Concepts and Compositions class work

Monday, June 10, 2013

This spring I taught ILLU727:Illustration Concepts and Composition to a small but very talented group of grad students.
There were two main subjects for the course; the first was to read and interpret the stories of Baba Yaga, a Russian folktale about a hag/witch who could be hideous and charming, and could take the shape of different creatures. The visual telling of the Baba Yaga stories was straight forward; be true to the text and create characters and environments that depict the stories as they were written.
The second major subject was Alice in Wonderland; a very familiar tale that everyone knows from the classic Lewis Carroll story and Sir John Tenniel's illustrations, but mostly from the Disney animation. The class watched the Disney version to re-familiarize themselves with the story and the characters, but their task was to reinvent the tale. They had to set the story in a different environment and a different time from the original, and they had to reinvent the characters to fit this new time and place. "Wonderland" was to become something else.
Each subject, Baba Yaga and Alice, required the same kinds of illustrations; take two scenes from each story and create a main illustration depicting a pivotal moment in the story, as well as a spot illustration and an illuminated letter. The spots could be a way to introduce a secondary scene, or to introduce a character that didn't make it into the main illustration, or it could be a continuation of the action in the main illustration. The illuminated letter piece involved taking a letterform in a font appropriate to the story, and illustrate it with elements from the story.
These illustrations are the main pieces from the Alice assignment. (there was no requirement to do one vertical and one horizontal, they just happened to come out that way)

Yohei Horishita depicted Wonderland as a kinky masquerade party, where the characters are all humans dressed in costumes and masks that relate to the characters in the story. This is done with traditional line drawn in pen and ink, with digital color and texture.

Elyse Salazar saw Wonderland as the world of drugs and addiction, and depicted Alice as an addict.
The technique was ink wash paintings in black and gray, colorized in Photoshop.

Amy Scott saw Alice as a space traveler, and the other characters took on alien-like forms.
Traditional graphite drawings with digital color and texture.

Logan Wagoner had a different idea; Alice is in an insane asylum and Wonderland is where she escapes to in her head. The characters are other patients or employees of the asylum, except for the Cheshire cat, which is her imaginary pet. Traditional watercolor with digital enhancements.