Key Steps in Illustration: A Subjective Drawing, Pt. 1

This exercise asks to create a subjective drawing, and I chose the term “Umbrella” to create exactly that. Why umbrella? Basically it has been raining a lot over the last few days – it’s proper autumn weather now – and I just felt in the mood for a umbrella piece.

In contrast to the previous exercise that asked to look at an object objectively, this time I’m to compile my associations, emotions and thoughts first, create a moodboard and start collecting a range of intput first, and then based on these results create an illustration with my own ideas and impressions I have.

I started with a small sketch from my memory of what I think an umbrella would look like, and a spider diagram of thoughts I associate with umbrellas. At first I didn’t think I would find that many related topics – other than rain and bad weather that is, but it turns out that I did find some interesting things, that did take a bit of time to find. For instance, I did put down things like “rain, rainy weather, autumn, usueful, etc”, but I also relate situations e.g. sharing umbrellas with best friends, or couples cuddling while going for a walk in the rain. I also discovered that I associate quite a few pop culture things with umbrellas: Mary Poppins and her flying umbrella as well as the yellow umbrella that frequently pops up in How I met you mother sprang to my mind. I also came up with quite a few songs that feature umbrellas, most famously Rihanna’s interpretation.

Umbrella spider diagram

Umbrella (2)

Colours I associate with umbrellas is a bit tricky. When I think of umbrellas I picture them colourful, with stripes or dots, or other patterns, but at the same time, I associate bad weather with umbrellas, i.e. dark blues, greys, greens. I think that could possibly be the backdrop for an illustration. I created a moodboard to find what colours I associate with it. I thought of the umbrella as colourful in a greyish world:

Umbrella moodboard

I then went on to do a few study and composition sketches, to look at an umbrella from different angles. For the composition I tried to look at the whole thing, as well as tried several versions with cutting the frame, so I would only show a part of the umbrella because I found it to be more interesting.

Umbrella – Study

I wanted to create an illustration that captures the delicate, yet sturdy characteristic of the umbrella, and make it stand out as something bright and colourful in the grey rainy weather. This is my personal feeling towards umbrellas, and I want to put this into my image. I do not yet know how to best to it and what materials to use, so I tried playing with a few different options:

The left page shows an umbrella made from Washi tape; it’s delicate and an interesting material to use. The background is done with pencil. The view is very plain, and I don’t particularly like it because I found it too boring and to flat.

The right hand side is colourpencils and aquarells, and I wanted to try out a similar composition that I tried with pencils earlier to see how it is in colour. I prefer the colour version, but I found it too uninspiring in a way, so I went on to work on a new view.

Umbrella – study

Another quick compositional study is done with self-adhesive paper on pencil to see how the contrast works. I like the contrast of the grey and the bright red, and I will probably continue using it for my final illustration.

Umbrella (3)


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