Exercise 30

Editorial illustration

I decided to continue with my new approach of gathering data on my sheet so I have a reference for myself and don’t skip steps.  So far it seems to be working and it is definitely freeing me up to do more so let’s see what happens.


I wanted to do a full page image with the ‘How green is your food?’ title and go for a genetically modified theme as that is a common theme featured in magazines when discussing organic or altered food.

The tomato was picked as this is a genetically modified food that is often on our radar, even though there are many more types out there that we are not aware of.


10 most commonly genetically modified foods – http://www.foodmatters.com/article/10-most-common-gmo-foods

According to this article, beets are now the most commonly modified food compared to the tomato.  In the 90s, when it was becoming popular to discuss it, tomatoes featured prominently but now they’re not modified as much as other foods.

Many people in the US are not aware that they are consuming genetically modified foods, whereas the EU has strict guidelines on it and on how food is labelled.  https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/11-gm-foods-commonly-found-grocery-stores.html

A number of people are mentioned in the above article, as not having a problem with it, but recently studies have found that GM foods can have adverse effects on your health. http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/GMOs-Health-Foods-Genetic-engineering/2015/02/09/id/622630/

So based on the small amount of research on GM foods, tomatoes were still considered a common food for being genetically altered but corn would also be commonly associated with it.  I decided to stick with images of tomatoes as it would be a vegetable/fruit that we’d recognise as easy to find here in Europe.  If the illustration was for an American audience I would change it to corn.

Draw ideas up

In this section I had a number of ideas that I wanted to go for but didn’t want to use the obvious injection in a tomato image…even though I did end up trying it out.

I wanted to try out my own style and make it a bit more obvious here, so I decided to try simply sketching out some the images and scanning them in for a layering technique in PS.  For the first image I went with the thumbnail that represented a tomato plant, with the intention of having a digital version of it on one side and an organic version of it on the left.

Using a variety of images that I had sketched on my bamboo slate, I imported the png files and tried to layer them with different fresh greens to provide a sense of clean, organic and healthy images.

The green was a little too strong but I kept it as a way of hinting at something a little off.

The sketches done were very loose.  The first was of a tomato plant with the left side being genetically modified and expressed in a logical manner, while the right side was organic and clearly not as organised.   I also wanted to include binary code and make it look like rain so on the left on the modified side this is the rain that is layered.  I don’t think it stood out so much and wasn’t obvious but I kept it in.

The quick sketch of the girl was not a deliberate choice, but I had randomly drawn her in and decided to test out whether she would work in the image.  She was meant to be holding a phone, and that isn’t super clear so I think the need to finish this exercise to a deadline impacted my decision on it.

My first attempt at the editorial was considering the size of the magazine.  It was created with a small half page spread in mind that would sit on the left and text on the right.

The image contains a lot of my own drawings from the background rain and text to the tomato plant and the texture behind the main text.  However it all feels a little dull.  I don’t think it pops but the inclusion of the tomato and the injection makes it obvious but was something I had wanted to avoid.


I went back to PS and tried out the same background with more random layering and removed the tomato and needle.

Hand drawn text was used this time as the brief did say it wanted that feel, but maybe this was too hand drawn and could have done with refining it more!  It looked scratchy, which is more me but may not have worked for an editorial piece.

Two sets were tried out, one with a very bright green to indicate that it wasn’t natural, and the second was more to test out paler colours that worked well together and to see if the text worked better in a different format.


The text was added to give a reason for the phone in her hand and insinuate that you should question what your food origins are or check if it is really organic.  The image backgrounds were all sketches I had done and played about with in extra work so I liked adding them to give a sense that the pattern repeated suggests altered food as most food comes in all shapes and sizes.

The colour scheme is complimentary (green and red) but the green here is definitely pushed into that bright green colour that is nearly fast food, while the red has been softened and brought into a pinker zone.  The image works well here but I don’t know if it would work as a full A4 spread as the colours might be too much for it.  I’m not entirely sure on it.

So I went back and flattened the image and then adjusted the vibrancy on it.  This feels more relaxed and yet gets the message across and fulfils the brief.  Most importantly for me, I feel that it reflects my style more and I only used PS as a finishing tool rather than the main event.


PART 2 – Editorial illustrations analysis

Editorial analysis

These illustrations were cut from magazines in my library.  Psychology Today, Food and Wine and Focus magazine.  The top left and centre images are from my own library of images from Dublin.

Psychology Today – had the most illustrations and they were very varied in style.

BBC Focus Magazine – had the largest number of stylized images linked to a single article.

Food & Wine – mostly photography used in this magazine, only one main illustration.

Are they decorative?

They put colour on the page and in some cases they serve as a very bright decorative piece to an article that would most likely be flicked through or dismissed.

So some of them are but most of them seem to tell a story or have a quick humorous punchline.

Are they conceptual?

Again, some are and some are a straight forward interpretation of the article they’re accompanying.  There are some abstract forms too.

Are they informational?

The posters designed to inform about the history of fashion in Dublin are informative drawings.  Most have a more conceptual or abstract approach.  The Focus magazine spread is a mix of images and illustrations.  So although the text will have a lot of information in it relating to alien life, the abstract images serve to support the piece in a ‘what if’ type of way.


The image below was also in the same magazine and put forward as a informational illustration but the twist of the dandelion type seeds blowing away was a great humorous comment on how little weight our resolutions hold.

Was it metaphoric?

The Creativity article had a lot of metaphors in it relating to art and chimps.  The links between being playful and childlike as being qualities associated with chimps instead of just kids.  It also plays about with the ‘origins’ aspect and how we are programmed to create so why not just engage with it fully.

Does it have a narrative base?

The waitress image has and the images with the dream sequence all have a narrative base.  They’re clearly telling a story.  A few other images are telling us stories related to relationships trials and challenges.

Are they representational?

The clearest examples of that would be in the poster art for the fashion illustrations on the street.  They represent a specific style and therefore have to be true to it as they are also providing information about a specific era.

Are they abstract?

The Focus magazine probably featured the most abstract art as it represented a piece detailing alien life.  We have no proof of this so the abstract aspect supported the writing on hypothetical situations and possibility of discovering aliens.

Are the diagrammatic?

None of them are truly diagrammatic other than the structured dandelion illustration but this is not fully a diagram and more an abstract informational illustration.

Reinventing the wheel from Psychology Today does look like it leans towards a diagrammatic format as does The Body Politics article.  However, their humour dominates the image so I think they’re more metaphoric and conceptual in nature.