Thursday, 22 December 2011

Review of this weeks objectives moved to week ending 1/1/12 due to travel/holiday time

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Review of Week/ Plan

Interesting conversation with Gray about clothing/housing of miners and farmers.


  • on shift: practically nothing (due to the heat)
  • patched clothes
  • strapped on kneepads
  • waistcoats
  • one suit for all occasions
  • flannel clothes for casual
  • baggy trousers
  • braces
  • "smock" style fleece coats
  • collarless shirts
Both would tie their trouser-bottoms up to stop rats and mice running up their legs when working.

Miners worked 14 hour shifts (split into days, afternoons and nights)
And they wouldn't count as clocked in until they had made the 1 hour hike to the coal face.

They would go straight to the river after their shift to wash.

Friday to Saturday were often spent drinking away the expendable income.

Layout of the inside of miners' houses from memory.

Layout of the mill.

He also suggested a very informative resource of images/information about household life:


Variety of markmaking tools (dip pen, fineliner, brush pen) still making for loose, productive drawing.
Not as much colour work this week though. 

What's next?

Met Kevin (resistant materials 3D technician). May contact about possible project direction next year.

Must explore more of the world these characters live in: 

  • technology, clothes, architecture
  • fully realised concept art: lived-in landscapes
  • scenery in motion
  • is it a tiny world? human scale? existing in our own world? it's own world?

Other Thoughts/Concerns

  • Academic reading still an issue, will make plenty of free time for this next week.
  • Project still feels "up in the air". disconnected between Theory and Practise. Must work harder to achieve Praxis.
  • Should consider moving towards more character-specific designs by January. progression in more general concept work must support this. ie: general world more-or-less solid by then.
  • Avoid mouths on the characters? (without them they are silent by necessity) how far can emotive expression be pushed without a mouth? 
  • miniaturisation as a metaphor for microcosm?
  • look into sociological writing about villages in the 1940s?
  • The woodcut process in silent novels- why is it so common? (Sue Coe, Frans Masereel, Combustion, Southern Cross)

Aims And Objectives from last week:


  • get contextual review model up and running
  • re-engage with the academic gumshoe in me.
  • check in on narrative development
  • consider tone/colour/other thematic storytelling links.
  • more drawing of this world, make it more and more real (explore what it could be)


  • Reread original text, gather more information and refine story again **
  • 3000-6000 words on contextual review ** ***
  • 10 sheets of character/concept design
  • 2-3 finished sculptures in different media (rolling from last week)

 **Keep Doodledump/Diary at hand in case of sudden inspiration hits
*** 2 Process Reviews, 2 Critical Reviews.


This week has been slow progress due to a lot of outside factors.
Small, simplified designer-toy like sculptures seem to work. Must finish.
Have continued to experiment with look and tone of characters and their environment,
 must be more focused in efforts now: learn from drawings, not just idle doodling: 
  • what works?
  • what to take forward/what not to?
  • how far does it move the narrative development forward?
Did not achieve wordcount on writing, but have re-engaged with it successfully, I feel (should send copies of work to Neil/Phil/John for feedback). 

Substantial amount of drawing produced, considering it part of the "pool" of potential directions, to review soon.

Talk with Gray and material he provided this week have helped move the narrative forward again, through aiding in establishing the background of this world.

Aims And Objectives for week beginning 12/12/11


  • continue with visual/written development of the narrative- Can I describe it perfectly to someone by the end of the week?
  • re-engage with academic reading 
  • Bring project together in my head and take control of direction and position.
  • Think more about sculpture finish: painting etc.
  • draw and sculpt every day.
  • colour!

  • colour washes/annotation where needed for last weeks drawings
  • 2-3000 words on contextual review (rolling forward from last week)
  • 5 sheets of costume concepts 
  • 5 sheets of architectural/landscape
  • 5 sheets of "prop" concepts
  • 2 finished 3D experiments (1 experiment relating to landscape/architecture)
  • Start texture collecting (scans, photos) (10-20 images?)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Harvest Mouse:

(micromys minutus)

  • prehensile tail
  • Diet: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar*
  • broad, handlike feet
  • thicker coat in winter
* maybe my mice get drunk off of fruit and nectar concoctions?

European Mole

(talpa europaea)

  • toxic saliva**
  • Diet: worms, insects***, centipedes, slugs, rodents****
  • variety of coat colours: albino, tan, grey, black, taupe (comes from their name)
  • much bigger than the mice
** have them chewing tobacco?
*** in their pockets? dried like crisps?
**** a danger to the mice? could eat them?

Monday, 12 December 2011

Orson Welles on performers working an audience (1979)

Certainly raises some questions:

Illustrator/narrative designer as performer?

what kind of performer am I?

My audience, how do I address them?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Review of Week/ Plan

Positive feedback from both John and Sue on new progression.

a case of keeping this level of work going, expanding and improving.

Drawing felt good. 

It felt really, really good.

experimenting with new/different media and scale and tone really helped loosen me up for concept work.

 More forward, please.

What's next?

  • continue to explore tone:important to establish this early on.
  • give grounding and consistency to a world
  • thematic ties:
earthy colour palette
thatched buildings
rounded forms in architecture
smoke pipes

coal colour palette
geometric, domelike architecture
smoke rollups
hardwearing clothes

Other Thoughts/Concerns

  • Reimagine the rabbits/pig that gray mentioned as insects?
  • Another interesting visual cue, can harness tacit entomological knowledge.
  • Avoiding reading and writing element at the moment? Feel disconnected from this aspect, must engage and involve self with this again.

Media to consider for Review

  • Limbo (visual language of silent cinema; no dialogue, atmosphere etc but also: plot is only revealed as you play, no direction, no introduction (cold opening) minimal, ambient music.
  • Webcomics: Hobo Lobo, Margot's Room, The Prince and the Sea: utilisation of formats only the computer can offer.
  • Both rely on audience as editor and director: they push the narrative forward/interact with it to greater and lesser extents.

Aims And Objectives from last week:

  • Organise and reflect more.
  • Explore potential voice/tone of project
  • Generate a lot of character designs
  • explore colour/media


  • Weekly planner and daily goals
  • 10 sheets of character/concept design
  • 2 more sculptures.
  • New reflective format: pictures of process, notebook.


Again: Mostly.

 Still getting used to new model of study, and this week has been rather full of extracurricular activity.
Organising a weekly planner and setting daily goals has been a great success this week; I feel much more capable and on task as a result.

Headway has been made in the new reflective format and use of notebook/photography of process.

The rapid generation techniques and new processes explored in the concept sheets have yielded great results in exploration of tone and style. 

Sculpting progress has been slow this week, this objective will roll on to next week's free time.

Aims And Objectives for week beginning 12/12/11

  • get contextual review model up and running
  • re-engage with the academic gumshoe in me.
  • check in on narrative development
  • consider tone/colour/other thematic storytelling links.
  • more drawing of this world, make it more amd more real (explore what it could be)


  • Reread original text, gather more information and refine story again **
  • 3000-6000 words on contextual review ** ***
  • 10 sheets of character/concept design
  • 2-3 finished sculptures in different media (rolling from last week)

** Keep Doodledump/Diary at hand in case of sudden inspiration hits

*** 2 Process Reviews, 2 Critical Reviews

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

How involved in it's own logic is this world?

Are the mice and moles just wearing human clothes/using human technology?

This asks the audience to suspend disbelief*: they know moles and mice don't do this: they are acting the part of people, more symbolic, postmodern.

how does a mole, with it's big claws, do up fiddly buttons, or tie a knot?


Are they part of their own logical world?

They wear mole clothes and mouse clothes: taking influence from the clothing of the time for humans and extrapolating how this would work in a society of these characters?


  • how has the memory of rural life been documented in narrative before?
  • Thomas Hardy?
  • what are the benefits of stories told with letters/words alone?
  • abstract symbols in place of dialogue bubbles?
  • what makes something look old? texture/colour/shape?
  • husbandry and habits of the moe and the field mouse: diet, behaviour?
  • is their world miniature? a literal mouse world?
  • are they even wearing clothes?
Be aware of / Avoid:
  • Wind in the Willows
  • Sylvanian Families
  • Lenor Advert cloth-people

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

  • Current character generation feels too constrcited and limited
  •  Also not "directed" enough (no thought, no aim)

  • more reference drawing
  • draw more after reassessing text/reflection
  • looser, more varied drawing methods
Further Thoughts

  • anthropomorphism in illustration and narrative: is it too tired as a visual cue?
  • aims and objectives set are often too broad or too overconfident. Consider timescale. Just do.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Neil (AM)

His Research Project
  • Ruins, Rust and Rubbish: the aesthetics of waste
  • dialectic
  • Capriccio- imagined ruins (Caneleto)
  • Deckers, The way of All Flesh "too new to be old, too old to be new"
  • Birmingham nostalgia (right word?) Kieth Berry, Phyllis Nicklin
  • patina: a completely different substance coming from the existence of the original product
  • "brassing" on old camera bodies
  • rammel: east midlands term for other peoples' rubbish
  • Wabi-Sabi: the celebration of culture >to> nature 
  • imperfect/impermanent
  • not symbolic or representational
  • lack of pretense
  • beware of commercialised Wabi sabi


  • Considerations of these aesthetics could be key to landscaping and developing the world of my story.

Presentation (how not to fail)

  • Introduce self 
  • Introduce what the presentation will cover

The Project
  • Initial interest/inspiration
  • issues
  • changes
  • development

The Plan (what will you do?)
  • Preparation Phase
  • Major Project
  • Negotiated written Study
  • Dissemination

Further Notes
  • 15 minutes: Time it. Plan it.
  • Clean. No fancy business.
  • no going off half cocked
  • practise
  • know your material
  • few notes (none even better)
  • brevity

John (PM)

Review of work (part time)
  • More colour
  • consider soft sculpture (what if they had skin of a fabric reflecting their profession?)
  • bigger scale!
  • symbolism of clothing: character entirely conveyed by costume?

Doing well :)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Review of Week/ Plan

First week of part time, relaxing into new method of research/practise.

Still sorting myself out- can't be too hard on self for not meeting goals.

Good progress on further drawings and sculpting, these still feel a little too stiff and restricted however.

Gut reaction on anthropomorphised characters is good: they have most potential.


  • Non linear books: the work of Franz Masereel
  • decompression
  • Research position identified: "In and Through" 
  • where to take this? (contact Neil and Phil)
  • Chase up journals (contact Frederick)

  • At what point did I stop wanting to be a master of storytelling?
  • I never did, I just lost my way. this is the path there.

Aims And Objectives from last week:


  • Assess research position
  • Refine and advance narrative
  • Kick-start academic reading again.


  • At least 2 Sculptures
  • Designs for narrator character
  • Reorganise notes/reflective journal and written element of project.


Mostly; narrative progression has come mostly from working on practise. further designs for narrator will require that I first conceptualise the environment he is from: the setting and the generic characters.

Aims And Objectives for week beginning 5/12/11

  • Organise and reflect more.
  • Explore potential voice/tone of 
  • Generate a lot of character designs
  • explore colour/media


  • Weekly planner and daily goals
  • 10 sheets of character/concept design
  • 2 more sculptures.
  • New reflective format: pictures of process, notebook.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Good progress with sculptures,
good range of posability for later photographic experimentation.

Clothes not relating character well enough however, could consider working at larger scale.

Good finish achieved with coloured Sculpey and ink washes.

(full writeup in contextual review)

Monday, 28 November 2011

Neil (AM) 


Ethics are normative


My response to the question of what is...

The Good Life?

  • freedom of personal choice (politically/lifestyle/sexuality)
  • good health (or sufficient care of this is not possible)
  • experience
  • experiencing life with others (love)
A Good Person?

  • Care for others
  • tolerance
  • abstinence from violence
  • love
  • openness and adaptability of mind
Group response...

The Good Life?

  • freedom from material want (money, health, food)
  • freedom from oppression
  • equality (equity: what you deserve)
  • hope
  • ability to pursue happiness
A Good Person?

  • Care
  • ability to feel guilt
  • empathy
  • generosity
  • diplomacy
  • honesty (despite hypocrisy)
  • leadership
  • responsibility
  • selflessness
  • kindness
Models in Ethics

Virtue Based Ethics

  • Aristotelian
  • Being "good"
  • Considers the end product, materials and means of production.
Duty Based Ethics

  • 1900s (German ideal, Kant)
  • duty: begins and ends at employer
  • efficiency
  • works around morality
  • military (just following orders)

  • consequence based
  • rational
  • cannot maximise happiness, but can minimise unhappiness
  • geared towards product design

  • practicality
  • no moral standpoint, no "ideal"
  • about rationality in extreme
  • incremental change
  • compromise with larger discourses
  • small, focused efforts
Summing Up

Many use an amalgam of these methods

environmental ethics

Papanek- advocated dedication of some of your time/earnings to a good cause when you work on something you find objectionable. the yin-yang offset.

Further Notes/ Thoughts

  • Accounts of Franco's Spain, Castro era Cuba, Russia: read to understand the opposite of ethics)
  • Alone in Berlin
  • Pol Pot's wholesale murder of those with glasses
  • Rich biodiversity in the North/South Korea demilitarised zone/the 5 miles surrounding Chernobyl
  • Lisa Evans (?)

John (PM)

Phase 1

Setting the scene

90% of work will not be used (but still valuable)

it highlights...


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Review of Week/ Plan

A lot to consider this week.

Considering next week a fresh start on the course, but learning from what I have done/thought/made/listened to so far.

Develop, adapt and progress from here.


  • Does Darren's research negate the validity of my own? Am I reinventing the wheel? Where are the gaps in his research I could mine? (perhaps my narrative focus as opposed to critical assessment is key here)
  • Focus on pure character design: a fully realized world of designer toys?
  • Consider characters as a visual language in and of themselves (Pictoplasma)
  • What method is best for presentation of contextual review? maybe booklets? simple, university paperwork regulation "official" text documents? (perhaps drawn over/around/attached notes)
  • Consider Guillermo Del Toro's use of colour (theme, emotion, ties to characters)


Assess research position

Refine and advance narrative

Kick-start academic reading again.


At least 2 Sculptures

Designs for narrator character

Reorganise notes/reflective journal and written element of project.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Discussion here on context being more important than anecdote. How far is this true?

Must look further into Meggendorfer's work.

This argument is corroborated by other sources, for example Guillermo del Toro has cited this as the focus of his screenwriting (see following:

What is my stance on this subject? 

Not currently enough tacit knowledge to pass comment.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Etching Induction

Use of old, unusual method of creating images: context changes with the quality and type of line/image quality produced.

Must schedule talk with Chris Roantree to discuss this.

Review of Full Time work with John and Coursemates.

Feedback is part of the conversation "loop".

this is all conversation.

Not about me: about my work.

Assessing work: Key questions

1) What does it communicate? (have a gut reaction: then challenge this)

2) Does the work have focus/direction/purpose?

3) What evidence of good practice is there?

4) What is yet to be produced/What is missing?

5) How many hours does this represent?

6) Constructive Advice.


    From Peers:

  • Illustration and characters come to the fore
  • No clear direction in work (about a narrative, but no narrative to the work!)
  • Confusing: lacks context
  • Needs: 
  • FOCUS.
  • The "silent" element is not obvious.
  • Explore books/online processes?
   From John (General):
  • Consider the 3 approaches: Scattergun (pattern), Systematic (Sequence), Directionless (Cautious)
  • None of the above are perfect, all require an element of the others (perhaps excepting Directionless)

  • Always more documentation: write notes for own benefit.
  • beware of repetition and padding
  • develop ideas: but don't commit yet!
  • drawing as: recording, investigation, communication
  • find a happy medium of drawing and writing

  • aims* and objectives** are key to progression
** measurable

   From John (Specific):

  • lack of direction/sustained enquiry
  • I have my aim, my project well rounded: it's making it come alive now
  • I control the entire world i create
  • find the voice, the tone


  •   Narrative
  • Character
  • Scenography
  • Style (look and voice)
  • Context

Further Notes/Reflection:

A lot to think about today.

Positive forward motion from here: apply this to part time study model discussed with John.

The science of proper questionnaires: ask Neil

There are only 5 stories in the world- What are they?

Aims and Objectives: Set 3 a week, review previous week. 

make this the focus of reflective journal?

Weekly review (Sunday?)

Thursday, 24 November 2011



> Texture/Reference Library (photos)

> Process Journal (material processes and experiments documented)*

> Narrative Journal (Gray's writings>My story)*

> Reflective Blog

> Sketchbooks

> Doodledump

Contextual Review

Critical Reviews
(in depth essays on creatives and artifacts)

Process (creative as whole)



Further Notes

* Could these be included in "Context" section of contextual review? Will probably also appear as part of overall prep work.

Can this all be presented as a single, massive book?

Am I focusing too much on books (as opposed to other methods of display)? How far can I take the book?

More research needed.

Could contact Phillippa Wood to discuss.

What if the miners are moles, the farmers field mice?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Getting the narrative together

 The earlier it's sorted: the better


Look at 
Shaun Tan
Isidro Ferrer
Ice Book
The Hub

Then refer these back to ME, Be analytical.

Other considerations:


Fantastical elements?

Layers of Meaning

Bring this alive, get the visual language right first and foremost: explore lots of possibilities.

Me as editor/director: What do I show/what do I not show?


START: With the the text- print off, write, draw, think over it!

Stop focusing on time. You make time. it is relative.

Remember Gray's writings are the starting point only:

Designing characters, players, costumes, scenery and stage for a fantastical story.

Further Notes/Reflection

Peter Greenaway: The Cook, the Thief, The Wife and Her Lover.

Use of thematic colour.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


This represents a restart to the project direction as a whole, as well as a personal admission of issues with engagement and involvement with the project so far.

This is a positive step towards a more productive mode of study, where I will be able to generate more considered, realised and meaningful work.

Meeting with John (moving forward, where to focus):


Look at other artists/ designers/ illustrators

Methods for generating Contextual Research:

> Systematic Reading 
> Visiting
> Interviewing
> Questioning and surveying

Reflective Diary

Reflect on findings,


then INVESTIGATE (do it!)

This part of the course is the foundation, the good, hard rock to build the project upon

This is where we assess:

Not Philosophy.



In other words:


(The quality and quantity is down to me.)

Show mistakes: This is where you learn.

Like using another language to describe what you do.


Just do it.

Do it well.

Do as much as you can.

New Work Plan:

> Two Hours a day: relaxed work

Project first > Context second

Move narrative forward (remember it is not anecdotal/personal)

> Monday timetabled session plus 2 days a week

How much can you get done in 2 days only?

exercise in Practicality and Discipline.

>  Monday evenings: Reading immersion


> Summing Up

(this may take a while)

(More effective when I have me time)

The lack of structure for an illustrator: it goes both ways.




Further Notes:

Next term: develop a "subgroup" of narrative creatives (Harry, Jo, Justin). An illustrative network.

 A group to discuss STUFF you have DONE.

Will attend review of Full Time work with rest of FT students as a means of "signing off" and helping find where I stand.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Casting Experiments

Awaiting results due to time-intensive nature of medium (casting, curing etc)

Beginning to think this process may not be the way forward simply due to lack of expediency for the direction I have been aiming for.

What does this highlight?

1) Possibly too focused in one direction: what if this project were focused entirely upon a series of designer toys, and the monufacture/limited production of them thereof?

2) Maybe jumping into practical concerns too early, return to concepts and ideas: what it COULD be, not what it COULD NOT be.

(full writeup of process with illustration found in contextual review)

Will return to this process when  more progress has been made in development of narrative voice of the project.

Review/Talk on Methodology with John  (PM)

This course is not everything you do, and everything you do is not the course.

It is part of your practice but not everything.


READING <(offsetting)> DRAWING

The Dick dastardly approach: Don't just stand there: DO Something.

Where do I stand?

ABSTRACT <------------------------------------------------------------> COMMERCIAL

Explore it.

Illustrate it.

Creativity is where the senses overlap 

(Consider synaesthesia: Kandinsky)


The Outcome, rather than the Findings

It may be a new contribution to knowledge unearthed.


Does my methodology need to be changed?

Hunger for new knowledge, new ideas.


The key questions for evaluation:


(Initial question)







(These MUST be answered at a Masters level for submission)

Most Difficult Part:


This is where Neil's lectures help.

The rest is easier than you think (if you just get on and do)

Further Thoughts/ Notes

Should reassess methodology: make sure I understand it fully.

Kurt Schwitters

Assess my context and position, explore as illustration?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Does the past have a colour?

Contraints of the page

Character design? Am I biting off more than I can chew?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Induction to Moldmaking/casting studio

> Biresin G26

Warnings/ Considerations/ Limitations

> Avoid all moisture

> Solid objects inset in resin/high volumes of resin are ill advised: will cause stress and cracks to appear.

> Gets hot as it cures (safety, and could wilt/destroy things set in it)

> Handle clear resin as little as possible (avoid air bubbles)

> Best measured out in syringes (can be reused!)

Benefits/ Tips

> Workable, fast setting resin

> Good for rubber moulds (urethane)

> Liquid enough for rotation casting (saves on material)

> Relatively cheap

> leave a little to cure to one side: gives you a visual on what's happening inside the mould.

> For future reference: best to build sprues into models with multiple parts (aluminium wire or solder is good)

Will return to this process with experiments based around characters that will be used repeatedly in scenes, to see if this makes for a more expedient process.

Neil (PM)
Review of reading task "The idea of comfort"

This is the level of article we should be reading (JSTOR)


Elitism of technical jargon (a keep out sign for non-academics/dressing it up for other academics)

Nonetheless, should still be reading these kind of articles.

What does it propose?

Comfort is a modern idea (the concept, the apparatus)

How is it written?

Anticapitalist/Leftist viewpoint

Only refers to information supporting the argument (no counter-view)


Little Nuance



Don't defer, be critical, gather a lot of viewpoints relating to (but not necessarily agreeing with) your subject.

 Further Notes/Reflection:

This highlights issues with my academic reading thus far.

Think about sources the same way I'd assess a history text: When was it written? what's the writer's agenda?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Didn't get chance to do any modelmaking last night, had a much needed sleep.

Woke up refreshed and pepped up (if late).

The power of backrubs.

Thoughts (from last night)

> What DIDN'T work with 3D work before?

Photography: always an afterthought

Took forever to make, spent hours on details

Never really planned as illustrations, always contextless self indulgent objects.

The final edited together outcome: passes, texture, layers; in short the FINISH.

> What DID work?



Display of skill and understanding in craft

Honestly where I enjoy my work most (and it shows)

> My question

A case of "how far..."

Can something as personal and emotional as family history and stories be recorded (and more importantly; Told) as a textless narrative?

Considerations of information graphic.

Talk with Darren (AM)

Gave Darren the lowdown on where I am.


. Gather together the text- have a cut-off point for when i will stop compiling.

. Find ways of measuring these family stories against other narratives, how good are they?

. Be critical. Quantify.

. Test audiences: compare what they get from words, and what they get from images.

. What is lost/ what is gained from each?

. Compare story quality to James Thurber/ Will Self/ Raymond Carver/ Michael Marshall Smith

. The stories I gather may well be banal, only interesting to me (probably the case) but it could come down to how I tell it:

> Fantastical Visuals? 

> Think about Aardman: Creature Comforts.

> They made the simple stories told interesting- personal anecdotes made electric by presentation.





. dip into the above resources (like a hot bath)

. then refine the story like hell

. Maybe focus down to around 5 anecdotes to develop.

. I am engaging in the words => pictures debate through this.


Good Stories

Personal Journey


(enough ammunition here, with this methodology, to get through to the dissemination)


Don't go into psychology babble and that stuff too far: you won't find anything a full time scientist wouldn't, and this is not a PHD.


Brian and Howard popped in as well, very useful and a good chance to have a relaxed chat on a different level with some old faces- seem to be quite pleased with where I am mindset wise- the fact it's all a big headfuck is a good thing.

Considerations of final product: precious artist book? Zine? can it be both?

Daily goals: will help to keep me focused.


Visualise the Narrator as a character.




from there I have a visual for a voice.

Review With John (PM)

Highlighted problems with my application of self to the course,

Too much stressing and not enough doing.

We can consider this the restart of work as of today.

Get back on track and refine down my question and my research.