The Search for Ideas…

In the brief we were given a set of 18 words and told to pick at least 4 that we felt we could present in an original way, using different techniques such as illustration, digital design, photography, painting…basically anyway that we wanted to and that would best present our word. This topic is all about how we see an image and what we associate it with, obviously this is what graphic design effectively comes down to so a bit part of this project is the concept behind and idea and communicating that concept to others.


Definition of decay…(

verb (used without object)

1. to become decomposed; rot: vegetation that was decaying.
2. to decline in excellence, prosperity, health, etc.; deteriorate.
3. Physics. (of a radioactive nucleus) to change spontaneously into one or more different nuclei in a process in which atomic particles, as alpha particles, are emitted from the nucleus, electrons are captured or lost, or fission takes place.
verb (used with object)

I picked a few words for my project, the first one being decay…after drawing a spider diagram I felt like decay was applicable to a few different areas, the main areas I felt were ageing, the decay of rocks, how diseases can decay the body, the decay of teeth and urban decay. The ones I like the most were urban decay, how disease can decay the body and ageing.


Urban decay is when an area falls into disrepair and disuse due to depopulation, unemployment, industrialisation (for example no need for a corner shop because there is now a superstore) or crime, this would probably fit into number 3 above.

I typed urban decay into google to get a few ideas:


As I was searching the internet I had the idea that I could use the decay of the steel industry in Sheffield and take some photos of the buildings or something that would relate to the collapse of the steel industry.

The decay of the Steel Industry in Sheffield led to decay in other areas of the city not just the buildings previously used to mould the steel so I could also look at areas around the city that were particularly badly hit after the mass unemployment caused by its collapse.

I looked at a few sites to get ideas of where I could go to get some photos…

I also found a few sites in the centre of town that used to be used for making cutlery from steel and a few areas in Attercliffe that are derelict steel work sites.

I’ve never really taken any photos before so I wasn’t sure what made a good photo! I got a book out of the library in order to get a few tips called ‘The Photographer’s Eye’ by Michael Freeman.

I was absolutely terrified going and taking some of these photos but I’d say it was worth it, I think photographing derelict sites can be really interesting as to what you find, it’s something I’d like to carry on doing in the future. I found it challenging to make the photograph interesting in that I wanted a focal point or something that would make a good frame so I had to do a lot of hunting for a photograph that I was happy with. I also feel that decay is probably not one of the first words that would pop into someone’s head when they see derelict sites but my idea behind focusing on urban decay was more to give a different light to the word decay as  normally the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they think of decay is fruit, I wanted to make people think a bit more so I used a abstract concept. Sheffield was a great place to take these photos as the downfall of the steel industry caused a lot of the urban decay in the city of Sheffield.

The next area of decay I wanted to look at was ageing, I wanted to use an illustration for this…initially I had the idea of using the style used for evolution ( like the image shown below) but the other way around (the man gets more crouched over as he gets older). As I was developing this idea I decided to use stick men, I’m not the most talented artist anyway but I felt using stick men would add a slight light-heartedness to the image. When I started drawing this I had a complete change of idea! I felt the image was a little bit boring just to use ageing, so I added a cigarette to my stick man…this then sparked the idea of how smoking leads to decay…which then led to the idea of how smoking can lead to lung decay. Therefore combining the ideas of ageing and disease decaying the body.

I used biro because I remembered using this technique at secondary school in art and I felt it was really effective as it means everything is one uniform colour, as opposed to using pencil when there are different shades of one colour. I thought having a uniform colour would look better for stick men because they’re simple and don’t use much shading.

Thinking ahead…I thought this image could be used in a branding campaign to reduce smoking, as it was a simple but direct to the point, and hopefully because of the lighthearted feel people wouldn’t feel offended by the confrontational idea behind it.

As I was researching decay I started thinking about the simplest way to communicate it and I thought of an apple decaying…I found an image on the internet that roughly showed the effect I wanted to show…


I felt that a lot of people would use this sort of idea for decay so I wanted to make mine different…I saw the image below on Behance and decided this would be a great way to present to idea above of the apple decaying, it would combine drawing and computer generated effects. However I did also go out into my garden and take a single image of a decaying apple just because I felt it was a great example and interesting photo!

Screen shot 2013-10-22 at 10.56.40


Definition of beauty…(

noun, plural beau·ties.

1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind,whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design orpattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
2. a beautiful person, especially a woman.
3. a beautiful thing, as a work of art or a building.
4. Often, beauties. something that is beautiful in nature or in some natural or artificial environment.
5. an individually pleasing or beautiful quality; grace; charm: a vivid blue area that is the one real beauty ofthe painting.

The next word I looked at was beauty, we’d done a big spider diagram as a class on beauty and the idea that stood out to me the most was best was that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My first idea was to take photos of people’s eyes and then put different things people might find beautiful as a reflection in the eye to symbolise this idea. I also thought that I could look at the beauty of nature, I thought I could look at some videos by David Attenborough to get inspiration of interesting plants or animals to research.


The first definition of beauty explains why beauty is so hard to capture and appeal to all, it supports the saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ because everyone perceives beauty in a different way, that’s one reason why I wanted to take photos of different people’s eyes and put different things they would find beautiful inside, I felt it was the best way of showing how diverse beauty is. I also think this explains why some of the concepts I’ve thought of are so abstract because beauty is one of those things that can be shown in so many different ways.

After taking photos of people’s eyes I then looked on youtube to find tutorials on how to achieve my desired effect…

I realised that the lighting was really important, I really needed to take the images in natural light as when I took it in artificial light it largely impeded on the reflection in the eye, this meant I had to go back and retake some of the photos.

Even when I tried different lighting I still didn’t get the exact effect I wanted, the eye is really sensitive to reflection so it would pick up anything else that was in the room…be it the camera, a window etc, so I felt the best way to combat this would be to edit the image of the eye…I looked at more tutorials to find out how to do this…

I felt a great way to get an idea as to what different people found beautiful was to ask my family and friends what beauty meant to them.

I was looking through a poster design book called ‘New Poster Art’ by Cees Jong, Stefanie Burger and Jorre Both, it talked about an artist called Jianping He, I liked the poster he’d designed that was shown in the book so I looked him up on the internet and found an image I liked even more, this image gave me an idea…


This gave me the idea of doing a perfect shaped face that used only features that had been created by makeup, for example there would be no nose but they would have eyelashes as eyelashes can be enhanced using makeup, the eyes and lips would be made of newspaper to symbolise the media controlling what we see and say beauty is. The main idea behind this would be that regarding beauty nowadays all that matters is makeup not personality…all people are is their mask.

I tried to create a similar effect by painting foundation onto a page and using eye liner and mascara for the eyes and hair…I then used news paper for the eyes and mouth to show that media controls what we see and say is beautiful, the results are shown below…I didn’t like the image so I haven’t included it in my finished portfolio!


I felt I could possibly develop this idea further by making masks for people to wear that define beauty in different people’s eyes, but this was all dependent on time!

The concept of the way media perceived beauty reminded me of models in magazines and how flawless they always look, I then thought about making a face using all the best bits from all the different models. To be honest I didn’t know the exact concept behind this media face until I’d finished it, I decided I wanted it to show that when we get caught up in wanting to look like celebrities or models we always want what someone else has…someone else’s nose or lips or whatever! This face was a mash between all the best bits between the magazine models however when they were all put together it still didn’t look right (partly because I’d made sure it wouldn’t!) this is to show that even if we had all the best bits there would still be something we didn’t like, however much we try to engineer beauty everyone will always have something that isn’t ‘perfect’ so we might as well embrace it! In my opinion this image quite strongly communicates beauty, there aren’t many words you could use to describe it and so naturally I think people would come to the conclusion that it is beauty because the features of the face do show beauty although I’m not quite sure if they’d realise the concept that I wanted to portray…but hey that’s what my blog’s for!

Following on from the idea above I wanted to create something that showed that everyone is beautiful just the way they are (cheesy I know) I came up with a simple concept of using an outline of a face, similar to the sort of shape you get in a photo booth, with the words inside it ‘place your face here’. Admittedly this didn’t take long to make, but the idea behind it was the main thing I wanted to communicate. This was a fairly ‘out there’ idea, I know that beauty wouldn’t be the first word that would come to a lot of people’s minds, however I do think this could work effectively in a marketing campaign; this is because it is a bold image that would immediately attract people’s attention because of its simplicity and the mystery behind it, in a marketing campaign there would be text that would briefly explain the image, with this explanation I think most people would understand the idea that everyone is beauty, therefore whoever places there face in the outline shows beauty.

Coming back to the idea of the beauty of nature, unfortunately I decided to discard this idea, I did look at some of the youtube videos by David Attenborough but because a lot of the animals and plants he looks at are remote it would be difficult for me to photograph, so instead I would have to do an artistic interpretation of the animals/plants and I just didn’t have the time, I felt that it wasn’t as strong as the other ideas I had for different words so it was better if I spent more time on the other ideas.


Definition of contrast…(

verb (used with object)

1. to compare in order to show unlikeness or differences; note the opposite natures, purposes, etc.

I had loads of idea for contrast; I can do colour contrast, contrast of lifestyle, age contrast, size contrast. My inspiration from this was fairly random, for example I had the idea of photographing a red item in a white wash, painting contrasting colours, photographing a big hand and a little hand, or doing the same but with paint, having a red word on a page full of black words. I suppose this is because you can pretty much contrast anything.

To contrast colour I thought I could paint two halves of a face, one half in a pop art style and the other in posterized black/white, I remembered using this technique in secondary school  and found a tutorial to illustrate how to do this. I thought I could do a digital version and a painted version.

I couldn’t find any tutorials on how to paint a pop art face but I did find a site that gave a few tips on how to pick out the main features when creating it digitally:

I looked at loads of pop art portraits in order to get a rough idea of what the main features were, I decided that I wanted to paint in a similar style to Andy Warhol:

FS-II.148 Marilyn-1964-by-Andy-Warhol [no title] 1972 by Andy Warhol 1928-1987

He likes to pick up on the shadows on the person’s face, however he also exaggerates the highlights, such as the reflection on Marilyn Monroe’s lips. He tends to make the face all one colour and then makes other colour’s on the face really contrasting, for example on the third photo the eyes are yellow instead of white.

I used other sources to get a similar feel for pop art…

I tried to do a similar thing when I painted, I made the shadows obvious and picked up on little colours in the face, such as the red of the cheeks and made them bright and in a block form. I also highlighted the reflections in the photo, for example on the forehead I painted it a different colour of pink and on the lips I left a block of white where the reflection was. To add a bit more colour to the hair I put white streaks in it and added a black outline, similar to the sort of thing he did in the third image.

I did create a similar effect digitally, however I didn’t think it looked as good as the painted version.


I used a youtube tutorials to create both edicts on the face:


Definition of transition…(


1. movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another;change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
2. Music.

a. a passing from one key to another; modulation.
b. a brief modulation; a modulation used in passing.
c. a sudden, unprepared modulation.
3. a passage from one scene to another by sound effects, music, etc., as in a television program,theatrical production, or the like.

To me transition means going from one stage to another, so I linked it to growing up, more specifically a baby becoming an adult, I decided to illustrate this idea by showing how handwriting develops from a toddler to an adult or to get old photos of my Dad and create a photo journey from childhood to adulthood.  After thinking about the idea of transition from a bit longer I thought about the transition technology goes through…phones, cars, computers, I haven’t quite decided which area of technology to focus on yet but I thought this would be a good way to illustrate transition. Another way I thought of illustration transition is change in colour, my idea was to use something I’d learned in primary school…we got some white carnations, put them in a vase and put blue food colouring in the water, gradually the carnations started to turn blue over a number of day…hence a transition from white to blue! I thought I would photograph the flowers everyday to document this change.

I looked at photos to see roughly what toddler’s handwriting looks like:


I got people of different ages to write me the word ‘transition’ and the phrase ‘when I grow up…’ on a page.

Unfortunately I decided against doing the transition in technology, I would’ve loved to have given this a go but again time meant that I had to focus on my other ideas.

As for the flowers this worked really well, I used pink food colouring and I actually found that the different flowers in the vase absorbed the colouring at different rates this meant that instead of taking a photo everyday I could actually pick different flowers that had absorbed the colour at different rates and take the photo of them all together. I found a great place to take the photos…my kitchen table…although it doesn’t sound amazing it reflected the flowers beautifully! See for yourself! I made a few adjustments to the photos on photoshop and used different techniques on all the photos. This has really helped with my photo editing skills as I had never edited photos on photoshop before. Sabine helped me a lot with learning new techniques and I used tutorials (the links are shown in rage and structure).

I had a random idea whilst eating a packet of crisps…the life of a crisp…the transition for potato to crisp.

I originally tried this literally using photographs and this is how it turned out:


Now obviously I wasn’t going to use this because it looked rubbish! So I decided an illustration would look better, I added a bit of comedy to it too and drew it as if it were an advert for Kettle Chips.


Definition of isolation…(


1. an act or instance of isolating.
2. the state of being isolated.
3. the complete separation from others of a person suffering from contagious or infectious disease;quarantine.
4. the separation of a nation from other nations by isolationism.
5. Psychoanalysis . a process whereby an idea or memory is divested of its emotional component.
I chose to illustrate number 2; the state of being isolated.

I wanted to bring some vector illustration into my isolation work inspired by some of the silhouette illustrations of Man Men (originally inspired by Saul Bass):

mad-men-logo madmen tumblr_m4y9wjZXsI1qj5yw2o3_1280

These illustrations use few colours and silhouettes, highlighting the important visual points of the character. This was the character I wanted to give some of my isolation images.

I traced the outline of some images I found that showed isolation and made them into a silhouette, keeping them as simplistic as possible. I used the image of an old man on a bench and a boy curled up in a corner, I had to make them very small compared with the rest of the page so that they would look like they were isolated and alone.

Another idea I had for isolation was if one street lamp was on and the rest were off, although I never thought I’d find this…but one day I was driving down the by pass and saw this so obviously stopped and ran across the road to get my desired photo as any good photographer would…this is probably the number one think I’ve learned from this project about photography, go to all extremes to get THE photo. I’ve had to do a lot of editing to this photo in order to make it look isolated and even then I’m not sure if everyone will make the same connection I have so I might not include this in my final portfolio.

My final idea for isolation was a photograph of a boy playing with a football by himself.


Definition of rage…(


1. angry fury; violent anger.
2. a fit of violent anger.
3. fury or violence of wind, waves, fire, disease, etc.
4. violence of feeling, desire, or appetite: the rage of thirst.
5. a violent desire or passion.


Originally I wanted to use the paint print of a fist, however I tried this and found that it didn’t work that well as it didn’t look much like a fist so instead I decided to paint my fist red and take a photo of it to achieve a similar effect to the one I wanted, which was an isolated fist in red in the middle of a white or black page. I then had to edit the fist to make sure it had the shadows I wanted on it, so I found this tutorial and used it to edit the shadows and highlights on the fist.

Bringing Out Shadow And Highlight Detail In An Image With Photoshop

My finished image actually looked pop art inspired which I thought made it quite a quirky image.

I also wanted to do another simple image for rage of a speech bubble with asterisks and exclamation marks in it to suggest words that might be said if people were filled with rage, I felt that this would display rage in a really simple way. This would illustrate number 2 of the dictionary definition of rage.


Definition of love…(


1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
5. used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie,love?

I decided to use show definition number 1 of love, the love between a boyfriend and girlfriend or a husband and wife.To illustrate love I used the idea of teenagers carving a heart in a tree with their initials inside. To get a photo of this I went to the extent of carving me and boyfriend’s initials in a tree in my back garden! Commitment eh? I made the image greyscale because everyone knows things in black and white automatically look more romantic…I also adjusted the shadows and highlights in order to made the carved out bit as bold as possible.

I got the idea to engrave something in a tree from, a graphic designing blog called ‘’.

Here’s a link to the specific article I saw

Another piece of art I found by Jianping He was this…

Jianping-He_07.-Solidarity-2 p012316s

It inspired me to use a similar effect to illustrate love, I thought I could take a photo of two arms linked together or two hands making a heart shape.

I particularly like the effects on the second image and feel they will work well for the ideas I’ve got, I could use them in reds and pinks so that they reflect the colours love is associated with (see contextual studies work to find out more about colour theory).

I got to extend the new skills I learned even further by getting to go in a proper photography studio! Which was pretty exciting! This had an incredible effect of my photos because it meant I got an amazing shadow effect. Unfortunately for the style above there is no shadow used so I decided to also create a separate image with the shadow in it as well.

Just as I thought I’d exploited all my possible creativity I thought that a simple way of showing love would be to get a photo of a boy kissing a girl on the cheek, I had to get someone else to take this for me as I ended up having to be in the photo…again this broadened my skills a little more because it meant that I had to stage the photo before the models were in it, what I mean by this is that I had to decided which way I wanted the camera to be held, what framing I wanted to be used and where I wanted my model to stand so that all the person taking the photo for me had to do was take the photo!



To take my photos for decay I went to a few old cutlery factories in the centre of Sheffield and some derelict Steelwork factories on Trent Street. I also went to a site called Firth Vickers although unfortunately this site has fences all around it and barbed wire so I had to take the best pictures I could through the fence!

I used this as a great opportunity to really exploit the effects I could add on photoshop to convey the idea of urban decay, derelict sites.


I started off with this image and applied the effects this tutorial told me to!

How To Give Your Photos a Gloomy Split Toning Effect

It was transformed from this…

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 14.26.43

To this! Purely by adjusting the colour balance to give it an effect called split toning.

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 14.26.49



I used this youtube tutorial to introduce me to how to use some of the editing tools on Photoshop:

I used some of the tools it had taught me in order to transform this image:



Into this:

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 07.37.58


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

I started off with an eye…

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.39.41

I then used the clone tool, something that Sabine taught me how to use, to remove some of eyebrow that was impeding on my photo, I also used it to remove some of the reflection, in order to make my photo blend in naturally I needed to make sure that there was minimal reflection.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.39.54

I then used the shadow/highlights tool that I learned how to use when doing my fist in the rage section.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.40.01

Next I used the techniques I learned in a youtube tutorial that I mentioned earlier in my last post in order to further lessen the reflection and make the eye stand out a bit more.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.40.08

To make the eye look a bit more natural again I used the high pass tool in order to make the eye a bit sharper and less blurred.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.40.14

The colour of the skin and white of the eye looked a little old and discoloured so I used the hue/saturation tool in order bring it back to a more normal colour.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.40.21

Finally I placed the image I wanted in the eye, I used a layer mask to cover the areas I didn’t want to be seen, I then reduced the opacity of the image to make it look more like a reflection.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.40.24

Finally I added the linear dodge (add) effect as another of the tutorials had advised.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 15.00.45




In order to create the vector outline with the newspaper eyes and lips, I started by outlining an image I liked in Illustrator using the pen tool.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.14.02

Then I copied it into Photoshop, I used the magic wand tool to cut out the lips and the iris’ and made a clipping mask, which therefore made the iris and lips newspaper.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.26.24

Finally I added red to the cheeks, the idea of this was to in keep with the style of image I wanted; very simplistic with few colours, but it was also to further highlight the make up and perfect appearance of the face.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.26.28




I cut out the faces of models in a magazine for my next piece…there isn’t much method to this because I simply did just cut and stick until I reached the final product:





My final image for beauty is the outline of a face…

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 15.28.45