Key Steps in Illustration: Assignment 5 – Seven Days, Pt. 1

The final assignment of Key Steps in Illustration is the one I was both looking forward to and dreading at the same time. Looking forward to because it means I am about to finish this first course, which I manage to do while working full time at the moment. Dreading because the assignment itself gives me a lot of freedom to do what I want. I find this more difficult than actually having a brief to work on, that I can interpret my way. For this assignment I have to write my own brief. 

The topic is “Seven Days” and it can be a story, a poster, an editorial piece. I spent quite a long time thinking about what I wanted to create. Ideas included a children’s story. However, I did not come across a great story or could not make up one myself, so I decided to focus on another aspect of this course that I enjoyed, namely editorial and poster design. 

So before I started to actually put down some ideas in my sketchbook, I had already gone through several ideas in my mind. One idea I decided to focus on was “why the weekdays are actually called the way they are” and why we consider seven days one week. 

Based on this idea, I did some research on the web (see sources here, here, here, here, and here), and found several sources that state that the days of the week are named after Roman gods – or other gods. It very much depends on the culture, for instance. Germanic cultures would have the names based on Nordic gods rather than Romans. However, since we are in an English-speaking context for this course, I will focus on the Roman history. It seems that the days of the weeks were named after planets, including the sun and the moon (then considered planets); the planets in turn received their names from Roman gods and goddesses. Depending on the culture, usually Sunday or Monday are considered the first day of the week. 

Assignment 5 – My brief for “Seven Days”

Create an editorial illustration on the topic “Seven days of the week – their origins” for a weekly news magazine and their edutainment section. The illustration will accompany a short article that describes how the weekdays were named, and how the 7-day-week was established. The illustration should also be able to work as a poster design, which might be a gift for new magazine subscribers. The preferred style is minimalistic. The art director wants to see a similar result to your Museum Posters.” 

I also looked into the Roman gods, and what is associated with them. Based on my some research, I found the following information (see sources here, here, and here.

Apollo is the Roman god of the sun, light, music, prophecy, poetry, medicine, and some other disciplines. He is often depited beardless and youthful. 

Diana is the goddess of hunting, childbirth and women. She is regarded to be the same as the moon, i.e. she is the goodess of the moon. 

Saturn is the god of agriculture and harvesting. 

Jupiter is the supreme deity among the Roman gods, i.e. the king of gods as well as the god of the sky, thunder and rain. He is often portraied as an old man, with thunder and lightning in his hands. 

Venus is the goddess of beauty, love, and sex. 

Mars is the god of war. 

Mercury is the Messenger of the Gods and of Commerce and Finance and was often depited with wings on his sandals, and a winged hat. 

The Romans had named the planets after their gods and goddesses. Since the days of the week received their names based on the planets, the following naming origins were found: 

  • Sunday – Sun / Apollo
  • Monday – Moon / Diana
  • Tuesday – Mars
  • Wednesday – Mercury 
  • Thursday – Jupiter 
  • Friday – Venus 
  • Saturday – Saturn

When I decided to focus on the topic planets / Roman gods, I happened to come accross different inspirations, for example some planet decoration on the festival “Toolwood” in Munich. 

I also looked at some illustrations of planets, and some poster designs I like. This one is one of my favourites because it is quite simple, has bright colours and shows the planets’ ratios well. More examples which focus on the essentials, some even with a reduced colour scheme, and vector designs, can be seen here, here, here and here

Based on my tutor’s feedback on part 4, I also research some great poster designs and found the following websites that feature some great examples of poster designs: Canva presents 50 different poster designs with different styles and techniques, and I find it quite helpful to scroll through the page for some inspiration. I particularly like “Florence and the Machine” and “Baby To Be” for its simplicity. I think for most of the posters, the key element is to allow enough “White Space” (not necessarily in white, but also in other colours) to allow the subject to breathe, and focus on the key element that gets the idea across. “More than Men” has a great dynamic through the flash, that leads the viewer’s eye into the picture, and it’s bold colours make it an even more dynamic and powerful visual. 

Based on my research I gathered some first ideas, and started sketching planets, and some other visualisations for Roman gods/faces in my sketchbook. My idea is to show the planets and the Roman gods together, and have the article explain that the give the names to the weekdays. 

I also created a small moodboard in my sketchbook, and found some other inspirations for style and for faces in some fashion magazines. I gathered some cut-outs and flyers that I found somehow convey the planets (round shapes and bright colours). 

I then continued to work on some more sketches, using different materials to get a feeling for the textures and colours. I did this to get a feeling if a particular texture would work for this project. For instance, I tried out pastels, ink, brushed pens, and pencils for some quick sketches. 

Since I wanted to depict the Roman gods some way, I thought it’d be good to also look at the proportions of the human body. Therefore I did some  sketches with a proportions model, and tried out different techniques, e.g. with/without shading, outlines only vs. full texture. 

I continued to work on a few thumbnails for my layout ideas. This time I tried to narrow it down to only two pages in my sketchbook. In previous projects, I found it did not always help to have a vast selection of ideas since narrowing down is even harder then. Instead, I worked on a few different ideas, and then decided to go forward with developing my two favourite ones with more details. 

Before doing so, I put in some further ideas for styles and materials in my sketchbook, including pen sketches, collage, and ink-outlined planets with bold shapes, which I quite like. 

Now I used coloured pencils to visualize my favourite two ideas from the thumbnails as simple line visual and colour visuals. I also worked on somewhat larger version of each planet/figure to indicate the proportions they should be. On the visuals, the planets are more or less the same size, but actually I want to show them in more in the ratio they would be in in (based on my research here). 


  • Google search “planets posters”. URL, URL, URL, URL and URL.
  • “Ever wondered how the days of the week got their names? The answer will stun you” by Hayley Richardson. Published on May 12, 2017. URL
  • “Where did the names of the days come from?”. URL
  • “How the Days of the Week got Their Names”. Published on Aug 12. URL
  • “Ever Wondered How Days Of The Week Got Their Names? Here’s How” by Shabdita Pareek. Published on Feb 26, 2016. URL
  • “What The Days Of The Week Are Named After May Surprise You” by Robin Parrish. Published on Feb 26, 2015. URL
  • “Planets in order of size” by Elizabeth Howell.  Published on April 21, 2014. URL
  • “Roman gods.” URL
  • “15 Major Ancient Roman Gods And Goddesses You Should Know About” by Dattatreya Mandal. Published on March 20, 2018. URL
  •  “The 12 Gods and Goddesses of Pagan Rome” by Graham Land. Published on Nov 12, 2018. URL
  • “50 outstanding posters to inspire your next design”. URL

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