Choosing Content

Creating a piece based on text…

One of the first thoughts that came to my mind was “Dick Tracey” and possibly doing a spin in a sort of comic art.
I had a clear vision in my head upon reading the extract in the exercise.
Keyword for me was middle-aged man, desk, spring sunshine, tall-uncurtained window, shadows, clasped hands, New Scotland yard, war-time London.
Smoky, heavy mood, muted tones, almost you can feel the police detective frustration on the situation.
I knew I wanted to express this with mood and texture, but how can I do this?

OCA spider graph Choosing Content
Spider graph

Another point of inspiration and research was Foyle’s war which is an ITV show set in wartime England.
Reason this was a source for me is while not really London, I could see the detectives fashion, items in the background and also was the look I envisioned the detective to look like.

The setting is new Scotland yard
I looked for a long time to find some interior of one of the offices, this was something I only found a hint of in other photos.

looking at the guy in the hat for inspiration.
My interest in this image is the fashion.

However Scotland yard research was proving useful to help me get a feel for this piece and mood which I wished to set.

I was mostly interested to find out what the view would have been from the window over war-torn London, at first due to search I had incorrectly looked at Great Scotland Yard hotel as the location, reason research is important.
I realized my error as my searching in terms of images had the “Thames” and the hotel was clearly not next to any river.

The building that was known as New Scotland Yard in the 1940s is now known as Norman Shaw Buildings with views of the Thames.
I was interested in finding out the shape/design of this “tall” window. A possible angle may include some views from the window.

I may use a little creative license in the final piece, I am aware the text states he is high up so would be looking at the top floor windows, however to enhance the impression of the tall-uncurtained windows I’m more interested in the shape and size of the window in the middle of the building.

I already know I want the viewer to be inside the room with the detective, as I want the viewer to feel the mood and relate to the detective without any barriers.

I’m aware from due to layout I will not be able to get all the elements into one piece, so be a case of exploring and working out which layout is best suited for the text I’ve read.
At this point I started to drop elements that wasn’t important to the overall piece and started being more selective in my research.

OCA content moodboard

I started looking into monotone illustrations on Pininterest, which I added to the board and came across the artwork for the comic “blade runner”
I think this is an interesting contrast between the Dick Tracy original artwork.
Which leads me to explore two comic artists that suited my vision for this piece.

Chester Gould

Chester Gould
The work of Chester is pretty much how I see my own detective, it was the lines how I can see the detective.

Andres Guinaldo

Andre Guinaldo
His work is more my personal taste, but it was the colours that interested me for my piece.
Due to the objectives of this exercise I know I couldn’t go to heavy down Guinaldo art style, but it is a good reference never the less for colours alone.

Main character – more hardened version of Foyle, inspector moose.
While indoors I’m using creative freedom to have a long coat and hat on (over his suit) – this is for the textures and to create the mood.
The desk and the window, with items on the desk to add some visual interest. The rest of the room very much a void.

Idea’s really started to come when I was working in my sketchbook, working from the portrait onward I was able to create a composition I was happy with.
I really like the portrait in the sketchbook, however I felt the viewer wouldn’t get a sense of time in just this alone and I wanted to have the tall windows in the background somehow.


I created a rough idea of what I wanted by shapes. Due to my sketchbook looking a bit plain and I treat my sketchbook like moodboards I added things of interest, one thing I added was newpapers, I then thinking I could have a newpaper college for the coat / jacket.
The idea of cutting the lines up came from a plan to almost minic the line you sometimes find running down the details of a jacket. After I thought was a nice touch as could picture detectives/spys sticking together shredded paper and that fits the mood and theme of this piece.
I also found a new paper article/editorial that included crime, so includes words like police, home secretary, M15, arrested and abandoned.


I created flat based with acrylic as I’m not aiming for the overly textured look, I want to use textures selectivity.

Textures that I added

Newpaper cutting – coat
Clear plastic – window glass
Photo from same newpaper cutting of a police report – paper
Brown paper bag – created the police file.

Could have done this more portrait ?
Did I reflect the mood I wanted ?
Has it ended more sad than frustrated ?
Would the phone/pen be better in a texture/3d ?
Should I have faded the wall more to allow the window/dress and man to pop or even left white ? (could explore this digitally)

Close up details of the papers
Rough and painted version

I really didn’t want to overload this with textures as I think if too much it can hurt your eyes. So I didn’t push the textures to much with this piece and some textures are very subtle.
Overall I like it, I like my new paper clipping coat the most, not sure the “plastic windows” bring much to the piece as the shine is only seen in angles and time taken me to cut them out is it worthwhile ?
Area most unsure on is the background, whole the colour palette is monochromatic themed, I really feel I could have done it a bit differently and let the main elements stand out more. I think when I figure out how is best to tackle this I may digitally make changes or even cut the background away and mount on a new background.
I wanted to show the light reflection on the wall and shadow without getting into too much detail and that is also missing the mark on the final piece.

The more I thought on the background the more I wasn’t happy with it. While yes, I wanted pieces I didn’t rely on digital to edit in this case I knew was best for this piece.
Firstly I needed to understand the light on the walls more so did a mood-board just for this.

OCA light rays
Light ray mood board.

I only worked on the walls digitally, I changed the hue until happy with the colour change and lowered the saturation as really wanted the rest of the image to stand out, using a textured brush / soft light mode I added a bit of darkness to the lower parts/edges to make it look a little less flat and again draw the viewers eye in the direction of the detective.
Using the mood board above this helped me create the light reflection, I’m aware the angle isn’t right, but my intention isn’t to have a detailed room more the impression of the room.

OCA final finding
Final piece

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