Part one: Pre – work
I begun working on the fifth and final assignment by brainstorming on the theme given, Seven days. The first ideas where in connection with the names of the days of the week, in particular with planets and deities of the ancient greek/roman heritage. To expand the possibilities, I searched the net. In this way I found several connections regarding the number seven and wrote down the ones that interested me.
After thinking of possibilities to illustrate the various themes, I was still intrigued by the two initial ideas, so I started making thumbnails.
For the connection between days/planets, I thought of a character who is visiting a planet per day, absurdly going through a series of consequences given by the various atmospheres he encounters on each of them.
For the theme days/deities, I thought of a character behaving everyday like the gods and goddess of the ancient times. Particularly I thought to adapt modern actions to the ancient gods features and characteristics.
At this point I made a little survey involving some of my friends and relatives: what would have been more interesting between the two options?
Pretty much everyone preferred the one planet a day – option, so I carried on that path.
Now was the time to write a brief, the idea was still very vague and I needed directions:
Brief : Seven days up in space
Summary : to illustrate a children’s book, for early readers (aged 5-7 years), entitled Seven days up in space.
The story must be summed up in 7 main illustrations regarding a character spending one day on each planet connected to the days of the week, and experiencing the consequences of the various atmospheric conditions.
Four additional illustrations are required, two opening and two closing the story.
The book wants to educate a child to appreciate his/her life as it is and to enjoy the pleasures and the bad sides of discovery, that gives precious opportunities, teaching us lessons that will always be part of our path.
Story : The text on which we would like the illustrations to be based on is the following. The spaces indicate the rhythm of the story, where the pages turn.
It was a lazy day for Ivan.
He spent the whole day wondering what to do.
The programs on TV where the same as always and he didn’t even fancy going out to play with his friends.
Suddenly he had a brilliant idea.
“I will go for a week holiday!” he thought, excited.
He took his helmet and his rocket-boots and he left, to explore space.
It was Monday when he stopped on the Moon. He spent the whole day jumping and floating but when he didn’t find any cheese, he got bored and flew away.
He arrived on Mars on Tuesday. He was sure he would have met new and interesting looking friends.
Fortunately he brought along his space goggles, because all he found there was a storm of reddish dust.
On Wednesday he headed to Mercury. They told him it was the best spot from where he could admire the sun and enjoy its warm wind…maybe a little too warm!
Thursday was the day for Jupiter. Unfortunately it was quite foggy over there.
So he travelled to Venus on Friday and the weather was so hot there that he melted under some weirdly green clouds.
To recover from the heat he decided to go to Saturn on Saturday. He heard that an amazing ice rink was surrounding the planet. And here he was, skating all day long.
But ops! He felt a little frozen after that. “ I am going to sunbathe now”, he thought on Sunday, travelling to the Sun.
After a while he realised he was just getting burned. “I forgot the lotion!”, he exclaimed sadly. He decided to go home then, back on planet Earth. After all, he started to miss that place…
And there he was. Seven days was gone and the journey had its ups and downs. “You appreciate what you have only when you miss it”, he said to himself smiling.
Format: The book will be composed of 24 pages in total, 22 illustrated plus 2 free pages opening and closing the book. the first page will be blank and the last one will be featuring the words ‘The end’. The final reproduction size will be on a square format of 8 inches by 8. You can work at a smaller (minimum of 4’’x4’’) or bigger proportional size.
Text: As a general guidance, the text will be positioned on the left pages, meaning the illustrations have to be centred on the right side, with few details on the left.
Colour restrictions: The illustrations have to be in full colours.
Part two: Working on the brief
Having my brief ready and a draft of an idea, I started the hard work.
First thing was thumb – nailing all the pages to se how the story worked (the text, which I had to write by myself, was actually adjusted on the way, the final version being the one used in the brief).
I quickly sketched the images, this time in a bigger version and considering left and right page as a continuos flow.
At this point I started painting. I worked in a smaller square format (5’’ 1/4’ x 5’’ 1/4’) so that I could adapt both left and right page in an A4 sheet. In this way was a lot easier to work, considering that I don’t have much space and also considering an easier scanning and posting process.
I produced a total of eleven illustrations, seven of them being at the core of the book. I used watercolours, gouache, indian ink, fine liners and pastels.
I then digitise them and inserted the text.
As a final stage I created a cover and then printed the images out to produce a mock up in a smaller version, to see how everything would have worked.
Unfortunately, even though I love bookbinding and I have some skills, the lack of tools made it really hard to produce a well made mock up. The quality of the print is quite poor (I also had some issue with printing at the same size from different documents!) and the glueing process was quite messy, yet I think the outcome serves its aim of showing how the story is visually working.
I really enjoyed this work and I am proud of the outcome, even if I can spot some technical mistakes. I am obviously not a writer, so I tried to keep things simple, but I am really satisfied with my illustrations. Particularly, I think the best one is the one I have done for the last page, and which required advice from my relatives and friends once again.
I was in fact carrying on with a first version of it, when I realise how stuck it was. I didn’t like it.
The scene looked really empty and boring. It really needed a twist.
So I stopped and sketched more alternative versions, thinking I had to change point of view, which is the same for the whole story.
I made a small survey and asked for advice. Thanks particularly to my brother’s suggestions, I came up with the final version.
The character is standing in front of his home door, he just came back from his journey. The sky is fusing with the door, meaning that he will always carry that experience with him. His simple expression is pure happiness for two reasons: on one side he is now appreciating what life is offering him and on the other hand he enjoyed the journey, even though not perfect.
The perspective is aerial and slanted which I think creates so much dynamism to make me imagine how everything is moving and also make the viewer literally fall in the image.
Seeing my result made me realise how much the other illustrations are more static, but how much those mistakes where necessary to that process that definitely lead me to learn.