FINAL Project: Narrative Illustration


Narrative Illustration Lectures and Examples

Hello Class, below is a ton of information!聽聽 Pace yourself. Its all important, but just check out a couple of these posts and Lectures at a time, and then give yourself some time to consider the material before you continue.





In this multilayered assignment you will reinterpret a classic folk tale or fairy tale through your own creative lens.聽 You will, through the course of the assignment develop characters, setting, and finalize illustrations featuring the same character in two very different settings and situations.

DUE:聽 DEC 18 | Week 15

Final project will be reviewed during Individual In Class 5 minute Presentations

A complete project will include:

  • 1聽FULL COLOR ILLUSTRATION (Book Cover or Interior Illustration Full Bleed )
  • 2 FINISHED Pencil Drawings
  • Story Description
  • Process Work including: Character Sketches, Reference Sketches, Photo Reference*, Color/ Value Studies.


Final Art can be made using any combination of traditional drawing / inking skills and digital coloring. Final art must make full use of value and read as a finalized piece of art work.聽 Choosing a limited palate is highly recommended.




50 % project grade聽Submit聽a PDF PROCESS BOOK guiding us through the project from inception to conclusion.

  • Carefully SCAN your process work. This should include : Your brief Story Proposal,聽 Brainstorm, Character Designs, Thumbnails, Concept Sketches, Value Roughs, Related Sketchbook Work, and Final Art.
  • Carefully Label all of your work so that your thought process is CLEAR. Be sure all of it is presented well: facing the right way, no shadows in the picture, good contrast, etc.

50 % project grade聽Submit a publication ready聽300 DPI JPEG of Final ART





Editorial Illustration Resubmission


Hey Class-


If you wanted a second shot at Editorial Illustration here it is.聽 You all received a class wide, week long extension.聽 If you have the time to apply the critique you received, please do! Even if you do not make changes, be sure to submit the project for grading!


Editorial Submission – Submit Your Work




Project 3 – Editorial Illustration



Hello Class!聽 Here is the聽Lecture on Editorial Illustration and Visual Metaphors.


Project 3: Editorial Illustration Overview:

For the next project you will be creating an editorial illustration for use to accompany an article in a magazine, printed or online.

The illustration must be created using a聽limited palate聽of black, white, and 1 other color and should be made using a combination of traditional drawing / inking skills and digital coloring.聽 Final art should be made to fit the real magazine鈥檚 specs. (Approx 9鈥 x12鈥)

Final work will be judged on the uniqueness, clarity and cleverness of overall the concept, utilization of composition, skillful use of media, use of a full range of value, and of course overall technique.


IMPORTANT You MUST post your article and response in聽OPENLAB in order to meet project deadlines.聽


Editorial Assigment PART 1


Concept in Illustration



Find an editorial Illustration you admire. Such as this amazing illustration by Mike Byers on the topic of Bed Bugs.聽 馃檪聽 聽Read the subtext about the illustrations and where / how they were used. 聽Analyse what metaphors they chose to illustrate the subject matter. Observe the way the artist has conceptualized their subject.

Pay attention to what methods they have used:








Period Imagery



Here’s a few places to start looking:



But most of all, just聽look.



Working in Color: The basics


Color is one of the most powerful aspects of making art. Almost everyone who loves to create can remember the childhood excitement generated by a brand new box of crayons!


Everyone聽has a favorite color, artists and non-artists alike. 聽Our relationship to color is one of the most powerful relationships we have as a species. It is intrinsically connected to how we relate to our world. And so of course it is one of the most powerful aspects to consider when making art.



Color Temperature

Much of our relationship to color is based on instinct. For example, we see colors as warm or cool based on our physical response to them.


Warm things are warm colors (such as fire, the sun, hot coals, and in this case hot food.)




and cool things are cool colors (such as water and ice, which as blue or bluish).





Interestingly warm and cool colors also create a sense of perspective and depth when we look at an image. Warm colors tend to advance towards us, whereas cool colors tend to recede away from us.


In these two images note how early 20th-century illustrator Edmund DuLac uses this trick. In the first image of聽The Princess and the Pea聽he creates a sense of incredible height, as the cold blue-purple recedes from the viewer, effectively raising the height of the bed canopy. And in the second one,聽A Palace of Wonder, a sense of depth is created between the warmth of the interior space and the cold dark outside.

1466033989719 1466034009733



However, a great deal of our reactions to color are not innate, they are in fact cultural. For example Black and Death are associated in many Western cultures, in many Eastern cultures it is associated with white鈥攊ts direct opposite.

Take a look at this info-graphic. Note how many color associations change, depending on where you are in the world. However also note how HOT and COLD or Color鈥檚 Relationship to Temperature do not.

It is however important to understand your target market and the culture that they come from, because culture has a strong influence on the development of cultural-color associations in childhood building the adults eventual perceptions of color.

It is however important to understand your target market and the culture that they come from, because culture has a strong influence on the development of cultural-color associations in childhood building the adults eventual perceptions of color.



Throughout this module and the next we will look at these basic reactions we all have to color and learn to compose in color effectively. We will build on what we have learned regarding composition, concept, point of view, and value and we will see how we can use these reactions to color to aid us in our ultimate goal, telling a great story through narrative illustration.


However, before we can do that lets be sure we have down the basics.

NEXT STOP: The Color Wheel

Frank Stockton & Point of View

Shaping the Scene: Layout and Action

Action can often suggest the layout and framing of a shot. As always we go back to our story. Ask yourself: What is the character doing? How do they feel about it? How should the viewer feel looking at this scene? How can I make this action totally clear to the viewer? These questions will help to dictate your layout (another word for composition) as well as help you choose your POV.

In this illustration by Frank Stockton notice how the action and feeling have dictated many of these decisions.


The Moving Camera

The world you see in an illustration can be very compelling, inviting you in for deeper analysis. Or not. Much of this depends of the point of view you see it from. After all, seeing a concert or play or a game from the nosebleed seats is not the same experience at all as being up close and personal with the action. Since in illustration you can choose your viewer’s vantage point, take the time to really consider it.

Frank Stockton is a comic book artist and illustrator who is known for using point of view like a boss! We just examined one of his images in detail on the previous page for exactly that reason.

As you look at the next series of images ask yourself once again: the illustrator could choose any point of view from which to show this scene, so why did he choose this one?

Stories: A Love Letter

greg ruth

Greg Ruth,聽A Pirate’s Guide To Recess

Is there any aspiration more human, and more powerful, than the art of storytelling? As illustrators, we are admittedly very biased! After all, what is illustration if not the art of visual storytelling?

Some people are naturally adept at storytelling. They will captivate a room and have their audience hanging on every word. They know just the right moments to pause, to hush their voice, to yell, to inject tension or humor. But another person can tell the exact-same story and clear the room out!

Visual storytelling is no different. A thousand illustrators can approach the same work, each with their own unique storytelling voice (again the idea of聽personal vision), and each one will come out with a different interpretation, a different read on the story. Some of these reads will invariably be more successful than others. The ideas we will be approaching in this module will help us to be sure our interpretations work. We examine the intimate relationship between story and visual art, and look at how our all our artistic decisions affect our ability to tell a great story in our own unique voice.

You’ve heard the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words?” In great narrative illustration it’s absolutely true!

鈥撯揑llustrator Greg Ruth, from Stories: A Love Letter

source: Muddy Colors

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

ill_232_v9_m06_p9_vanallsberg_1The Mysteries of Harris Burdick聽is a fascinating and unusual book. It opens with an introductory letter from Chris Van Allsburg himself, explaining the book’s origins. “I first saw the drawings in this book a year ago, in the home of a man named Peter Wenders,” Van Allsburg begins. He goes on to explain that many years earlier, a man called Harris Burdick stopped by the office of Peter Wenders, who then worked for a publisher of children’s books, choosing stories and pictures to be made into books. Burdick brought one drawing from each of fourteen stories he had written as a sample for Mr. Wenders. Fascinated by the drawings, Wenders told Burdick he wanted to see the rest of his work as soon as possible. Promising to bring the stories in the next day, Burdick left鈥攏ever to be seen again. The fourteen pictures he left behind鈥攁nd their accompanying captions鈥攔emained in Wenders’s possession until Van Allsburg himself saw them (and the stories that Wenders’s children and their friends had long ago been inspired to write by looking at them). The mysterious pictures, writes Van Allsburg, are reproduced for the first time in the hope that they will inspire many other children to write stories as well.

Synopsis from the聽Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Teacher’s Guide

Chris Van Allsburg’s celebrated and thought-provoking illustrations in聽The Mysteries of Harris Burdick聽have intrigued readers of all ages for the past 25 years. Each illustration highlights a critical moment of a story, accompanied only by a single line of text and a title, forcing the readers to create the rest of the tale for themselves. This book is a stunning case study in the power of using the technique of freezing a moment in time coupled with picking the right event, the right critical moment in the narrative, to drive forward the drama and storytelling of the image.

View the video and consider what techniques Van Allsburg uses in each of the illustrations to heighten the story. Why are the moments he chooses so effective?


Focal Point Through Color: Direct Your Viewer with Contrast


We already know that great composition will guide our viewer, allowing us the illustrator to direct the overall聽read of the image. We鈥檝e also looked at how strong value contrast establishes clear focal points. Contrast and intensity in color works exactly the same way.

Strong differences in color and highly saturated color will pull your viewers eye, every time. Remember you are making deliberate choices to tell the best story you can. 聽Using color to both tell the story by establishing mood and setting, and creating places of emphasis to guide your viewer is critical.

Color used for emphasis can be very dramatic.


But聽contrast can be used to guide the viewer聽subtly too.

Consider this image called Camouflage by James Gurney, creator of Dinotopia. Take a good look and be aware of where your eyes travel.


Gurney conducted an experiment concerning focal points and how different people look at the same image. By adding together the eye movement data from a group of test subjects, he was able to observe where people look in a given picture.


To create the image below, eye-tracking technology recorded the data of sixteen different subjects and compiled the information into a composite image, called a heatmap. The red and orange colors show where 80-100% of the subjects halted their gaze. The bluer or darker areas show where hardly anyone looked.

The heatmap for聽Camouflage聽shows that everyone noticed the dinosaur鈥檚 face. They also quickly spotted the hidden man and the small pink dinosaur.聽 According to data connected to timing, these three faces drew almost everyone鈥檚 attention within the first five seconds. The dinosaur’s face was statistically the first thing most people looked at, followed quickly by the hiding man.


Why do we look the same way at this image? As humans we are drawn to faces. This is a given. However, though the contrast is subtle, the only pink things in all that foliage, (remember green鈥檚 complement is red) are the hidden man鈥檚 skin and the small pink dinosaur.


Simple Digital Coloring


There is no hard and fast rule on HOW to digitally color.聽 Digital coloring in infinite and there as many different methods to work as there are artists out there.聽 I wish you the best of luck in finding the method that works for you.

Here are a few tutorials just to get you started.聽 If you find some good tutorials, please share them in the class resources!


Coloring Line Art in Photoshop…

Simple animated painted style in Adobe PS:

Heres one for Procreate:

Monochromatic Palate


It isn’t always necessary to use many colors in order to achieve a colorful image — the monochromatic color scheme consists of one color plus black and can be very powerful. 聽Amonochromatic color scheme has one principle color and in all it鈥檚 various tints, shades, and tones.



1980s fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta whose work we鈥檝e looked at in previously, makes great uses of a monochromatic color scheme in this illustration,聽Silver Warrior.

Note the tiny dabs of warm color he uses to create high contrast focal points within this otherwise completely monochromatic composition. Those warm spots stand out due to color temperature.


Tony DiTerlizzi鈥檚 Monochromatic Palate


Illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi often works in a monochromatic palate. For his book The Spider and the Fly he chose a metallic silver and. The beautifully rendered drawings are printed in black against a silver printed page. Silver is a gray and not, therefore, really a color. But because it’s metallic, it contributes more than a standard gray. Though DiTerlizzi’s color solution may seem basic, it is unique in children’s picture books and greatly enhances the mood of his illustrations.


For his more recent series of chapter books, The Search for Wondla, DiTerlizzi chooses a different approach. Here, there are no contrasting dabs of warm color like there were in the Frazetta piece.

DiTerlizzi again works monochromatically, but in this case he chooses a two color printing process, meaning he chooses a principle color and the illustrations are all formed by the various combinations of this ink and black 2 along with the white of the paper.