Assignment 4

Magazine Illustration

The brief was to create a magazine illustration that was based on a still life.

Identify key words:  LOST             DISCOVERY         GUILTY SECRET                  DISASTER

Respond to key words:

Image 1 for words DISASTER AND LOST




Generate Ideas:

These images were quick sketches of possible ideas for LOST, DISASTER and DISCOVERY.


The LOST was based on a person arriving in a new city and using google maps to get around.  The idea being that you are following a virtual arrow around to get to a place because without it you would be lost.  This is still an idea I might explore because I had a rough idea for the illustration and wanted to try my hand at going for a more abstract image for an illustration.  I was considering it in Ai with a turquoise and burnt orange colour scheme and black and yellow contrast and scanned textures.


The DISASTER was related to a wedding cake and a dog, to be done in the style of Ronald Searle or something similar.  Lots of ink blots and an ink sketch of the cake with a large bite out of it and small dash of colour for the ribbon and table cloth.  A quick sketch was done on the bus to see what it would look like and I really liked it but wanted to proceed with the other image first.


The DISCOVERY sketch was a rough one with ideas about insects and things that a young child would explore and discover because it is fresh and new to them.  This would be a combo of crayola or marker and ink pen with bright colours I thought.

Other Ideas:

DISASTER –          natural disasters, mess, cake, plane and death

DISCOVERY –      adventure, pirates, insects, maps, meditation, ‘ah-ha’ moments, zen, spirituality, journey of self, google reveals a new place on your map.


When researching I went for the ‘Discovery’ option.

Spirituality is normally represented with a calm and serene image.  I felt that the key words that were resonating with me for this assignment were more to do with discovering your true self.  Life being a journey, life being a challenge and with these things we find out who we truly are.

The spirit of the person emerges from taking the time to go and discover it.  I felt that I wanted to represent this in some way through my still life.  I had considered other options for the composition, going for a more obvious form with a globe and a map and telescope or magnifying glass.  But as I gathered these items together I kept picking up other odd things and found my still life was definitely leaning towards personal journey more than adventure.

So with that I went online to do further research on ‘Discovery’.




  1. 1.

the action or process of discovering or being discovered.

“the discovery of the body”

  1. the compulsory disclosure, by one party to an action to another, of relevant testimony or documents.

I asked a number of people what the word Discovery meant to them, a couple of friends and some work colleagues.  What was interesting was how different the word meanings were between men and women.

Men asked responded with:

Tutankhamen, Howard Carter, Linear B & Michael Ventris, Enigma, Alan Turing, Sumerian writing

Women asked responded with:

Penicillin, new way of thinking, new colour, new talent, path, space, planet. tarot cards.

Searches online produced a variety of results:

Star Trek, NASA, murder (body discovered), Land Rover (car), binoculars through bushes, deep sea diving, elephants, bugs, insects, bacteria, tribes, cities, forgotten cities.

Searches on Pinterest produced a variety of results:

but all seemed to be related to self discovery rather than discovering something else.

Draw ideas up:

Based on my research I felt that the self discovery aspect was the clearest and most relevant description for the type of thing I was leaning towards.  Uncovering aspects of yourself through quiet contemplation, discovering your true self through reading and chakra healing felt like a relevant direction to take the theme in.

I did want to convey some aspect of ‘discovering a tomb’ as the Howard Carter moment of discovering the tomb of Tutankhamen is definitely what most people would be familiar with from school.

My composition was explored by simply placing the objects that I had collected into a pile and then going with what felt right.  Through this process of trial and error, I figured out what light gave the best impression of a ‘secret place’ that was about to be discovered.

In these images I felt that the tarot cards were too scattered to give meaning to the image.  The world card was deliberately protruding to give the impression that discovery meant claiming your world again.  The exposure on the images is too dark for 2 of them and then extremely bad on the 3rd.  Photoshop adjustments could work but the composition still needed work.


I really liked this image as I felt it was lighter and the natural light worked.  Yet it didn’t look like a cave or tomb or an inviting space.  It was a ‘still life’ of things, but it didn’t really convey a lot for me.  Maybe it was still a little too busy, but I went again.

The oversized treasure chest was used as the sheer scale of it dominated one side of the still life and a treasure chest is a common association with the word.

The material was a scarf that I draped over a small lamp.  The small fury balls on it were great for a colour contrast.  This was offset by orange with deliberate placement of crystals.

This image worked a lot better than the previous ones.  The cards were removed, the elephant was put into the chest near the book stopper and a few orange crystals were added for a complimentary colour scheme with the blue and gold.  One of the crystals was a sunstone heart with was placed under the small Budda ornament.  A small amount of green in the necklace on the wall gave a small amount of contrast without overpowering the scene.

To see if a landscape image would work with a small adjustment or two, I tried moving the elephant and then putting the orb balls in a more prominent view so that the reflective surfaces and circular shapes led your eye through the image.   As a nod to Howard Carter I tried the image in sepia to see if it would produce a vintage look.  It worked so I went with that.

The elephants trunk is a little obscured in the sepia effect image, but the tonal value of the objects in the image are well balanced.  There is a dark tone on either side and a softer dark tone on the top.  The reflections from the stones and chime balls give a contrast to the patterned material on the left.  Meanwhile, the cover of the book is nicely placed to suggest the link with self discovery with the title and the stars on the cover are echoed in the beads of the tree necklace.  The shapes that also work are the box the elephant is standing on echoes the treasure box on the righ, the crystal shapes are a mix of both smooth rounded forms and angled forms while the circle that begins on the left of the image with the furry bauble leads your eye to the centre and down to the right.  The Budda ornament is also a much darker tone than other objects so becomes the centre piece and your eye is drawn to it.  The angles of the arms and legs are echoed in the bookend.


A tonal version using markers was created in a rough manner to see if it balanced out, but the image in a sepia form does a better job of giving the tonal values.

So I tried a couple of more options to see if I could get a better angle on the elephant.


So this image is the one that felt the best for me.  It has all the elements I want in it.  It doesn’t feel as cluttered, the light in it feels well balanced and the elephant trunk is in full view along with all the circle elements.  The texture from the material is still present and the softness of the baubles contrast beautifully against the chime balls and shiny surfaces.  The image for me is tonally balanced and I feel like this conveys both the idea of discovery of self as well as a discovery of a hidden place or tomb.

An attempt at drawing the image in a tonal manner was made but I felt the photography was working way better for me.

The next step was to create some type of line drawing from the image created and progress with a new idea that incorporated the still life image.

I created a few sketches based on the still life, trying to judge what would work for a magazine illustration.  As it was possibly going to be the image associated with an article on ‘Discover’ I felt it would be important to pin down exactly what type of discovery the image would convey.

I felt that although the ‘cave’ and ‘discover’ was coming across in the still life, I wanted to bring it in the direction of ‘self discovery’ as many magazines have a self help section dedicated to mental health.

Based on my own experiences and having researched a number of womens magazines and Psychology Today and Psychologies magazine, I thought a fresh image would work with a handmade look.

Thumbnails/Viewpoint, composition and content:

I tried out an abstract composition based on the previous exercise that had it.  However, it didn’t feel like it would work strongly enough but I didn’t explore it further.

Next I tried out a number of considerations with landscape and portrait format.  I thought that I could exlpre a ‘discovered’ image in a light and humorous style of illustration over the original image or over a sketch of it.

A second thumbnail was intended to be another sketch with blocks of colours in abstract shapes over it while the last two images below were more direct with a ‘third eye connection’ indicating discovery of your 6th sense.  The separation of objects in the image could be moved about and put at odd angles to represent symbols to do with self discovery in an oesoteric manner.

This image was the first line image conveyed to the client.  It was chosen as a portrait format as the still life it is based on was in portrait format.  The idea would be to have the central image as Budda so that it was clearly linked to spirituality and centering yourself for the purpose of discovering something about yourself.


This is a very simplified image of what the image will be, and I’m not sure it is enough for the client but I feel it conveys positioning and has considered the text for the heading of the article.


This image considers the form in landscape as perhaps the magazine would prefer to use it as a double page spread or position the image on the left with the article on the right.  I also considered if it might be a ’10 tips to help you to self discovery while meditating’ or something simliar.  In these instances magazines tend to have the image dominate the spread and bullet point the tips.  This was based on the landscape form of the still life and the intention would be to pursue that further in a sketch or digital painting.

As an experiment for sketching, I printed out my still life images and traced out the image on the back of the paper.  Instead of being exact with what I was tracing, I went with the lines in an abstract fashion to see what the shapes would produce.  As it turned out, the shapes started to feel like a grotto or opening in a forest, so I went with that vibe and continued to trace out lines and guided some of them to look like something you could recognise.

The image produced was a lovely little sketch that I felt would work as a background in a bigger image.  As a further exploration of this technique I tried it out on the landscape form of the image and got an interesting abstract form in parts of the picture.  Although it was interesting and could develop into something strong, I felt that the best one to go with for now was the more detailed one in the portrait form.


Final artwork:

I used the image in A3 size in Corel painter x to get a nice set of colours in a dull conte brush.  It was easier to paint in corel, but I had to finish off the layers and effects in photoshop.

Image 1


I played about with various textures for the background and created my own handwriting png to put over the image.

The triangles were created from a previous exercise and I felt that they gave the image a more varied look including them.  The gold statue and the gold writing connect both sides of the image while the solid image on the left fades into an outline on the right so it could be used in a double page spread and the link is still present.


Although it works to a point I still felt it was very heavy handed.  A lot of my images feel this way.  So I went back to explore it a little further and brought in different textures and played about the with sketch and fully coloured versions a little more.


It still felt too heavy handed so I revisited it a few times more.

Final artwork:


The end result feels more vintage and handmade and almost like a chalk pastel form of it.  I like it and added more text to it that I created myself.  It didn’t have to go on it but I felt it worked.  I also like how the triangle shapes and paper texture combine.

Final Artwork – Hilary Lawler – Assignment 4

Reflective Journal:

This was a lovely assignment but I felt that when given free reign over the brief it created a lot of stress.  At first I didn’t understand what I was to do with the ‘still life’ and I am still not sure if I did it correctly to achieve the image!  It was confusing to me but after doing it I can see the merit in it.

It pushed me to seek out new ways of exploring possible expressions of an image/illustration.  Most of the time it tends to be a sketch and a digital final image, and although that was still the case here the process of getting to that was different.  The still life brought a new idea into the image.

Would I have achieved this without the still life?

I doubt it.  The still life was a great way to visually compose what the meaning of the word was.  It gave me a focus and definitely helped stimulate ideas.  Bringing photography into my work wasn’t something I had considered before but I found it fluid and easier than trying to sketch and getting frustrated with my lack of drawing skills.

Some of the textures and images that I had used in previous exercises got recycled, so it was interesting to see how I knew what type of texture and effect I could get from my previous experience via the exercises.

I do think I met the brief to explore the word ‘DISCOVER’.  It is very obvious in the final image and I think that although I wanted to produce a final piece of art that would be useable, I don’t feel like I pushed myself enough out of my comfort zone.

Had I gone for a full abstract image, deconstructing it and using collage, canvas and paint, it may have had more noise and texture to it.  I didn’t do it because I wasn’t sure where to go with exploring that type of image and I was aware of my deadline looming.

It would be worth exploring it though in Part 5 as a way to stretch myself further instead of relying on digital all the time.  It would be good to push out into more traditional forms and even revisit some linocuts for illustrations.  I think stress tends to push me into a ‘tried and tested’ format when approaching an illustration.

I feel like I need to remind myself of all the ways I can play with materials and tools so that the illustration can be formed in the way that best suits it, rather than in the way that shaves off time for me simply because I’ve let the stress get the better of me.

I also feel that although there is a style coming through that feels like me, I’m not sketching daily so the style isn’t as strong as it could be.  More sketchbook practice needed.

I did follow the steps this time and although I felt out of place with where to go with the still life, I hooked it on to the steps as much as I could for the brief so I had a guideline on what to do and where to go next.  It was better than previous exercises but it still needs work.  The sketching part always seems to get neglected.

I also felt I had two other great ideas that kept distracting me.  The ‘Fenton NOoooo!’ for the cake disaster and the graphic ‘Lost’ of google maps and using your phone.  Later on I think an exploration of those two images would be worth doing.