Exercise 15

Reading an image

mark oliver dragon illustration

Mark Oliver – image sourced from a google search and located at http://www.amazon.co.uk linking to the book ‘Toms Clockwork Dragon’

Reading an image – Mark Oliver illustration


In the yellow circles we see how the colour red has been used to lead our eye from the top left corner down through the middle to the sleeping dragon.  These are the only areas drenched in oranges and reds.  They give off heat and danger.

In the red circles we have hints of green, reds complimentary colour, but they’re around the main character and lead from the bottom left up into the centre of the image and focus on the chair.

The main characters are circled in grey and the girl character wears green to link in with the other elements with tones of green.  She is also facing the dragon and her arms are angled and so your eye moves to the area her hand in pointing in.   Her green dress links in with the green chair which again helps lead the eye to the centre.

The cool blue tells us we’re in a place that doesn’t see light.  The angle of the roof leads our eye to the centre of the image as well as serving to convey a sense of closed in space.  The contrasting elements to help us make sense of things lie in the shapes and black and white dragon horns.  The dragon sits in a circular position but the sharp triangular shapes of his claws, teeth, head and spine ridges indicate danger.  Hi tail is curled onto the chair indicating possession.

The characters are short and have oversized heads to indicate cute and children.  They’re in the entrance part and in the coolest section of the image.  Their body language is poised to run without waking up the dragon.  However, there is armour and weapons to either side of them and the body language of the girl is stronger and suggests she would face the challenge.  Although the dragon sleeps the threat is evident and the boy character is eager to leave.

The roof of the cave with the stalactites dripping down in the glow of the fire look almost like the ceiling is melting  suggesting intense heat and so danger.  The direction of the roof is angled and leads down to the centre of the image where the dragon lies.  The illustration makes great use of cool and hot colours while using the complimenting colours to good effect to lead your eye to important elements and flow through the stages of the image.  The sharp swords and spears echo the sharp claws and teeth while the oval shields echo the round coins and arched entrance.

It’s a really well thought out image with a proper balance in the elements within the scene.  The space to the top right leads you to imagine the potential size of the dragon should it wake up and raise its head to strike.

The floor of the cave has stones that echo the circular coin shape and scales.  A lot has been considered in conveying a texture, tone and mood and the light used is well balanced with shadows thrown against the walls and on the floor which just adds to the drama of the moment.


image sourced via http://www.amazon.co.uk

Mark Olivers illustration is taken from a book called ‘Toms Clockwork Dragon’.  As it is a story it means that there has to be a continuity between the elements of each character.  The setting for the dragon is possibly the first encounter and it looks like they’re on a quest to find a chair.

Mark has a lovely illustration style and this image is quite different from the style on his website.

His work can be experienced here – https://markoliver.myportfolio.com/ and is well worth the visit.  His range of skills are just amazing and inspiring.  His use of colours and how his layouts are so clean and stylized and amazingly rendered are just gorgeous.  He has a beautiful way of conveying a message through simple and clean images that appear effortless.

It was interesting to read his image and compare it to his other work, as it is really does stand out on its own and shows how diverse an illustrator he is.