Lets read an illustration!
I am making point to not read anything relating to this exercise until I’ve finished as I’m curious how students will all see the same image differently or indeed if an illustrator can really influence us all in a similar way!
I was really interested in getting a deeper understanding of visual hierarchy, I came across “Gestalt psychology” which includes five principles Proximity, Similarity, Continuity, Closure, and Connectedness.
psychology and art really does interests me, I love how art can affect a person mood.
I’ve already looked the psychology within art with things like the use of colour how effects our mood and draw our attention.
I’ve always felt there was some serious psychology that applies in hierarchy and we as illustrators can learn be clever with it. This was something for a long time my art was missing, and it is still very much a learning curve with me at the moment.
Red in art and illustrations can be very powerful, our art masters really knew just how to use red to guide a viewers eye. Red and yellow being the most visually grabbing colours it makes their use very high up in hierarchy visual chain, since I discovered this, I have been viewing art galleries differently, guess finally truly interested in hierarchy within art.
I think this image (below) would look and feel differently if the dragon was “cool” tones and the children were red.
The use of red from the light brings the children forward in the hierarchy otherwise without that then the children would have faded into the background completely.
The shapes used help guide the eyes around the dragon to the children.
The negative space on the floor creates a path to the children, even the dragon scales lead toward the children, so everything is really set up to draw attention to the dragon first and then guide your eyes to the two children.
The story could be two children cheeping into the dragon den to possibly steal something, the movement and mood of the children are not too hostile. The boy want to leave but the girl being braver is sticking to her “missing” in fact she may have spotted what she is after and is pointing.
She is pointing in the dragon direction, could she mean to ask the dragon for help and the boy is begging her not to!
Other things I spot is the contrast on the dragon horn and girl pointing, is the hierarchy Dragon > child > dragon, so your eyes are meant to travel all the way around the page image until it leads back on the dragon!
After my first views I did more research into the image, I knew this was illustrated by Mark Oliver, so it made it easy to discover this is an illustration from the book titled Tom’s Clockwork dragon by Jonathan Emmett.
I learnt after that the dragon is called Flamethrottle and the children build a clockwork dragon to defeat him.
In my sketchbook I doodled and created some images exploring this image and using the same kind of hierarchy and layout looked if could create a similar image. Plus it helped me study the image more breaking down further and picking up elements I’ve missed prior.
I found it interesting to break the image down like this, it wouldn’t be something I use as I think it is too heavy inspired by using the illustration, seeing this exercise as a technique to see something differently and just how can break something down and recreate.
While I thought I was paying attention when I broke down the works of others, I think this exercise was interesting and made me go deeper into the insight of hierarchy, excuse the pun! but it’s not just black and white, not just shapes, sizes, colours and details… It is all these things together. One image alone has so much we can learn from.
See things that the artist both intended and unintended within their work.
I also have a sketched thumbnail in my sketchbook that I may look at exploring that was inspired by creating something with the same feeling of this piece.