Assignment Five: Seven days

Assignment Five: Seven days

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.

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After thinking of possibilities to illustrate the various themes, I was still intrigued by the two initial ideas, so I started making thumbnails.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Assignment Four: Magazine illustration

Assignment Four: Magazine illustration

The assignment four asks to produce an illustration for a magazine, choosing a topic between lost, disaster, discovery or guilty secret.
The illustration has to begin with a still life so I chose some objects which were inspiring me on the theme of discovery.
I picked a book, a lantern, a magnifying glass and a mirror. I tried some different composition and recorded them in thumbnails: the main choice was between considering the picture including everything (objects and their reflection) or if considering just the reflections and the frame of the mirror.
I loved the idea of using the mirror reflection as my still life, so I sketched a couple of arrangements to see which one was working better.

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Once chosen, I draw the composition on a A4 sheet and used a fine liner to highlight the shapes I would have need in the subsequent phases of the exercise.

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In the mean time I found a nice piece of cardboard and thought to use it, as I really loved the colour and texture. I figured out I wanted to use acrylics on it, to make the image pop out.
I went on tracing my drawing, keeping it quite basic as I know too many details are unnecessary when coming to painting.
I then decided to insert a character and I sketched a quick self-portrait. The character is holding the magnifier to find out the mechanism in her head. In this way I intended to make the illustration talk about discovery and particularly of self-discovery.

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I transformed my portrait distorting the reality and I inserted the character in a second tracing of the life drawing.

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To highlight the frame of the mirror, I thought to transform it in a golden baroque frame, and I planned to finally realise it with a collage.
The next step was tracing the essential lines of the drawing on my lovely piece of cardboard, carefully placing it in the centre.
Time to paint!
I used acrylics and fine liner to complete my image and then I started with the collage of the frame, which I think it was the most difficult part to realise! In the beginning I felt quite lost, until the pieces slowly came together.

Finally, I feel quite satisfied with this work, particularly for its experimental value: I usually go for mediums I am more comfortable with but this time, to get along with the topic of discovery, I had a go with something I am less familiar with, discovering with pleasure different ways to go and different results.

Assignment Three: A poster

Assignment Three: A poster

Working at the third assignment felt particularly hard.
The brief left a lot of freedom, only giving us a theme to choose, between a group of three and the final size of reproduction, A3. It also gave suggestions on the procedure to follow to get to the result.
It all started by looking up for other artists work on the same theme, a jazz evening event, to get a bit of inspiration. Then came the brainstorming part, obviously around the word jazz.

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While brainstorming I realized that choosing a location for the event would have helped to create a connection with the illustration. The first idea was of a garden but after I thought that it was a little too romantic and perhaps I would have linked this kind of music to a more urban setting.
I recorded my ideas in thumbnails and notes.

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Thinking of urban settings I had in mind some underground venue, with brick walls and various exposed pipes, but my choice fell into the skyline of a city, with its rooftops, aligned against a night sky.
At this point I put together a moodboard.

The idea was to illustrate an event called Jazz on the rooftops by picturing a series of roofs (amazingly inspired by the view from my rear window!) and to substitute trumpets and saxophones to the chimneys, as they were singing to the moon.
Having decided the main objects of my illustration would have been rooftops, a night sky and brass wind instruments, I tried different arrangements of the composition with quick thumbnails and then I chose two of them to produce line visuals.


I made up the text to include, choosing a random date, time and name of the location (changed in the last version!) and added it digitally.

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I was pretty sure that the first arrangement was more successful so I carried on with that. I made a colour visual, but I have to say that I felt a bit lost at this point because I didn’t exactly know how to produce one and I couldn’t find any example as a guide. I thought that pointing the major colour areas at this stage was enough so I used coarse materials and then, again added the text digitally.

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I also felt a lack of skills and probably equipment that could have helped me to produce a much quicker colour visual, but when it came to the production of the final piece I felt more confident and reassured.
In the colour visual I decided to invert the colours of the night, to get a much brighter and intriguing result. The background is white and a black moon is placed as part of the writing ‘Jazz’, which has been produced with a linocut. I then proceeded to a light pencil drawing which has been filled in with watercolours and refined with a fine liner. Tiny dots were added for the stars.

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The finished drawing has been scanned and the work finished by adding the text with Photoshop.

Having worked in A4, I printed a final A3 version to make sure the image was working properly at its final reproduction size.
It was a long and hard journey to the result, but I am satisfied with that and I understood how much I still need to learn about visuals.

Assignment Two: Point of sale display

Assignment Two: Point of sale display

The journey through this assignment has been quite long I thought. The brief was asking to produce two illustrations for a supermarket campaign to package and promote a range of seasonal high quality foods. The subject had to be fruits or vegetables of the autumn and summer seasons, represented in a objective way, based on direct observation. Even though the brief gives freedom on the subjects and its surroundings, it is pretty precise: the fruits and vegetables represented have to look edible and very particular attention has to be paid to the tones and textures of their skin and pulp. In order to get things right I started to look up for some techniques to illustrate food and I found a very useful resource in the tutorials of a professional watercolour artist, Anna Mason (

After gathering some information about autumn and summer fruit and vegetables, I started sketching the ideas I had in my mind. I chose as symbol of autumn the pumpkin, and my first ideas where to locate it between the typical autumn – coloured leaves or on a hay covered floor. After a while I came up with the idea of a crate containing a sliced pumpkin or eventually a group of squashes. After a quick research on pumpkins I was actually very inspired by many kind of different and colourful squashes and I thought that their colours would have perfectly represented the fall season. I put together four different kind of squashes and started sketching.


I would have loved to have the chance to portrait this vegetable from life, but being in the wrong season, I had to use the pictures I found online. I didn’t use one in particular because no one really fitted for my drawing of course. In the process of creating my watercolour, not having a unique reference picture (either a real vegetable!) really made things quite complicated.

I then passed onto the summer illustration. I chose to keep the crate idea to give a sense of matching illustrations, part of a campaign. Having already illustrated a group of vegetables, I decided to illustrate sliced fruits. Thinking of which fruit,  between all the beautiful and colourful summer fruits, was in my opinion the one that give me that summer feeling I selected in the first place peach, watermelon or strawberry. My first idea was in fact of a cut up peach, with a straw directly piercing its pulp, to indicate the extreme juiciness of the fruit. But after a brief survey, I decided to go for the watermelon, using the straw idea. I think this fruit perfectly represents summer with its colours and its fresh and watery aspect.


While sketching decided to add a small cocktail umbrella and to direct the straw towards the viewer, as to invite to drink from it. Creating this second watercolour, I realized how much I learned from the mistakes of the first one. In fact I think the final result of the summer piece looks much better and much more realistic.

In general I believe I did a good job: I respected the requests of the brief of making an objective pair of illustrations of autumn and summer fruit and vegetables and I followed the instructions about the scale, producing a proportioned smaller picture.

Autumn SarahGuarinoSummer SarahGuarino

The outcome is pretty much as I expected and if I am able to spot mistakes, yet I believe I improved massively my technique through this assignment, not just in the practice but also in the way of thinking and planning.

Assignment One: Say hello

Assignment One: Say hello

Making a card to introduce myself meant to find an image which could say something about me, bearing in mind the context and the aim this had to be created for.
In fact the context is important to understand why I choose to represent something that could express a certain side of my personality. I wanted to show my creative side, the level of my drawing skills, my favourite medium and subject.
As I read the brief for this exercise, the image that jumped to my eyes straight away, was a representation of my own hand, front viewed, in the typical meeting gesture.


I particularly love to draw hands, I am really fascinated by this part of the body and I often finish observing and drawing them a lot. They represent, together with the eyes, the main instrument of an illustrator.
It is almost like they have got their own personality, that is why I often draw them disconnected from the body.
Another idea that came up to me was a self-portrait. I thought that a good way to introduce myself was to represent my own face. However I wanted something more effective and clear and I started to play with my original idea.
I quickly used the mirror to see what effect I could obtain, but it was immediately clear that the front view of a hand would have been quite ineffective, in fact the portion of hand you could actually see in that pose is really small.
I tried to turn the hand at various corners but that produced a really unnatural posture. I then started considering a profile view. I loved the pose, but I thought at this point it was worth to add a second hand opposite to the first one, just to keep the meaning really obvious.
I started sketching the hands and after that I took two A6 sized pieces of paper and sketched them again in a suitable size.



I wanted to give them few sharp shadows with watercolours and I experimented on the sized cards, but I didn’t like the outcome and decided for a more incisive look. I wanted an extreme contrast and I finished considering the old, pure black and white.
I really love black and white drawings, I think they flash in your eyes without confusing them.
That was it: a clear result, obvious, direct.
I didn’t want two really small hands on an A6 card and I thought that the outcome could have been boring. I thought that interrupting the normal view of the image would have given a time to the action, rather than simply portraying it.
Instead of the classic card I created a three-folded one, so that you could see only one hand on the front.


You would then open the card and find a brief message on the right and another hand on the left.


Opening the right side of the card would give you the complete image, two hands in the act of meeting.


I draw the hands on Bristol white paper, A6 sized, with a simple ballpoint pen.


I cut them accurately off the white card and replaced them onto a black three folded card. I printed the message on white cartridge paper, tearing the edges to create a more interesting look.

Here is the photographed final piece:


I am pretty happy with the result, a lot less happy about the alignment of the written message!