Development: special techniques

I thoroughly enjoyed creating images using stencils during the special techniques session. I decided to experiment with more sea creatures. Creating this lobster design inspired from my Bristol aquarium visit, it was nice to create a more challenging stencil. Now I was more confident in making stencil, I am confident in adding curved lines and cut outs which were a lot closer together. Using the orange inspired colour from my colour palette, I painted over the stencil using gouache paints. I love the intriguing shapes I created in this stencil and I think it will look good when layered on top of other stencil designs.


I wanted to experiment with scale when creating stencils too. This was a lot more challenging than I first anticipated. Here I have created small squid inspired creatures to use when layering up.


As stencils gave me clean cut shapes most of the time, I wanted to experiment with a more unpredictable approach. To create more abstract and interesting shapes I have experimented with potato stamping. I do want to experiment using lino and mono printing at some point too, so this was a starting point. I am pleased with how these have turned out and it was a nice way to create layering which I am interested in. I think to refine this idea I need to consider mono printing more as clean cut lines is an important part throughout my hypothetical design commission brief.

As previously mentioned, clean cut illustrations are a big part of my brief, I have experimented previously creating these illustrations using pencil and black ink pen. I found this to be too flat looking for my liking. I did like the control but I was considering using something more interesting and unpredictable. I have experimented using a ruling pen. This is basically a paint brush that is used like a pen. It was very unpredictable at the start. It was hard to control the thickness of lines and drops of paint falling everywhere, but after practise I thought this tool was amazing. I loved the different thicknesses that could be created and the fluidity of the drawing was really good. This flowing feel to the illustration also emphasises my water theme very well.


In my previous special techniques blog, I experimented with adding illustrations on top of my stencils using black ink pen, as previously mentioned this looking flat to, I decided to experiment with the ruling pen on top of my stencils to create the lines illustrations. I loved this effect and I think the lines created with the ruling pen as edge and live to the piece. I am going to practise further with a ruling pen to gain more control when using it so I can create my intricate designs.



Illustrative Drawing.

Illustrative drawing is a big influence and aspect of my designs. Here I created several illustrative drawings using pencil and a black fine liner. These are all influence from my visit to Bristol aquarium.  I am pleased with the outcome of these, as it was a great practise experimenting with my line work. I have created illustrative patterns throughout the bodies of these creature. These are not realistic patterns. I feel this made-up line work suites the areas well and adds an interesting aspect to the design. Instead of the expected patterns you might find amongst these fish, I have created a contemporary alternative. I think this would help capture attention for longer as they line work is first what you expect to see.

I am very pleased with these drawing, although they do look a bit flat. I think they have been a great building block towards my designs but to move forward I want to add aspect of colour and shading to define the creatures further.  I also want to experiment with different medias in creating these illustrative pieces to add new elements and depths/widths to the line work.

Image Transfer Workshop.

Recently, I attended a workshop based all around the idea of image transfer, this workshop was based in the Art and Design Maker studio. I had never even ventured to the above floor until today so it was interesting seeing other work spaces and studios. It was exciting having the opportunity to work in a brand-new space to me.

The first thing on today’s agenda was experimenting with collaging. The first step was so cover a clear plastic sheet (any plastic can be use e.g. plastic bag/polly-pockets) with clear thin tissue paper and Marvin medium glue. This created a base layer to collage on top of. The more layers of tissue paper you place now, is the opaquer your background will be.  I decided to only do one layer as I didn’t want the background taking attention away from the colours and images I would be using to build up my collage.


I used colours inspired from my colour board. I couldn’t use the exact colours and I was only given a small array of various papers to use. Using various shades of blue and silver, I began layering up a sea inspired theme. I tore up various length and arranged them in the shape of waves. I also decided to add various threads and wool. I thought this would add more depth and texture to my design. I decided not to add images this collage as I wanted to experiment with colour. This has helped inspire me when it comes to my colour board; seeing how various blues layer up and complement each other. For my second one I decided to add images that first inspired me from Pinterest and sea life websites. This was also helpful I got to compares the colours I was layering with the colours that ran through the sea creatures. These collages take two days to dry so I do not have a finished picture to post but I will once they dry. Once dry I can use this collage as a fabric, so stitch into or cut up as I please.


Next we moved onto transferring images onto blocks of wood. We were given a premade block that already had an image glued to it using Marvin medium glue, this was left to set for two days before hand. I painted the paper on the block in water then slowly and gently started rubbing away the paper and revealed the image. This works as the toners from the ink when the image is printed out attaches to the glue and the paper is removed leaving the image behind. I then had to varnish the image onto the wood to transfer the image permanently. This is a great technique to have learned and I can think of many ways to use this in and out of university. I like the vintage look the image has where I had rubbed away the paper to aggressively.


Lastly we moved on to the most exciting technique of the day. We had images that had been printed out onto lazar-tan paper using a lazar jet printer. Firstly, we soaked our cut out images in a tub of water for at least 30 seconds, this lead to the image rolling up completely. After unravelling this, the image printed onto the paper completely slid off the paper, and onto the wooden block. This was the most satisfying feeling in the World. This also needs to be set with varnish to become permanent. This technique was a lot slicker than the previous method and the entire image was transferred in one.


I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop and I learned a lot about image transfer. I have received my own sheet of lazar-tan paper to experiment on my own. I am going to experiment further using images in relation to my subject work and consider even more ways of image transfer.

Bristol Aquarium Visit.

Today I visited Bristol Aquarium for some inspiration around my theme and some primary resources for me to complete some new drawings and mark making. There was a ban on flash photography throughout the aquarium which was a bit of a pain for me as I then had to use my phone instead of my camera to take photos as my camera had a problem with focussing in the dim light with the fish quickly swimming around. My phone captured the pictures a lot more quickly than my camera, although I am still disappointed with how low the resolution came out when I transferred them onto my laptop. I am very glad to have some photos to work with currently and I need to get my thinking cap on to consider other ways of capturing some better imagery. As you can imagine, with a theme of ‘sea creatures’ it is quite difficult to gather some primary resources so I thought an aquarium was my best bet. On a very positive note, this visit inspired me greatly as I got to see the motion of the creatures as they glided around the water. It was fascinating to see these creatures in moving life rather than just on a computer screen. It has given me great ideas in relation to mark making and what special designer techniques I can try out or develop further with.

These two images are my favourite images of my whole visit. These jellyfish were magnificent to look at in moving life, the way their body swayed around as they bobbed around the water. I want to consider a way of really capturing this movement in my designs. Possible to use of a wet on wet technique (watercolours) to create an atmosphere of water moving around the jellyfish make work well.

These are some of the photographs that inspired me throughout my visit, I want to experiment with mark making and drawing involving these images. I could use a variety of techniques to create these experiments such as; stencils, splattering/stippling techniques, bleach effect, use of a ruling pen, sketching and illustrative drawings. I have also purchased a lino cutting tool and some lino to experiment with. I have got some vague experience with this but I think it will suit my theme and my idea for designs very well.

Here are some more of the photographs that I captured throughout my visit:

Colour Theory Session.

“If you, unknowingly, are able to create masterpieces in colour then un-knowledge is your way. But if you are unable to create masterpieces in colour out of your un-knowledge, then you ought to look for knowledge.” Johannes Itten (1888-1967)

Today was our next practical lesson held by Helen, all based around the theory of colour. I have not learned much on colour theory previously so this was as very useful lecture for me. I learned a lot and the various techniques that were shown (which I will be expressing to you in this blog) gave me a lot to think about when it comes to my own colour board I have created for my company design collection. Three very important aspects of colour theory that I learned today were; hue, tone and chromo. Hue being the quality which distinguishes one colour from another (red from orange), Tone being the quality of the brightness (light or dark) and chromo being the quality of the saturation (spectral hues are of maximum).

Creating various ‘squares’ of each colour roughly of big sheets of cartridge paper gave me a lot of free space to experiment with each colour technique as I built up a body of colour samples. I could then cut out neat samples from each technique and create a reference page that I can refer to throughout my course and career whenever I need some inspiration in the colour department.

  • The colour wheel– yellow is the lightest of all colours, on the other hand violet is the darkest. Looking at a constructed colour wheel, I can see that yellow can ‘travel’ to violet either via red (warm colours) or via blue (cool colours).
  • The colour wheel is made of three various type of colour; primaries, secondaries and tertiaries. The three primary colours being; red, yellow and blue. While the three secondary colours being; orange, green and violet. Each secondary colour is created by mixing together two equal amounts of two primary colours. There are six tertiary colours that fall between all the primary and secondary colours these being; yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green and yellow-green. These are all made by mixing together a primary colour with its nearest secondary colour of each side.


  • Complementary colours– are found directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. I have also created a mixture band combining blue and orange together to create ‘in-between’ colours.


  • Grey scale- is commonly perceived to be just from black to white, but there is a lot more to it. Coloured grey scales exist by mixing all three primary colours and adding a tint. A variety of coloured grey scales can be made by adding more of one primary colour to another (1 x red, 1 x yellow and 2 x blue).
  • Tints and Shades- a tint is the addition of white to any hue. Opposite to this, a shade is the addition to black or grey to any hue.


  • Harmonies- a simple harmony is created when I place any colour next to its neighbour colour in a scheme for example I used blue supported by blue-violet and blue-green.
  • Tinted harmonies are created when groups of harmonious colours have had white added to them.
  • Shaded harmonies are created when black or grey are added to them instead of white.


  • Contrasting colours– are colours which when placed side by side ‘intensify’ each other (red next to yellow will appear more of a rosy red while the yellow will look a lot brighter than on its own).


  • Discord colours- occur when the ‘natural order’ of the colour wheel is reverse (in the natural order red is lighter than violet, but if the violet is lightened by the addition of white to become a pale violet it we be discordant with the red)


  • Cold and warm colours- the coldest colour in the colour while is blue-green, while the hottest colour in the colour circle is red-orange. To make cold colours warmer, add reds. To make hot colours cooler, add blues.


I’m am very unpleased with how the colours has transferred onto my laptop via pictures. To do these colour techniques justice, they really do need to be seen in real life as the lighting in the pictures as well as transferring them onto my laptop has adjusting the real colour and it does lose it’s wow factor.

After completing these tasks, I am feeling a lot more confident when it comes to colour. I have decided that I am going to revisit my colour board and improved it using my new-found knowledge. I want to complete a complementary band between my contrasting colours that I have already chosen to see if I can find some new and exciting colours and shades that I have previously not considered using. Furthermore, I am looking forward to experimenting further is discord colour which I think will fit my theme of menswear perfectly. As I have not come across discord previously in my studies, I am very excited to dive into this aspect of colour theory and see what exciting new colours I can discover and add to my colour board to lease new life into my project.


Digital Stitch Session 2.

Today was my second session in the digital stitch room. After missing last week because I was unwell, I was raring to go this morning. Finally, my time had come to get my hands on the digital stitch machine. Firstly, before designing my stitch design, I decided to get to know the machine I was using. After sussing out the various digitised parts, it was a relief to discover that in fact this machine was very like a standard sewing machine I have used previously.

I chose to recreated this stencil drawing that I had created the previous week in my specialised techniques lesson with Helen. I chose this drawing as I thought it would be a simple starting point for me as I had never created my own design on the digital stitch software before. I could use a simple parallel weave fill for the larger parts of the turtle’s body contrasting with a satin fill for the smaller scales on the face and eyes.


As my drawing was created using watercolours in a stippling technique, to mimic this using stitch, I decided to remove the underlay stitch and spread the stitches further away from each other to create this looser, more free looking stitch. I was in a daze watching the machine work its magic. It was a surprise to me how simple the software and machine was to use. I felt silly for being so apprehensive before using it now. The machine worked very quickly and estimated my designed to be completed in only 12 minutes

The only thing that needed to be done manually was changing the colour of the thread. The machine automatically stopped and alerted me when this needed to be done. As it was my first digital stitch design, I was advised to stick to two colours so I wouldn’t get confused, which was probably for the best as this was all brand new to me. I chose to use this soft blue tone as I thought it represented my theme and colours boards very well. Contrasting with this, I chose to use a black to complete the turtle’s eyes. I felt the need to use a different colour for the eyes as it pulled the whole design together and made the turtle stencil come alive. After the design is complete


This is my final design; I am very pleased with the outcome. After a very successful first attempt, I have gained confidence using this software and I am excited to experiment further. Throughout my next session, I want to create a more intricate design using a lot more various stitches and techniques. After more practise I hope to create a collection of sew on/iron on embroidery badges for my menswear collection I will eventually be designing.


Special Techniques for Designers Session.

Today was our first really creative day back in subject, where I could get stuck in and get my hands dirty. I was thrilled. Beginning the day with a lecture from Helen, I was excited and inspired as she presented previous mark making techniques we had done (stippling, splattering and sponge techniques) as well as some new and intriguing ones (woven, warp effect and embroidery effect). It was nice to see images of all of these techniques completed at a higher level.

It was now time to experiment! We were advised to choose 8 of the 12 various techniques Helen had presented to work with, these had to represent and relate to our themes- as I have previously stated in other blogs my chosen theme is sea creatures, as well as our relating colour palette (blues, orange and black). We were also advised to keep them small and concise so we could compare and flip through these pieces easily for inspiration.

Here is a quick list of the 12 techniques we were presented, the 8 I have chosen to progress with are in bold:

  1. resist techniques (bleaching)
  2. shading separate but related colours
  3. dilution of colour
  4. white areas left as highlight
  5. stippling & splattering technique, also with stencils
  6. sponge technique, also with stencils
  7. woven and warp effect
  8. embroidery effect (use of ruling pen)
  9. dry brush techniques
  10. textures and mark off
  11. photocopy/overlay & intercut
  12. batik technique

Even though we were supposed to pick 8, I am sure of myself that once I start experimenting, I will run free and combined and practise a lot more than just 8.

I began with just rough experiments, to get me back into the zone as I haven’t had a chance to complete any mark making in a while which is a real shame. Getting to know the various brushes again (liners, stippling brush, fan brush) I painted away using blue watercolours. I chose to use blue initially as it is a big part of my colour palette and I wanted to regain a feeling of the colour and it dilutes and moves around the page. This page got me back in the zone.


Here are some examples of me experimenting with the use of shading separate but related colours and the dilution of colours. It’s been interesting comparing various ways of shading using blue and the different effects the use of water has with shading contrasting using block shades of blue. I think the shading separate but related colour suits my theme and chosen company very well, especially with the added black outline. As it adds another dimension to my initial idea of clean cut illustrations. The black lines emphasise that the shading are separate blocks and it add a very unified feel which suits my chosen companies style very well. Progressing with this idea, I want to add this shading separate but related colours to more complex and interesting illustrations.

Progressing with experimenting, I decided to create a stencil that was related to my theme but still quite simple, as I do need to practise my stencil cutting using a knife and creating the stencil pattern. After a couple of attempts, I am very pleased with my turtle’s head stencil and it suits my theme very well.

Here I decided to use the reverse side of my template and reorganise the cut out shapes and use the stippling effect around them to create a form of an illustrative drawing which would be a perfect experiment for my theme and chosen company. This was very difficult as all of the small pieces moved around the page as I stippled up and down, I need to rethink this idea and use some sort of sticking agent to hold the pieces in place which won’t permanently stick down the pieces or removed the paper when pulled off. I have kept all of the cut outs, so I will revisit this idea after learning from my mistakes with more ideas and skills.


Here I used blue watercolours with a flat edged brush and painted over the stencil, I like this piece, although it’s a bit boring and 2 dimensional. I drew around all the areas with a black fine liner neatly which add another edge to it and makes it more interesting and eye catching and relates it to my idea of illustrative drawing. I do think I need to find a more interesting technique to fill in the stencil.


Wanting to find a more interesting way of filling my template, I decided to try the stippling effect. I love the stippling effect over my turtle stencil. It adds this great sense of texture through the colours, while still being in a uniformed controlled shape. Using the dry brush technique also created a variety of texture. I want my designs to be very controlled and clean so the stencil is a fantastic way of doing this. On the other hand, I found filling it with flat colour quite boring, so this technique is perfect. I have even taken it one step further by adding some illustrative images and lines throughout the stencil. I love the combination of these two techniques with the illustrations throughout it, I will be progressing with this idea.



The last technique I experimented with was over lay and intercut. This was a new technique to me and, I found it very fascinating how you can’t even see the seam between the two separate pieces of paper. This was just a basic experiment so I could get to know the technique. I think I could create some interesting design with this idea but adding experimental designs into my clean-cut illustrations.


So, what’s next? Following on from this session, I am very inspired and feeling very creative and experimental. I can’t wait to delve further into these techniques and push my experiments to the limit. I will progress by; experimenting with the techniques I didn’t have a chance to do today, progressing my ideas and thoughts further with my existing techniques and experiments, and creating more experimental techniques to represent my theme of the sea. I will make two primary visits throughout the next week. One to the beach back home when I visit my family, hopefully I will gather a great collection of images representing the movement of the water and the textures and colours that run through it. My other visit to Bristol aquarium to get inspired by all in the interesting sea creatures I can discover.