Category Archives: 23 Illustration

Exercise: Rain

The brief:

Imagine a magazine cover on one subject: rain. You have the entire cover space to work in and you should produce a single, strong, attractive photograph that leaves no one in doubt about the subject. This is first and exercise in imagination, not always easy, and second an exercise in producing a photograph to a specification. If you need guidelines, here are some:

  • think of all the effects of rain that you have ever seen
  • keep it simple
  • be interesting: don’t settle for an ordinary middle-distance shot of a street in the rain
  • with some picture ideas you need not wait for a rainy day
  • If you can’t be completely original, at least make the photograph attractive
  • even if your idea is original, still make the photograph attractive.

I had to wait quite a while for the rain to show up this time. Normally I’m complaining that it is raining too much. This morning, however, as we were waiting at the border to cross over into the US, we had a bit of deluge and I quickly got out the camera and got a few images of the cars ahead of us. The water was cascading beautifully over the windscreen and out of the corner of my eye I saw a girl get out of the car just next to us. I love the abstract feel to this portrait and I definitely feel it depicts rain very well. The muted shades of greys and blacks add to the depressing mood of the rain, while the girl’s jacket adds a refreshing pop of colour to the palette. I cropped the photo to portrait format to emphasis the abstract background behind the girl. There is plenty of room for a masthead at the top of the image.


f5, 1/1000, 35mm, ISO 200

While I was waiting for the rain to materialize over the past two weeks I found this image which I had taken while working on Assignment 3. It is a photograph of Hastings Racetrack’s stables, which are covered in colourful graffiti. It also has an abstract feel to it.

Rain No. 2

Rain No. 2
f29, 1/5, 55mm, ISO 400


Exercise: Juxtaposition

The brief:

For this exercise choose either the still-life approach …, or a larger scale shot, which involves choosing a viewpoint and lens focal length. If the former, take any book you like and make a suitable cover illustration using two or three relevant elements. If the latter, photograph someone with a possession, or the results of their work or hobby.

I have been horribly sick the whole of this last week so I’ve chosen to do the still-life approach (not my forte) so I can stay indoors . My all time favourite book has to be Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, probably better known as Cross stitch in the UK. I did do a book cover a few years ago when I was doing a Photoshop course and chose to do a cover for one of her books that was about to launch back then too. Needless to say the PhotoShop version is far more interesting, but I won’t show that as it consists of found images and lots of gradient layering etc. For those that don’t know the book, very briefly the heroine of the series is a nurse who just at the end of Word War II falls through a crack in one of the standing stones in Scotland. She is transported back in time about 200 odd years, before the battle of Culloden. Not revealing any spoilers here -watch the series if you don’t want to read the book :-). Because of her medical background, she becomes the go-to person for all medical issues and she becomes rather resourceful in using herbs to create her own potions and medicines.

So not having access to wonderful items, like standing stones and whisky stills, I have chosen to juxtapose this aspect for the image. So I have taken a bunch of herbs, a mortar and pestle, which I’m sure was available back in the day and a “tartanish” scarf to represent the Scottish aspect of the story. (I know it isn’t a real tartan, but it is the closest thing I have in my wardrobe).


f8, 2.5 sec, 40mm, ISO 100

Exercise: Symbols

The brief:

The idea of this project is to find symbols for a number of concepts. Complete it by listing more than one symbol for each of the following subjects, and add short notes saying how you might use them in a photograph. You do not need to take actual photographs for this, although by all means do if you feel enthusiastic about one of your ideas. The subjects are growth, excess, crime, silence and poverty.


  • Notches made on a child’s birthday against a door frame marking the child’s growth.
  • Puppies and dogs
  • Man with stubble/beard
  • Piles of coins and/or money
  • Bean sprouting
  • Tumour – external on someone’s body
  • A girl’s long hair blowing in the wind


  • Purse overflowing with money
  • Cupboard full of shows/clothes
  • Table laden with many dishes of food
  • Dumpster outside restaurant containing discarded food
  • Cup/mug overflowing with tea/coffee/juice
  • Overflowing bath


  • Gun
  • Handcuffs – someone’s hands cuffed together
  • Police mugshot
  • Wanted poster
  • Police car – with lights flashing
  • Items of crime – weapons: knives, wooden bats/poles; drugs; bottles of poison
  • Bars – person behind bars
  • Police station


  • Church – inside near the altar
  • Finger pressed against the mouth
  • Hand over the mouth
  • Calm lake/ocean or body of water
  • Forest of trees
  • Library – people reading/studying
  • Waves crashing on the rocks
  • Someone sleeping


  • Empty purse
  • Empty cupboard/fridge
  • Homeless person on the street
  • Person begging with cupped hand
  • Hat on sidewalk with a few coins inside
  • Big, sad, moist eyes gazing back at you
  • Patched, torn clothing
  • Shopping cart filled with possessions


Exercise: Evidence of action

The brief:

Produce one photograph in which it can be seen that something has happened. As a suggestion, include in the photograph something that has been broken, or emptied.

When illustration really comes into its own, however, is in dealing with subjects that are not straightforward solid objects or obvious events…. write down five examples of concepts that are regularly depicted in advertising and publicity, which cannot be shown directly.

Fig 1 - Broken Eggs

Fig 1 – Broken Eggs

Having just made breakfast, I used the broken egg shells for this example of evidence of action.

Examples of abstract ideas and concepts

  • power – could be interpreted as body strength, think weight lifter, or someone in a position of power – royalty.
  • success – products shots of sports cars with a scantily clad girl draped over the bonnet – sex sells, money, someone receiving a diploma.
  • love – colour red, hearts, kisses, couples embracing.
  • happiness – people smiling, doing good deeds, children playing.
  • health – hospitals, people exercising, vitamins.