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

Create an Artwork

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

Exercise 3

Thinking back at the work I had created through this course, I wasn't sure if I had made anything that would work in this exercise. What comics had a really put together? I could think of one which I think was the most complete, and I wasn't sure this would fit the brief. I then remembered the loose concept I had created in Part 3 based on a song of my choice. It was an exercise I found myself feeling the most invested in. Every time I listen to the song I still have a sense of narration that could play out. Exploring this further by experimenting with creating artwork could be an extension of my vision. A vision I didn't quite complete in the exercise itself.

I took a panel I enjoyed the most, although I did enjoy the feeling of movement in previous panels, this one felt as though it could be a standalone artwork with different meaning.

I wanted to create two versions, one that would be more painterly and abstract, another that would be more refined with plenty of details. I imagined creating an illustration that was more conceptual, something that you might see in an animation art book that would have been created to help visualise scenes in a film.

The abstract piece came first, and for this I chose to work in acrylic paints with a very limited colour palette consisting of just red and black. Before I had thought about acrylic, I sketched in charcoal the visual I was aiming to develop further.

Honestly, this wasn't how I had imagined the charcoal would go. Instead of something interesting which explored the properties of charcoal in full glory, I ended with a smudge of charcoal that I soon lost interest in pursuing further. I had made the main figure too big in the page and the hand shadows were far from being hands. In a way I could have worked with the hands being abstract shapes, perhaps this could work as an art piece rather than aiming for something literal. Giving the concept a more graphic visual style!

It was time for the paint!

There was no destination for this piece, I just thought I would layer the paint on and try to create texture. With a dark palette, the piece was not going to be joyful.

I still had the scene a little too close in general. The narrow corridor was quite big, making it seem closer than what it should. However, this didn't disturb me once I had brought the red paint in. I enjoy building paint with different textures, making the red drip down to overlap the black felt to add more interest.

Was I successful in turning the frame into an art piece? I believe this was a success in some cases. It was an enjoyable process which resulted in something I would never normally create, in that sense it is successful for a personal achievement. It was abstract as intended and I think there is still narrative in the subject, albeit a very dark visualisation thanks to the struggles of trying to brighten black with red! It is possible that I should have created a second attempt on this, and maybe this time exploring what the abstract shapes could have looked like instead of trying to create an artwork similar to the original sketch, which is something I thought I would be doing more of in the second piece.

I do like the pose of the central character in the abstract painting. There was something more visually pleasing with the silhouette, giving a sense of readiness, power or perhaps just fearless. I am ready to take on the demons, maybe even showing the confidence which is quite close to being cocky. Showing the blade of the sword, almost with open arms. As this was going to be mostly focusing on silhouettes, I think it is important for the character to be readable. To not have confusing elements where body parts or clothing hides the clear shape or overlap. Had I work in a smaller brush, or on a larger piece of paper, the arm/sword might be more defining to improve the clarity of the is being held... I tried to break this up a little, but its not far from being just a very long arm!

It is clear that the painting became too dark. It was difficult to get a photo of it without everything being completely unreadable. I do wish I could do this differently, but honestly I am not sure how I could personally improve on this if following the same process.

Part two took a very different approach as mentioned. I had recently became the owner of an iPad for the purpose of finally joining the world on Procreate. This drawing was going to be my very first drawing, so experimenting and finding a brush I liked was all part of the process.

In the end I had used several brushes to build up a piece that also felt textured, from pens to spray paint to acrylic. It was a really good exercise as it pushed me into building the piece, adjusting and just drawing. I considered light and dark, colour contrast and shadow. I hoped I was also successful in the way the picture was framed, leading the viewers eye to the main protagonist. This illustration certainly felt closer to the original visual I had when initially sketching narration to a song.

The final piece:

This exercise was a lot of fun. I became more and more comfortable working in Procreate as I progressed, it has made me excited to create more detailed work in a similar way. things I felt I would enjoy learning more about is creating illustrations with a cinematic feel with the lighting.

A close up the pose in this piece, showing a different pose to the expressive painting. Talking about silhouettes, this pose is less striking. However, I believe it is still pushing the pose slightly, though this time rather showing an openness to their confidence, this one feels more relaxed. In fact, it is giving me samurai vibes with how the gesture is. Imagining the hat half covering their face. The character appears to be looking slightly away from the opponent, which in some case makes me feel that they are using other senses to be aware of what is ahead. Like using the hearing to also visualise the opponents movement, perhaps hearing how many there are, what their energy is (finding weakness). It feels to be a different kind of confidence compared to the painting. It's in this position I imagine an extreme close up on the eyes would follow, as they sharply look directly down the lens, igniting the start of action. Then a series of frames show the sudden charge towards them as the blade of the sword is swung. Feels strong, feels fearless.

This has to be one of my favourite pieces out of the entire Graphic Fiction Course. It came as a bit of a surprise, but certainly felt to have captured the concept art style I had imagined, and very much created an atmosphere that I originally thought of when creating the adaption from a song. It was a shame that the more experimental piece didn't go as I had hoped, but ending with this made up for it. Would love to know where this story goes!

It was only when returning to this exercise after receiving feedback that I discovered that Procreate automatically records a time-lapse of your drawings! Here is the process for the digital illustration showing how I took the sketch and made it into what is a final piece.


After Feedback

Despite the darkness in the first experimental painting, the feedback was once again super positive (thank you). It is interesting though, this course has had less need to go back and improve on pieces. Unlike Key Steps and Sketchbook, there was room for adding, improving or redoing what I had already done, it made preparing assessment a different process. In this I haven't been sure what I should do. Is there really a reason to go back and add, or improve? It feels different.

Yet I still ask myself, should I do more? Will it help the assessment. On this exercise in particular, I ask myself;

Is it worth remaking what is already exhausted?

I wasn't sure, but the painting did feel like it was the start of something, and not the end. As mentioned above, I could see something emerging from the charcoal stage, something of an entirely different direction than the one I had chosen. It had shapes in place of hands, is this something to explore?

Well, whether it was worth the effort I am not sure. This is another attempt of making the original sketch into an artwork. Including a very quick video time-lapse to show the process again.

I began with the digital illustration on a layer, bringing down the opacity so that I had something in mind to work over. I decided for this piece I was going to change the angle slightly, hoping it would add a different dynamic to the pose. I thought of maybe adding a fish eye look in some place, like the sword being slightly elongated and warped. Though I don't think this detail is that obvious in the final sketch.

I was almost tempted to bring red in to this piece again, to keep it similar to the original painting. In the end I decided against it, rather taking inspiration from one of the examples included on the brief that is an ink drawing of Batman by Raymond Pettibon, No Title (This is 1944) (1997).

I used charcoal brushes in Procreate, then over this used a fine line brush to create sharp sketchy lines and scribbles to give energy. Once those were there I then decided to charge the piece up a level with a smudging artist brush that could create movement, I used a spray paint effect for some texture plus other artist brushes that would also add texture. In a way, the process I worked through during this picture was the type of playfulness and experimental styling I was hoping to achieve in paints. Though I now know how truly difficult it is to work on top of black once it is applied to the page. Of course digitally makes this easier!

In my own personal practise, I have painted without black (and now white as well) for many reasons, I can now firmly say that this exercise has confirmed another reason for not using it, and that is due to the challenge of lifting it!

Bonus content!

I could see that the white in the drawing was looking a light grey instead, so quickly chucked it into Photoshop to lighten it. Whilst I was there I thought, what if I just bumped the brightness to maximum, duplicate the layer and then change the opacity.... I found that Hard Light offered a really harsh contrast, and I was sold.

It's not an amazing piece by all means, but I liked that the experiment didn't just end on the drawing. I like that some of the pencil lines have become really pixelated and fine, to the point that it has erased most it. I like that those lines hint of the full figure, allowing light to bleach out the person as it shines through the gaps, leaving just the shadow.

This final experiment was something I had picked up on with Sketchbook and Key Steps. Using the extreme edits to perhaps discover something you might not think of when simply drawing it. It's fun, and definitely gives a new perspective!

Recent Posts

See All

Reviewing Your Own Work

Exercise 1 We find ourselves here, again, for the final time in year one. Reflecting my own work through this course was interesting. I considered the course itself, and what it might have taught me,


bottom of page