Today we have all briefly presented our most recent progress with our APP projects with the main purpose of receiving feedback from both our peers and tutors. As usual, we each took independent turns in showing our ideas via a PowerPoint presentation. In an honest opinion, my presentation went so-so as I feel like I should have had more to show than I had, or simply because my speech was not up to par as I had hoped with several moments were I failed to properly explain my ideas and research due to my babbling lagging behind certain slides. In the end, even after going over several ideas during the feedback, I still feel like there were things left unsaid. Either way, I did receive some helpful advice concerning my overall of the cover idea.
My tutors (who were the only ones who gave me any advice (something that doesn’t really sound good to me)) gave me fair bit of advice about how I should have taken the perspective and size of my world into account when creating the drawing I had shown them, as from the angle I used for my sketch did not really express the length and magnitude of the character’s journey from their current spot to their apparent destination. This was because my failed use of perspective made the pyramid (destination) look a lot smaller than it actually was and the path design I used did not help to make it look like it was a great distance away.
They helped to point this issue out by looking back at one of the images I used for the Journey game slide, which showed a perfect example of this missed use of perspective. This images uses what looks like only 3/4 layers of background alongside the character, yet the picture easily expresses the magnitude of the mountain (and unknown distance) before them. I believe that they were able to do this by taking the perspective of the image level with the character, making the mountain seem huge compared to them and hiding any clues as to how far away it is.
They also recommended looking at an artist by the name of Caspar David Friedrich, an artist we once looked at during class. It may be helpful for me to at least look at some of his works to help improve my ability at drawing landscapes.
Overall I have learned some important pieces of information from my feedback, as well as some of the feedback as others, such as finding a typeface which fits the themes of my design over looking nicer, as one of my peers found when they used a fancy font for some of their text which, while pretty, look like it belonged more in a Christmas card than a anti-pollution campaign.
In order to obtain some new inspiration for possible ideas for my story’s design I decided to look back to a video game which I found to be one of the most stunning examples of a wordless stories: Journey by “Thatgamecompany”.
Journey is a game where players control a hooded robed figure that is seemingly making a pilgrimage to unknown location at the top of a mountain, which is clearly shown within the introduction of the game as the character is sitting atop a sand mound staring towards the shining peak of the mountain ahead of them. Throughout the journey the player must pass several different areas in order to eventually reach the icy mountain top. During the entirety of the game, there is no dialog whatsoever, instead any story based information is told through cut-scenes or simplistic illustrations on tone walls found within the game.
This method of storytelling is exactly what I want to achieve with my own illustrations of the book jacket (+pages?) as I also wish to give off the impression of a long and difficult journey without the need of anything but the title and visuals to explain what is happening.
I am also very interested in the overall design of the character them-self as I enjoy large red robe which makes them stand out in practically every background, as well as the secondary animation used in their scarf (which is also used as a game-play element) which help express a feeling of speed/motion and the amount of wind present within each area.
Moving on from this idea of character design, I also decided to look at another game which has caught my eye recently due to its rather appealing art-style. This game is called Hollow Knight, a Metriodvania game (a (usually) 2D platformer which focuses on exploration and progression through upgrading abilities) created by Team Cherry. The game itself is beautifully put together using hand drawn assets by the developers and tells the tale of a ruined world of bug-like creatures and mysteries beneath them.
I am mostly looking at this game from the side as I am mostly only interested in the character and creature designs of the the world that Team Cherry has created, as almost all characters in the game have simple yet unique designs. One of the aspects of the designs I enjoy the most is the fact that everyone wear masks, often accompanied by a ragged cloak/outfit/armor, a design aspect which I believe will blend well with the character design of Journey.
After my little discovery on the Folio Society, I have decided to investigate further into the works of Daniel Egnéus and learn for myself if it is possible to replicate his unique art style in some way, as I believe that these beautifully constructed (almost abstract) illustrations could help greatly in expressing the themes or ideas of fantasy and mythology within my book’s pages.
With a quick search I located Daniel’s webpage and discovered his wide array of works for other book illustrations and independent designs. Each of his works (especially his more independent illustration of landscapes) ooze these really thick layers of atmosphere and create some surreal, almost dreamlike settings. Some of my favourites I have found include a pair his interior designs of a church/temple(?) building with hanging cages from the ceiling.
The first of the two images I saw this golden dreamlike design with bird-cages hanging from the ceiling, some of which have figures standing within them. What I like about this piece is how atmospheric it feels, like it was a scene taken straight out of a novel of a fantasy world. The large patterned windows and tall pillars also give a very strong presence of religious themes or inspirations, and it could be interrupted that maybe the cages hanging from above symbolises the control of religion/the church. On the other hand, the (mostly) emptiness of the cages could be symbolic of freedom
The reason I also like this version of the same design is because how a few simple changes can affect the entire mood of a design. By changing the previous colour pallet from golden brown to a dark red/orange, the entire atmosphere of the picture has become far more menacing and forbidding. If the golden coloured of the first image made the setting feel like a holy place, this version makes the setting appear almost hellish, perhaps an intentional point. The cages hanging above now give the impression that this place is a prison or punishment. The flock of birds/bats(?) flying towards the ceiling also give off a very ominous tone as to what this place and the cages represent as it looks almost as if they are escaping or fleeing.
While I may not be able to completely mimic these atmospheric effects and techniques, I will try hard to take inspiration from these strange, beautiful and eerie settings created by this skilled artist within my own works in the future. I will also have to take note on how I should carefully plan out my use of colour, seeing as how a simple change of it can alter the entire atmosphere of a setting.
The Folio Society is a group of illustrative and artistic individuals whom I discovered during my research for my dissertation. The folio society is a group who seem absolutely dedicated to the conservation and development of high quality printed books, as they treasure the idea of great literature having equally great covers and illustrations.
Their website houses a nearly countless number of uniquely crafted books by a multitude of designers and artists who understand that books not only have worth to their literary contents, but also the aesthetic appeal of a book’s appearance and the feeling of holding a well-loved book in their hands or on their shelf alongside many others. Almost all books on the site available have designs that either live almost up to the standard of pre-existing covers, or flat-out surpass them in design quality with art-style which fit perfectly to express the themes or plot points of the contents.
I have found the site so far to be one of the best locations to find inspiration for possible ideas for layouts, typeface usage and even design styles due to great amount of variety in book themes presented. I doubt I will ever be able to afford one of these books however as the quality of effort used to make the covers and illustrations has also translated into the overall price of their value.
On the topic of finding inspiration however, I have found one artist in particular who assisted in the creation of the illustrative works within a copy of “Vita nuova”, wherein he used his skills in pen and ink to create some of the most interesting designs I have seen in a book, my favourite of wich is below.
The artist’s name is Daniel Egnéus, and from what I can tell, he may have used some sort of stencil technique to ink the clouds and figures onto the page, possibly even using a program such as Photoshop to create each individual layer. Whatever technique he did use has made for beautiful set of designs with crisp, detailed edges. I could use this kind of art-style to create the backgrounds or even overall style of my own illustrations, albeit with my own twist to distance itself with Daniel’s quality works.
I will have to look up and learn more about this artist at a later date to understand what other amazing designs they have created and how.
Today I have drawn up a quick mind map of ideas and possibilities for my book cover project, with a rather flexible theme of belief in mind.
Throughout the majority of making this mind-map, I was mostly prioritizing what I would like the theme of the book cover to be, as understanding in what ways I can use the topic of belief was the second step for me to move this project forward. I was mainly looking at more mythological interpretations of belief such as religion/fantasy rather than more grounded ideas such as personal belief, which would lean more towards debates and politics which I have little interest for. I chose this direction as I personally find more interest in the topic and mythical stories can easily be seen as a form of belief to those who genuinely believe in said stories. After fiddling around with that idea, I decided that I will make my book about a fantasy story, which would open up a large amount of possibilities for interesting and creative design choices that have a lot more freedom than playing it safe and going with already existing ideas found within other stories and legends.
My next goal was to decide on what kind of story I would like to tell in my book and how I would depict it. I explored several ideas such as a horror fantasy with Lovecraftian inspirations, a mystery with hidden messages and symbolism, and even one story with poetry. In the end however, I have decided to create a book centering around a wordless journey. What I mean by this is that I will have the book follow a character or creature traveling a strangle location with no written dialog at any point, relying solely on the visuals of the world and design to say what is happening and what would feel like. I have looked at this idea in particular as I have already thought of some great inspirational content to get some research from and I believe that the idea of telling a story purely from design will help push my limits for creativity and challenge me to think and experiment in brand new ways.
I am still somewhat unsure of what kind of method I will use to design the cover (and pages) with as only research after this point will help me gain a stronger understanding of that.