Personification

So for this next project we focused on personifying objects in a World War 1 setting without the classic legs or face that people like to add to turn an object into an easy human like creature. To begin with I collected leaves and sticks, as well as conkers, a hole punch, paper clips, two rocks, pencil sharpening, paper fasteners, a sharpener and cardboard for any structures. I did some very quick sketches of them to get a feel for how natural shapes again.

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Above left are relics of the original items I used for a little battlefield display. Below are studies I did of the objects while bearing in mind the different people who could be on the battlefield and things, such as the bombs, shrapnel, soldiers, war dogs, tents, etc. I chose to portray the people as leaves which is perhaps one of the easier options as they were more readily available than other natural or art objects I could use (I did consider sticks, but I thought in the end that the leaves are more readily available without picking plants and can represent a wider variation of body languages as well as states of decay or injuries on the front lines in a bloody, vicious battle).

I experimented a lot with seeing how I could stylise objects with shapes, textures or brush marks while I was working and found it quite difficult to visualise how a leaf could represent a person at first but I did begin to make it work.

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personification 1

When it came to creating the book I had a lot of confusion about the layout until it was cleared up and I had to constantly remind myself exactly what the layout would be (namely the blank pages). Other areas I considered were the colours I wanted to use, namely I really wanted to stay away from blue or from red and focus on perhaps what could be a less used colour so I ended up going with a red which actually ends up as a pink once you dilute it enough along with purple for a more subdued set of tones.

In general purple tends to be associated with villains in media and in specifics it is mystery, and if there is one thing you have more than anything in a war it is the uncertainty of not knowing if you’ll make it to the next day or even to lunch. We looked at poems for the project from famous World War 1 poets and in general I decided to focus on Wilfred Owen’s works and in particular the work “Self Inflicted Wound” which reminded me of a book my sister had read called “Heroes”, both analyse the horrors of war and how desperate it makes some people to just end it or in the case of the protagonist from Heroes, to escape and use it as an excuse to run away from a nasty situation at home….only to return disfigured and having the banner of a “Hero” waved around over your head when you sincerely wanted to die while feeling survivors guilt when people who genuinely wanted to live died. And heroes not necessarily being nice people.

Very heavy book and poems. I also previously in college did a project on Heroes in general so I am quite well acquainted with the World Wars as far as strife and torment goes for the soldiers on a superficial-ish level. But despite any knowledge I might have over the issues people faced in the first world war I did find myself thinking it will be difficult to think about the sheer scale of death that happened.

Something else which informed me more of World War 1 was a game called Valiant hearts that was basically a very tactful game released to honour the anniversary of the atrocities that happened back then with a historical context running between things as you play through the game as several characters who help you relate to an issue which seemed so long ago. I wouldn’t take what it shown as completely historically accurate but the death toll of the war is definitely something indisputable.

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The above are tests with colours, textures, possible ways of rendering the leaves, posture, movement, panelling shapes, layouts, stencils and personification again because it was difficult.

I also wrote/drew out a rough script of events with a battle scene spilling out, a medic tent, goodbyes to a dead companion and soldiers lined up wounded or dying, then suddenly bombs hit once more and destroy the surrounding areas with the opposing soldiers breaching the line only to have another bomb hit and destroy them as well. One leaf survives after hiding under dead bodies and runs away as the bomb finishes off the enemies only to find himself overlooking the destruction of the battle field alone, as most lay dead or dying. I know it’s grim but it is the kind of grim that existed then when people were sent out into the front lines into essentially suicide missions.

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Above are a couple of the some 40 or so photos I took for references for the illustrations of the book. I tried to get as many angles as possible when taking the photos so that I would have a lot of reference material in the way of creating something that looks believable and not too deformed as far as lines and imagery goes.

Below is the finished book which I had to scan in halves because my scanner is tiny. I’m sure I’ll replace these with photos or bigger scans at some point.

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So this is sans blank pages. as far as the finished product goes, I am very happy with it mostly because it is finished now.

Now several faults I have with it, among many I’m sure:

I didn’t keep inside the borders of the frames very well or had paint spill out of them which makes it look fairly poorly presented and sloppy.

The line art itself could do with being redone in areas with a brush fine liner to make aspects more clear.

The composition begins to degrade in areas as scenes of destruction repeat themselves and I feel that it becomes quite repetitive.

When it came to painting the values I represented with the tones seem to become less clear and less varied as the imagery goes on which also tends to add to the confusion I feel there is of what is happening scene by scene.

And so concludes the faults, which I could probably pick at for some time now but these are the main ones. As far as things I think work well in this book, I believe the first few pages are well composed (it does help that I purposely scattered the leaves and arranged them in the way I wanted to draw them) I like the tones that I could get out of the purples and pinks I chose to use (ultramarine and primary blue mixed with primary red and varying amounts of white and black) which I think work well in the first few pages but I am unsure if they do near the end.

This concludes the project I believe, it was a fairly sad project to think about and research but I hope that I dealt with the issue respectfully.

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