Since my last review, I’ve been far more comfortable and willing to produce work, now that I have some real black and white things to aim towards. My strict set of criteria I discussed in this previous post have been massively useful in helping me feel just that bit more confident in the work I produce for BA8 and making me not constantly go back on myself! Recent progress has been especially good as well.
I’ve briefly been revisiting the idea of swapping the palettes and tones of animals, but in a different way. Rather than choosing two completely different species, both scientifically and aesthetically, to swap the tones of, I instead stuck to the one ‘ugly’ animal and added colour and pattern to them in and attempt to make them more appealing. I felt this was more successful; it kept the message concise and simple without adding the extra complication of another species.
Below are examples of putting this idea into action. I chose the Californian Condor again, having come to be familiar with their form. The first image is a scientific study, drawn carefully from reference onto manually aged paper to create the effect of a traditional scientific illustration. This image was just juxtaposed with the second image.
This second image takes the Condor form and simplifies it to make room for bright colours, pattern and a general appealing nature, while still maintaining the anatomy of a Condor.
This is an exercise is communicating that, no matter how you dress them up, they are still the same animal. The same goes for traditionally ‘pretty’ animals; take the colourful fur and feathers away and you are left with something not too dissimilar to the animals which maintain a negative connotation within society or are viewed as ‘ugly’.
To show this in an even clearer way, I contrasted them together into the same image in numerous different ways:
By either layering the two birds themselves (second image) or by placing them within a scene together, I felt the images worked moderately well as standalone images, but the composition of the page was entirely thrown off by the way they worked together, they was definitely more work to be done with these two. Perhaps something as simple as redrawing them in a more synchronised way, but for now I tried moving onto a different animal and applying a similar strategy.
I looked at my previous attempt at this technique; the two Bosavi Wooly Rats, which have since scanned, edited and added type to (below.)
The anatomy of a rat allows for a huge range of compositions and movement within the image, so I thought if I were to try out this method again, a rat would be a good place to start.
As previously discussed, my skeleton studies appear to be a strong point in my development work, it seems a shame to lose that in place of more fleshed out animals. I’ve really enjoyed doing the skeleton and anatomical studies, and I especially love the way these studies tie in so tightly with my dissertation, so I felt the need to pursue it again and see where it could take the project.
I completed the below study of a rat’s skeleton in a simple isometric view to see how the visuals could be tied in with the visuals of the more fleshy/furry studies. I absolutely loved doing this study, there’s something incredibly satisfying about becoming familiar with the anatomy and details of a species, the elements you don’t often see but that are so important. I love the end aesthetic of the studies as well, skeletons seem to form their own natural perfect composition on the page, no matter where you place them. This is just one of the many, many reasons I want to include them, or something similarly anatomically focused, in the final images for the Bestiary.
I went on to develop this study into an image shared with a more fluffy friend.
I went through three main variations of the composition and potential page spread.
The first was the simplest; contrast the skeleton with the patterned, colourful rat.
This colourful rat holds relevance and information regarding the species as well as just looking rather pretty. The palette I chose was chosen specifically to communicate it’s habitat and living conditions.
“A new species of giant rat has been discovered deep in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. The rat, which has no fear of humans, measures 82cm long, placing it among the largest species of rat known anywhere in the world.
The creature, which has not yet been formally described, was discovered by an expedition team filming the BBC programme Lost Land of the Volcano. It is one of a number of exotic animals found by the expedition team.
Like the other exotic species, the rat is believed to live within the Mount Bosavi crater, and nowhere else.”
In an attempt to show its secluded existence, deep within forests and greenery, I chose the greens and blues. The leafy patterning on it’s fur was also a way to reflect this habitat, giving a bit more meaning to it’s appearance instead of using decoration for decoration’s sake.
The second variation involved some fleshing out of the skeletal version of the rat.
I was struggling to see what was missing with the first image, then I remembered the mentioning of a frog skeleton that I fleshed out with block colour before and how it was regarded as a successful image by peers and tutors (left thumbnail). I decided to try this technique with the skeletal rat to see which direction it could take it in. Fortunately; I felt it worked!
It still needs a bit more tweaking and perhaps one or two different re-dos of the image, but as a starting point and something to bounce off of to develop more page spreads, it was definitely going in the right direction, I feel.
My third and final variation involved the inclusion of type. I’ve always loved really light, sans serif typefaces, so I naturally defaulted to something of this nature. I really liked the overlapping tail of the previous composition of Wooly Rats, so I used this again to see if it worked in the same way; I definitely prefer having the image interact with the type in this way than having them entirely separate.
As a mock-up page spread, I’m very happy with it. I think this aesthetic works well, it takes scientific illustration into a different direction, something I’ve really wanted to do.
This is, of course, just a starting point to give me an idea of what the spreads could look like. I still have a lot to consider and play around with, some of which are:
- The type: Play with hand drawn type and other typefaces, which style would best fit with the image? Shall I follow a traditional route to reflect the scientific illustration elements or should I juxtapose this traditional nature with something clean and modern?
- How will this translate into a book format: I’ve done a small mockup book spread of this layout and the fold might interfere with the type and composition. Could I play around with the basic format of a book? Does the gutter have to be vertical? Can it be horizontal?
- Information communication: What information is necessary to communicate to the audience my intentions with the images and get them to consider my way of thinking about these animals? Does this need to be communicated with words or can I used visual triggers?
- Paper stock: I’ve previously experimented with tracing and acetate, the transparent nature could be used somehow, it would be a shame to ignore potential good ideas spawning from such transparencies.
So, I have my plan for what to do next, I have something solid to bounce off of and my criteria for the visuals still stands. Let’s see where it goes!