Autism: Not a big deal

I have been meaning to make a post about Theory of Mind for ages now but I have been so busy with Uni and personal issues that I have not had the chance. Over the past few weeks I have however noticed some reactions towards autism that I wanted to talk about.

Why do people normalise autism?

I was telling someone about how I am struggling with some aspects of my course that are not very inclusive, in particular the web conferences (too loud/no structure/multiple chats/overwhelming) and I was given the response “Oh everyone is on the spectrum somewhere, you just need to grin and bear it”. I did not know how to respond to this statement. We are all human and we all have the same struggles in the broadest sense possible but we are not all autistic. This person was comparing me to them and how they do not “like” bright lights or crowds. I can’t be in a room with bright strobing lights, it is physically painful for me on a sensory level and I am unable to carry out tasks due to this pain and distraction. That is not the same as preferring, natural light or dimmer lighting. In the same way in busy places like the centre of town I struggle being there for long periods of time because the amount of stimulus is overwhelming for me and this usually leads to shutdowns or meltdowns. It is sensory and emotionally distressing experience which is mentally draining. This is not the same as not ‘liking” a situation and “making a fuss”.

Are they trying to empathize or connect with me?

While I appreciate this could be the case I do not think this is the best approach. When someone generalises autism it makes me feel even more isolated than before. Yes we all feel sad, happy, angry, tired sometimes but to different extents, different reasons and it effects us all differently. I was diagnosed as an adult and because I have done things that an autistic person wouldn’t do people think my difficulties are not as severe. I hear this a lot from other people who are ‘high functioning’, because we can mask our differences and appear “normal” in most situations people expect us to ‘just get on with it’. There is a difference between surviving and coping, just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should have to. Another point to consider is sensory seekers, I am a sensory avoider but my best friend is the opposite and needs to have lots of stimulation. This makes her excited and then she has a lack of energy afterwards and needs time to calm and reenergise. (Similar to the amount of social energy we have is less than nuerotypical people.)

Illustration: New Inspiration


A picture containing sitting, window, photo, table

Description automatically generated

(“Cozy”, 2020)


About Heikala

Heikala is an illustrator, with a background in graphic design, from Finland. Her style is influenced by Finnish children’s book illustration and Japanese animation and culture. Heikala uses watercolour and ink to create her illustrations which centres on characters, environments and storytelling; focusing primarily on witches and their familiars.

 Heikala developed her brand over her time studying and used the combination of university and Artist Alleys to find her visual voice. Heikala circulates her work through social media and has published multiple books. 

“I use the traditional mediums of ink and watercolour to tell stories and bridge the divide between mundane and magical.” – (“About Heikala”, 2020)

I am drawn to Heikalas work for three reasons: Japanese influenced, storytelling and because of the emotional connection that she creates with the viewer. I recognise the influence of manga in Heikalas work by the eye shapes of her characters and the similarities between her work and Studio Ghibli, detailed but not realistic; stylish and subtle playfulness. The main character subject in her work is witches and utopic settings. Heikala does not objectify her characters and takes a thoughtful and responsible approach to how she represents them. I feel this an incredibly important aspect of Heikalas work. This is in stark contrast to the majority of the anime and manga industry. I am greatly interested in the Japanese Visual Language and the combinatorial qualities that arise in the lexicons of visual language. The path I am going down to develop my own work and creative journey is similar to Heikalas practise, so she is therefore a great source of inspiration for me.

Why I have chosen this illustration…

This piece is titled “cosy”, created in 2018. This illustration conjures comfort, warmth and the feeling of calm; it has soothing effect on the viewer. I find this piece out of context for the artist as her work is predominantly known for fantasy elements and subtle magic, none of which are features of the illustration in question. 

However, there are a few other pieces like this produced by Heikala and I wonder what context they are made in, perhaps just an emotion or moment that she wanted to express or capture. This intrigues me and is part of her charm, illuminating the magic of ordinary life.  

My understanding of the illustration

When analysing this illustration, the first signifier I can identify is the snow on the bare branches behind the window. The signified is the winter season. One character has an additional blanket around them, the other is next to a thick scarf, which are items linked to cold weather further supporting my interpretation; as well as the calendar in the background depicting white tree shapes. 

Usually Heikala creates utopic fantasy environments but in this instance, I can tell she is drawing more on her experiences of Japanese culture. The table depicted is called a Kotatsu. This is a table traditionally used in Japan in the winter, as it is heated underneath. The curving lines used to create the Kotatsu material and the pillow indicate that it is soft in form and texture. The Kotatsu is the next signifier, which signifies where in the world this setting is taking place; giving cultural context to the illustration. I have also noticed the Shiba Inu dog, which is a breed from Japan, the flooring has straight black lines patterned in a way that reminds me of Tatami. If this piece was part of a seasonal set of illustrations I would not be surprised if the tree was full of cherry blossoms in the spring, with the characters drinking green tea and eating mochi. Therefore, I can assume this piece is set in Japanese winter because of the cultural signifiers. This is due to the visual homology of the piece; the viewer can easily identify and enjoy its reference points. 

The next signifier I find is the book on the table top, sitting in wrapping paper, positioned next to scissors, blank tags and Sellotape. The signified is the concept of wrapping a present. Which in itself is the signifier of celebration. The sleeping character is positioned next to a pair of books on the floor, one opened (signifier), signifying that they like to read. Putting this together with the other elements creates the context of wrapping a present for a loved one. No anchorage is needed to understand this story. 

The use of light and purple shadows suggests to me that it is early morning. The gentle pastel colours used create a warm palette. The pink in particular reminds me of a rosy sunrise. I find it interesting that the snow and steam have no ‘outline’, I like this because the elements seem more organic this way. The irregular shape of the steam suggests movement and the use of varied line lengths and widths implies texture of the matt, flooring and animal fur. I could go into detail and say the shadow is the signifier of light from the window and the sunlight is the signified. The steam is the signifier of heat from the cup and kettle and the signified is the warm drink and water. The orange and yellow colours underneath the kettle is the signifier of fire and it signifies the stove is on. The orange going beyond the stove signifies the spreading of heat and light in the room.

Art: Exploring other ideas….

I have been going back through my work to explore other options that I could have submitted to create a supporting sketchbook. When coming up with my original ideas I only had time to focus on the one idea as it takes a huge amount of effort and time to process and understand the course information and then form a plan that meets the module criteria. Therefore I find myself in the position of working backwards, submitting my final piece and then creating my idea development sketches.

Illuminated I/i

As I have mentioned previously, I reflected that I could have taken a more personal approach to the brief, rather than focusing on my professional journey. To illustrate this I could have drawn a jigsaw puzzle piece that was similar in shape to a capital ‘I’ to represent my being autistic. I could have then filled in the shape with things that I feel are key to my personality or interests. I have also come up with a similar design using a lower case ‘I’.

Lexicon Of Elements

  • Crocodile Eggs: I could have drawn a baby crocodile emerging from the egg or I could have drawn a fried egg as an island inhabited by crocodiles.
  • Betrothed: I could have drawn a ring in the box with a couple sat in the lid admiring the sunlight on the jewel.
  • A Misty Landscape: I could have drawn mountains, a landscape reflected in an eye or a field with the silhouette of a fence and animals.
  • Self Portrait: I could have drawn my self and my spiritual true self on opposite sides of a mirror, drawn my fingerprint with my interests spiralling in, or a pocket watch telling my lifetime.

I have sketched all these ideas very very roughly as a plan. I’m not sure if I need to draw them out in detail as they are just plans but at least I can show I have thought about different ideas.

Lexicon of Marks & Style Development

Recently I have been thinking about how to construct the images “Crocodile Eggs” and “Betrothed”.

My Lexicon
Crocodile Eggs

I have learned that marks such as the irregular circles used in the Betrothed are not good for background or as base marks as I need to use so many of them to make up tone and colour I lose the definition of the mark. I usually am never left with the same marks as I start out with during my process, so making the marks the focus is very challenging for me, especially since I am being limited to a specific set of marks in this brief. Which I suppose is the intention.

Reflecting on my practise of this brief, I am starting to consider emotion in marks. Why do I call zigzags ‘Sharp’ or curves “soft’. In films like Tim Burton Nightmare Before Christmas the Halloween world is full of sharp and jagged lines, why does this make us feel that is scary or creepy? I was also thinking of the Mr Men, the shapes are personified, Mr Messy is a personified mark. Dr Seuss uses some wonderful lines in his books as well, the buildings I am thinking of in particular. The most obvious example I guess would be the Grinch; Whoville (where everyone is happy and filled with the spirit of Christmas) is full of curving, arching, round and flowing shapes. Whereas outside of Whoville where the Grinch lives it is much more ‘sharper’ and has less colour, so why does that mean that Whoville is warm and safe and mountains harsh and lonely? Why do I instantly make that connection based on the shapes, lines and colours used?

(“Spoiler Alert! | Computer Graphics World”, 2020)

In relation to my practise, I have been wondering what will people see when they look at my work? How can I make best use of marks to communicate Okko and Eartha’s personalities…

Week 2: What is a ‘Mark’?

This week I have found the brief particularly challenging, making a lexicon of marks and techniques. My Lexicon of Elements needs to be A-Z of different marks and techniques, so far I have 17:

  • (A) cross-hatching
  • (B) pointillism
  • (C) dashes
  • (D) layering
  • (E) gradient
  • (F) wavy lines
  • (G) zigzags
  • (H) continuous lines
  • (I) interlocking lines
  • (J) scribbly lines
  • (K) blocks of colour
  • (L) geometric
  • (M) broken lines
  • (N) splatter marks
  • (O) implied lines
  • (P) blending
  • (Q) brushstrokes.

I am waiting to hear back from my tutors as to what is a mark and what is a pattern, do they overlap? Once I have created the full lexicon of elements I need to make 4 different outcomes using a list of alphabet letters that the university have chosen. I need to consider my range of marks carefully to make sure I have enough tools construct my images as well as including texture. I will need to illustrate: Crocodile Eggs, Betrothed, A Misty Landscape and a Self-Portrait. This means I need to arrange my lexicon accordingly to be able to achieve the best outcome.

I have also been working on my contemporary context research and building up my annotating skills. I have found a few artists I find relevant to my work:

Anna & Elena Balbusso:

(Twitter, 2020)

The Balbusso twins are award winning Italian artists who have been published internationally. I believe mainly work in book illustration and have illustrated over 40 books. This piece is illustrating one of my favourite books The Little Prince by Antonie de Saint-Exupery. The have depicted the Prince with his Rose on their planet watching the sunset (one of his favourite things to do). The Balbusso twins illustrated the book in 2017. I like this piece not only for the book but because of the elegance they have created. I particularly like the warm colours used and the pattern of the planet; its very floral and natural. I would say the circle is the most prominent shape and the repetition of it makes the eye flow over the image nicely. Even the sharper shapes are softened with organic shapes near them. I particularly admire the choreographic use of pictorial space and composition to lead the eyes in a dance around the image. I need to be able to create this integration of the elements of form in my own work. I am curious about the use white, the Princes skin and the stars are the lightest part of the piece, I wonder what the significance of the star on a diagonal to him is if any. (May be the star collectors planet) Whilst I like this piece there are some of the Balbusso’s work that I do not like but that is down to genre rather than their style. 

Sydney Hanson:

(Bumble bee Sídney Hanson (With images) | Cute animal illustration, Animal art, 2020)

Sydney Hanson is an artist from Minnesota, she is influenced and inspired by her childhood adventures in nature and love of animals. Sydney worked for Nickelodeon and Disney Interactive as well as producing her original illustrations. I like the contrast of detail between the subject and background as well as the realistic texture and non realistic eyes. I understand the eyes are enlarged to create a cute effect that will appeal to some viewers. The use of soft textures and shapes gives adds to the cute none threatening quality of the piece. 

Jennifer L. Meyer

(Shannon Associates, 2020)

This piece has a very childlike and playful quality to it, very innocent. I like how it tells a short story. I have noticed that she has used a limited colour palette which is something I struggle with. I also like how the background is blank which enables me to focus on the elephant. I would like to produce some work that shows a similar sequence to this with my own characters. This is also the only piece I have found in my search today that features the movement marks used in comics, by this I am referring to the ears and wings. In relation to my work I am interested in the weight and gravity and the contrast between characters. I need to consider how to create/express this quality in my work. 

Week One

As I understand it week one is about critically analysing my practice and locating it within contemporary illustration and context. I have begun with the aim of working towards Storyboarding, Concept Design and Children’s Book Illustration as my Professional Practice. I am aware this may change over the course and that this is my goal; I am currently far from this and I am excited to take the next steps to achievement. 

I started my week by reading through the weekly content. Some parts went over my head and others I understood quite quickly. I sent all my briefs to my DSA support workers and we broke them down into tasks I feel able manage. The first University Task for the assignment is the ‘Illuminated I’ which means what am I like as an Illustrator. My first DSA task is therefore making a list of what I like to draw.

My inspiration comes from storybooks and faerie-tales. I often disagree with storylines and the way female characters are portrayed in particular but the concepts of enchanting worlds and beings/creatures I have always wonderful. I do not feel confident enough in my abilities to try and communicate the depth of this opinion yet so going back to the basics of the question: What do I like to draw? I like to draw fantasy. My biggest influence is faerie tales from when I was younger which is the base for my interest in fantasy. 

Thinking about how best to communicate this to others I asked myself what are the first connections I make to the word ‘Faerie-tale’. Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian-Anderson and Disney are the first connections that come to mind. 

Grimm: Oldest, dark

Hans: Poetic, bitter-sweet

Disney: Family, motion

The next step I took was to see what visual elements I link with faerie-tales…

  • Snow White = Apple/Mirror/Well
  • Little Match Girl = Snow/Fire/Light
  • Peter Pan = Stars/Shadows/Feathers
  • Moana = Spirals/Flowers/Waves

To combine past and present Snow White seems a good choice as she is the first Disney Princess that fits with my storyboarding interest and Disney have been reimagining the classics recently so that would work in regards to Character Design and she comes from Brothers Grimm to go with the general faerie-tale concept. 

Inspired by Snow White I decided to go with the apple. Apples can be eaten to the core in a way that resembles a capital I, going with this simple form I can focus my energy on detail. I am going to decorate my apple with faerie-like pictures, I also want to try and use the same colours as the apple skin to give off a more natural look.

Core: lowercase I’s to indicate texture.

Upper Apple: Clover, Animal Prints, Faerie sat on top.

Lower Apple: Dandilion Wishes (in reference to Tinkerbell), Mermaid, Old Ship, Seigaiha waves, Moon.

I like this task as it is a fun way to start off our journey. I am liking the freedom of  creativity in the MA course, being self-led, but at the same time it is really frustrating from an autistic point of view. For example, I am finding it difficult having no feedback on my work; I have to wait until live webinars which is already extremely stressful situation for me as I have to interact and keep track of multiple inputs.  So my already high anxiety of this event is having added pressure. My tutors say I can leave whenever I want as I won’t miss anything because the webinar is recorded, but I will struggle to initiate that action due to my lack of executive functioning. This is yet another source of anxiety for me. Luckily my DSA support is amazing so I feel confident I am putting up good work just hope I haven’t been wasting my time on the wrong idea.  

Illuminated I

Reflecting on my first attempt to draw my ‘Illuminated I’ idea:

  • I need to refine the top half  and add more detail to balance out the piece
  • I should consider the idea of carved apple, to make my details standout 
  • I could add a background so my piece has a more complete feel 
  • My Illuminated I is about who I am as an illustrator not as a person. I could add greater detail on the top of the apple about my personality.   

A lot of the week seems to be thinking about Methodology (I didn’t know that word existed until this week) and the philosophy and context of my work. I’ve been thinking about the questions: What does it mean to illustrate? What is my job as an illustrator? How and who will my work impact? I feel illustration illuminates subjects, concepts and ideas.  Illustration for me is more than ‘just commercial art’, illustration is applied in a number of ways depending on who is creating and who is receiving.  Illustration for me is expression, connecting with people and showing them worlds they could only imagine right before their eyes.   If I had to sum up  illustration in one word it would be wonder. I don’t think anyone can tell you the absolute definition of illustration as it is unique to everyone.  I consider my job as an illustrator is to create pockets of escapism in peoples lives,  I want to create work that people can get lost in, whether it is my characters or worlds or just the concepts I “shed light on”.  

Starting My Course & OkkoEartha

Hello Everyone! I have been able to access my course materials for the first time this week, which is exciting 🙂 I’ve been getting things ready for the start date and making sure my ILP and support is all in place and ready so have been very busy. When my course starts I am going to aim to produce 1 frame a week for my graphic novel and as many experiments as possible. I will probably be setting up a separate blog for my uni work which I will link to this one. I haven’t had much time for Okko and Eartha recently because of this so I’m going to share my ideas on the next steps.

I am going to illustrate everything in black and white or completely silhouette except from specific elements that I want to draw the readers attention to.

This is the first draft of my ideas so far. I’m not happy with any of it but of course it is a work in progress. It is all too clumsy and fragmented. I am struggling yet again with depth and texture and making my backgrounds blend in. I am also getting quite frustrated with my lack of consistency, I’m not being too hard on myself for this one as I was rushed to complete. I am going to draw Okko and Eartha in ‘no-space’ (empty background) from now on and have only very minimal backgrounds so I can focus my attention on their figures and perfect them as they are the most important. I will add background details more overtime as I get happier with Okko and Eartha.

To improve the quality of my work my next goal is to work on my shading and refine my detail work. I think I am doing okay considering I am teaching myself a new style which is good. I am also considering Line/Continuous Line Drawings for the necessary details such as objects and clothes. This is where I am going to begin merging styles. My course is starting on Monday so I’ll have plenty of opportunities to experiment and get feedback. It’s exciting!

Autism: Understanding Our Executive Functioning

Many people with autism have difficulty with executive functioning. They may have trouble with certain skills like planning, staying organized, sequencing information, and self-regulating emotions. Some people pay attention to minor details, but have trouble seeing how these details fit into a bigger picture.”

(Executive Functioning | Autism Speaks, 2020)

At the moment I have been thinking about my executive functioning, I have begun to create a routine for my University work that fits in with my home routine. I had to intermit and effectively restart my course because I found everything so overwhelming, I didn’t make it past the induction. Since then (at the beginning of the year) I have support from DSA (Disabled Students Allowance) and have been assigned the most amazing Mentor and Study Skills Tutor. To help me practice and prepare for when I continue my learning they have supported me to create a personal project; by doing this they are supporting my executive functioning skills.

What Are Executive Functions?…

  • Planning: People on the spectrum can have difficulty identifying/choosing the correct steps needed to reach a goal, deciding on the order and using the proper cognitive resources and then putting all that information into a plan of action.
  • Working Memory: As well as struggling with this area it can also be one of many great strengths! It is the ability to remember specific short term memories needed to execute a function or daily task.
  • Attention: We often have a keen ability to focus, but directing that focus can be challenging for us, for example sensory issues.
  • Reasoning: This is how we understand/analyse/critically think about concepts presented in words and relay them back/integrate them successfully. This is the area where we miss social cues, sarcasm and ‘implied’ meanings that are not directly obvious to us.
  • Initiation: This is our ability to start an activity/plan/ task. Executive functioning difficulties in this area are ones like not being able to play a game/instrument or do homework/chores unless someone else initiates the activity. This is not because we don’t want to/haven’t got the desire to do so or don’t understand it is important, we just lack the function to “Just do it”.
  • Inhibition: This is our ability to have emotional/cognitive/physical reactions that aren’t acted upon in the moment. An example of when we don’t have this ability can be stimming (when not self-soothing) or when we get fixated on something.  
  • Cognitive Flexibility: This is probably one of the most well known areas that we struggle with. We need structure/routine and to be well prepared for new situations, In some cases this lack of cognitive flexibility can mean we have rigid thinking and opinions which can present extra challenges in social situations.
  • Monitoring: This is our ability to ‘think without thinking’. So breathing, walking, blinking, we only need to engage a small part of our brain to carry out these everyday actions. Monitoring difficulties mean that when we are really really tired or overwhelmed we need to put a bit more effort into engaging with these activities. For example, I drop things and walk and move really slowly when I’m overwhelmed. As I am paying more attention to carrying out these tasks correctly (holding objects without dropping them/not bumping into things and stumbling) I often don’t notice if someone is talking to me; I don’t hear them and I’m not aware of my surroundings other than directly in front of me (my next step).
  • Problem Solving: This involves nearly all of the functions above, it’s being able to use lots of functions at once to solve the problem once you’ve identified that there is one.

The team who helped me apply and enrol on the course were lovely and patient don’t get me wrong but they were only able to support me to the extent that a neurotypical (NT) person would need. Obviously being autistic I need more support than that and what would greatly help a NT person would make little difference to me. This made the application process a nightmare, I couldn’t keep up with the emails from department to department, who said what, when did I have to submit portfolio work by, which forms applied to me and so many other issues. I couldn’t make sense of all this new information and sequence what I needed to do. When the course began I was even more overwhelmed; the tasks were vague, used overcomplicated language and information was presented in a way that I can’t process. I was therefore unable to plan and understand my work, I had no idea what was being asked of me and how to begin to approach the work. Now I have my DSA support in place I have strategies to help me overcome these issues.

  1. I have a visual timetable, you might want to look into PECs (Picture Exchange Cards)
  2. I break down my tasks with my Skills Tutor into a list, then he gives me a smaller bullet point list of each section of the main list one at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed.
  3. I have my routine including both work and home together so they are easier to manage rather than 2 separate ones to keep track of. (Home includes self care time as it is extremely important)
  4. I have a support network chart, it’s a mind map of everyone who helps me and what they can help me with so I know who to go to and for what.
  5. I have made a personal statement that I can send to the appropriate people so know how to support me best with out the stress and anxiety that I experience explaining it to them over time and on the spot.
  6. I have a set of rules for each person that I can follow, very clear boundaries and expectations for me and them.

I find this incredibly helpful, I hope I have given you some ideas and helped with understanding a little bit, we can learn together 🙂

Exploring My Creativity: My Creative Process

Hi Everyone! Recently I have been trying to identify my creative process (how I naturally express my creativity) and how I am going to develop into my own style as an artist. When I begin to draw the first thing I notice is the shapes in my subject matter. I made a quick 5-10 minute self portrait that I am going to use to explain how I create a face when drawing, I wonder if any other artists out there can relate to my process.

Me: 5-10 min sketch

I start out by identifying what I consider the main shapes that make up a face, the most dominating shapes I notice are my cheeks, forehead and chin. (I tend to map out these areas first for any figure I draw) In my case from this angle I have a rounded rectangle shape for my forehead, two overlapping ovals for my chin and under my bottom lip and for lack of better words almost butterfly wing like shapes either side of my face that make up my cheeks. Then for my neck I notice two triangles (one for shadow) and an oval, rather elongated, where the light fell. I then followed the shapes and lines I recognised in my jumper curving rectangles to make up my shoulder. I use these shapes to make up a base to place my detail on top of. You have most probably heard of the circle-box method or circle triangle specifically for drawing heads. For example:

(Medlej, 2020)

These types of sketches are what re known as ‘skeleton sketches’, they are the basic building blocks used to draft and begin works. In a way I have extended this method into a more detail focused approach to mapping out features and key areas.

I have also noticed the concept of my process is slightly similar to cubism, in the way I use shapes. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Cubism, it is a movement (1907–08) mostly associated with artists Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Paul Cézanne. Cubism is a way of showing multiple viewpoints at once, making the subject (persons/items) appear fragmented, abstracted and made out of geometric shapes. Cubism is split into stages/phases Analytical and Synthetic, you can watch a video about this at:

(Groff, 2020)

From the description above I would say my process is similar to analytical cubism as I break down my subject into shapes and then create the desired form I am after. I have also found this quote that I find relevant to my process:

“…concept of simplifying objects by seeing them as basic shapes such as cylinders, spheres, and cones. By exploring these concepts further, representing objects various viewpoints at the same time, they revolutionised how objects could be visualised in art.” – (Exploring The Concept Of Cubism Art Essay, 2020)

I also want to incorporate surrealism into my work. Surrealism is a 20th-century avant-garde movement in art and literature which valued dreams and exploring the unconscious mind. The movement aimed to assert these values to the public eye.

The movement’s poets and artists found magic and strange beauty in the unexpected and the uncanny, the disregarded and the unconventional.”

(Surrealism – Art Term | Tate, 2020)

My current favourite surrealist artist is Catrin Welz-Stein (

(Welz-Stein, 2020)

I was thinking that a I could add surrealist elements into Okko and Eartha’s story by creating a magical, dreamlike connection between them where they can enter a pocket dimension or reality just for them. Photoshop and Illustrator will be useful for experimenting with ideas in this area I believe.

I am also thinking of combining surrealism with papercrafts, this idea is inspired by the fairytale work of Sybille Schenker ( I particularly love the right page as the lines are so organic and elegant as well as the use of limited colour to highlight important areas as a focal point.

(sneak peek / Little Red Riding Hood – Sybille Schenker (With images) | Red riding hood, Little red riding hood, Paper artist, 2020)

Paper crafting and silhouettes go hand-in-hand for me so I’m going to take this as an opportunity to expand here. Silhouettes were first used as a form of portraiture, it was a popular way to create an image/profile before the invention and common use of photography came around. In the late 19th and early 20th century several illustrators employed designs of similar appearance for making book illustrations. Silhouette pictures could easily be printed by blocks that were cheaper to produce and longer lasting than detailed black and white illustrations. Silhouette pictures sometimes appear in books of the early 20th century in conjunction with colour palettes. Arthur Rackham is an example of an illustrator who uses silhouettes.

(Rackham silhouettes, 2020)

To summarise so far, I have identified my natural artistic process and concept, I have found three other artistic aspects that I want to develop into my style. I am to take parts that I like of these styles and integrate them into one to make my own style. I now have a clear idea of what direction I am heading in and what I want to achieve and I have decided the first step will be making more self portraits from different angles and then laying on top different stylized areas of the same drawing. I will start off with putting anime eyes on my portrait I showed you at the beginning of the post, using Clip Paint Studio to draw the eyes and I will repeat this process so I have a series of emotions as my outcome.

Graphic Novel Development: Page 2

Hello Everybody! I am really excited at the moment as I have been thinking about the second page of Okko and Eatha’s story. I have previously posted the draft of the first page and I found that I had to change angles a lot to create a better flow and was really struggling with depth and texture. I also got caught up in my ideas and didn’t give enough time to planning my panels. However I was able to get across my ideas effectively in the draft which was my main goal, I was able to get my ideas on to the paper; now I need to focus on presenting my ideas in the correct context/style.

Learning from that experience to go forward, in page 2 I need to consider the layout first. I have never been good at sticking to an aperture so working within the panels was quite challenging for me so I started to look into the questions what can I change to suit me? what has already been done? and what are the rules of creating a graphic novel? As I’m autistic rules and guidelines are very important to me I need them to function in a situation/environment. Therefore whenever I come across a new concept or situation I always learn as much as I possibly can about it; I’m not afraid of being different and thinking outside the box but I hate being made to feel like I or my ideas are “wrong”. (So if after I post this I don’t stick to the rules and have made my own I hope you understand why.)

What is a Graphic Novel?…

The way I explain it: A graphic novel is a book that uses illustrations rather than litetary descriptions, there is still a complex story line and a script for dialogue but you are shown what the creator wants you to see rather than having it described to you throughout the story.

Or there is this way:

A graphic novel, as its name suggests, is a novel that tells a complete story via illustrations. A graphic novel will offer the type of resolution that one expects from a novel, even if it is part of a series. Effectively, this makes a graphic novel longer and more substantive than a comic book, which is a serialized excerpt from a larger narrative.”

(How to Create a Graphic Novel: Examples, Tips, and Complete Guide, 2014)

Terms and Vocabulary…

Panel/Frame: This is a box that contains one moment in time, one segment of action. You usually put words (not including speech) and images in separate boxes, but you can have Content Panels that include both image and text.

Splash: This is where one image takes up the whole page. You can also ‘Bleed’ an image to or beyond the edge of a page.

Spread: Where one image takes up two pages.

Foreground/Mid-ground/Background: These are common terms in an artists world regardless of style, the foreground is what would be closet to the viewer, the background is what would be furthest from the viewer and the mid-ground is what is left in between, in the middle. For graphic novels you just apply this to your panel in replace of your canvas.

Speech Balloon/Thought bubble: This is where your dialogue goes or when you want to clarify or enhance the context of the panel via sharing thoughts. As they are put in the same panel as you images you should treat them as part of your illustration. Keep in mind that the shape of the balloon/bubbles as they can be used to convey emotion and the same goes for your lettering and sound effects.

Captions: These are used for information and add a voice-over like quality to your panels.

Gutter: The ‘gutter’ is the space left between panels.

A new term I have learned is ‘Graphic Weight’ which is: “A term that describes the way some images draw the eye more. than others, creating a definite focus using color and shading in various ways. including: • The use of light and dark shades; dark-toned images or high-contrast images.” (2020)

What are the different types of Graphic Novel?…

  • Super Hero
  • Manga/Anime
  • Sci-Fi
  • Historical
  • Biographical/Personal Naratives

Some of the the most famous graphic novel illustrators I know of are: Art Spiegelman (memoir, Maus), Alex Ross (Superhero, DC & Marvel), Craig Thompson (biographical, Blankets) Kohei Horikoshi (My Hero Academia), Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli), Neil Gaimen (Sandman).

I am starting Okko & Eartha’s story in the form of manga/anime so I need to look into and research manga graphic novels. I have found a guide on YouTube that teaches a basic manga layout at Other than that I haven’t really found any other rules or guidelines so I’m just going to go with my creativity 🙂