The Folio Project

Ghost Stories


This project was quite interesting really because there was the opportunity to submit your work to the house of Illustration for a chance to win the competition. That was such a great chance but as ever I had a serious lack of confidence. I could never make that. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about this project when we got it, as it was different to what we have done before, but ghosts are cool and I was excited to read the stories we have been given.

The three stories were The Upper Berth, The Treasure of Abbot Thomas and A Tale of an Empty House. My favourite of them all was A tale of an empty house, just because I personally felt it was much more eerie than the other two, and I preferred the imagery. I struggled with this project a lot, because just like Language Environments, I had an (another) exhibition I was tending too, and it was much harder than the second! This exhibition was ‘Substance’, I have a blog post about it if you would care to read. The work I produced for this exhibition was extremely detailed and very time-consuming, which massively got in the way with this project. But I managed to get 3 paintings done.

The way I decided to go about this project was to pick out the quotes and imagery that stood out to me the most and jot those down into my sketchbook and work from there. For me, a book cover does not have to be busy and full, it doesn’t have to try and cram the whole story into one illustration, but enough to draw the reader in. Here’s how things looked in my sketchbook:

– – – Empty House – – –

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Like with most projects the final image is never close to what you first thought it would be, but its fun to see where it goes. With this story I was much more involved in it than the other two, this is because I managed to dog my fingers into it before the exhibition got too demanding. I did a lot of sketchbook work for this one but as soon as I got the final image idea in my head I began to draw up the final. I used some off-white paper with a watercolour paper effect. (I’m not a fan of working on pure white paper) There a re a few pencil marks that were unfortunately too strong to rub off, but here is the final-


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I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think because there is so much negative space that kind of over-rides the illustration, and it is very light which makes it feel less scary. What I do like is the space between the man and the house, as this makes the house looks bigger therefore intimidating.

– – – Abbot Thomas – – –

This is where things began to get quite hard to handle and to juggle with both things going on. I enjoyed this story and it was more adventurous than the last and there was lots and lots of imagery. The thought of the well and a whole load of gold living down there made it ever so magical! I had drawn the house in the first story and I thought it would be nice to try and have a theme and style running throughout all 3 illustrations, so I kept this in mind when I was drawing up this one. There is much more colour in this one.

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I’m happier with this one than the last, just because there’s a little more to it, however I still feel like I’m struggling to capture that scary and frightening haunted feeling, I just can’t grasp it. Looking at this cover could be anything, more magical than scary, so I consider this one quite unsuccessful. I would like to begin to do more work working with my character building, making some spooky characters and beginning to work closer with a darker/scarier colour pallet and scheme.

– – – Upper Berth – – –

I struggled even more with this one due to the high demands of the exhibition, but I still managed to come up with something. This one is very different to the ones I have previously produced, and before I mentioned that I wanted to stick to a theme but I really wanted to try something different here and work with a little less detail and focus more on my technique and colour scheme.

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As you can see my first idea involved the ship window being open and the light showing through, which highlights creepy feet of the what lurks in the shadows. Now then, this idea looked so much better in my head, then I sat back and began to think about it much more. It’s supposed to be night time, as that’s when all the strange disappearances happen, so if that is the case then where is the yellow light coming from Heather? I really liked the idea of only the feet being in show, as this leaves a lot to the imagination and makes you wonder who or what is waiting for you, coming towards you through the light. There’s also opportunity for  me to make the feet look a little scary, creepy and weird here to add to the impact of the unknown.

After a while I decided against this idea and wanted to try something different, and that is the last image and the final for this one. I took this chance to work with colour more and I’m happy with the outcome. I really enjoyed using that shade of blue for the wood, as I feel it makes it a little eerie, almost as if it is damp or mouldy, and also I feel as though it gives off the feeling of night time. In my sketchbook I was thinking of also doing the curtain blue but very wishy-washy so that the colours weren’t as strong as the wood, but in the end I decided to go for grey, and I wanted to have a really limited colour scheme, and to have one colour stand out, which is the rusty orange of the old ship window. Like with the idea with the feet, I only included a hand in this image, for the same reasons of ambiguity and ‘fear of the unknown’. What is trying to get onto this ship? I feel like this might be the most successful out of the tree as it is creepy, whereas the first 2 struggle to capture that haunted feeling I had hoped for.

Overall I’m not over the moon with the project as it felt very rushed. I also wish I had incorporated the text and titles of each story onto the illustrations but unfortunately I’m not whiz on photo shop and had wished I had more skills to be able to get the text onto my images, but this can be sorted by me going to some workshops! From this I have learnt that juggling university with also producing work for external exhibitions can be very demanding but I was a learning experience, hopefully in the future this will help me when in this situation again.


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