Monthly Archives: January 2014

Referral Brief – Antonio Caramia


“Antonio Caramia is an artist who lives and works in Grottaglie, Italy. Antonio created his fantastic and imaginary artworks, in which magical islands are located in a far-fetched by the clear waters of the sea, islands suggestively built through the twisted trunks of ancient olive trees in Puglia, which become stratified rocks of an ancient castle far away.”

Caramia’s islands are fantasy but through his illustrations somehow come to life. There is an aura of realism in his work, from the structure of the cities to the subtle tones he uses. The islands seem to look somewhat realistic because of the amount of detail put into them. There are several tiny shapes, levels and structures that needed to be drawn to create the islands. He puts a lot of detail into the surrounding areas of the island such as the sea, sky, or trees. This helps to add authenticity to the fantasy islands.

Although they are beautiful, his works tend to feel gloomy, as the island is small and deeply isolated. The colour schemes he uses are generally on the colder side of the spectrum adding to the glum feeling of the image.



Referral Brief – Illustrated Maps



Illustrated maps such as these by Alice Tait, and Rifle Paper Co are cute and quirky ways of representing an area. It is laid out like a simple map marking the main roads and rivers etc, if they are drawn accurately they could be used as an alternative to a real map. Instead of a small symbol and a caption, landmarks are illustrated on the maps. Doing this picks out and highlights important elements of the area. In the Map of London by Tait landmarks such as tower bridge and the London Eye are illustrated, whereas in other illustrated maps in may be areas of woodland that are pictured, depending on what is a main feature of the place.

The colour schemes in most of these maps using simple, block colours and a limited pallet. I find that this sections up the areas clearly, for example road and water. Also it does not overload the viewer with information, as there is already a lot of it on the page already with the amount of roads and small illustrations there are. The colours match the area they are illustrating in these cases which I think portrays the feeling of the place.

The maps may not necessarily be showing a place, I have found out that the second image is actually more of a ‘timeline’ of a couples relationship, up to their wedding (On their wedding invitation) which is a pretty cute idea!





The Sandman comic by Neil Gaiman has been illustrated by a lot of different artists, meaning the character, Morpheus’ face tends to change throughout the story, also his form changes due to storyline (sometimes he is a cat, sometimes he is from Africa)  however he is still recognisable as the character has been designed very distinctly, to have black hair and black eyes.

The book was mainly written and set in the 80’s so Morpheus and his siblings’ appearance is similar to that of ‘traditional’ 70/80’s goths. However they do change depending on what era they are in. For example, the clothing and hairstyle here when Morpheus is talking to Shakespeare.

It’s hard to go into much detail on The Sandman’s story because the narrative is quite literally all over the place. Half the series exists as a vehicle to tell short stories, which are rarely fixed into any single place or point in time. In one issue, the story could take place in the contemporary America, the next issue might take place in Tudor England, and the next issue then might take place in a mythological realm like Hell or Asgard. There is no territory that Gaiman is not afraid to cover, and the sheer variety of content makes The Sandman completely unique in its design.

Gaiman is clearly a writer who is not afraid of research. His deep implementation of world cultures and history into his Sandman mythos makes for an engrossing read if you have any knowledge of the source material. Famous stories like A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Orpheus & Eurydice take on new meanings under Gaiman’s direction. In many cases, Gaiman creates his own imitation myths that mimic the style and structure of ancient stories. And of course one of the Endless features in every story, so there’s always something new to take away from Gaiman’s work.

One thing I find great about the design of the sandman comics is the speech bubbles. Some characters such as Morpheus or one of his sisters, Delirium have their own unique speech bubbles. This is great because a. It lets you know very easily who is speaking, rather than just putting the same speech bubbles all over the place (which believe me gets confusing sometimes), and b. I find that in a way it lets you know how the character speaks with more depth.

Deliriums uneven letters and colourful background gives a sense of madness to her. (Which makes sense with the name Delirium)

Adopt/Sponsor an animal packs

Adopt a snow leopard and receive


Giving things such as soft toys and stickers to people who choose to sponsor the animal gives them more of an incentive to do it as they would have something to show from sponsoring the animal.

This might also attract children so people are brought into sponsoring early (with the soft toy freebie)

Seems like an effective way of promoting a good cause


You can imagine that agency creative teams had endless fun devising all the paraphernalia, creating the promotional materials and writing the Valentine’s Day poems (doggerel). Show these ads, mail packs and TV spots to a roomful of even the most cynical fundraisers and you’ll be greeted with cries of ‘awwww!’. The sign of a surefire winner.


Cyberdog-dress (1) prodzoomimg1489 Cyberdog specialise in making rave/club-wear/cyber fashion clothing. The designs their clothes take are rather futuristic and somewhat space-like. The ‘Orbit’ designs pictured above feature rings/hoops in the piece, I think this makes them look very alien and space age. The rings are kind of reminiscent of the rings around planets such as Saturn and Uranus. 


The colours particularly the silver is similar to some Sci-Fi costumes


Sci-Fi Fancy Dress costume


playsuitfifth element

The circular cut holes in the back of this cyberdog playsuit it similar in design to the ‘suspenders’ that LeeLoo wears in the Fifth Element. Since you can see similarities between the designs and sci-fi culture it’s easy to be reminded of Sci-Fi by the clothing.

I think that the way the clothing is designed makes it look particularly futuristic and definitely like something an Alien would wear, should they wear clothes.


The Amory Wars

Written by Claudio Sanchez, The Amory Wars is a science fiction comic that corresponds with Coheed and Cambria’s concept albums (in which the songs tell the story).

This comic differs to the previous ‘I Don’t Believe in the Sun’ by Huw ‘Lem’ Davies, as this is not just a short comic based on one song but a full series/graphic novel.

Through the dialogue and narration of the story lyrics are added to hint back to the band and the way the songs help to tell the story as well as the comic. I think this is an effective way of incorporating the bands music within the comic but more subtly.

Let’s talk cover art! In all the issues of ‘In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3’ there is a lot of action on the covers, as is usual with comics. It gives a glimpse into the story, like a preview for it. My favourite thing about the covers is the use of colour. As the comic is set in space dark backgrounds are not unusual, however on most covers there is a ‘flash’ of luminous colour, like here in the eye of the character. I think that this is good for enforcing the sci-fi elements of the story.



I Don’t Believe in the Sun – Huw ‘Lem’ Davies

“I Don’t Believe in the Sun” is a short comic by Huw ‘Lem’ Davies that illustrate the song of the same name by Magnetic Fields.

I like how the artist has chosen to use the lyrics of the song as the only text in the comic but create a short story around that rather than adding extra detail with dialogue. It helps keep the story simple but still clear and not overcomplicated.

The way the colour scheme is the same throughout the comic creates a sense of monotony in the characters life as he is left alone, presumably carrying out the same tasks everyday.

The comic came from a project on ‘How Fucking Ronantic’ to illustrate the Magnetic Fields ’69 Love Songs’


Lord of the Rings Concept Art – Extended Critical Study – Part 3- Races of Middle Earth

As there are many different races living in Middle Earth each has to be distinct from the other.  The races have been designed so that they have a distinguishable style from each other so the viewer can look at a structure and think ‘that is Elven’ or ‘that is Dwarfish’

Concept art for Elrond, king of the elves, crests and elvish weaponry. It all has a very art nouveu style about it. Even the armor though it is more subtle. The weapons are designed with decorative hilts and more curved shapely blades . The Elves are a graceful race and I think that the floral more decorative design for them suggests their nature as a species.
This design for Elvish housing shows how based around nature they are, the trees are interwoven with the structure.
Designs for their wares are much more angular ‘as if made of cut crystal’ [1] as they’re a mining race and most of their halls will have been carved from rock, this will have translated into their armour and weaponry as well as buildings. A lot of stuff is very Celtic in design as lots of Celtic designs are also carved into stone, or Celtic structures made from stone.
The world of men is based a lot off Viking and Norse designs, the helmets were based of excavated items in New Zealand. The city of Rohan is inspired by Norse mythology/history shown by  the prominent feature of horses within emblems and throne carvings etc. Alan Lee said that characters and elements of the world of men is similar to that of Beowulf. It is thought Tolkien wrote the men into Lord of the Rings to display his want for a mythology for Britain, as there is not much.
The fact that all of the races have so much historical reference in them brings it back to the fact that Peter Jackson didn’t want the films to look like a fantasy film, he wanted to look like actual historical events so bringing real bits of history into the designs made it look more ‘real’.
Designs by Alan Lee, John Howe and Daniel Falconer.
[1] Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVD Appendices

Lord of the Rings Concept Art – Extended Critical Study – Part 2 -Alan Lee

Alan Lee was another major illustrator to work on the Lord of the Rings films as he too had been creating illustrations for the books many years prior.

Lee stated that he generally stayed on the ‘safer side of the anduin’ [1] while Howe designed more of the darker elements.

I generally think that Lee’s work appears softer than Howe’s, which has a stark contrast between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Lee’s work is more subtle in showing this, he also gives a lot of detail to the scenery of his images.

The texture of the landscapes in his illustrations look very lifelike and definitely give a distinct impression on what the place would be like. It helps to make the story seem more real and historical, like the director wanted for the film.

Lord of the Rings Concept Art – Extended Critical Study Part 1 – John Howe

One of the key illustrators working on the concept art for the Lord of the Rings films is John Howe. Howe had been creating illustrations for the book, that have featured on the front covers of them years before the films were even thought of. Peter Jackson said that there had been ’40 years of artwork done’[1] and that out of all the artists ‘Alan Lee and John Howe’s work impressed us the most’

In Howe’s illustrations for Lord of the Rings there is a clear contrast between good and evil forces, such as here where Samwise fights Shelob. The dark colours of the spider are confronted with the light showing the good and evil.

“The Author and his acclaimed Illustrator were their guides and only when I looked like John Howe’s Gandalf, were they satesfied that I could start to play Tolkein’s. They were right. “ – Sir Ian McKellen [2]

I think that this quote shows how well Howe translated Tolkein’s words into imagery, if both the actor and director of the film felt without this exact look he could not start to be the character, obviously the illustration encapsulates the all elements of the character.

Howe had a knowledge of armour having his own collection of it.  (“Our garage and attic are consequently piled high with shields of every period, with lances, spears, and bits of armour, old tools, tree roots – all the flotsam and jetsam of sudden inspiration” – John Howe [3] Howe drew from these for ‘inspiration and reference’. He found that doing re-enactments helped to gain understanding of how armour worked on the body and thus allowing him to draw characters in armour that was appropriate and would work.

“Bestowing a level of integrity on any fantasy world means accepting aspects of it that you may never explore, constructing an alternative art history, creating artefacts and costume styles, accepting inconsistencies and blank spots, finding the best way to make it appear as a realistic universe” …” it all comes down to getting it right” [3]

Howe’s emphasis on ‘getting it right’ meant that his illustrations depicted Middle Earth as more of a real world than a story as all the designs are thought through as if it were real, as if depicting history. Which is the main thing Peter Jackson wanted for the films.

[1] Appendices, Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition DVD.

[2] Myth & Magic The Art of John Howe, Chapter Six: From Hobbiton to Mordor

[3] Myth & Magic The Art of John Howe, Chapter Seven: Getting it Right