The Selfish Giant: Costume Research and Design

After finishing the my first year project based on The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, which can be seen here:, I decided that as preparation for my third year, I would re-visit this project and almost ‘remake’ it. The medieval style I had used in this project and my TED project is something that I really want to explore more and develop and so my first starting point was to do some research on medieval costume so that I could then apply this to the design of the characters in my illustrations of the story. I used the following books as reference, ‘What People Wore When’ by Melissa Leventon and ‘The Anatomy of Costume’ by Robert Selbie. During my research, I produced some quick fine line sketches of costumes based on reference images from the two books, and then used pro marker pens and sharpies to get a small idea of applying colour to them.

After this, I began to develop ideas for the characters and their costumes which can been seen below.


Book of Portraits: Part 2, Self Portrait Practice

Above are images from my sketchbook of portraits that I have started this summer. In order to practice drawing people I decided to attempt a series of self portraits using different mediums, including pencil, graphite pencil, quink ink, watercolour and pro marker pens. I’m not entirely happy with how these turned out as I don’t think they particularly look like me that much, but I did really struggle with drawing and painting these, particularly with getting the proportions of the eyes, noses and lips right in comparison to the shape of my face. I also think that next time I plan on attempting self portraits I should probably work bigger, rather than in an A5 sketchbook and should maybe think about drawing different parts of my face separately first in order to practice getting the drawings more spot on. However, these are all just practice at the moment so that I can refine my drawing skills and so I am not expecting them to be perfect at all, I am however more pleased with the profile portraits below, especially the ink one, as I think they have done a better job at capturing my face and I definitely found drawing a profile portrait a lot easier than a forward facing portrait.

Charity Shop Skeches

While I am home from university, I have been volunteering at a charity shop and this summer I decided to sketch some of the objects for sale there. All of the sketches were done with a fine liner in a small brown paper sketchbook and they are all mainly of tea sets and ornaments of animals and human figurines. The sketchbook is still on going at the moment and it is great practice for me in terms of improving my sketching and drawing skills, so I will continue to update my blog with sketches from the book as I continue with them.

The Romanovs: Line Drawings and Portraits

Here is some work from a project I did about two years ago during my foundation course. I was inspired to put it on my blog after watching a documentary the aired on BBC2 a few nights ago titled ‘Russia’s Lost Princesses’. The project is based around the last Imperial family of Russia, The Romanovs, and their time and death during the Russian Revolution. I have been fascinated by this topic ever since I was a child and I saw the Don Bluth animated film ‘Anastasia’ which is a fictional account of the rumoured escape of the youngest Romanov daughter Anastasia. I decided to put these on my blog because I think they could serve as a possible starting point for a new project as I am still very interesting in the whole topic. The project began with a few simple line drawings of portraits of the family which reminded my of the recent ink portraits I have been doing and I think at some point I would like to re-create these with ink.

After these initial drawings I began to play around with drawing on photocopies of a wallpaper pattern that reminded me of the material used to create the royalties court dress. I also began to use the wallpaper in a combination of collage and drawing and even created an image of the mysterious Rasputin who was involved in the lives of the family.

Book of Portraits, Part 1: Actors and Actresses

As preparation for my third year, over the summer, I decided that in order to improve my skills when it comes to drawing and painting people, particularly portraits, that I would dedicate a sketchbook entirely to practicing this. One of the first things that cam to my mind was the ink portraits I had done for my Beyond Fiction project and so I used that as one of my starting points. Below are ink portraits of the actors and actresses I had used in the Beyond Fiction project. I am really pleased with how these turned out, they were initially quite difficult to draw and they don’t look exactly like their real life counterparts, but I still really like the look of them and doing this exercise really helped to improve my drawing and quick painting skills. I plan on continuing this book over the summer and through my final year and will post more updates of it as I continue.


First Year, The Selfish Giant: Final Images

For The Selfish Giant project, we had to create six illustrations for our finals as well as a cover page and end papers, below are my final pieces for the project. All of the images were drawn out with dip-pen and then painted with gouache and gold ink. I found the painting part of these finals very tricky because the images are quite small and detailed and it was hard painting in the smaller areas. Also, the sepia ink I had used for the outline would often run when it became wet so I had difficulty with the ink bleeding into the paint and ruining the outline, so I had to then re-do some of the outline with brown gouache.

Overall, I’m fairly pleased with the overall look of this project, even though I think that the finals look more inspired by stained glass windows than medieval manuscripts, but they are still effective in telling the story and exploring the style I was researching and experimenting with. I’m happy with the colours of the images, a lot of which was inspired by the manuscripts and illuminated pieces I had studied, but at the same time, they managed to be bright and colourful which I think created an interesting look. However I think the painting could be improved but as I stated earlier it was a rather tricky process and I have learned that the next time I wish to work with a dip-pen and paint, I should work a lot bigger and then scale down digitally. As a starting point for my third year, I will be re-doing this project and am hoping to achieve a look I am more satisfied with. I have already begun my research and created some development work for the project and I will post all of that soon.

First Year, Field: The Land of Lost Objects Character Boards

For the final part of my first year field project, I drew these character boards/posters with dip-pen and ink. The compositions of these images were based on my earlier concertina book idea and I also wanted to pair up the characters and have each pair be able to create one full image when they are put together and I have tried to show this below in the presentation of the images. I really liked how these images turned out, they are very simplistic but I think that’s what I like about them, and because I was pleased with the final turn out, I was very apprehensive to add colour to them so I had them photocopied so I could paint them and have two copies.

Below are the watercolour versions of the images. Unfortunately due to the photocopying, some of them don’t line up as well as the originals but you can still see the idea in the images. Overall, I was quite pleased with how most of them look painted, some more than others, but am glad I photocopied the originals so that I could see which worked better as images. Looking at all of them now, I’m pretty unsure about whether or not I prefer them with or without colour, I think that both coloured and non coloured versions work as illustrations differently and in their own ways.

First Year, Field: The Land of Lost Objects, Concertina Books and Storyboards

As part as preparation for my final pieces for my first year field projects, I thought of and experimented with making concertina books while also illustrating the story through storyboards. I made to rough concertina books, one depicting the landscapes of the Land of Lost Stories, the other illustrating the characters of the story in their respective settings. The images were drawn with dip-pen and ink and this project was the first time I had used a dip-pen in my work, something which I really enjoyed and have continued using since. Even though I didn’t end up continuing the idea of the concertina books, the images for the second one inspired a series of drawings I completed later on in the project.

Here are my storyboards for The Land of Lost Objects, illustrating key scenes in the plot. The images begin with the boy searching under his bed for his lost Teddy before he falls into the Land of Lost Objects. Once there he meets Francis the Fawn who tells the boy he will lead him through the land in search of Teddy, and along the way they meet Jack in the Junkyard Tips, Giovanni in Toy Town and Yvette in China and Porcelain Town. Together they journey through the Valley of Lights to the Wastelands where the bitter Francis reveals that he lead them there so that they would be lost forever, but his plan is foiled by Queen Alina, Tatters and Teddy, who had been with the Queen and Tatters all along. The boy is reunited with Teddy before he wakes up in his room and finds all the lost objects of the story under his bed. The images were as done using a dip-pen and coloured with watercolour. They are very quick and rough but serve their purpose as story and composition ideas, however I am really pleased with how vibrant the colours look.

First Year, Field: The Land of Lost Objects, Landscapes and Backgrounds

After creating my characters and experimenting with different ways to illustrate them, I began to work on the places and world they inhabit. I played around with using collage, dip pen and ink and watercolour to bring the world to life, all of these can be see below. The places in the Land of Lost Objects included the Junkyard Tips where the boy first ends up in the story and where all lost objects first arrive, Toy Town where many lost toys have made a home for themselves, China and Porcelain Town where the Queen resides in her palace, The Valley of lights, a place full of floating lights close to the Wastelands which border the land and where things are lost permanently.  As with the characters, I really enjoyed creating the landscapes and backgrounds and coming up with the various names for them, one of my biggest influences was Jim Henson’s fantasy film Labyrinth, which I first saw as a child. This influence and this project as a whole creates a real sense of nostalgia for me because it involves a young child on a journey through a fantasy world, a common theme in classic children’s fantasy literature and film, and I would hope that it would create that feeling for other people too.

Here are the collages taken from my sketchbook, some of which are quite messy but they are only ideas. They were created from photos I had taken at Jacob’s Market. Once I had created ideas for the backgrounds and setting, I then began to add the characters into them. I also painting some of the background and added detail to the photo collages with dip pen and black ink.

Here a few simple dip-pen drawn backgrounds with photocopies of my earlier character designs collaged over the top. This was just another simple way of seeing the characters in their environment.

Finally, here are my watercolours of the backgrounds and settings, which are also my favourite of the background ideas. I really like the colour in these paintings, particularly the multi-coloured sky which I added to create more of a fantasy, colourful world. The only thing I would change would be that next time I would paint these much larger because they are only A5 and limited the amount of detail I could incorporate, however these are still initial ideas and I am very pleased with them.

As well as the work above, I also drew a map of The Land of Lost Objects based on an earlier sketchbook idea, this time though, I drew it on top of an existing map.


First Year, Field: The Land of Lost Objects Character Designs

After deciding what objects I would be using for my story and then expanding on their characters and plots, I started to experiment with different mediums and techniques in order to decide which way to illustrate my characters and story. I experimented with ball point pen and watercolours, mono-prints, and watercolour and gouache. Out of all of these designs, I think my favourite are the watercolours and gouache paintings, simply because I think they are more effective in capturing the characters and story, but I am glad I tried different ways of working and illustrating them. With the watercolours I really struggled to paint Yvette the porcelain ballerina and so there are three different versions of her, showcasing the progress of how I altered the painting and colour.

Pen and Watercolour



Yvette Watercolours and Gouache

Yvette 1

Yvette 2

Yvette 3