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Visual distortion

Not just pushing an image visually, I found I really needed to push myself!

I start this exercise with being honest I’m not a fan of using collage of magazine/printouts in my work, I have just started to like creating textures and put them together, but to visually distort using images seem to fail me.

The first part of the objectives of this exercise to with the cat and limiting the lines which I did in my sketchbook (below)
Started with detail and then using a Chinese brush and pen I limited the amount of lines I used.

Vicky Scott
Eric Carle

Next part I wasn’t sure how to to begin, so I did research into collages and distorting illustrations and characters.

Something like the work of Vicky Scott, sort of a paper cute collage with papers / textures / photos / handmade elements, is something I like.
This is something that inspires me.

Another and very early inspiration is the work of Eric Carle, like many I grew up with his images and reading to my own children.

The visual distortion element I have already in my art, well, I like anime, big eyes and long legs and characters like my little pony which enhances features.

One of the things realized as I was researching this, I’ve been going about collages all wrong. I’ve always made the illustrations to fit the collage not the collage to fit the illustration.
So I took a little step back within my Sketchbook and painting four illustrations in acrylic. I kept these really flat as wanted to play with introducing the college elements as texture. My thoughts behind this is to bring the collage


After I started adding textures I felt ready and inspired to get back to the objective of the exercise.

“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what is considers to be shackles limited our vision”

Salvador Dali

Using a huge pile of magazine cuttings and sticking to a subject I love, portraits. I went ahead and created the “character” first and I really strongly disliked what I did create, do not get more wrong I had fun, it had no sense of propose other than me sticking things on to look “pretty” trying to create something surreal without any real feeling / reason behind it.

I so put together a pinterest board (below) to see what I what liked and what I was trying to aim for, I was going to leave as that and just draw this and accept that other than adding textures, collage are not really my thing. However, I found I was actually very annoyed at myself as I promised I was going to be open-minded !

Could it be I just be I like the control and my own imagination over than being “random”.
It reminds me of something I keep saying to myself over and over “Don’t get to attached to an image in the early stages”!
OR that I really do not understand and have no “feelings” for what I’m creating.


From the pinterest board I one of the things I knew one was an huge issue itself was the background was just too dark, after a break from the piece and debating to start again, I wanted to see this though. So re-cutting the design, removing elements and adding new visual interest I think I was able to create something more along the lines of likable.

I also gave it a story around the theme “time”, the beauty of time passing, I could have pushed this more maybe, but I was happy at this stage.

I found a lovely little page online called 21 brilliant collage tips from top illustrators by digitalart online. This reassured me a lot, and this exercise wasn’t too bad it was just me trying to find my thing / footing and I didn’t quite “hate” creating collage after all!

I used Photoshop’s tools and filters to adjust saturation, colour balance, contrast and lightning to help finish the piece.

Valentina Brostean – DigitalArt online

I realized I also didn’t even think about edit the image digitally, it never crossed my mind to make the image work like this for me, seem indeed, I have a lot to learn!
It would also a method to have more “control” while being random!

With this in mind, I will be scanning in my magazine pictures and creating my background, land, world in the theme of “time”.
With the limitations of size, colour really lifted would I be able to combat this exercise fully and have something I could create a full illustration by the end.

OCA - visual distortion 001

Scanned and cleaned up digitally
Collage (portrait and character final)
I feel the inspiration for this character, some kind of character that can control time.

OCA - visual distortion 002

After scanning in pages upon pages of magazine images (which I have a resource folder for now) I added things together to create my world of “forgotten time”.

OCA - visual distortion 003

this is turning into “mistress of time” theme.

Digital sketch of my collage (left), I ended up doing this digitally, just purely due to having photoshop open and it give me the freedom to explore.

OCA - Visual distortion 005

Merging the two colleges together as a drawing….
I first had the character reaching out to to maybe ask the “reader” to join them in this world, but I felt the pose was stiff, she seems lost on the page when she really inspired my work direction.
This was a good tonal study and found it useful for the next stage to start this way.

OCA - Visual Distortion 007

The final
Digital inspired by the two collages I created.
I Moved the character to the foreground as she was lost in the image before and after creating the collage I felt this world of time has been designed around her so needed her as a main element.

I’m aware that I wasted time, but I feel I had to do this in order for this exercise to find purpose in my future work. I had to find how I can make this work for me and explore that. As I did like the idea I could create worlds / new characters in this method but I needed to be able “control” the size / colour. (not a lot, just a little)

This exercise started by creating a huge of a conflict withing myself, with both my desire for control and yet wanting to fully explore. I knew collages are not my “strong” point and to top it of I do not always value complete surrealism within my own work. Out of all the exercises that pushed me out of my comfort zone, none has done so like this. It was also a HUGE eye opener in terms of collage genre of illustrations, that most likely boiled down to I didn’t really understand.

I started this exercise with next to no interest in college and surrealism it creates, by the end of this exercise It has been interesting and wanting to explore it within my own work. I may have taken the long route via collage itself as an illustration before tackling the objectives of the exercise because I felt my own mindset was holding me back and that was something I needed to overcome.

In the end I created something I liked, and would have never created otherwise. I guess this technique would be very useful for creating worlds and characters that I cannot picture in my head.

Credits, research and references

One thought on “Visual distortion

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