<![CDATA[TheElliotWatson.GRILLUST.UK - Blog]]>Sat, 13 Jan 2024 14:22:53 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[ILLU6040 - Shooting From The Hip: Drink Label Designs]]>Tue, 30 Nov 2021 13:36:01 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/illu6040-shooting-from-the-hip-drink-label-designsBrief

Create a series of themed beverage can designs with a consistent visual style. Another one-week project prioritising speed of outcomes rather than depth of research & development stages.

The theme of my label designs is fantasy races, with the drinks being named after commonly used derogatory terms for each race.
The style I decided to go with is a minimalist line-art & inking illustration. This is contrasted by the use of a single bold colour to serve as a banner for the drink's name to sit on. The banner colour is also present in the eyes of each character illustration to add some flare to the black & white illustrations.
The names of all the drinks are hand-drawn type, rendered in a manner that represents the character illustration, to link the two separate elements using semiotic aspects of fantasy pop-culture.
"Halfman" Blueberry Mead - Dwarven Character
"Knife-Ears" Blonde Ale - Elven Character
"Greenskin" Lime Cider - Goblin Character
"Rock Brain" Golden Ale - Troll Character
The decision to use a mostly white can was to contrast well within the context of a store shelf filled with many different highly decorated designs full of colour.
<![CDATA[ILLU6040 -Shooting From The Hip: T-Shirts]]>Tue, 23 Nov 2021 09:01:40 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/illu6040-shooting-from-the-hip-t-shirtsBrief

Create a series of T-shirt designs with a consistent style & theme, one week project focused on speed of outcomes.
The theme of my series will be folklore tales mixed with skating. I decided to illustrate the characters from Red Riding Hood, but in the midst of skating action, with more modern clothing choices. The illustrations will be accompanied by typography in a graffiti/ street-art style.


The contrast in line-weight and overall stylistic direction between the typography and the character illustrations creates disharmony within the images.
Standing alone; the characters all have a consistent aesthetic, as does the typography. Yet, when they are married together the differences in style is too great.
I believe this is due to the relative time spent on each element, the typography was intentionally very quickly done, without correcting many mistakes in its creation, whereas the character illustrations were slower, more methodical, & precise in their execution.

T-Shirt Mockups

Each design is tested on a variety of shirt colours to evaluate the change in clarity of design.
<![CDATA[ILLU6040 - Shooting From The Hip: Portraits]]>Fri, 19 Nov 2021 07:09:17 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/illu6040-shooting-from-the-hip-portraitsBrief

To use photography to create a series of illustrations with a consistent visual style/ artistic voice.
The aim of this project is to create artwork quickly, instead of spending days on outcomes we are to spend hours/ minutes so that multiple pieces may be completed within a single day.
There are no parameters for this project, so we are free to create whatever we want.
This project is to last one week.

Research & Inspiration

Since I haven't done any portrait illustrations outside of line art sketches​, I searched for tutorials for the medium I would be working in: digital art.
This tutorial covers realistic portraits, which take many hours, if not days to complete, I will have to abridge this process so that I will be able to create my pieces at a faster rate.
Speed in art comes from:
  • Practice,
  • Skill (which come from practice),
  • & Familiarity with a process.
I know that I have little in the way of any of these when it comes to portrait painting, so I expect my series of images' outcomes to be incompetent. However, I will be able to learn much throughout this project, & since the quality of the outcomes themselves aren't particularly crucial, I will be able to have some fun.

As we are free to create our portraits on any subject, I have decided that mine will have a theme. My series of portraits will be digital paintings of Steven Seagal as he progresses through his career: from young (30s) Steven Segal in the 1990s (The Under Siege era), to the fat, but still producing action movies, (60s) Steven Segal in the 2010s (The Goatee-era).
Currently, Steven Seagal is a target of ridicule as he has fallen from grace quite rapidly as his career progressed, which is why I've got no problem doing a series of (probably unflattering) images on him.


<![CDATA[ILLU6040 - Penguin Cover Design Award 2022]]>Thu, 21 Oct 2021 13:47:30 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/illu6040-penguin-cover-design-award-2022Brief

Create (at least) two book jacket submissions for the Penguin Cover Design competition.
The three books featured as subjects for the competition are:
Formatting templates are provided to fulfil the competition's submission requirements.
The required text to be present on each book jacket is also provided.

The Books

Diary Of A Young Naturalist
Dara McAnulty

Cover Copy
  • Nature - Northern Ireland
  • The Euphoric Ecstasy Of The Natural World
  • The dichotomy of Chaos & Serenity
  • Loss
  • Mental health
  • Conscientious perception

Girl, Woman, Other
Bernadine Evaristo

Cover Copy
  • Alienation
  • Identity
  • Culture 
  • Universal experience - Discrimination & Victimhood

Murder Most Unladylike
Robin Stevens

Cover Copy
This book's jacket requires an additional piece of design: a series logo to feature on its cover & spine.
  • Mystery
  • Friendship
  • School - Setting, & Aesthetic
  • Secrecy
  • Authority - Convincing & Subverting

Research & Inspiration

Nature In Northern Ireland

1930s School & Gym Aesthetic

Spooky Visual Style For Children - The Locations Of Scooby Doo

Old Book Cover Designs


Quick template-accurate sketches to get a better understanding of how much type there is to deal with within each book jacket's design on a visual level.

Diary Of A Young Naturalist Development

Sketch on template, showing the rough layout of the text elements, relative to the illustration so that they do not clash heavily in the final outcome.

Back Cover Development

Front Cover Development

Murder Most Unladylike Development

<![CDATA[ILLU6040 - Exquisite Corpse]]>Mon, 27 Sep 2021 23:00:00 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/illu6040-exquisite-corpseThe Brief

This project is a collaborative effort across third year illustration students to create a book full of "exquisite corpse" (a form of surrealist collage) artwork. Each participant has been given four random Characters Of Note™ to create a full-body illustration of. Once the illustrations are all completed, they will be cut into sections & compiled into a book to create a dynamic exquisite corpse work.
Blog posts containing & discussing the concept of "exquisite corpse"
The outcome of this project is self-determined, so the parameters of our illustrations are decided as a group, they are as follows:
  • A4 book trimmed down & ring bound, resulting in an illustration-working-area of 170mm x 297mm.
  • Illustrations cut into sections of 3.
  • Text with character details will be on the back of each section:
    • Name - On top section
    • Profession - On middle section
    • Description - On bottom section
  • Fonts will be consistent to each character, rather than uniform over the whole book.
  • 28 pages of illustrations (56 sides) with a front & back cover.

Research & Inspiration

The subjects for this project are distinct fictional or historical characters with often absurd descriptions, so their illustrated portraits will have to capture the same energy as in their descriptions.
I see this project as a challenge in character-design, so I will need to explore means of conveyance within that concept.

Character No. 36 - Tokyo Sexwale 
(Historical Figure)

​"Profession: Businessman and Politician from South Africa.

Notes: Anti-apartheid figure. He was imprisoned alongside Nelson Mandela and won a government position during his country’s first democratic election."
Post with a summary of Tokyo Sexwale's activism
​Movement History

Character No. 41 - Papá Gonzalez
​(Fictional Character)

"Profession: Mexican Outlaw

Notes: The biggest sombrero and moustache along the Rio Grande."
I'm going to place this character's style & aesthetic to the very general "Wild west" era (mid 1800s to 1910-ish). A very stereotypical western character (see Bandito).
Article on potentially relevant historical details

Character No. 46 - Stanley Judkins
​(Fictional Character)

"​Profession: Professional Footballer

Notes: Played for Preston North End 1922-23. Famously used his shiny, bald head to temporarily blind the opposition."
1888 - 1889 Illustration Of Preston North End FC.
Preston North End Kit 1914 - 1930
1920s Football Boots

Character No. 54 - Terry Austen
​(Fictional Character)

"Profession: Writer

Notes: Jane Austen's younger brother, wrote action-adventure novels. Suffered from gout."
Jane Austen was active during the Napoleonic Wars, publishing works of writing near the end of the conflict. Her real brothers (Francis Austen & Charles Austen) both became Officers in the Royal Navy from the 1790s onwards. Therefore, this fictional brother should have some sort of link with the military at the time, after all, there's plenty of action & adventure in the military. 
Article on era-specific fashion

Initial Sketches

Papá Gonzalez Sketches
Trying to establish the size of the sombrero & moustache within the limitations of the frame.
Papá Gonzalez Sketches
A more rotund build fits this character better than a wiry body shape, and uses more of the space available.
Papá Gonzalez Sketch
Exploring treatments to keep the moustache length appropriate, but also within the top segment.
Fitting the bodies' proportions within each section is challenging for some poses. Very "Big head mode".
Stanley Judkins Pose Sketches
Exploring more dynamic poses that fit within the frame for Stanley Judkins while keeping his shiny bald head in the forefront.
Terry Austen Pose Sketches
An overly muscled character will contrast with the delicate fashions of the 1800s. Is there such thing as a standing dynamic writer's pose?
Tokyo Sexwale Sketches
To convey the politically rhetoric nature of Tokyo Sexwale, I've used various scholar's cradles & hand gestures in these sketches; the body-language of a speaker.

Developed Work

Papá Gonzalez WIP

Terry Austen WIP

Stanley Judkins WIP

Tokyo Sexwale WIP

Final Outcomes

Papá Gonzalez Finished Illustration

Terry Austen Finished Illustration

Stanley Judkins Finished Illustration

Tokyo Sexwale Finished Illustration
<![CDATA[ARTD6000 - Research]]>Mon, 20 Sep 2021 02:33:56 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/artd6000-researchResearch Paper Proposal & Discussion

Research Proposal Form
(First Draft)
Research Proposal

Key Texts

The Virtual Vloggers Taking Over YouTube

​​This article covers the history of virtual vloggers & 3D animated avatars as content creators. It also discusses the practical side of producing these forms of content creation & the cultural context of some of their designs. The unique appeal of virtual vloggers, for content consumers & content creators is explored, as well as the advantages of having a digital image/ body for the purposes of multi-platform content production.

REALITY: Broadcast Your Virtual Beings From Everywhere

This paper addresses the technical aspects of VTubing within the context of a live performance, software involved, the degrees of motion-capture possible (full-body, just facial translation, or a mixture of both), human-to-avatar expression translation & solving issues of conveyance (software detecting & translating live-human expressions onto a less subtle avatar's face to make them readable), the translation of VTuber models into other digital spaces such as video-games.

An Introduction To Cybercultures

This book contains a thorough examination of Cybercultures, with still-relevant ideas & concepts 20 years after its publication. There are many definitions & terms included in this book which will be useful for discussing VTubers (or any digitally-derived subculture). The many chapters of this book will provide ample opportunities for citations.

Essay Structure

As follows is a list of possible subjects/ content that I may cover in my essay, this list is yet to be refined into a properly considered order:
  • Abstract - critical theories & discussion topics
  • Introduction to the world of VTubing - what is VTubing (Cite Shirai 2019) (specific terminology/ common language), general history, the cybercultural context. (Cite Lufkin 2018)
  • Case studies
    • Independent VTubers
      • Projekt Melody - Virtual Camgirl to virtual Twitch streamer. (Adult-focused virtual streaming transitioning into general virtual streaming).
        Virtual performance evolution & possibilities within the adult entertainment industry.
      • Nyanners - Internet celebrity to virtual streamer. (Known internet personality adopting a virtual streaming format).
        Transition of a known personality into a virtual performer.
      • Ami Yamato - Virtual IRL Vlogger (Example of a very early virtual performer).
        The beginnings of virtual performance.
      • Kizuna AI - Virtual Youtuber™ (Early VTuber, coined the term "Virtual Youtuber" as a self-descriptor).
        The evolution of Virtual Youtubers as an archetype within cyberculture.
      • CodeMiko - Virtual streamer (Very open about the technological side of interactive/ live virtual avatars, showing the IRL setup & performer behind the VTuber performance).
        Behind the scenes of virtual performance.
    • VTuber Groups
      • Hololive/ Cover Corp - Japanese corporation that scouts VTuber talent & builds their Virtual Performance & brand (Very influential in the world of VTubing in terms of performance formatting, & cultural impact).
      • VShojo - American VTuber agency that focuses on VTuber talent on Twitch. (Western, more liberal VTuber agency but retains much of the Japanese influence which seems to be omnipresent within VTubing).
  • Discussion on Cultural Imperialism - Heavy Japanese pop-culture influence (possible semiotics discussion).
  • Gender Bias - There are vastly more female VTubers than male (possible reasons for this, advantages of a Virtual Performance vs. performance without an avatar).
  • Sociology - The power of anonymity (negative aspects & positive aspects).
  • Conclusion(s)
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Image List

The World Of VTubers

An important point to consider within my subject is that few people outside of certain internet subcultures will be aware of VTubers, so I will have to introduce & explain the concept of VTubers in a clear manner.
Some Examples Of Independent VTubers, & VTuber Groups.
Flow chart showing some wide-ranging examples of independent performers & performer groups within the world of VTubing & some brief context.
<![CDATA[ILLU5060 - Critical Essay]]>Fri, 14 May 2021 07:17:48 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/illu5060-critical-essay
Essay PDF

Semiotics Of Fashion
Elliot Matthew Watson


This article will discuss the validity of the statement “An item of clothing is not a neutral sign, it is a ‘designed’ artifact - a conveyor of symbolism, cultural meaning, value, status and myth; ultimately dependent on the viewer (or audience) to decode.” using a specific article of clothing, chosen from the author’s wardrobe, as a case-study.

To evaluate the validity of the statement, and how it may apply to the specific article of clothing, the statement will be separated into its key points, and then contrasted against separate aspects of the article of clothing before the item of clothing as a whole is evaluated.

As a means of establishing a contextual understanding of semiotics, academic texts will be used to provide a perspective from which to define & explore aspects of semiotic study, and how they might apply to the subject of this work, throughout this article’s content.

Semiotics is the study of messages, meanings, and associations extrapolated from one explicit source: it is the subtext of our perception. For one description of semiotics Chandler (2007) writes;
“Semiotics involves the study not only of what we refer to as ‘signs’ in everyday speech, but of anything which ‘stands for’ something else.”

"Signs" are aspects of an article that have their understanding dependant on a, linked, association, derived from an "Object" present within the article. The conveyance of this association is dependent on the viewer's knowledge, this is described as “interpretant". Atkin (2013). Signs are individual markers present within a piece of media that contain meaning & context to viewers with the correct knowledge or understanding to interpret those signs, there may be culturally unique symbols or objects that’s history would only be known to those who belong to that culture or have studied it prior. Semiotics may be used to understand a deeper meaning, or multiple meanings, of a piece of media.

This text will address specific aspects of a chosen item of clothing and evaluate its design, the potential symbolic currency it holds, and then address how dependent on a viewer’s prior knowledge an understanding of any symbolic currency is. Thus, establishing points to assess the validity of the initial statement.

Addressing & Establishing The Chosen Article Of Clothing

Within the world of fashion, signs are present in almost all forms of attire, culturally unique dress (the Kilt of Scotland, the Japanese Kimono, the south-Asian Sari etc.), ceremonial clothing, and military uniforms are all types of clothing that may have overt symbols & design elements that tie them to their historical & cultural contexts, meaning that they cannot be viewed without being associated with the wider context in which they exist, provided that the viewer has a degree of the knowledge required to perceive their connections.

The specific article of clothing to be examined in this body of work (Figure 1) is a production of the JF Fencing Jacket, named for its creator Jessica Finley, produced by SPES, a historical fencing gear manufacturer based in Poland. Its purpose is as protective sports clothing, for Historical European Martial Arts (H.E.M.A.).  Histfenc (2021). The jacket (Figure 1) has 10 large (2mm diameter) polished metal buttons up its center which folds across from right to left, for protective reasons within its design for sparring with weapons, which is contrary to the pervasive convention of other buttoned articles of clothing intended for male wearers, as they fold across from left to right as a means to make buttoning them up easier for right-handed individuals.
Figure 1

Assessing Individual Elements Of The Jacket’s Design

​There are two overt tags/ patches sewn onto the outside facing portion of the jacket (Figure 1). The first of which is present on the front (Figure 2) denotes the manufacturing company & logo. The second patch is located on the back (Figure 3), which describes the year of the design’s creation, the company, the location of production, the polish flag, the polish coat of arms, and the newton rating of the jacket which is a technical specification relevant to its qualifications as a fencing jacket. Within these patches, there are many symbols & associations that’s meaning would be heavily dependent of the viewer’s pre-existing knowledge.

The patches are filled with signs of various designed purposes, to intentionally trigger associations with historical & cultural elements, or to provide uniquely relevant information. For example; “350 N” is a shallow sign (few possible interpretations/ meanings), one that requires a knowledge of either academic physics, to make the connection that “N” is a unit of force, “Newtons”, or an understanding of the wider context of fencing jackets. Without prior knowledge of either of these two things, “350 N”’s intended message would be indecipherable; therefore, this sign must be correctly decoded by the viewer to have any value within the design.
Figure 2
Figure 3
The jacket (Figure 1) possesses more complex signs which have a greater number of potential connotations such as the Polish flag, which represents an entire country in one singular design. An entire country, its culture, and its history could be interpreted by scores of viewers with a vast array of possible associations, positive or negative, some more prevalent than others, but all those interpretations are dependent on how the viewer translates a sign through their own perception & experiences. The polish coat of arms similarly represents an entire country, but it has a more military-focused bias due to its historical context, and the historical use of other coats of arms. If a viewer was ignorant of such historical significance, they would see nothing more than a stylised icon, the interpretation is dependent on the viewer. Since the design of this article of clothing is rooted in the world of H.E.M.A. (Histfenc 2021), its design intentionally contains signs that evoke grand martial history as a means to appeal to its target demographics likely interests.

The center-line of the jacket (Figure 1) is adorned with 10 large polished metal buttons, these buttons are a clear disadvantage in terms of its practicality as a fencing jacket, they’re large & likely to snag on weapons and their placement down the center rather than to one side means that they’re more likely to interact with weapons. These buttons are a unique design element for a fencing jacket, as they clearly sacrifice practicality for another feature the buttons have; the buttons must have value in what they communicate in their associations & aesthetics. A center-line of large buttons is a feature that is traditionally found on westernised military forces’ uniforms. This feature has been a common sight on westernised military forces since the advent of the Age of Sail/ Industrial era (~1700+) Basset-Powell (2021).The design of the buttons on the jacket (Figure 1) clearly intend to evoke connotations towards such martial and historical lineages present throughout a wide range of cultures, especially in Europe.

This jacket (Figure 1) is red, but has several other colour options Histfenc (2021). In the writings of Almalech (2017), red is described as a colour that is communicates extremes in its interpretations, emotional extremes (love, hate, passion), physical extremes (fire, heat, blood). Red is a bold colour with historically martial connotations, it is associated with soldiers of grand empires (Roman legionnaires, British Redcoats), the association with historic soldiers would add to the appeal of this item of clothing within a community of historic martial artists – its intended demographic. The connotations of red as a colour of extremes would enhance its desirability in an equally extreme competitive sport setting such as fencing.

Considering The Jacket As A Whole

The design of this jacket (Figure 1) is both practical and aesthetically focused to fulfil its role as protective equipment & as a pleasing fashion item. The design takes into consideration the practical realities of its use, but also takes into account the aesthetic sensibilities of those who are likely to see it.

Within the design of this jacket (Figure 1) there are many elements which can be interpreted as having martial and/ or historical connotations, given the wider context of this item & its intended use, and therefore audience, this is an unsurprising direction for its design to take. The design of this object takes advantage of the assumed audience’s likely knowledge-base & exploits their predicted interpretations & capacity to decode signs to induce a greater value & meaning to the object by linking it to a grand historical & cultural narrative.

Figure 1
With a shallow level of understanding, some of the more nuanced signifying design elements, and therefore the overall value as cultural-capital, of this jacket (Figure 1) may go unnoticed or unappreciated. These signs are often minor details that are not immediately apparent on a casual viewing & so the surface-level impact of the item is not greatly affected. The more immediately visible aspects of the design, however have a more accessible or generalist set of connotations which will be decodable by a wider audience. Contrarily, with a deeper level of understanding, a viewer would be able to pick up on the more obscure connotations present in the object’s design & would understand the rich significance that the object holds, adding to its value as a designed artifact.

The degree to which any viewer of the jacket (Figure 1) may recognise the signifier’s conveyance relies upon the viewer’s cultural awareness, historical & contemporary knowledge, and an understanding of widespread interpretations of common signifiers. Failure to decode the design’s signifiers reduces the perceived value of the jacket (Figure 1) as an item of significance.


Throughout this investigation into the validity of the statement, “An item of clothing is not a neutral sign, it is a ‘designed’ artifact - a conveyor of symbolism, cultural meaning, value, status and myth; ultimately dependent on the viewer (or audience) to decode.”, by using a specific item of clothing (Figure 1) as a case study to test this statement there have been several examples of designed elements within the article of clothing that would suggest that this statement is entirely valid. Specific cultural meanings, & symbolic associations present within the intended design depend on the viewer to have an already established awareness to successfully decode, yet they are chosen with this in mind by the designer.

This investigation has used the framework of semiotics to explore and understand how design elements may possess underlying meanings. Semiotics states that elements of design may have deep-rooted associations & connotations beyond what is immediately apparent.

Any possible “neutral” signs present upon the item of clothing can be interpreted by the viewer, meaning that those signs are not, in-fact, neutral: they are merely more ambiguous than others present. The challenge comes in proving whether such signs are designed to convey whatever it is they convey, every aspect of an item of clothing’s design has connotations to it, but is the designer explicitly aware of these connotations? In the example chosen for this article, it’s hard to challenge the deliberate & targeted nature of the design features, as they can all be justified contextually.

Different cultures may interpret the same signifiers differently so any one item cannot be reliably & universally read and so it would be challenging to intentionally design around such an unreliable foundation within a globalist context, however, this does reinforce the validity of the statement as the decoding of a sign is ultimately dependent on the viewer.

Ultimately, all items of clothing have degrees of deeper meaning present within their design, whether intentionally considered & placed, or otherwise. The decoding of that deeper meaning is the viewer’s responsibility.


Image List

  • ​Fig. 1 Elliot Watson (12th May 2021) JF 350 Jacket [Photograph]
  • Fig. 2 Elliot Watson (12th May 2021) JF SPES Front Patch [Photograph]
  • Fig. 3 Elliot Watson (9th May 2021) JF SPES Rear Patch [Photograph]
<![CDATA[ILLU5050 - Protest Pack]]>Tue, 13 Apr 2021 13:42:02 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/illu5050-protest-packThe Brief

This brief is a very open-ended assignment;
  • Select a problem that needs to be fought against, and that needs greater attention. This could be an issue on any scale.
  • Create materials which may be used to protest against the selected problem & inform people about the issue.
  • These materials should be accessible to anyone so that they may join the protest. This is to be a D.I.Y. protest kit.


Protest Pack Content Ideas
As addressed in my protest pack content ideas document, I've narrowed down my selection of issue to either:
  • A Review Of Some Of The Absurd Entries Onto The UK’s Offensive Weapon’s List 
  • The Curtailing Of The Human Right To Freedom Of Expression By Insidious Authoritarian Government Action
Since, in my opinion, there is a massive difference in the scale & severity of these issues, fundamentally their treatments will differ.
It's much easier to have some fun and be playful when the stakes of an issue are minor & still have an effective impact, whereas treating a serious issue with the same level of joviality without the utmost care would hinder its effectiveness & provoke disingenuous counter-rhetoric from opposing viewpoints.

As to a possible treatment for "A Review Of Some Of The Absurd Entries Onto The UK’s Offensive Weapons List" I would address the absurdity of some of the listings by presenting mundane objects that fulfil the criteria in a satirical manner, highlighting the specific wording of the legislation within the image to inform as well as promote my rhetoric. A satirical campaign against Ninjas could be quite an amusing route to take & has the potential to create some bizarre unique imagery for poster designs. Satirical anti-ninja propaganda maybe.
The treatment for "The Curtailing Of The Human Right To Freedom Of Expression By Insidious Authoritarian Government Action" would be far more serious & urgent in its message. Since this is an immediate, current & ongoing issue that I feel strongly about, I feel like I'm obligated to take it in a far more aggressive & opposing direction. For the imagery I would use in this treatment, I would focus on citizens being oppressed by the state: classic imagery of the state's boot crushing the common man, liberty being undermined & decades of progress lost, the state oppressing the citizenry.
Out of the two, I think that reviewing the offensive weapons list would be more enjoyable for my project.

A list of possible items to include in the protest pack:
  • Large sign made from multiple sheets of printed A4
  • Single sheet poster about A4 in size
  • Miniature Logo/ Sticker - 9cm x 9cm square area to print out 6 on an A4 sheet
  • Pamphlet/ Manifesto​ - folded/ double-sided A4
  • Sandwich-board design

Research & Inspiration

Protest Signs In Use

Points for protest sign design:
  • Words tend to be higher up in the visual hierarchy.
  • Center-alligned type.
  • Logo-like images - simple & easy to read images.
  • Rhetorically convergent text & image.
  • Direct & to the point - quickly read & easily understood.
  • Rectangular format.
  • Few different colours used - greater contrast.

Initial Idea Exploration

As I've decided to address "A Review Of Some Of The Absurd Entries Onto The UK’s Offensive Weapon’s List" I've compiled the narrative points I wish to convey with my protest pack material:
  • The Very specific entries about weapons that are clearly only used by ninjas (about 8 out of 20 total entries on this list)
  • Everyday objects that fulfil the criteria of "Offensive Weapon".
  • The references to an object's "Design"
  • Entries that are entirely about perception/ aesthetics rather than any kind of logical reasoning.
So far, all my designs are for handheld protest signs, and so the intent behind them is to push an instantaneous & simple point or to intrigue viewers into seeking out additional information.
Since my protest pack has a specific piece of legislation that it is opposing, I believe the content for informational material such as pamphlets should be relatively easy to construct.

Initial Ideas Review

I believe that the more information-focused sign designs are more effective, and narrow the scope of my movement to a more clear & concise range of issues. 
After reviewing my issue in a practical sense regarding how many people it affects, I've concluded that the vehicle of delivery for my message should change from hand-held signs & other physical protest mediums to something that is less dependent on a large-scale involvement.
While the rhetoric of my initial sign designs doesn't need to change, the medium in which they appear should be changed to a more appropriate form.
The reviewed content formats for my protest pack are:
  • A4 poster(s) - For print & digital use
  • Informational poster designed for social media
  • Brief Manifesto/ mission statement
  • Logos/ icons for possible sticker designs
Since my intent for the poster designs is to be informational, I believe a more iconographic style of illustration would fit alongside them.

Developed Work

I've decided to shift from a portrait to a landscape format as I see my pieces being used within a digital context, so landscape is more screen friendly. Since my graphics are quite simple & the execution of their ideas are flexible, they should be capable of changing format without too much issue.
Blueprint style poster regarding the overly-broad definition of a "Blowpipe" or "Blow Gun". A disassembled ballpoint pen fulfils the definition.
I like the simplicity of this piece, having just two primary colours helps the graphics stand out.
After doing a test print of the piece, and reviewing it in context, I've come to the conclusion that some of the type elements need enlarging to be more legible & attain more presence on the page.
In a roughly A4 printed physical version (offensive weapon for scale), the smaller typographic elements fall into the background & become difficult to read.
A revised version with adjusted type sizes for greater clarity.

To address item R, which is the primary cause for me to be invested in this cause, I've decided to highlight the absurdity of this legislation by showing four swords which have:
  • Identical hilts
  • Identical blade styles
The only difference between any of them is the curvature of the blade & the length. The curve is mild & the length is arbitrary.
The first piece was just to figure out the composition & show the graphical style I wanted to go with.
I then experimented with the colours of each of the elements, as the placeholder colours I started with didn't have enough contrast with the background (particularly the lighter coloured guards).
Here I've adjusted all the colours to match each other, and I believe they have enough contrast with the background, and enough harmony with each other so as not to draw attention to any one piece of each sword.
To increase clarity, the two shorter swords have been removed as they were causing some confusion about what exactly this piece was saying. To further clarify the argument, I've added more text to fill up the free space made by the removal of two of the swords.
Now the poster is saying something without the need for additional materials or knowledge.

To address entry N on the list, I just looked at the provided definition, and discovered that any two objects tied together would fulfil it, so I thought of some recognisable everyday objects that are naturally tied together. The comparison between the actual "weapon" & the objects highlights the absurdity.
This poster was the most educational in terms of the creation process, because I had to create assets for illustrator to solve problems. I made three different pattern brushes in this piece which I then used in future pieces to keep a consistent graphical style.
The brushes are:
  • The Chain-Link brush, which was the inspiration for creating my own assets, I started trying to make a chain link one piece at a time which took far too long, but I liked the aesthetic so I researched how to create my own brushes so I could just tie the pattern to a single path.
  • The Rope brush, much simpler than the chain-link brush & fulfilled a variety of different uses at different sizes.
  • The Cable brush, just two parallel lines combined into a brush so I could draw it on a path.
Having all the objects in black forced me to focus on the clarity of my images silhouettes need to be the correct shape & proportion to be recognisable.

Item G is one of the two on the list that could apply to lawn aerators (the other being item F) my thumbnailed posters featured item F, but I felt like I could do a more diagrammatic image with item G.
Reusing assets created in a previous poster helped speed this one along.
Continuing the style of my blueprint poster, I focused on annotating the image with very clean & clear noted sections to highlight exactly which parts of the definition fit where on this gardening tool.

Item S is just the epitome of the knee-jerk reactionary laws made by the U.K. government that achieve little to nothing apart from a public relations band-aid.
Again, an annotated diagram style highlights parts fulfilling definitions, and the comparison between the two knifes does all the rhetorical work for this poster.
I decided to use fairly innocuous content for the "zombie" knife's violent images/ words to emphasise how open to interpretation such language is.
The quote on the blade is from the bible, Psalm 144:1.
A fist is an ambiguous sign that could be interpreted as associated with violence or violent action.

Just to cover the pop-culture ninja weapons quickly I wrote up the entire Offensive Weapons list & highlighted the entries that are ninja weapons. I could've added more entries to this definition but decided to only go with the really explicit ones with named examples in them.

The Offensive Weapons List Protest Pack Page


<![CDATA[ILLU5050 - Choice Illustration: How The Elephant Got Its Trunk]]>Mon, 01 Mar 2021 19:29:20 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/illu5050-choice-illustration-how-the-elephant-got-its-trunkThe Brief

This brief features a choice of 4 possible projects to address:
  1. Editorial - Create a series of three editorial illustrations for articles written by one of a selection of writers.
  2. Narrative Fiction - Create a front cover design, a single full-bleed page illustration, & a double page spread illustration with incorporated text for one of a selection of short stories.
  3. Picture Book For Early Readers - Create a front cover design, a single page full-bleed illustration, & a double page spread illustration with incorporated text for one of a selection of children's stories.
  4. Song Lyrics - Create two illustrations & a cover design to accompany a monograph of a selected artist's lyrics.
​I've decided to pursue the picture book for early readers, and the story I will work from is an adaptation of How The Elephant Got Its Trunk by Rudyard Kipling.
How The Elephant Got Its Trunk Story
Additionally I will adopt some appropriate self-imposed parameters for the outcome of this project:​
Front Cover Illustration Parameters:
  • CMYK
  • 300dpi
  • 210mm wide x 210mm high (A5 Square) + 3mm bleed
Single Page Illustration Parameters:
  • CMYK
  • 300dpi
  • 210mm wide x 210mm high + 3mm bleed
Double Page Illustration Parameters:
  • CMYK
  • 300dpi
  • 420mm wide x 210mm high + 3mm bleed
  • Integration of text

Research & Inspiration

Illustrated Children's Books

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling - Illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy
Atticus The Storyteller's 100 Greek Myths by Lucy Coats - Illustrated by Anthony Lewis




Elephants & Crocodiles Together

Animal Reference Art Tool

Initial Thumbnails

Front Cover Illustration Thumbnails

For the front cover illustrations, my focus was primarily on visuals that include the trunk of the elephant as the key element.
I left some visuals without a type treatment applied to them, and some with the type illustrated. I feel that the visuals that include a typographic treatment are stronger and more valuable as thumbnails.

Single Page Illustration Thumbnails

Throughout the single page illustrations I've explored the interactions within the book that the Elephant has with the other animals to see which ones could be explored to create a more interesting outcome.
I've tried to abstract the subjects into less realistic depictions so that they may have a greater appeal to younger audiences.

Double Page Illustration Thumbnails

I decided to focus on the interaction between the elephant and the crocodile for the double page spread, as it's the key incident in the story, & has the potential to be a very dynamic image.
Appropriating reference images in a transformative manner allows a greater exploration of a variety of treatments & styles without bogging down the process with needlessly detailed drawing.

Developed Thumbnails

Front Cover Illustration Thumbnails

I liked the initial thumbnails that obscured the elephant, showing the trunk in greater focus. The idea of showing the elephant in tall grass and having the trunk revealed is probably my favourite treatment for the cover.
I couldn't resist developing the Dune cover parody thumbnail a little further.

Single Page Illustration Thumbnails

For the single page illustration, I decided to show an event near the end of the story, the crocodile being exhausted after all the other elephants decide they want trunks too. The struggle for this piece was conveying exhaustion & tiredness using the body language of a crocodile, anthromorphising the crocodile somewhat definitely makes it easier to get the message across.

Double Page Illustration Thumbnails

The concept I decided to develop as the double page spread illustration is the climax of the story, focusing on tension crossing the double page spread through the characters' body language. Lots of straight lines and pulling motions that go through the center of the spread.

Final Idea Development & Production (WIP)

Front Cover Illustration

My objective for the front cover was to establish the setting of the book & its primary character. The intention of showing the elephant with its trunk is to invoke the question of how the elephant got its trunk, which is answered in the story.
The above series of image shows key stages of progression in this illustration as I created it.
After considering my thumbnail visuals I've identified some improvements that could be made:
  • An issue with my developed thumbnail visuals was that the colour pallet wasn't warm enough for an African setting, one which I carried into the earliest part of this illustration until I adjusted the colours into more warm hues.
  • The typography in my developed thumbnails was really quite weak & generic, I've tried to remedy this in my finished illustration by considering the font choice & integrating the type with some of the illustration elements to weave the two together.
  • Showing the elephant by itself in the thumbnails ignores an important element within the story, that the elephant lives within a herd. Including some other elephants in my final piece reinforces the social aspect of the story.
  • Only showing the trunk and obscuring the rest of the elephant limits the amount of emotional communication that's possible to just the trunk's gesture. In my final piece, I've revealed enough of the elephant to show its face & convey emotions through its expression.
Final rendered image with the 3mm bleed area denoted by a faded border.
Front cover mock-up image. The image could be extended to cover the spine & rear cover of the book, but for the purposes of this mock-up I decided to have the spine be a single flat colour similar to the sky in the illustration.

Double Page Spread Illustration

The focus of this illustration is the climax of the narrative, when the elephant gets its trunk due to an encounter with the crocodile. This scene is supposed to convey tension, but with the light-hearted weight of a children's book level of peril.
  • To achieve a sense of tension I've illustrated physical tension in the image through how taut the elephant's trunk & the snake is, to enhance this effect, the tree that the snake is attached to is bowing from the force.
  • To ease the amount of peril in the scene I've added some silly elements, notice that the snake has tied itself into a knot to secure itself to the tree, and the elephant's tail is coiled around the snake for support.
The composition of my thumbnail visuals was rather flat and uninteresting, as they were all side-on from the action, to address this I've tried to add a greater sense of depth in the perspective. How well this has been executed is debatable, but I'd rather fail spectacularly than succeed tediously.
Double page spread mock-up, showing the center line & revealing that no key elements of the illustration are affected by its presence in context.
Version with adjusted type elements, to improve their clarity & reduce their hardness after feedback.

Single Page Illustration (WIP)

This illustration depicts the end of the story, at which point the elephants all go to the river to get their trunks pulled out by the crocodile. I thought that this part of the story would be overlooked, so I decided to feature the crocodile being exhausted.
The body language of the crocodile on its back with limbs akimbo is meant to convey its tiredness, meanwhile the elephant with an upstretched trunk looks impatiently at the crocodile.
Single page mock up & possible type treatment for accompanying page.
<![CDATA[ILLU5050 - Literal Illustration]]>Tue, 16 Feb 2021 09:54:33 GMThttp://theelliotwatson.grillust.uk/blog/illu5050-literal-illustrationThe Brief
To produce two literal illustrations to accompany a given short story. The short story I will be producing illustrations for is Number 13 (1904) by M.R. James.

The parameters for my illustrations are:
  • ​300dpi CMYK, 160mm wide x 226mm high with a 3mm bleed around all edges. To be representative of the story as a whole.
  • 300dpi Greyscale, 105mm wide x 50mm high with the possibility of being a vignette. To be viewed as an establishing shot for the story/ chapter.

Research & Inspiration

Number 13 Summary & Notes

Number 13 is set in The Golden Lion a hotel in the city of Viborg, Denmark at around the turn of the 20th century:
"​The Golden Lion is one of the very few houses in the town that were not destroyed in the great fire of 1726"
"It is a great red-brick house—that is, the front is of brick, with corbie steps on the gables and a text over the door; but the courtyard into which the omnibus drives is of black and white "cage-work" in wood and plaster."

The events are those experienced by an English academic researching the history of the Church in the region. The events are retold by their cousin.
The story hinges around a mysterious room 13 within the hotel, which appears and disappears throughout the story. The appearances of room 13 are, early on, merely dismissed as tricks of the mind, misrememberings, or not even attributed to the room itself. That is, until the issue is forced and multiple people perceive the room at once one night. No less than four people are confronted with room number 13 together, as they go to break into the room, dawn breaks and the room door disappears, revealing nothing but plastered wall behind.

After digging up the floorboards in an adjacent room, a document written in an unknown language is recovered, copied, and given to the local museum.

Quotes & Scenes Of Interest

"He had tried the wrong door, of course. Was his own room to the right or to the left? He glanced at the number: it was 13."

​"There was the door with its number as plain as could be, and work of some kind was evidently going on inside it, for as he neared the door he could hear footsteps and voices, or a voice, within."

"He went to the window—the right-hand window it was—and looked out on the quiet street. There was a tall building opposite, with large spaces of dead wall; no passers-by; a dark night; and very little to be seen of any kind. The light was behind him, and he could see his own shadow clearly cast on the wall opposite. Also the shadow of the bearded man in Number 11 on the left, who passed to and fro in shirtsleeves once or twice, and was seen first brushing his hair, and later on in a nightgown. Also the shadow of the occupant of Number 13 on the right. This might be more interesting. Number 13 was, like himself, leaning on his elbows on the window-sill looking out into the street. He seemed to be a tall thin man—or was it by any chance a woman?—at least, it was someone who covered his or her head with some kind of drapery before going to bed, and, he thought,  must be possessed of a red lamp-shade—and the lamp must be flickering very much . There was a distinct playing up and down of a dull red light on the opposite wall. He craned out a little to see if he could make any more of the figure, but beyond a fold of some light, perhaps white, material on the window-sill he could see nothing."

"he was in the habit of giving vent to his animal spirits when alone. Why else should he be dancing? The shadow from the next room evidently showed that he was. Again and again his thin form crossed the window, his arms waved, and a gaunt leg was kicked up with surprising agility."

"Just then, came an impatient knock at the door, and the knocker entered, without waiting to be asked. It was the lawyer, in deshabille and very rough-haired; and very angry he looked.
"I beg pardon, sir," he said, "but I should be much obliged if you would kindly desist——""

"Suddenly the crying or singing voice in the next room died away, and the singer was heard
seemingly to laugh to himself in a crooning manner. The three men actually shivered at the
Then there was a silence."

"The only weapons of defence that could be mustered on the spot were a stick and umbrella. The expedition went out into the passage, not without quakings. There was a deadly quiet outside, but a light shone from under the next door. Anderson and Jensen approached it. The latter turned the handle, and gave a sudden vigorous push. No use. The door stood fast."

"In that moment the door opened, and an arm came out and clawed at his shoulder. It was clad in ragged, yellowish linen, and the bare skin, where it could be seen, had long grey hair upon it."

"The men dropped the crowbars they had brought, and said flatly that they were not going to risk their throats in that devil's den."

"The men nodded, and the younger stepped forward, raised his crowbar, and dealt a tremendous blow on the upper panel. The result was not in the least what any of them anticipated. There was no cracking or rending of wood—only a dull sound, as if the solid wall had been struck. The man dropped his tool with a shout, and began rubbing his elbow. His cry drew their eyes upon him for a moment; then Anderson looked at the door again. It was gone; the plaster wall of the passage stared him in the face, with a considerable gash in it where the crowbar had struck it. Number 13 had passed out of existence."

"For a brief space they stood perfectly still, gazing at the blank wall. An early cock in the yard beneath was heard to crow; and as Anderson glanced in the direction of the sound, he saw through the window at the end of the long passage that the eastern sky was paling to the dawn."

Number Plates & Retro Fonts​

The subject of door number plates will likely feature in my illustration at some point, either in development pieces or in the final piece, so some relevant visuals will inform and authenticate any depiction I render, as long as I consider more historically plausible examples.

As the setting for my piece is around the year 1900, fonts with a relevant aesthetic, or even fonts that would be plausible in the story's setting time will help cement my illustration into the correct time.

Initial Thumbnail Sketches

Vignette Illustration Thumbnails

As this illustration will be present at the beginning of the story, above the chapter, or in this case the entire story title. I am treating this illustration as an establishing shot; I've tried to focus on more setting orientated illustrations rather than ones that might betray the content of the story as a whole.
The number plates containing just the number 13 tie in well to the story title, and they might hint at the setting of a hotel if they're visually appropriate to the setting.

Full Page Illustration Thumbnails

For the full page illustration, I intend to convey the overarching story into one image, or at least get the soul of the story into the image. There are a few key scenes within the story that either directly confront room number 13, or hint at an insidious presence yet to be revealed.
I've tried to make a door look ominous and foreboding with different perspectives and compositions.
I feel like this story hinges around transforming a mundane setting into one of psychological horror, the fear of the unknown is heavily played on in this story and the source of horror is never truly confronted or resolved.

Developed Thumbnails

Vignette Illustration Thumbnails

Variations on the theme of numbered door plaques. This image works well as a simple establishing element for the story. These thumbnails serve to explore the style of number & plaque.

Full Page Illustration Thumbnails

The composition I decided to develop further emphasises the atmosphere of the story without explicitly revealing the horror elements directly. While the imagery of some of the initial thumbnails (particularly 9 & 10) was striking, I feel that the showing of the "monster" detracts from the tense build up & psychological horror.
Adjusting the levels of each image can drastically impact the atmosphere & tone that they give off. Darker shadows & greater contrasts add a sense of depth & mood to an otherwise mundane image.

Final Idea Development & Production

Vignette Illustration

​The focus of this piece was the texture work, trying to make it look like a worn down metal plaque with scuff marks and signs of half-hearted polishing/ cleaning. I included visible screws to add some worldly authenticity to the image & to help balance out the focus of the composition.

Full Page Illustration

Getting the perspective down for the major elements of this illustration was integral to its effectiveness for conveying the atmosphere of dread.
From developmental thumbnailing, I knew where I wanted the main light source to be for the image, so I was able to paint in the consequences of that element without itself being present in the image yet.
Working on a relevant coloured ground for this piece helped me judge the aesthetic much better than I imagine I would have if I were working on a plain white background.
Once I added the light sources, I went around and added in coloured highlights on exposed surfaces to ground the setting in a convincing manner.
​The challenges behind the lighting and shadows in this piece were very educational. Constantly referencing the image as a whole whilst making changes helped me judge which changes to keep, and which to omit.
Rough Mock-up
I wanted to see how my illustrations would look like as an outcome in their intended location, so I created a quick mock-up of a page spread & placed them appropriately.
Contextual Mock-up