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

Your Own Work

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

Sketchbook Review

Looking back on the work so far gave mixed emotions. I'm not really sure I liked much of the previous work, which made it easier to pick the ones I did like. I was surprised by some of the ideas I created in some areas, and now having completed all 5 parts, I feel confident I could go back and progress these ideas further.

Since I've been ploughing through the unit, I didn't give time to reflect on tutors feedback as and when they came through. What I decided to do instead, was take the feedback into the next part and so on. As this is the first course in my journey towards an illustration degree with the OCA, I hoped I could show the improvements as moved through the course. I wanted this to be about growth, and finding my way in this path. With this said, it felt somewhat wrong to go back and massively change (which is what I had in mind) the work I had already showed my tutor. Trying to perfect the imperfect at such an early stage wouldn't show my growth.

I feel better knowing I can still improve rather than trying to show a pretence that I knew what I was doing from the very start. To be honest, I did think I knew what I was doing at the start, but very quickly had a reality check when I discovered the amount of work that could be involved. My journey through Key Steps is honest, it's unpolished and in some areas unfinished, and that's how I like it. It took some getting used to this notion, but having relaxed on the idea of perfection, I think I might be ready to move forward in Level 1.

Here are a couple of videos of my sketchbooks to give you an idea of what they look like.

Book One Part Two - Ideas

This sketchbook shows the work from part 2, ideas. I'm quite embarrassed that this is the work I produced, but I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt as this is the first real "coursework" I've done since Sixth Form. I also had a very different mentality at the beginning of the course, a slightly naive imagination of what was going to be involved in the course. With that said, part 2 really kicks your bum into gear. It had the most exercises, and not all were fun! It looks like I did minimal work in this, though I still frantically ran around trying to complete it. It didn't get easier trying to manage time from here.

How to come up with ideas seems like an easy task, however when faced with the challenge to be creative on the spot, that wall can block you immediately. It was very refreshing working through this exercise and finding ways to brainstorm that feel comfortable to me. I do often find myself at a dead end when generating ideas, the blank void can really takeover and it can last for quite some time! Working through different techniques in part 2 helped me to discover that every one of the techniques could be used together, it isn't about sticking with one. I feel as though I could bounce from different techniques after completing part 2, it just depending on the brief. I found that using a spider diagram was most comfortable for me, but then moving forward from those words felt disconnected sometimes.

Selecting key pieces from Part 2 consists of: objective drawing, Turning words into pictures, exploring drawing and painting.

Book Two Part 3 - Working it out

This book is practically empty. Not a good sign! In this part, I began to loosen up a little. With the first part taking us through a process of how to create ideas, this part I tried to apply some of those techniques. I can see for myself I held back majorly. Starting with good intentions, I enjoyed the exercise of giving instructions. I felt the ideas were plentiful, with a few potential directions I could take it in. Sadly this dwindled down

Perhaps the ending of part 3 is where the lesson really took place, and not during. I felt as though my small efforts had just about scraped through, I had peaked on this dismal start and needed to change my direction. I really wanted to improve quick and show that I was serious about working towards a degree.

Selecting key pieces from Part 3 consists of: Giving Instructions and Abstract Painting

Book 3 Part 4 - Style

I've tried to improve with each part. My strongest part in terms of work and sketchbook, I think has to be part 4. For me this was when I finally arrived to the course. I upgraded to a bigger sketchbook, one that took me back to Sixth Form. Mentally this made a huge difference to the way I worked. I took all that I had learned so far and tried to apply a little bit of something in each exercise. Not all had the same ingredients, but I certainly tried something different in each. Most importantly, I tried to step out of my comforts. I took influence from art that I love, I created work I enjoy and still feel I could push more with a lot of the exercises. I did leave blank pages where this could be possible!

As the aim of part 4 suggests, I explored style. And what I took away from this was how can you apply style to each brief. Maybe you have to adapt your style to suit the brief, or maybe the brief gives you inspiration to do something different. This I liked. I liked that you could use something different for each, and it may not be something you're familiar with. I really enjoyed this section, it was great fun experimenting with medium, exploring different styles and in all having fun with generating ideas and taking them to the next level. Part 2 and Part 3 came through and it was only during Part 4 where they really made sense.

Where you believe you know what to do when taking on a new brief, Key Steps reminds you that you can never know everything, even the basic steps need refreshing in your mind.

Selecting key pieces that I enjoyed from Part 4 consists of: Identifying tools and materials, a Menu card and Tattoo, Visual distortion and Character development.


The joy of being an illustrator in this day and age is the many avenues that are available to get your work out there at affordable prices. With the power of social media, and the merchandise websites that are available, selling your work has never been so easy. Plus, being self employed and keeping an income is made possible as a result. You can be self published, be your own brand and freelance in numerous avenues.

After putting together the little videos, I had refreshed my memory on the work done so far and was able to select a few pieces I thought would be interesting if made into merchandise.

I had a few whacky ideas for how to reproduce the works above. One being, turning the character design into a 3D printed collectable. Sadly I had NO idea where to even begin with finding out how to get that done, so thats as far as that thought went. I thought I could dig through some artists to see if they had illustrations made and how. I remembered seeing a post last year by @chrissiezullo where a series of her DC characters were sculpted by @ireneeweeny - Which having found this, didn't really help with how to do my own. I thought there might be a website like - but seems not.

Here's an example of the collaboration with Chrissie and Irene. Ah, so good!

Ok so in the end I just had fun mocking things up. I'm not sure how realistic this would be to get done, but it was fun to see how something could look on a product. To get the templates, I used

Phone Case

I just love this image, I'm so pleased with how this one came out that I think I would probably like it on anything! A phone case seemed like a nice flat space to display the painting on. In todays world, I'm guessing there is a high percentage of people that use a phone case. Those iPhones are very sensitive and a floor magnet, so this felt like a practical idea for merchandise!

Websites where you can create your own phone case:

Open Face Helmet

LOVE this! It makes me laugh / happy. Probably one of the whackier ideas that I would never really produce, but never say never!

I had a little light bulb / eureka moment which lead to jumping ahead on a whole new idea for this brief. I thought back to the exercise where you were required to design a logo for an upmarket fish restaurant. I thought about the decor of the restaurant, the staff uniform and the simple details for dressing a table for guests to arrive. I was having fun just thinking of what it would be like to have an unlimited budget to design this place.

I wanted Aprons for the kitchen staff and the waiters/waitresses, and perhaps a chef hat to complete the kitchen uniform. I thought about cotton napkins for guests which could be branded, think bistro. So I began with checking websites that would sell wholesale bundles of each.

It's really a great and cost effective way to see how your design would work on merchandise. I feel it gives you a good sense of what the product will look like when placed in a mock-up template. Probably one of the most enjoyable part of finishing Key Steps was putting the work into a mockup. Creating a portfolio of the works in a close to final form as a way to showcase the potential of such ideas really put the works in perspective. Not only did it show how some ideas worked, it quickly highlighted those that didn't. For example, my imagination on putting the above logo on napkins and an apron seemed great to begin, until seeing the design in scale in a setting where it would belong. Details are lost, and it would make you reconsider the idea altogether. Is it a true representation? I do believe that holding the napkin with the logo in a bronze embroidery would be greatly different to seeing it from far away in a mockup. It then begs the question, is a design to be seen from a distance or just an elegant detail for a user to appreciate up close. The use of a mockup allows for these questions to be considered. It also allows you to create different options before finalising on the design you like. The napkins used above I feel do not work with this logo and perhaps just a plain colour would be better. Or perhaps even considering a different colour for the logo altogether. This is place to experiment and show the client before committing.

Lightbox signage:

Cheaper option:

Expensive option:



Linen Napkins:


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