Key Steps in Illustration: Identifying Tools & Material, Pt. 2

To continue with this exercise, I was asked to analyse one image and how the illustrator works, their technique and use of visual metaphors.

The first artist I looked at was Irana Douer, and this particular image. She uses black lines – possibly ink or aqurylic – on white background, and generally depicts female figures.

The woman on the left-hand side can be seen frontally from the torso upwards. She is naked, and features several “tattoos” on her body, including rainbows, cups, an eye, patterns, and a dagger. Part of her top hair features flowers, and grass. The women on the right can be seen from the shoulders upwards, also frontally. Her hair features a coral, and some fish are floating around her. Both the women’s expressions are neutral, almost sad or depressed. She uses several meaninful elements in her work, that everybody might interpret differently. To me, especially looking on the right-hand girl, I feel that she is part of nature, and all other elements are floating around her naturally, and she fits in perfectly.

The second artist I chose was Tara Hardy and this particular image. The image shows a women in black and white against a pastell blue background, holding her head with both hands. Her head is in a screw-wrench, and she her expression is like she is having a headache because of the wrech, but also because a thunder that is striking her head. She is surrounded by birds, flowers, a bear, and elements like tools a clock. They chosen elements seem to be picked randomly. All elements can be interpreted metaphorically. To me, it means that women is stressed from the various aspects of life – work, timelines, appointments, and she is trying to cope somehow with a headache. She tries to see some beautiful elements in life, like flowers and birds in colour. Tara uses a collague, mixed-media style, and mixes cut-outs with painted elements.

After analysing the artists’ work, the practical part of the assignment said to render visuals the same way. I decided to choose one assignment (namely Assignment 1 – Saying Hello) and rework it in some other styles.

1) Black Ink: Saying Hello in they style of Irana Douer

I wanted to create a very simple version of my original piece. Irana uses  black and white lines only, striking eyes, and a very similar haircut for most of her styles, so I first analysed how these might fit into my piece. I ended up reducing the number of flowers and leaves in the figure’s hair to come closer to her style.

2) Mixed Media: Saying Hello in the style of Tara Hardy

I wanted to work in a similar collague-style, also using the pastel colours, and surreal elements. I found a nice black and white photography of a girl in one of my magazines, and also cut-out several colourful flowers as well as some patterns from different magazines, newspapers, and others.

I worked on the background first with guoache and watercolours, and added different layers to create a kind of used / shabby chic effect. Then I played around with composing all the flower cut-outs, and the other elements.


Final result is more reduced than I first imagined it. Besides the flower cut-outs, I also added some dotted lines and painted the ropes, as well as some lettering that fit perfectly.

I enjoyed working on this mixed-media collage a lot because I find it satisfying to be able to create some striking visual with pieces that I found somewhere else. Also, I think it is great that you can try out compositions easily by shifting around the elements on the paper.

kat-illustrates-identifying-tools-and-materials (16)
Assignemnt 1 “Saying Hello” in the style of Tara Hardy

3) Lino Print

I then decided to work the first assignment with different tools, using linoprint. I’ve reworked a line visual of the original piece, and adjusted it somewhat to fit the style. Since prints generally require more flat designs, I removed quite a lot of the details I had included, and focused on clear lines. These line would be necessary for the print to work out.

I cut the design vice versa in a linoleum plate, using some woodcutting tools I bought in Japan, and then did several test prints using black colour only. I also added the prints on different backgrounds like newspaper and brown packing paper, but I found that the best effect was created with clean white background.

I then also experimented with some colour gradient, using blue and green colour and blending them together. When comparing the black and white version to then on in colour, I find they have a very different effect, even though they are the same print. The black-and-white version to me seems very classic and perhaps a bit distant, whereas the version in color appears happier, more lively and joyful – something that I feel works better for the theme of saying hello. Overall, it might not be the perfect match of the style, but I’ve been working with the same tools.

Key Learnings: 

  • The same idea can turn out very differently, depending on the chosen method and tool
  • It’s worth exploring different options before determining what will work best for a particular piece
  • Printmaking is fun! I enjoy working with lino prints a lot
  • Looking at other artists’ work helps me determine what I like about their work, e.g. ideas, style, technique, personal voice. I recently also listened to a podcast (unfortunately I can’t find it anymore), which mentioned that it’s good practice to look at other artists and illustrators, and analyse what you like about them, what works for their images, etc. This would then help in adapting (not copying) certain elements for your own work

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