old world cottage and a feeling of being completely isolated from the cottage to the bridge on the left hand side, while the right hand side is a town and has people bustling about and using the beach.  The contrast is evident and the cottage side of the river can only be accessed via the bridge and across the river at a very low tide.  So this stretch of beach could be used for walking from one side of the river to the other.

These are the images in the sketchbook.  I added colour as I wanted to create a sense of vitality from the images that wasn’t a representation of the colours seen.  The colours chosen were deliberately bright and engaging to meet the keyword of ‘vitality’.

I brought some of the images into Procreate and created a stronger image but maintained the colour brightness.  I didn’t want to realistically portray the figures but just give a sense of movement and energy through their motion and colour.    I picked the cottage as the main focus to bring into colour, as I felt that this would be the best contrast for a sense of place.

I didn’t pick all of the sketches of people in the sketchbook.  In Procreate, I used a scratchy pencil effect to maintain what was observed for the horse, a stronger outline for the mother and two

children and rendered in a marker effect and a saturation effect for the group of runners as people often train on the beach.

The background and key building featured were created in a layered fashion.  The background and sand were layered as a base layer with the effects of colour saturation in Procreate in place.  The grass was then added with pencil markings to denote long grass.  The stones were clustered together, and opacity adjusted to create an effect of larger and smaller stones piled beside and on top of one another. 

The cottage was given a base layer of white to ensure it stood out, while the thatched roof was rendered in pencil and layered for colour burn.  Finally, a pencil outline was layered on top to ensure that key features stood out.  Text was also rendered with pencil.

The original sketch of the cottage in brush pen was quite heavy, so I used my reference image again to create something a little lighter.  The stones were a great feature however, so I wanted to keep that sketchy and brush pen feel to it, but when I did it the stones felt too heavily rendered.  So I went back and created coloured shapes and lightly outlined them instead.

Part seven – review images as a collection and whether they work together.  Do they meet the brief? Do they have a collection feel?  What works and what doesn’t?

As a check, I cropped the images so that I had a portrait version.  My original thumbnails had suggested portrait but the width of the image dictated that it be landscape.  It’s better to be able to accommodate for both as poster would be portrait but postcards or a double page advert would be landscape.

As a check, I cropped the images so that I had a portrait version.  My original thumbnails had suggested portrait but the width of the image dictated that it be landscape.  It’s better to be able to accommodate for both as poster would be portrait but postcards or a double page advert would be landscape.

The pink version still appeals to me but the blue version has a better crop composition to it.  It works both ways, so it was good to see that in the portrait version it feels more energetic and vibrant with the activities going on in it.

The second image created in colour :

A landscape and 2 portrait versions of the bridge image.

  1. Do they meet the brief?

The keywords for the brief were: Vitality and Life, activity, destination, enjoying, views.

The images portray vitality with the fresh colours, life from the impression of river and air, activity in the runners, walkers and joggers, destination and views in the coastal area and unique cottage and enjoying from the kids having fun. 

  • Do they have a collection feel? 

Yes, as they’re created with a panoramic shot in mind.  The initial use of brush pen allows for a stronger image to be created in black and white and then it can be enhanced with colour, but the developed image that I’ve shown for this assignment is my preferred image.

They’re clearly from the same area and so they feature similar landscapes, and the river links the three images.  I’ve kept with the same style of producing in Procreate and kept some of the same figures to maintain continuity between images.

  • What works and what doesn’t?

It has a fresh feel to it so that works and it meets the keywords for the brief.

What might not work, is that the colours might not appeal to the client or they might feel that it is too picture book looking.  The colours have been muted to ensure that they print to a bright finish but don’t overpower. 

However, my preference was for the pink sky version, as it suggested a sunset or sunrise and activity at these times.  I also like to add a lot of textures to my images and the client might prefer to go for simple graphics and colours rather than textures.

The bridge image was created on Procreate and was done to see what it looked like in colour and to see if it would work as well as the first image.  It’s a start, it needs work and the lines are not strong, but it does work and it would be a good addition to the images.

Ideally, the 3 images in colour, would be suitable as a triptych poster and thus work as a series of postcards too.

Part eight – submit work – one coloured image

I’ve left the left hand side of the image for text (here it is placed to show where it might go) and other logos that the client might include.  As it is an event promoting walking tours, there would probably be a few logos for the various councils and promoters of the event.  This is almost half the image reserved for text, but it is appropriate because there would be a lot of detail related to social media links, websites and contact information and tourist board information.


I’m using my sketchbook and I’m definitely focusing on how the exercises and research lead into the assignment.  However, I think my style is leaning towards picture books and comics quite heavily.  I can see how a certain style of illustration would work better for this type of brief, but it feels difficult for me to produce.  It feels forced and not natural, and although I’m happy to push out of my comfort zone, the style still falls back into the image.

I haven’t tried collage work much but on reflection, it might be that a more suitable and successful illustration here for the client would have used the main features as the main focus and then illustrated around them. 

As an experiment I went back to Photoshop and used my references images and brush pen sketches.  With the thatched cottage sketch, I layered it over a sky cut out from the image off the bridge photo and used a section of beach cut off the image of all three buildings from Exercise 5.  I layered these and adjusted the saturation and opacity.

After this I added a gradient layer in pink to give a warmer tone to the image but I kept the cottage and the grass clean and uninfluenced from the gradient.  I then added a layer and converted it to pixel form at 32, and softened that effect before saving as a jpeg.  I added more png files of the horses, joggers and walkers to see how it would look.

This whole process was quick and relatively pain free as I had the assets created already.  What it has shown me is that having a range of assets to work from is helpful, as is having a range of your own reference pictures for adding to backgrounds.

The brush pen sketch stood out in this image and it allowed the other images to stand out a bit better.  Coupled with the sky and the sand, it looked a bit more real and therefore relatable.  I didn’t use the pics in their normal form, I added a dissolve effect to soften them.  Was it a good move?  I’m not entirely sure, as I like it without the effect and with it.  Maybe having the sky and sand a bit brighter would work.  At this stage, having a sense that I wasn’t going to make a decision that worked, I stopped where I was and called it a day.