OLIO

Week 1 - module brief

Following on from previous years, as third years we are expected to complete an OLIO project. The OLIO book is a self-created and published by Pittville Press product displaying the illustrative talent of the current University of Gloucestershire Illustration third year students. 

As our first session since coming back from our summer break we were briefed on our task objectives, deadlines and the changes the course has undergone since previous years. The task consists of creating a set of illustrations for a single page of illustration, using a narrative view of a proverb. As well as a book cover design and a self-portrait. We must show all our development within our blogs/websites and have regular discussions with tutors and peers over the course of the module.

The lecture was given by Deloris, who mentioned that every year students are very put back and displeased by the brief at the start as it always differs to the last year, which I think is true of the general reaction by the people surrounding me in close proximity in the lecture anyway. But delving in to the unknown was always something that can cause worry and anxiety so it was normal. Changes made to the module this year to our understanding, including the addition of a self portrait, and an extra illustration, as well as the general layout of the pages being landscape as opposed to the traditional portrait method being used years before - due to some students creating landscape double-page spreads which would be interrupted by the center of the book. These changes had been made with the intention of saving stress for certain students but I think it's fair to say it recieved a mixed response.

After the initial breifing we were each given a chance to pick a piece of paper from a hat, with an old proverb on it, which we would have to base our project around. We were assured that whatever our given proverb it was very open to interpretation - which definitley helped to rest the nerves of some. My proverb is, "All Cats Are Grey In The Dark". Obviously on first glance I had no idea what this might mean so I did some quick internet research to gain a basic idea, as well as trying to use my creative abilities to try and give it meaning. In conclusion, I interpretted that, explained basically, it meant that appearance is not everything, as in the dark we can't see. So it plays on the idealogies of looks not being the be all and end all and focusing on other qualities rather than just physical aesthetics. 

Having thought more thoroughly about the theme I think it naturally lends itself to stereotypes of love and lust and relates quite easily to the old cliche of 'beauty is on the inside and not the outside'. As well as love this could be used to represent friendship, family and most definitely, race/ ethnicity issues. Essentially, the joining of two opposites. 

As I explored my ideas further for my proverb, I decided creating a mind map would be beneficial to help give me some structure to go ahead and create some rough drawings from. After creating the following work, I took it into a group development discussion at university where as students we compared our projects and discussed how we could improve along with the advice of our tutors.

Initial ideas

FI found doing a mindmap a great way of begining to categorise my ideas. As you can somewhat see from the scan of my mindmap, most of my ideas stemmed from relationships. The most explored idea being the idea of visual opposites. My intentions behind this idea relating back to the proverb was to show an unlikely relationship between sexes/races that are deemed too different externally to get on and making them have a good relationship. This highlights the idea that internal qualities outweigh external looks which I think is a good explanation of 'All Cats are Grey in the Dark'. I created a list of visual opposites and later decided on ones I felt artistically could create a more powerful composition and covey the message behind the proverb better. As well as humans I also toyed with the idea of animal relationships again with the ideas of opposites and natural enemies.
With my first composition idea I tried to show a police/criminal scene of conflict. The scan of this image hasnt captured the drawing fully as each character was actually represnted as a skeleton within a humanoid shape, to highlight how every person is a skeleton inside and we all share internal traits.  I haven't acted on correcting the drawing too much as it is definitely not one i will pursue as a final design.  Having met and dicussed this design amongst my development group discussions at university we reached the resolution it was a bit too political and violent to represent the university publication and although it is a powerful message that I think does need to be conveyed I felt that this university project was not the place.
Through this concept I tried to show love between two impossible 'races'. I felt the theme of love and romance fit the idealogies of the proverb well and is also a classic artistic theme. This composition I created, however, I realised was not as original as I first thought as I realised I had effectively recycled one of my favorite artists work unknowingly. I think this happened as the piece clearly had a lasting impact on me, which is a testiment of the artist - Ben Brown. Furthermore, in the group discussion we concluded that looking past Ben Brown as an artist the idea was infact still very 'used' past that. The composition in particular was definitely very unoriginal, and although I think it is powerful and effective in portraying love I wouldn't be developing it any further. I think however, the portrayal of love between two different species/races such as this is something I would be interested in taking forward.
Finally, I drew another idea taking the proverb in a much more literal sense, as I felt my first idea in particular was definitely becoming too serious and controversial. Through this idea I simply planned on portraying a cat in a grey colouring in a townscape at night, looking over nightlife scene. The meaning behind this piece would be nearly entirely literal as the cat would indeed be 'grey in the dark'. I don't think this idea really followed the task fully and was definitely not the product of some of my more creative ideas. Although I like the composition through the strong outline of the cat against the angles of the town roofs and walls. I also liked the idea of creating an urban roughened environment, with weathering and graffiti as I thought this would add a dark atmosphere to a night time scene.

Week 2 -Colour Models

This week we had a lecture from Deloris on the basis of colour models and how they effect us as Illustrators and in particular how they will be used within our Olio project. Understanding colour models and identifaction systems is key to us as illustrators especially, when talking about printing. 
One of the easiest and most readily accesible methods of understanding colour models and identifaction are digital art programmes like photoshop. Photoshop uses a coding system to identify certain colours from an indescribibley huge range. These colours can all be identified via the 'colour picker' and all have a code value beginning with a '#'. 
The colour picker window in photoshop appears complex, as it very much is. However most people dont pay much attention to the information boxes in its lower right, as to fair, you dont really need to, but it is very interesting to note how they change when researching. The narrow rectangle is used to select a basic colour. As seen above, the box entitled 'H' is selected, which stands for 'Hue' this allows the user to move freely around the large coloured box to select the variation of the colour picked from the narrow rectangle. By moving the cursor and selecting the colour variation, the qualities written in the boxes in the right of the window change. S, stands fro saturation, the saturation of the image being lessened reduces the vibrancy of the colour and eventually results in it being colourless (black, white, grey) or the most vivid alteration of its former colour. R, G and B represent the Red, Green and Blue present in the colour. Every colour is created through mixing colours just like with paint in a physical sense. CMYK stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. these again are represented in their presence via a percentage value. 
No matter what colour you have selected to alter in the colour picker window, Photoshop will always have pure black in the bottom left and right corners and pure white in the top left. Pure white is represented as #ffffff with a hue and saturation quality of 0 as no colour is actively present.  Pure black can be presented in two ways with a saturation quality at 100% or 0%, as the colours making it up can be so vividly saturated when combined they create black or so unsaturated they become black, Albeit there is two ways to create black it is still the same 'colour' and as such is represented with the same code #000000.
RGB and CYMK are the two colour models. The colours combine by overlapping to create vast numbers of new colours, except white.  Most modern printers use CMYK as the colour range is better. These colour models are key to printing in particular as they use the overlapping method when printing in colour runs. a single color will be printed then overlapped by another, most print methods use a tiny dotting system with overlapping so it is very hard to see but a prime example to experiment overlapping is using screen print or again, photoshop:
Here I have created a Yellow (Y) circle.
On the layer above I created a Magenta (M) flat pattern. 
By adding the 'multiply' effect to the Magenta pattern I am able to create an overlay effect and simulate what would be the result of a print process. The combination of the Yellow and Magenta cretes a vibrant orange colour, which is just a quick example of how overlays work in printing.
I often try to use CMYK when creating work I aim to screenprint as when screenprinting you should only use a sall range of colours so by using CMYK and overlays you can create a diverse range of colours using only very little print runs.
Deloris explained to us that as standard, programmes like photoshop tend to use RGB colour models so to make sure to alter the settings to CMYK, as this is what model the printer would use when our work is finalised. This would allow a better representation of colour.This was useful to me as sometimes I thought the colour representation of my printed work was 'off' so this provided a helpful insight.
We looked at a production company called 'no brow', a graphic art publishing company. independent companies like no brow often use their own printing methods and choose their own colour models so their range is less limited as they can print whatever colour they should choose. They can also create fluroscent colours.
Fluorescent colour is a colour which has luminosity meaning it is so bright and vivid it emits light. most traditional print methods are incapable of creating these colours but digital programmes do provide inivative solutions such as the 'vivid light' effect on photoshop. 
[http://i.imgur.com/HysU56N.jpg]
An example of fluorescent colours.
Lastly, we were given some advice from George and Deloris, when thinking about or Olio work:

  • Sample different print techniques, different methods will have different results so try them out.
  • have a good range of tone in our work, images are more interesting and will be better as a printed image if the tonal range is bigger try using white and black and using strong contrasts.
  • dont go overly bright on photoshop and sometimes print effects the vibrance of colour.

Task - Read and Illustrate

Finally today we were given a task to read and illustrate one of 6 articles. I chose an article named 'As bugs come for its Mulberry trees, a city wraps itself in flypape' which was about an outbreak of small white flies which had migrated from Iran to New York City and were becoming a pest for the locals. The main idea of this task was to create work to a given deadline to help improve our proffesional skills. I found this very difficult as I have never been the best at balancing multiple projects. And as such I tried to create a piece that was relatively simlple to create but also worked to complete the task.
I created this piece with the idea of representing the flies as intimidating so tried to create the effect of them being closer in perspective so to capture what they really look like up close, which I think is important for an editorial illustration as it has to be informative. However, my perspective work was still not good so they appear very large, particularly in comparison to the leaves, and more like moths! I think the idea of the composition is good but the execution was poor, mainly down to my commitments to other areas of the course and as usual, my time management which needs drastic improvements. I used Cyan, white and black with a halftone dot effect for toning as well as being fast to produce I think it's a nice stylistic quality I am trying to trademark throughout my work, I think it works to a degree but it could be much more effective.  Another element I missed with this illustration was the inclusion of 'flytape' something which actually features in the title, I think by missing out this I actually took away from the effectiveness of my work. Overall, I struggled with this task, the time management asepct in particular, but it was defnitely a good excercise to evaluate where I am at in terms of proffesional potential and excecution of a commmision.

Research

Naturally, as I began to draw up some of my idea concepts, I started to think about some of my main stylistic influences in the illustrtation world. I think having illustrators you admire and learn from is great so I wanted to record who they were and what about them helped me:

Ben Brown

Ben Brown is an Australian illustrator and as it stands my favourite. I love his use of linework, subject matter and the way he uses colour and tone. his graphic style I am completely in awe of. His use of line is something that I have consistently looked at to improve my own, as I discovered him via social media noticing the similarities between his work and my own, most notably his subject choices. "Ben has completed various artwork for tour posters, albums and events over the years. He lists his fave project as the poster art for Nirvana’s only tour of Australia. He has also enjoyed working on tour or album artwork for acts like Mudhoney, Sonic Youth and Redd Kross, and more recently You Am I, Pearl Jam and Ice Cube".[1] for me as a music enthusiast Ben Brown is exactly where I hope my studies may take me, a very inspiring figure. His work is described via a blog I discovered as "rockstar-pirate-hybrid-Andy Warhol flair... He specialises in poking fun at celebrities, literally peeling back layers of pretence down to bare bones". [1]  The blog also says "his enthusiasm for surfing, skate culture and music to get involved in projects he’s passionate about" Ben Brown shares many enthusiams and stylistic qualities with myself he is perfect to study for my development as an illustrator, my only concern is taking too much influence...
[2]                                                                                       [3]                                                                   [4]
Having regularly studied Brown's work The main thing that stands out to me is his linework. His ability to use lines descriptively and create depth in his signature graphic style is fantastic. He also uses a thinner line to convey motions or structure, which I think is a very useful technique for me to practice within my own work.

Developing Ideas - Page designs

As I have tried to do throughout my third year coursework so far I paid particular attention to the module brief for this task. The first point of which being that I produce 2 distinctly different ideas for my page design, based on the proverb I was given. The brief also mentions how the proverb is very open to interpretation, this was a bit of a double-edged sword in terms of a sourcing ideas as I had so much freedom which can be great but sometimes it is also good to be given something very specifc so you spend less time pondering what you might design and more time creating concepts, never the less I created some rough drafts for my proverb, 'All Cats Are Grey In The Dark':


For my first set of ideas and compositions I had the idea of reiterating my interpretation of my proverb as 'If certain qualities can't be percieved then they don't matter' focusing on the idea of love, and looks not mattering. However, I wanted to take this to more of an extreme and as such made one character human and one an alien. I think the strange nature of this adds some light-hearted humour as well as to me a very interesting subject matter which I think will lend itself to my art style with my future ideas and intentions of how I'd wish to take one of these compositions to a more finished state.
I created this piece first, with the intention of it being a starting point to draw up more ideas. The close up kiss composition captures the idea of love very well I think but it is very much a cliche and definitley not something I would use.
With the inclusion of a whole body on each character in this composition, I had a chance to express their attraction to one another through more obvious means of body language. I thnk this works fairly well but also unveiled the issue of a background/setting. For which I went for an Alien invasion with spaceships in the background. Th two characters are supposed to be on a balcony as well, which I deemed in my very limited knowledge as quite romantic. This image was drawn in a light pencil with the contrast edited on the computer so is not very easy to see , but I chose not to re-do it as I knew it was only early development.
Sadly again this image isn't very clear due to the same reasons as the last but I tried again to experiment with composition and decided upon a theme of a chaotic alien invasion background and the alien and human lovers battling this adversity for their love for another which I think gave my idea more of a narrative and made it more interesting. I often struggle with backgrounds as well, so this gave me a chance to make it fun and exciting.
This design again features a body language showing attraction between the characters however not as obvious as the others. I don't think the Alien however looks infactuated enough and more like he is saving the woman rather than them being in love. The positioning of the characters I think works well.
My Final initial concept design featured a chaotic background once again but with a change in the characters postures, I feel in this one the women looks too provocative and almost villainous, as a result of her body language. At this stage of development I began to realise I was letting my ideas get ahead of me and beginning to grow away from the proverb. I decided at this point it was probably a good point to start with another concept.
Following from a suggestion from another student, Jack, in one of our group discussions I decided to proceed with the idea of a police line up. The line up is traditionally used by victims to identify a criminal from a list of people similar in appearance. However, this idea focused on making all of the line up appear the same by using the idea of a skeleton as representing their internal qualities all being the same, regardless of their external appearance. The idea is very hard to explain but I think it is relevant to the interpretation of 'All Cats Are Grey In The Dark' being external qualities don't matter or in plainer terms 'dont judge a book by it's cover'. I think the idea of 'All Cats Are Grey In The Dark' also has some sinister undertones so a criminal theme fits well.

I went with a basic front on shot for this composition as I thought it was tthe most obvious way to describe a line up. You also get a good view of each character. I tried to give each skeleton a bit of personality through their body language to show off their 'internal qualities'. 
I went for a more dynamic angle with this composition. Annoyingly, some detail has been lost in scanning again but I thnk the premise of the design is still visible. I think an angle like this one is more interesting but less stereotypical of a line up which loses it a degree of humour.
Not alot to say about this one...


I think this design was a result of a frustration of feeling I was diverting away from the original proverb, hence the catheads. Definitley not one I would continue with...
Through some internet design inspiration and some of my other previous succesful works I decided I wanted to create a retro 50's atmosphere with my setting and character designs. The idea of a traditional American diner date was my main inspiration.
I explored some American date cliches through these compositions which I felt would add a degree of humour to my work but also the composition and placement of the characters would be very symbolic of the atmosphere and emotion between the characters I was trying to create. They include: Sharing a milkshake, Looking at the stars in a car and Looking longingly at one another over a table. At this stage of the design process and my whole time at uni to add, I had learned my character work was always alot stronger than my settings and with this in mind I decided to pursue the composition of the top middle drawing as I felt the body language was displaying the emotion attatchment between the characters perfectly. 

However, at this stage I was very mindful to remind myself that I am drawing this as a representation of 'All Cats Are Grey In The Dark' so I intended on having a darker lit room in reference - something which I could better illustrate with colour.
With the composition in mind I created this refined sketch:
I was really pleased with this sketch I felt it really captured the emotion between the two characters I wanted and my research into design of the 50's  paid off as I felt the seating, wall tiles, milkshake and the character costumes worked well to represent the era. I also intended on adding other details digitally such as wall art. And of course colour would play a big role. 
I wanted to recreate the linework of some of my favorite artists like Ben Brown and Lichtenstein, so having crisp descriptive dark lines was very important to me. I used illustrate to effectively re-draw the whole image in a vector format using a calligraphic brush to create a smooth line which works to describe depth and shape well. Although this was a very time-consuminng excercise, I felt it neccesary to achieve the style I wanted. Something to add to this was that for the upcoming deadline we were asked to create rough designs. So perhaps my designs were too refined but I found this brief quite confusing, I thnk this contributed to my time management mishaps.
I also drew the linework for a neon wall art idea I had.
Below is my finished rough design, I feel it works well. Obviously a few areas are not very neat but I think that is to be expected with a rough. I think the colours are the area I am slightly cautious about. I thought very carefully about them trying to keep a relatively light and pastel theme to create a comfortable atmosphere and also accentuate the characteristics of the two characters, as nice and not sinister. The colour choices I felt also work well to symbolise the style of the era. After finishing the colours intially, I altered the overall colour balance and added more Magenta and Blue to try and recreate the colour of the neon light on the wall but also show the time of day of the scene, being night time - refering to 'All Cats Are Grey In The Dark'. I Really like how changing the colour balance created this effect but just worry it is too dark. 
I experimented adding a rough border, I'm undecided whether I like this or not, I think it makes it look as though as a viewer you are looking through a frosted window which isnt what I intended.
Finally, I experimented with a higher saturated colour palette, which I thought would create the effect of the neon lighting shining brightly and create a nightclub type lighting. I think this works but I prefer the original.
Next I aimed to further develop my Skeleton line up idea:

I used Illustrator to draw the linework of each character that I drew individually as initial sketches. The diversity in the sizes of the characters meant there was a reasonable challenge in the composition and re-sizing of the images. vectorizing the line drawings via illustrator helped me in this sense as images could now be resized without any loss of detail or pixelation although this was only in the illustrator programme and not in photoshop where I would be colouring the image so it was still a very time-consuming process. I used a blending option called 'stroke' on the characters nearer the front of the composition to add a heavier outline to them to make them appear closer to the camera and also try to make the lines with the T-rex skeleton in the background vaguely similar in size as I feel with illustrations focusing very strongly on line, a difference in width and stength too obvious can ruin the flow of the composition.
As a whole, I think this image isn't as strong as my first cover Idea. The intentions of the image were to convey a message of 'not judging people by appearance as in some circumstances we are all the same' or in this sense we could all commit a crime. This was my link to my proverb 'All Cats Are Grey In The Dark' which I think in concept was a decent idea and the idea of a police line up and criminals works well to achieve a sinister atmosphere which I think works well with the 'dark' aspect of the proverb. I think this composition works wel aslthough I could've planned better. Something I like about this image is the use of the rougher brush texture, around the wall and floor I think it works well it creating tone to an otherwise relatively flat image. Having had more time or more to the point, managed my time better, I would have executed more techniques to show greater tone such as the halftone dot style I have used in previous designs. However, time frame in account I am not devastated with the quality of this piece, I think the linework is reasonable for a rough design and the outlining of the characers adds depth. I didn't think too hard about colour, I wanted to keep it minimal to keep with a scheme ass I thought with a more minimalist design such as this (with its relatively basic background) a smaller range of colours would work well aesthetically in a graphic style.

Development Ideas - Cover

designing the front cover was a great challenge for me. The cover brief mentions that the cover can follow on the theme of proverbs but isnt necessary. As such I have chosen not to limit my designs to working within this limitation and instead I am aiming to create more narrative in my work as I think I may link my front cover design to my internal design as I think having a consistent style is very improtant to your identity as an illustrator in particular in a published article.
My design idea is to create a 50's style diner, incorporating the OLIO 12 title using a neon sign. The neon sign was very important to me as it was a element of design that was really catching my eye and something I really wanted to recreate. To create a consistent style throughout my work I decided again with my linework I should redraw all of my lines in vector fomat. This again was a very time-consuiming process but something i felt was neccesary.
I drew this rough Diner from a sample image on the internet which I altered to make it slightly simpler. The drawing itself is pretty poor i feel, my strengths are definitley not in drawing buildings so even if this drawing was to be not used then it was a good excercise to practice something I don't often draw.
I used a combination of the line and perspective tools to create this basic linework. The line work appears very basic but actually took a considerable amount of time, far too much time in fact.
In cohesion with creating this design I was working on an element of the composition I wanted to draw seperately, an old cadillac car. I had a very clear idea of the style I wanted to draw it in and created this pencil sketch, which i then as a result ran through an image trace process in illustrator to convert it to a vector and sharpen the linework. This was a much more time consuming way to do my line work but I think the lines suffered in quality.
Pencil sketch (high contrast altered)
Following working on linework I used photoshop to add colour:
Within the coming week we had a group discussion where we were expected to show our rough ideas for our cover image. To make sure I had something to show I compiled the images together in a rough state using photos as placeholders for things I would draw in future as well as adding a rough colouring to the diner I had drawn:
In a sense I was pleasantly surprised when discovering some of the otehr students were also lagging behind in creating designs for this project and it gave me some comfort in that I was not bottom of the group - for a change. It was interesting to compare my work and progress with everyone else.
Following this session I was told to reconsider my ideas as some elements could be a bit controversial such as the woman smoking etc. Which I understood, and would consider in the development of my designs. Most of the elements were just placeholders anyway so it wasnt a big issue. I think Deloris wanted me to change the whole premise of my idea but I decided against this as I felt happy with my idea and no less so having seen everyone elses'. It was a slight confidence knock but it wasn't going to deter me from developing the idea with the criticism in mind. On a personal level I find these group sessions have their positives and negatives and this one wasn't in my opinion particularly helpful.
Following on from the doubt cast over my design, I decided I really didn't actually like my composition anyway and the retro look I was trying to create could be created in a farm more interesting way. 

So after spending plenty of time drawing the linework of the diner, I scrapped it in favour of a new design:
I created this design in Illustrator again using it's crisper vector lines to draw this more abstract, retro shaped diner. Like the last, It had a large neon sign displaying the 'Olio 12' text but featured a much more interesting composition as well as more detailing through line work. I drew inspiration of the linework from one of my favorite illustrators Ben Brown, someone I regualrly refer to for inspiration. I tried to draw as much freehand as possible to create more emotion in the work as I felt the flat lines before were very dull.
I knew I wanted to incorporate the car heavily In the foreground of my composition but I wasn't sure how i was going to involve my characters. I wanted either 1 or 2 characters, one at least being an alien. This idea of an alien would carry on the theme of one of my page designs, so would create a sense of narrative.

I found creating a composition for this stage incredibly frustrating. The following picture isn't very clear but the process I used was to print out several copies of the already decided composition and use a pencil to draw on very roughly where I could position my characters. It was through doing this excercise i decided no matter who or what characters I had in the image, they had to be infront of the car and large and this would be much more interesting as a scene.
As a result of this tedious and frustrating excercise I decided upon the idea of two lost aliens leaning on the car, holding a map - the map could either be as they are lost  or where they plan to invade.
From some intial rough sketches and another carefully executed redraw process through Adobe illustrator I created these characters. The body gestures I think work well the hand on hip in particular is very human-like and symbolic of someone deep in thought - which I think with the Aliens looks funny. I didn't at this stage add any tone, as for one I felt the level of detail was already going to be sufficient for a rough but mainly as I was beggining to run dangerously close to the deadline.
With some clear stylistic elements in mind such as the halftone dot (something of which I hope to make my trademark) I began to colour and develop my cover ideas to a finished rough state. I used the vivid light effect on the neon to try and create a fluorescent effect. I also altered the colour balance of the foreground according to the nature of the sky and the time of day I aimed for it to represent. I felt the skyline was effective as a gradient and contrasted well with the dark silhouettes of the palm trees and bright neon. Although I am not as keen on the yellow '12'. I was unsure how to colour the diner in the background, I wanted to draw less attention to it than the characters and car in the foreground so slightly lightened the outlines and didnt use any tones so to draw attention away from it. I think time was also a factor in this decision but I feel with the necessary planning this could be an effective technique. I personally doubt this design could win the right to be the front cover as it stands but I alwyas try to have faith in my own ability and I think I have the ideas in place to devleop this rough to a much higher quality finished state.
This was my other rough cover concept sketch. I wanted to draw a skeleton surfboarding on a harsh wave with  the OLIO 12 letters falling into the curve of the wave. I wanted to design a dramatic, intense image but felt the design had little narrative and lacked the depth of my other design.
I also developed another very rough design where I wanted an old cadillac like in my other design, facing a wall like it had been swerved in to a park, with tire tracks on the road. With a neon Olio title on a brick wall. and a skeleton leaning cross armed, impressed with himself on the car. Both of these designs I feel werent as well thought out as my chosen design.

Self Portrait

Another essential part of this module was to create a self portrait for our profile page. I had a very clear idea of how I wanted to create my self portrait so I left this process to near the end of the project timeframe.
I drew my designs from this photo of myself I had. I can't actually remember the last self portrait I had done I think it must have been around 2009 so a long time ago, meaning this excercise would probably be fairly challenging.
I created this drawing with a line style of toning which is what my intentions always were, I think it works fairly well but there were some glaring errors, the strength of line is very off in points and far too thick in particular around the eyes. I also chose to completley black out the pupils which I think makes the drawing lose alot of 'life'. As such I decided to render the image into a vector via image trace in illustrator to see if it improved, however it didn't and as such I created another drawing. When approaching the second drawing I tried to take the elements that went well in the last. which for me were the more intense dark areas such as the left side of the face and under the neck. As well as the linework describing the facial structure. I used my lightbox to trace the outline of the first drawing as well as I was very happy with the accuracy of the facial structure.
This is the second drawing which I think is immediatley obvious  that it is a higher standard. Areas I feel could be improved however is the nose and hair both of which were difficult the hair in particular, working with only lines. 
I had a very clear idea that I wanted to use a Cyan colouring with a slightly darker dot overlay. I think this colour worked well although with the chance to develop this design more in the future I might use the dots to describe tone in a more detailed manner, rather than just a gentle gradient down the whole image. 

The main area I couldnt decide on was the colour of the background. I toyed with the idea of using a colour or gradient/pattern in the background but felt a plain blakc or white would be best. I felt the black would work well as it would match with the colour scheme and add depth to the shadow elements on the face. However, the white background I found stronger as you can identify the shape of the face better and I fee the face structure is very key in making the self portrait more identifiable.
Finally, I cropped the image in to a circle shape which I believe necessary for the page layout. I think the crop actually adds to the efffectiveness of the image and works well. I added a white outline to the circle which I think adds a nice degree of contrast and works like a frame to emphasise the image. Also, without an outline I think the white circle on black looks a bit like a spotlight which I don't like. I also widened the image slightly which I think was more accurate of my face.

InDesign

Ou last task in order to sumbit our work was to order our cover and page designs together with a profile page featuring our self portrait, in a 6-page layout. We had to adjust the bleed of the pages accordingly, as well as remembering when importing our image files to import them as a flat JPEG file, as that was a smaller file than a photoshop or illustrator file. Also we had to make sure the files were set to a CMYK colour mode, the easiest place to do this was photoshop. In the most part I had created my work in CMYK colour mode so I was okay but some images I forgot and worked in an RGB model so when converting to CMYK they appeared a bit duller. Adjusting the contrast of these images did help but they didn't retain their original colours which was an annoying mistake on my behalf.
To my knowledge the profile page (left) had to be on a white background with a self portrait to  the left as well as my name and some contact details. There wasn't much room for desigining but I felt my choice in a custom font really helped to add some identity and personality to the page.

Conclusion

Overall, I think I applied myself pretty well across this project. As with all projects I have done, writing a concluding passage is a very reflective excercise and really helps to identify the areas that went well as well as the areas I now wish I had paid much greater attention and time to. 
However, now the project is over I think it is clear to see where my strengths and weaknesses are within it. Beginning with strengths, I think I actually managed my time much more efficiently than past projects, taking note I am writing this passage 7 hours before the final deadline. In summary, it was better, not great, but better. The other thing I think I did with reasonable success was maintain a style. I tried to create a clear stylistic identity with my work as I have throughout my time as an illustrator, I think it's important to show a range of skills but also having a strong stylistic identity I feel is a good way to identify your work in a creative environment and create your own trademark style. I think as a blog-style recording of the project, the construction aspects of my work is interesting. I chose to include images of each stage of my development with screenshots as I felt having more images helped to explain my creative processes better but I personally also always find watching what begins as a basic sketch become a finished piece of art fascinating so I tried to replicate this in a certain sense. I  like my self-portrait, the style I think links with my other works well and as time has gone by it has grown on me as a design, I think it helped developed some of my linework skills as well. I think I have reflected well on every excercise or stage of development I have done and have aimed to progress and learn as I worked on.

Finally, on to the weaknesses of the project; as with every project I have done whilst at university, I find it incredibly easy to criticise every aspect of my practice. However, aiming to do so in a more constructive manner, I think my lack of work in general should face the sword first. Having had meetings with my tutors about how many concept ideas, thumbnails and compositions I should create I dont feel I have created anywhere near enough meriting a high grade. As with most things, I believe this has come down to poor time management but also a struggle to conceptualise ideas. I found areas of this project extremely hard to portray my intentions simply down to the fact creatively I struggled to create good designs. The characters I have chosen I think link relativley well to my overall drawing style and theme but I do feel in a sense they limit me to a certain style and I was more focused on drawing the things I wanted to draw, rather than what would be best for the task. As a project I don't feel as though my project is lacking in basic structure but more in the depth and details. More research may have helped me alot more and inspired me creatively to work faster and more effectively. I aimed to reflect on every task constructively throughout which I think I achieved with varying success but as is probably visible with other projects I have done in the past, not completely chronologically, which is part of the reason I feel my project is stronger and weaker in a number of areas. As a result of stress and creative blocks in this project I feel I have created 1 page design I am proud of feel reflects my abilities as an illustrator and a cover design and second page which I feel let me down in terms of being an example of my skills. I am not necessarily confident in my abilities, but feel I could have, with more planning, created some much stronger designs.

So Overall as a project, I feel I have improved as an illustrator, and I have gained a the exprience of creating and submitting work in a much more proffesional style. I am as dissapointed as I usually am with most of my projects but I feel if I wasn't so self-critical I would never improve. I aim to keep improving in my practice and feel this project has helped me very much along the way.


Bibliography

[1] The Drawing Arm, http://thedrawingarm.com.au/artists/ben-brown/
[2] 'Troppo #1', Brown,B. Date unknown. available at: http://benbrown.com.au/collections/fine-art-prints?page=1
[3] 'Coming Home', Brown,B. Date unknown. available at: http://benbrown.com.au/collections/fine-art-prints?page=1
[4] 'David Bowie', Brown,B. Date unknown. available at: http://benbrown.com.au/collections/fine-art-prints?page=1