I decided to combine photography and drawing for this exercise, as that's really what I would like to explore most on this course. Here's the final piece (fig.1).
This was the process for producing this piece.
1. Concept. I decided my concept would be a portrait of me and what is in my head. So I brainstormed "what is in my head" (fig. 2). This led to themes around creativity, drawing, photography, playing music, things that inspire me, like trees and plants, fashion photography, art galleries, my aspirations around combining my photography and illustrations in textile design. I liked the idea of a photographic portrait of me, with hand-drawn illustrations of all these things spilling out of my head/in my thoughts.
2. Photography. I set up the camera and directed my husband to take some portraits of me on a bright day outside. The idea was to have me looking lost in my thoughts. In Photoshop, I made my chosen image black and white (fig. 3), removed the background and extended the canvas in white to give me space to draw all the "stuff in my head" (fig. 4).
3. Illustration studies. I did some preliminary drawings as a study for what I might draw on the photographic image (fig.5). This is a collection of things on my desk and things from my imagination.
4. Drawing by hand. I printed out the photographic image on matt photo rag paper (which as well as making beautiful photographic prints is also lovely to draw on) and using pen, I drew over the image to illustrate the "stuff in my head" (fig. 6). This took about 2 and a half hours. You'll see there is music (the beginning of the Harry Potter theme tune and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata), an Illustration textbook, paint brushes, pencil, tube of paint, an apple (I love my juices), my beloved camera, a copy of Vogue (I get a lot of inspiration from fashion), and various doodles and patterns that keep finding their way from my imagination onto any nearby paper.
5. Digital colouring and finishing off. I scanned in the drawn image and decided it needed some colour (I had originally envisaged a black and white image). So I used various Photoshop brush tools (I was particularly fond of the airbrush tool) and various colours at an opacity of around 50% to colour in selected parts of the illustration but without losing the detail of the hand-drawn elements. In scanning the image in, I had lost some of the details in the hat, so I brought up the original photo file, moved it across as a top layer, then hid it using a mask and the paint bucket tool in black and then used white brush at around 50% opacity to "paint" back in the detail of the hat from the original image (fig. 7). Finally, I extended the canvas to the left to make a greetings card and printed out a copy to send to my tutor (fig. 8).
What I learnt
I really enjoyed combining photography, hand-drawing and then adding colour in using the brush tools in Photoshop. It feels like I am starting to find my style. The advantage with digitally colouring was that I could experiment and see what something looked like without committing to it (since you can always delete a Photoshop layer). I like the hand-drawn elements in the image. I don't think I would have got the same effect by drawing in Photoshop. My drawing skills are definitely improving and I am learning new ways to use Photoshop.
It was also a good process to have a think about my identity, what it is that makes me. What things occupy my thoughts? What inspires me and what do I aspire to do? In this illustration, I've tried to focus on where I am now. Not where I've been, what my past experiences are. Those things, of course, influence who we are right now, but rather than looking back, I wanted this to be a snapshot of the present moment and the ideas and aspirations I have for the future.