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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Client Visuals

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

So Client Visuals, what are they and why do we use them?

My understanding is that these visuals are used at the very early stages of a brief. Like storyboarding for animation or a children's book! You've been tasked to illustrate, design or create and your client needs to be with you on the journey. They're not quite the initial sketches, as the illustrator will have done their own visuals to experiment with compositions etc, before arriving to a design that best suits the brief.

We are surrounded by finished artwork, it is everywhere we look! Very rarely do we ever see the process to a design, illustration or animation, unless we've gone out to find it. It's this stage that tends to fascinate us most.

A Picture by Meimo Siwapon

On looking for 2 illustrations I came across Meimo Siwapon. Her style in illustration is everything I love with storytelling and character. Fortunately, Meimo's Behance page is very insightful. Whilst also showing wonderful finished illustrations, she also shares a few concept sketches.

I particularly enjoyed looking through "The Little Red Hen" -

Here you can see what the brief entailed. A series of 4 illustrations based on a little red hen. It includes the text that will be used and shows how the illustrations will interact or compliment it. This is perfect visuals for a client to understand the final work. You are able to collaborate with the client at this stage as they may prefer to change the composition or how the text will sit.

We can also see the progression for the character design.

True to the concept, the final artwork had very minor changes. The Red Hen is in a slightly different pose compared to the concepts, and also the added details of the tractor in the background. Clouds are also significantly different, though a decision that has worked well and more suited to the style. I love it!

Feeling inspired I decided to take a different illustration from Meimo's collection and break it down to a simpler form.

I went on to chose the 2017 New Year illustration, Year of the Rooster.

I could see a few elements to this illustration that would be interesting to dissect. The characters, the background, the light and shadows and the text. I also noticed the use of colour and how it felt familiar with a previous exercise, "Reading an image". The background again uses the blue tones whilst the hierarchy is using warmer tones.

Visual One:

Using Photoshop to begin with, I sketched out several visuals. Working digitally for conceptual stages is sometimes an easier method when mapping out the elements. Here is the stages for the first visual:

I split the image in to it's main layout. We have the centre circle which will act as a spotlight, and then the red curved line which is where the crowd will sit. With these guides I was able to correspond the placement of the animals according to the illustration. This helped with composition, shadow, and scale. Using a brush that reacted reasonably well to pressure, I roughly sketched all the characters out in the most simplest form. This was another guide as to where everyone would fit. Once I had mapped the characters out I changed the brush to a solid line with a textured edge. I outlined the characters in a loose manner, It had to be clear but also considering that this wasn't to be a final illustration.

I provided an outline and a colour scheme for this visual. It's very loose, but with a little more time I would have these lines cleaned up and looking less intense. I would have liked to have used a different brush on Photoshop that would allow for a sketchy tone to the lines rather than solid black. Sayings that, I think I captured the general theme of the illustration. It's cheerful enough to give an impression of the energy that is being conveyed. The colour scheme sketch is stripped down from lines and all characters. It focuses on the hierarchy of the image, the rooster, and how it is lit from the spotlight. I wanted to show the light and shadow, and doing this in Photoshop made the process easier.

Overall this would have taken 10 minutes to create.

Visual Two:

Following the same process as visual one, I tried to simplify the sketch to just represent the composition. I blocked it in with hints of colour to show the shadows which helped to highlight the main character in the illustration. I started to record this process a little into the drawing, here it is:

I wouldn't normally feel confident to present a visual like Version 2, however the more I look the more I think I could. Communication is one of the most important factors when working with clients, allowing for the opportunity to discuss an idea results in a better final product that both artist and client have felt involved in. Version 2 certainly opens the door for that which is something I appreciate. You can get an idea of the layout, you can somewhat see still make out who those characters are at the bottom, and why they are who they are. It clearly shows the hierarchy with the use of colour and the contrasting areas.

Overall this would have taken 5 minutes to create.

A Picture by Matt Rockefeller

The second illustration I wanted to focus on was by the illustrator Matt Rockefeller. I wanted to create a visual of an illustration which had more going on in the picture. I wanted environment, narrative and something that felt busy. Pokélife, a self published book in 2014 by Matt had the perfect illustrations.

Not only were they extremely busy with details, but they also followed the rule of hierarchy. The entire collection is made up of red and blue, which evidently paints the picture of reality against fantasy, but ultimately how the worlds come together in harmony.

The piece I chose to create visuals for is a scene we have all experienced at least once in our life, albeit without the Pokémon. Riding the train. The composition of the illustration is captivating. The use of red as the centre of the illustration whilst a small amount of blue frames it and gives depth. I love the fact it's almost like a game of spot the Pokémon! Which feels like a theme through out the book, some more obvious than others.

Matt looks to have used pencil to create these illustrations. There's a feel to them that I often think digitally can only do so much to replicate. So I decided to create the visuals in what I thought Matt would have done, to give the client a sense of what the final piece would be like.

To begin, I sketched out a basic, very faint outline to get a general layout. This was very quickly covered as I decided to go in with the red and blue pencil, to colour block this visual concept. It was one of the things that drew me to this piece by Matt Rockefeller, was the use of the red and blue colours to frame this illustration. Blue being used in 2 areas, close to the edge, it felt as though this was the viewfinder Matt was using to draw attention to the business of the train. Though saying that, the blue elements also played a part of this illusion of the train being full (and surrounded by) Pokémon. Love it.

Secondly, I wanted to give the client more detail. I used a very fine liner to outline the figures on the train then again went in with the red and blue pencil. This felt like an important factor to always include.

Reflecting back on this exercise. I wondered if it would have been helpful, to not only sketch the final piece as a concept, but to perhaps provide different layouts to show the working out stage. I didn't go into this much detail, though I am pleased with the results. I was able to share 4 different visuals which have explored different ways to express what the final piece will include.

If I was to do any of these again I would perhaps relook at the final sketch I did for Matt Rockefeller. Instead of using a black fine liner, I could have used red, which would have matched his final sketch more appropriately so to not confuse the client. The more info you can provide visually in your concepts for client, the better they will digest what it is you are hoping to achieve. This little detail might be easy to explain but for the non-creative eye, may not be easy to imagine.




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