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

Travel Guides

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

Key points of exercise:

  • Create 3 illustrations that will be on the cover of travel guides; Istanbul, Helsinki and Milan.

  • Diagrammatic style with a hand drawn title

  • Write your own brief that will challenge you

  • The final work should include 3 client visuals and one mock-up

So having never been to any of these cities I didn't really know where to start, apart from the obvious google search and Pinterest browse.

I wanted to research the existing travel guides for each of the cities, and get an idea of the kind of covers they had created. How did they make it distinctive per city, what imagery did they use, did they use monuments, photography or illustrations etc. Lots of points I wanted to consider, one to better understand the travel guide market and two to get an idea of the cities.

I did find myself in quite a nice place in terms of research. I found a couple of very nice artists that I felt would make good reference. Both using different traditional mediums and styles. I also found myself getting rather inspired by a modern approach to illustration, almost trend driven. This is when I started to get a bit of an idea of the result I wanted to achieve. I had the idea of who may have given me the brief, what I wanted the brief to be, and finally what the travel guide would be once produced.

Artist one - Maurice Laban

Maurice Laban was an english freelance illustrator working for many companies during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. His BOAC / Qantas posters were printed using the serigraphy (silkscreen) process using fluorescent opaque inks which results in an incredible intensity of colour. [1]

I really love Laban's style in these pieces. I love the symmetry used in areas, I love the colour intensity and palettes, and also the graphic style of the works. I would love to try creating work in this exercise that mimic Laban's style. Though I don't have the facilities to be able to make it as clean as this. I would have to go digital to get anywhere close to being similar as this. However, I will certainly be taking inspiration from this series!

Artist two - Otto Nielsen

Otto Nielsen (1916–2000) was a danish artist who created many posters for SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System). In the 1960’s Otto Nielsen promoted the romance and excitement of faraway lands with his series of airline posters. He was a watercolor painter who came up with the clever idea of depicting animals traveling two by two to exotic destinations. Otto Nielsen, born in Aarhus, Denmark where he was educated at Gustavus Bach's Character College in 1934-35. He loved to travel, and he started work with the airline DDL in 1946, later he moved to SAS airlines. He wrote and illustrated many books, too. Otto Nielsen's works are represented at the Museum of Decorative Art, the Museum of Danish cartoonists, Danish Revy Museum, Danish Poster Museum, Arts Museum, the Moderna Museet and Bryn Artiyn Library in Pennsylvania. [2]

Nielsen's work definitely seems vintage, but it's the vintage you want! This is a style I could definitely try! I like that they just appear to be observational paintings of the animals sat in front of him. They're beautiful pieces of work with great textures and colours. The composition creates great space and framing around them giving you a sense of place. Would this style work today?


The Wandering Guide is looking to create a series of travel guides that can be sold to their customers at a small price. They would like them to be creative, informative and fun and also hope they can be easy to produce. To begin they would like to focus on the popular city breaks; Istanbul, Helsinki and Milan.

About The Wandering Guide

Starting in 2012 by a sole traveller with a passion to share tips and tours of their home city and other places of interest, at the beginning they had all but a small online presence across social media. The Wandering Guide quickly blossomed into a bustling community of discussions, tips, and guided tours that are available to book throughout the year for adventure seekers and city breakers. Now, having grown beyond all expectations, The Wandering Guide collaborates with likeminded locals from around the world who are equally passionate in sharing the beauty of their home cities with hungry travellers. It is rated the top 5 online communities to planning weekend breaks and long adventure holidays.

The Wandering Guide has a niche following from all corners of the world for people aged between 25 and 40. Their guided tours have won awards for the carefully curated packages that are designed for a maximum group of 4-6 people per trip, allowing for a very personal and unique experience. The guided tours are led by inspiring locals that give you a real taste of the authentic and less crowded local life, as well as the popular attractions they think are worth seeing.

The Brief

The Wandering Guide would love their travel guides to be small folded zines that could open up to a poster/map. They want them to be fully illustrated with the information being hand written to fit the design. The Wandering Guide hope the zines will be collectable items which their customer could keep as souvenirs. So style, colour and design should be carefully considered for their target audience. They are open to rebranding through the zines which can be mirrored on their website.


Folded zine to be A6

Poster to be A3


Illustrated City Map

2 day City tour plan including food

Secret recommendation from locals



After creating the brief regarding a zine. I pulled out a few travelling images that I really loved the look of. It was the hand drawn works that caught my eye. Top left series of for the cities were perfect! They really did what was required of this exercise. I felt I had to be careful after finding this to not copy.

I began with Istanbul. the city seems to be oozing culture, tradition and history, something I felt interested in discovering more about.

I tried creating a concept using different tools. I wanted to see if I was able to get a likeness to the works of Maurice through good old fashioned DIY. I don't think it was quite achieved as I hoped but it was interesting to see how different the results were in both. On the left I used a sponge from packaging. I think I could have improved this by also creating a stencil like on the right to give a clean edge. I don't like that it appears to be blurry. Image in the right is far more successful. I wanted to leave a white edge in between the land and water to give the handmade effect. Using a stiff brush I washed the painted over the stencilled areas using different directions to get a textured look. I really like the result and think it could be used as a background to a digital piece.

Below I put blue and white paint straight onto the paper, using a credit card I blended the two colours together. The paper I used was basic A3 printing paper, it had a smooth finish to it which actually worked nicely for this effect. I was able to get a really smooth result which almost looked like marble. Where I had scraped the card across the paint, I found it interesting how parts of the paint didn't blend at all. Parts of the white were still a clean white. Again I think this would be interesting as a background to a picture. Perhaps creating something similar to Maurice the graphic style could be successful with this as the background.


Since I hadn't finished this exercise in time for my tutors feedback, I left the above very broken. Essentially what I had pulled together so far were conflicting styles and experiments. I'm not really sure how to progress them by continuing what I had started, and so felt it was necessary to jump back to my artist research. I want create a few studies based on the two amazing artists that I had researched and to see if I could develop some ideas through this method.

Starting with the painterly effect by Otto Neilson, I picked a city from the list and pulled a composition together using famous landmarks in Photoshop. Photos used in this exercise are found via the internet and are no way my own.



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