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.

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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.

Exercise: Visual metaphors

Exercise: Visual metaphors

This exercise was focused on visual metaphors and its first phase was to look up for some examples.
My mind went straight to some illustrations I saw on the packaging of some teabags I buy sometimes. Depending on the infusion, the illustration is picturing the effect it should produce on our body by very clever and clear images. The illustrations are by Brett Ryder and I just post here a couple of examples:

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I searched thoroughly the few magazines I have home and I found two visual metaphors:

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Then I kept browsing the internet and discovered the illustrations of John Holcroft whose portfolio is packed with visual metaphors. Here I post a couple of examples:

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I found very good examples of visual metaphors by browsing the website and particularly the following one:

After collecting examples of visual metaphors, I choose picked two topics from the list, broken relationship and economic catastrophe, so that I could have the chance to compare the results and I made some really quick and basic drawings.

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I showed these to three people and in general the message was pretty clear to everyone: regarding the economic catastrophe topic, two people chose the hanged piggy bank and one of them said the graph going dramatically down was the obvious one. The flying note was interpreted by this last person as inflation.
About broken relationship, again the same two people chose the stabbed heart, and the other one the couple, ripped apart.
It was very interesting to experiment and check with other people whether my visual interpretation was communicating correctly the message or not and I believe, after this comparison, that there are some really iconic symbols, strongly communicating a message beyond the boundaries of age, sex and culture.

Exercise: Choosing content

Exercise: Choosing content

This exercise consisted of reading an extract from The Daffodil Affair by Michael Innes and to go through different tasks.
The first one was to answer three questions.
1. If this were to be made into a film what would the main character be like?
The main character would be a man with very regular face shapes, sharp and symmetrical as to match the environment.
2. What clothes would the character be wearing?
A simple suit, in grey or brown tones.
3. What furniture is in the main area in which the action takes place?
There is only a desk and a chair.
After answering these questions, I had to find visual reference for the era in which the action takes place. The story is set in war – time London, so I found precious references in the websites of the Imperial War Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum It was particularly useful to have the chance to search their collections online and to have pictures and information about single objects to hand. Using these two precious resources I selected few images for my visual reference, trying to include above all the ones in colours.


I decided that the word which best conveys my vision of the story is austerity, because in my opinion it includes some feeling of emptiness at the same time.
I produced a moodboard using Microsoft Word because I couldn’t find elsewhere the tones I had in my mind and I also used textures found on V&A museum website.


I had three main ideas for my final piece: the first one was a frontal view of the man behind his desk, the second was the man seen from his back in front of the window and the third one was the man pictured on his side while standing in front of the window.
I felt that the frontal view would have given me the chance to better express austerity.


I sketched a couple of different views and went for a close up. I tried to convey austerity in the features of the man, in the way he is dressed and in the surroundings, empty on purpose. The floor, the wall, the desk are empty, only a wide shaft of shadow is filling in the space.
I based my final piece on the size of a book and used the vertical orientation of the sheet. The materials used are inks with pen and nib and brush. A fine liner has also been used.

Looking at the final result I am not entirely satisfied, like something is missing.
Thinking about it, I believe this is the feeling this illustration is supposed to convey. However I was imagining the detective a little older than he looks in my drawing and even though I tried adding wrinkles here and there I wasn’t able to change the fact that he looks too young.

To conclude, even though I am not happy with the outcome, I learned how illustrating is somehow like directing a movie!

Exercise: Using black and white

Exercise: Using black and white

This exercise asked to play with black and white. The theme I chose from the list has been sea and in particular I draw a lighthouse, inspired by a picture I found of the abandoned Aniva lighthouse.



I tried to keep the drawing really simple by using few solid lines and then I photocopied the original as requested. I made 2 normal copies and two inverted ones and I started experimenting. I have to admit I was not quite sure of the procedure and ended up leaving my first attempt half way.


The pieces I cut from the first black copy were already too small and didn’t allow me to go in again with the white. However I think the image, even though incomplete is already somehow effective. I used my second set of copies to have another go. This time I cut larger pieces off the black copy:


When going in with the white pieces, I tried to suggest light coming from one side: the most difficult thing to render was the water and I had to watch the result from far away to make sure it was readable.


I think the result is quite good, but I can spot imperfections, for example I didn’t manage to cover all the lines, because they keep appearing from the back drawing.

Comparing the final image to the line drawing, I would say it became alive and it gained a dramatic narrative aura which reminds me of comics and graphic novels.
I browsed some comics artists, but the one I kept thinking of was Frank Miller. I think he really uses black and white to obtain that certain atmosphere typical of his dark novels and his skills are honed to perfection in giving even the smallest details only by the use of black and white areas.

In particular the following examples are from his graphic novel Sin City:

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Exercise: A subjective drawing

Exercise: A subjective drawing

It took a while to me to understand this exercise. I expected to be asked to draw something giving it a personal touch, probably drawing as naturally as it comes to me.
I was asked instead to produce a moodboard, after finding adjectives related to the object chosen from a list and to finally create a piece using the textures explored in the moodboard.
I chose to represent a pair of shoes, which I photographed here for your reference.

An adjective that comes strongly to me knowing this pair of shoes, is rough. Even though they are very soft, the jute and the hemp cord they are made of, give them a rough visual appearance, in my opinion.
A word that also describes an important aspect of those shoes is geometric.
In my moodboard I used irregular shaped black and yellow magazine cut outs to underline the strong colours and the geometric figures portraying the shoes. Pieces of jute and coarse hemp cord have been used as textures to convey that rough feeling.

I also added a photo of a coastal town and cut outs of a pool because I strongly link these shoes to holidays and summer thoughts.
For the final piece I used a paper with a heavy texture which reminded me cotton fabric.
I draw a quick outline of the shoes by observing them (I used the actual shoes as a reference only at this stage, in fact the rest of the process has been based on visual memories) then I filled it in with the jute pieces. I coloured some of them with yellow poster paints and then cutted a black sheet to represent the softest and smoothest part of the shoes. After using hemp cord to emulate the soles surface texture, I used a fine liner to define some details. The inside of the shoes is actually made of hemp as well, yet I felt continuing to just collage materials together may have resulted in a confusing image.

Watching at the final piece I believe the use of the fine liner in fact helped to highlight the textures around it.
To be honest it was quite difficult to understand this exercise. Even though I followed the instructions given in the brief I am not quite sure to have achieved what it requested.
I believe producing a moodboard was very personal, subjective and it really reflects the way I feel about the chosen objects. However, having to create something by using the same textures brought me to create a collage more than a drawing.
Anyway, I feel the most interesting thing I gained through this exercise is a better understanding of the use and creation of a moodboard, which was slightly unclear to me in the first place.

Exercise: An objective drawing

Exercise: An objective drawing

The exercise focus was to draw an object chosen from a list of five, in an objective way. I thought it would have been easy in the first place, but then I realized it was quite difficult to be more objective and less personal. My object is a pair of sunglasses. I placed them on a white sheet in an angle which is best showing its characteristics. I tried to be technical and controlled but I didn’t use measures or rules. I was just trying to be as accurate as possible without any technical aids. 5_0001 I used a fine liner over the initial pencil drawing and tried to suggest the glossy surface through delicate and regular lines which left some parts in white, as they were reflecting light. I used a pencil to suggest the shades and the dark yet transparent property of the lenses. Even though I can spot some imperfections, I think the outcome of this drawing is quite good as it describes the object in its qualities, shapes and functions. Here is a picture of the glasses, in a slightly different pose, for your reference: DSCN6428

Exercise: Exploring drawing and painting

Exercise: Exploring drawing and painting

This exercise was focused on experimenting. I collected various papers and materials and I chose simple subjects to test and discover new interesting combinations. I believe it is an amazing experience and an exercise which has to be repeated often, to stimulate creativity and learn new interesting processes.
I will go through every single image explaining the procedure and the outcome of this research.
Support : Clothed paper on cardboard / Mediums: Acrylics/Poster paints/brushes
I didn’t particularly enjoy this support, especially with the poster paints. It is the first time I used them and they are pretty cheap. They are quite hard to use pure and they become quite transparent when diluted. The acrylics were way better on this support, smoother and covering better.


Found paper: heavy, soft and rough / Ballpoint pen/ Chalks + Acrylics + ballpoint pen
I found this paper pleasant to work with, particularly with the acrylic white paint I used for the bottom whale. I didn’t like the chalk but it was impressively fixed on the paper. I added anyway a fixative later which melted a bit the ink of the pen used to define the outlines.


Found paper: heavy, soft and rough / Black Indian ink / brush
This paper was a little finer than the previous one and I used a Japanese calligraphy brush with the ink. There was a bit of friction between brush and paper but it absorbed the ink wonderfully.


Tracing paper / Black Indian ink/brush
Ink goes perfectly with this paper. However the Japanese calligraphy brush released a big quantity of ink that caused the paper to wrinkle a bit.


Bristol paper 220 g / Letraset Promarker + ballpoint pen / Ink + fountain pen
This paper is super smooth and great to work with markers ( even though I don’t know how to use them properly!). I had some trouble with the ink because the paper looks almost waterproof in the beginning!
It took a while for the ink to be absorbed and also the paper reduces the capability of the water based colour to be modified for a short period of time, living in fact more signs visible.


Found paper: coarse, for packaging / Graphite stick/ Ballpoint pen
I didn’t like to work with the graphite stick, it didn’t really went where and how I wanted. I felt much more comfortable with the humble pen and the result was way better. I really like the paper but unfortunately it is really fragile and I couldn’t work with any liquid medium.

Corrugated paper/ Acrylics/ Poster paints / brushes
Both medium worked well with the support, even though it tended to wrinkle because of the quantity of water used to thin the colours.

Found paper: smooth cardboard / Black Indian ink with dip pen / permanent marker
The paper I used in this experiment is the inside part of a box of beers. I found this paper great particularly with the ink and dip pen. The nib ran smoothly on it and the ink was perfectly absorbed. I tried a bit of stippling and I believe the effect is really delicate and precise.

Found paper: coarse, smooth and light / ballpoint pen/ pencil
This paper is quite light but it worked well with the mediums I chose to use. I think particularly the white pen gives a great effect.

Newspaper/ Poster paints / brush
Poster paints worked particularly well with this coarse paper. I thinned them a bit more and the brush was running quite smoothly.

Moulded acid free watercolours paper 300g / watercolours with brush / ink + fountain pen
This was probably my favourite test. I love watercolours but it was actually the first time I used the proper paper with them and it was just great. I also tried to splatter some ink and then make a fish out of the stain adding few details with a fountain pen.

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Found paper: medium heavy, rough / charcoal / permanent markers
I have never used charcoal before and it really surprised me because it wouldn’t fix on the paper at all! I could have blown away the drawing with just a finger, so I put some fixative.
The permanent markers were very good on this paper though.

Cartridge paper 110 g / water soluble pencils and brush / pencils
I love the water soluble pencils and they worked very well on this support. The simple pencils also worked well but because of the slightly rough surface of the paper it might have looked better on a larger scale.

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Found paper: smooth, light / charcoal
I tried again the charcoal on a different paper to check the reaction and as the previous experiment it has revealed to be very unstable. Again, I had to put some fixative.

Multi technique paper 250 g / charcoal and ink / Coffee and ink
This was a very interesting experiment: because this charcoal was flying all over the places, I decided to fix it with some red ink. I splashed it over the surface and then dabbed the colour to cover the figure. The result is really interesting in my opinion.

I also decided to experiment with a natural colour, so I used my old espresso to wash a portion of the sheet. Once dried I worked on it with inks. I really love the result, perhaps I should have used darker tones to contrast the background.
The paper reacted very well in both cases.

Found paper: smooth, very light / magazine cut outs / ballpoint pen
This paper was so light that I thought the only thing it could support was just more layers of paper. I used in fact simple magazines cut outs, a light crafts glue and white ballpoint pen. I am really satisfied and happy with the outcome and I really enjoyed the process!