Key Steps in Illustration: Choosing Content, Pt. 3

I had decided to leave this exercise for the time being, and worked on other personal projects in the meantime. This allowed me to let time pass and get new inspirations on what I could do for this portrait. One idea that came to my head was to focus on the main character’s face, and show it frontally, yet only half of it.

I created a sketch, and decided to work this out as a linoleum print. I prepared an ink painting, and a template in ink to prepare the linoleum plate.

choosing-content (11)
choosing-content (15)
Template and linoleum plate

I prepared several test prints, in different colours, and also experimented with several layers. Linoleum print colours are very bold, so I blended the magenta and yellow that I had to create this purple brown colour.

I was quite happy with how the face actually turned out in print. I think it looks quite serious and sad, and you can image that there is something on this guys mind that makes him quite desperate. I showed this print to a few people, and the reaction – compared to the piece I created earlier – was that the emotion (sadness) is quite obvious here.

The tricky part for me now was the background. Given the frontal view of the face, I’d be looking into the room instead of outside. So I’d need to create an office environment in the background.

I tried out monotyping a desk in the background, but didn’t really like it because it looks to childish for this portrait.

choosing-content (1)

I then decided to have a colour mash without showing any furniture or other shapes. Why? Because I don’t want to draw away the attention from the face, and I think using this background works better.

I also played with having girls faces (photocopies of some female actresses that I found) as background for the face. You cannot see them fully, but they are still visible on his mind. The print itself is magenta, with black on top.

choosing-content (6)choosing-content-final-new

Key Learnings:

  • As mentioned at the beginning of the exercise, I struggled with this one a lot. It took several weeks to complete, with some time when I did not work on it because I was not inspired at all.
  • The initial research helped to understand the era and the settings of the scene better, but then I found it difficult to put these references into the illustration.
  • I find it difficult to create an interesting composition that catches the eye.
  • I enjoy experimenting with different materials and styles, and I guess it’s worth exploring different options until the final result is ready.
  • The first idea might not necessarily turn out what you want it to be. If this is the case, I shouldn’t worry  or be discouraged too much, but continue with another idea that might work better.
  • Compared to the first piece I did, the final version is more experimental, but more interesting in my point of view. I’m using a material mix, and a more abstract aproach to the portrait. However, I believe it captures the emotions better, which is what I aimed at.

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