Illustration tips and suggestions?

klymr

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 16, 2007
1,447
98
Utah
I'm in an illustration concepts class and the professor was rather disappointed in our work today at our interim critique. I'm just wondering if anyone here has any tips or suggestions to really make an illustration, rather than break it.

The class was given the assignment to illustrate Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" without getting too literal or telling the whole story. My approach was rather cliché and boring. I guess I just don't know how to go about illustrating something without being literal. The professor wasn't too thrilled with my rendering technique, and neither was I. I used Chartpak AD markers, which he said were too "concept" like as that's how concepts were often drawn up. Anyway, I think I'm going to sit on this one for a day or so and try to dive back in. Well, thanks for reading, and even more thanks for any supportive words!
 

opeter

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2007
1,575
489
Slovenia, EU
You didn't wrote, what type of illustration it was, you made and what type of illustration, your professor wanted? I mean figurative, rahter abstract, etc?

What about the technic? You wrote you used these markers, but what if you user pastells, maybe color-pencils, aquarell etc.?
 

Pigumon

macrumors 6502
Aug 4, 2004
441
1
I think you can still use the markers. Just keep working the image, layer on different shades. One major illustration secret I will part with is take a digital pic or scan of your drawing and adjust levels or saturation in photoshop. see if you can improve upon the image, then apply those changes to the real drawing.

As far as not being literal... you might want to search online for interpretations of the book, some people can really read into stuff, even if it's not the way the author intended. But you might at least get pointed in a totally different direction and go from there.
 

macworkerbee

macrumors 6502
Jun 14, 2008
287
2
whenever I'm trying to come up with a concept for an illustration I do A TON of thumbnails and sketches.

I reasearch online, I look at interesting reference images. I walk around and think about it.

Then I do more thumbnails. Usually when I'm drawing I just go with what seems the most interesting and most importantly UNEXPECTED.

Keep drawing until you find that unexpected solution and then all you have to worry about is how to render it. For that, I can't give many tips except try lots of mediums until you find one that fits the way your draw and appeals to you.

Good luck and feel free to post some images of your work and maybe we can help you more.
 

klymr

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 16, 2007
1,447
98
Utah
Thanks for the replies. To start off, he didn't really give us a specific style to use. He just said to illustrate the story. You can google it and read it if you want. It's a 3 page story, not too long. We then had to do research to find out what Hemingway was even talking about.

Anyway, in class we talked all about Hemingway and how his writing style was often very deep for those that wanted to think deep about what he was writing. He uses a lot of metaphors. The professor had a quote on the board from Hemingway, "If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water." So, the prof. wants us to follow that same logic of thinking. Do an illustration that has a deeper meaning, if that makes sense.

As far as the medium, I think I'm steering away from the marker idea. I only have a small handful of those Chartpak markers, and at about $3 a pop, I don't want to go buy more. The only reason I have them is because I needed them for landscape architecture, my focus in school before doing the right thing and switching to graphic design. ;) I need to go back to the beginning and figure out what subject to illustrate without it being too cliché. Wish me luck!
 

onegirlcreative

macrumors member
Mar 3, 2008
95
0
Colorado
Actually, that makes total sense.

When I was in school, we had to do an illustration of a poem by Yeats. Same sort of thing.

The professor doesn't want you to be literal, but maybe more abstract, especially since Hemingway's writings are more abstract and metaphorical.

Take this to a deeper level. Don't be literal, obviously, and think about what Hemingway means from his writings. In other words, dissect it to death and try and piece it back together so you can illustrate it.

Oh, my suggestion? Don't illustrate it in PS, use Illustrator—that's what it's for. Too many people (i.e. amateurs) use PS for a program beyond its intentions—to manipulate photos.

Have some fun with typography in this assignment, as well. I'm sure your professor would LOVE that. Take a look at some of Paula Scher's work and you'll know what I mean.

Good luck.
 

klymr

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 16, 2007
1,447
98
Utah
Actually, that makes total sense.

When I was in school, we had to do an illustration of a poem by Yeats. Same sort of thing.

The professor doesn't want you to be literal, but maybe more abstract, especially since Hemingway's writings are more abstract and metaphorical.

Take this to a deeper level. Don't be literal, obviously, and think about what Hemingway means from his writings. In other words, dissect it to death and try and piece it back together so you can illustrate it.

Oh, my suggestion? Don't illustrate it in PS, use Illustrator—that's what it's for. Too many people (i.e. amateurs) use PS for a program beyond its intentions—to manipulate photos.

Have some fun with typography in this assignment, as well. I'm sure your professor would LOVE that. Take a look at some of Paula Scher's work and you'll know what I mean.

Good luck.
Haha. Thanks for the suggestions. Luckily for all of us, I know not to us PS for anything other than photo-manipulation. I'm not the best with Ai, but fair.

I did find an article about illustration by Nate Williams. He give a few pointers that I need to think about:

• using your senses - we interpret the world with our senses .. and the more senses you can engage .. the more memorable your piece will be .. try and think of how the project you are working on relates to touch, taste, smell, sight, etc
• 3 words - I try to think of the best 3 words to describe the subject matter of the illustration
(motorist, anger, crazy) or (small mountain town, invasion, film)
• symbols - then I try to figure out what best visually represents these words.
(motorist=car, motorcycle, guy drinking coffee, etc)(anger=red face, hands in the air, fighting, yelling)(crazy=in this case ridiculous situation, motorist and a cyclist in a boxing ring with amazing strength) If you get stuck Google images is a great way to see images associate with specific words.
• Relationships - then I think.. how can I arrange these symbols in a way to convey a point, show a relationship between these symbols .. there are a number of ways to do this .. by how the symbols are interacting (boxing, racing, tied together, on top of each other, etc), their size to one another, their properties (metal=strong, ice=cold)etc
We have been focusing on the latter two more than anything. I guess I need to implement the first couple of those ideas too.

It's also funny that you mention typography, because the professor did say we can use anything except a photo for this assignment, unless it's a photo collage. Then he specifically said typography could be used to make a powerful illustration. I've always wanted to try to make an image out of type like Paula's. I just might have an excuse to sit here at my Mac and give that a shot. ;) I guess we will see what ideas I can come up with.