“Just don’t step in the puddles!”

First thing’s first, we need to do a practise drypoint print before I dive anywhere near adding colour/calling it a finished piece.

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It was a good practise print for me and I learnt a lot about the process, and the different techniques to creating different effects. As you can see from the image above, when I was scratching in his top half, mainly his head, I was very heavy-handed with the tool and this create very thick and deep lines, which therefore held a lot more ink. Also, because I was applying so much pressure it meant it became a little easier for me to slip up and make mistakes. Which I also did (left hand cheek). The thinner lines were much more what I had in mind, so yes it was a shame my first print didn’t go to plan but that is fine, practise makes perfect…right? (not to mention the writing that is back to front on his sheet of paper…)

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After I got a print that I was happy to work with, I copied it in the scanner so that I could work on top of the printouts and experiment with different materials to add colour. In the first image out of the 2 just above, I used water colours to fill in the first scan of little Norman, and I am really happy with it! However I don’t want to go straight ahead with these colours as I personally don’t believe that’s right before testing out some other techniques. So in the image under the first, you can see I have kept one of the scans blank. This is so I can easily compare the others next to it without continuously flipping the page back. Then I used a black Sharpie on the next; this was to experiment with quality of line, negative space and the contrast between the black and white and what effect all these things have on the final outcome and feeling of little Norman. I don’t particularly like it, at all in fact, but it is nice to experiment. It also reminded me a little bit of Edward Gorey’s work. (Who just so happens to be one of my favourite illustrators!) I then used some oil pastels that I had bought for myself when we all went climbing the hills in Abergavenny back in our first term (doesn’t that feel like a lifetime ago/yesterday?!) I do really like the effect that the pastels have, however I really don’t think they suit Norman and the tone of the book. It always leaves me with great difficulty when trying to colour the skin. The next two are more experiments with watercolour, as that is the one that I liked the most. I tried different shades of the colours I had used in the first one, and then In the second I used the watercolours a lot more loosely, creating a messy look. I’m not sure if it makes the lines of the drypoint print stand out more and draw focus, or hide them. What do you think?

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After learning what I had from experimenting, I took it further on to the next few prints I had made for the other images.  I am constantly keeping a clean scan of my prints to show what they look like untouched, and if it seems better when left rather than worked on top of. In the first image of the 3, on the right hand side page, you can see that here I really began to work with the tone of the ink. I was much more careful when cleaning my plate at this point so that I could work with the tone to achieve an image that housed more depth than a plain one. I do really like the tone and maybe I will work with it closely again but I feel this image in particular has a lot of negative space and is almost gasping for colour. The water colours worked really well here and I am really happy with it!!

Then moving on the next prints.. once again the watercolours worked wonderfully and were making me happy with my prints, however after receiving a comment about the pastels from a friend of mine on the course, who went on to say “The colours of your water pastels are very child-like. The brightness of them is similar to those in modern-day children’s books which would make the adults that read your story return to that child-like state you are trying to achieve both through your writing and illustrations”, so I tried out the pastels again, but something just isn’t working with them.

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MORE FOBBLING. I CAN’T STOP.

Now, the final print is of the future Norman, who seems to have been through the wars. I really want a good print from this one, as it is the last one the audience is left with and would love for it to stick in their minds. I would like to pop backwards a few steps and maybe try out on the experimentation again, just to see if I’m ticking the right boxes. I also am going to work with tone here as I feel it is a perfect opportunity!

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Leaving one of the scan nice and plain, I headed straight for the watercolours with the opposite scan. Again I am happy with the watercolours, but like I mentioned earlier I would like to experiment with another technique. Due to the amount of negative space with this print I thought it would be really interesting to work with the black Sharpe again, and the contrast of the blocks of black really do stand out and have a completely different effect on the final outcome. But once again I wasn’t happy with it and realised that if I am going to use colour, it has to be watercolour. I then began working with the tone again, working very carefully using cotton wool buds to scrape away the excess ink off the plate to make sure that the areas that I wish to be kept clean are sharp and crisp compared to the areas I would like to contain the tone. I did two extra prints for this image as I really wanted to nail down the right amount of tone. I feel like I was right, and needed to shout “I told you so!!” to myself, as the tone does work really well with this image. It makes him look ever so shabby and dirty and well, almost like he’s completely lost the plot.

Ready to make your finals? (Well not to scare you but you have to, just look at the time!)

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