Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Quick Update!

I've had my first week back as a third year! SCARY! So, I thought I would just do quick update on what I'm currently working on.

As this is our third and final year, we now have to choose what we want to do for each semester. To start us off, the tutors gave us 6 competition briefs to choose from, and if we want to, we can just work on all of these throughout the duration of semester 1. The competition I chose was the Penguin Design Awards 2013, doing the children's brief. This competition is to design a book jacket for the story 'The Wind in the Willows'. Well, I have a idea of what I want to do for it, so I have been designing characters etc. Just thought I would post some pics of what I've come up with so far:

Above: Ratty

Above: Mole

Above: Mr Toad

I'll post the final piece/final rough for this competition at a later date, when it is completed.

© Laura Stokes Illustration 2012

Thursday, 2 August 2012

I would really like your help (please!)...

 So, I've posted before, that I'm currently trying to write the first draft of my dissertation. I'll give a but of background on what I'm doing for this, and then tell you why I need your help. The title of my dissertation is 'Does Simple Work? How simple can you illustrate a character while still keeping their personality and traits in tact?' So basically, I'm looking at exactly what the title says. I am really not the best figurative drawer out there, so I really struggle when drawing people in my work, so after talking with my tutor, she suggested this idea, which I think is a really good topic to look at, as not only is it interesting, it will also (hopefully) help my work, now that I'm going into my FINAL YEAR!!

What I would really like your help with is your opinions on some questions. Soooo, I've put together a questionnaire made up of 10 questions, the majority of which are open questions. So, if you have 10 minutes spare, please help me by answering this questionnaire here. If you have any questions or queries, or would just like to contact me, the email address for this is:

And, thank you!

Link to questionnaire:

**This questionnaire is purely for education purposes, all contact details will be kept private, and answers and names may/will only be used in my written dissertation. Contact details are only asked as a way of contacting if there is a issue with the questionnaire, or to get some more information if participant is willing.

Saturday, 7 July 2012


HI! Sorry it's been so long since the last post. I thought I would do just a quick post to get back in the swing of things explaining what I've been doing since the last post.
If you read some of my previous posts, you will know that I was currently in the middle of end of year assessments at uni. Well, they have now been and gone (thank God!), and after a few stressful weeks, I can now say I passed sceond year! Meaning I can proceed onto third (and FINAL!) year. Bad thing about passing, I now have to write a 5,000 word dissertation, which our tutors want a first draft of when we start back.

I am also currently in the middle of designing a website for my dad's roofing business. Now, I am no techology expert etc, but I am trying my best, and it seems to be coming along quite well. So, when it is up and running, I will post a link for you to see (hopefully it works in the end). I have also been doing research etc for my dissertation. My topic is 'Does Simple Work? - How simple can you illustrate a character while still keeping their personality in tact?' So I have been having fun trying to write that up, though it is nowhere near finished. And of course, I have just been enjoying my time off! So, sorry again that it's been so long, and hopefully I won't let it get that long again!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

What makes a Princess, Grandma? (Finished roughs)

So, after several attempts, I can now finally show you my finished roughs for my story for the Macmillan Prize brief. It seems to have taken forever to get to this stage. I am now looking forward to adding colour and media to them, and seeing them come to life.

Pages 1 and 2

Pages 3 and 4

Pages 5 and 6

Pages 7 and 8

Pages 9 and 10

Pages 11 and 12

Pages 13 and 14

Pages 15 and 16

Pages 17 and 18

Pages 19 and 20

Pages 21 and 22

Pages 23 and 24

© Laura Stokes (2012)

I am finally at a place where I am reasonably pleased with these, and just can't wait to get some into Illustrator now and start adding textures.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

So sorry...

My gosh! It's been a while since I last posted here. I'll take this time to apologise.

Just a quick catch up on what I'm doing at the minute...
Well, I turned 20!! No longer a teenager, and boy does it feel weird to think and say 'I'm 20'.
Anyway, we've only got TWO weeks left (including this week) until everything has to be in ready for assessments. SO, at the minute, I'm still working on the Macmillan Prize brief. Just trying to get all my roughs etc finalised now, so I can go into final media. It's a bit stressful at the minute, so in advance, please forgive me, if I forget to post on here for a few weeks, but I should be posting final pieces for Macmillan in the next few weeks, so you can all see what I've been working on.

Friday, 30 March 2012

What Makes a Princess, Grandma?

Our next brief is for the Macmillan Prize 2012. You have to come up with your own story, or collaborate with a writer, or use a traditional story (i.e. a fairy tale). Well, I'm not the best at writing stories, so I was concentrating on a fairy tale, first looking at a French fairy tale called Starlight, but I wasn't feeling very inspired by this after researching it some more; I then started to look at Cinderella, the other name known for this tale is 'The Little Glass Slipper', so I was trying to re-work the tale from the glass slippers point of view, but this proved more difficult than I thought, and then I started working the tale from the Fairy Godmother's point of view, but again, I wasn't feeling very inspired. I was looking through the Yellow Book of Fairy Tales, and saw one called 'How to Tell a True Princess,' which is The Princess and the Pea. Well, then I had the idea of a little girl, who's favourite story was HTTATP, and was asking what makes a true Princess, and lists off things in her imagination. Anyway, I have finally got it okayed, and can now start illustrating the tale.

A Day in the Lakes with Beatrix Potter

So, on Sunday I went to the Lake District for the day. You may have read in a previous post from last year, about my weekend in the Lakes, and that the Beatrix Potter Gallery was closed when we went to visit it. Well, this it has since re-opened, and so this is what we went to see.

The exhibition for this year is 'The Tale of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit."' This is from the website: 'To help celebrate Peter Rabbit's 110th birthday, our Gallery exhibition for 2012, is a fascinating look at how Peter Rabbit came about. Using a range of items from our Beatrix Potter Collection, seen together for the very first time, you can learn how Beatrix Potter brought Peter Rabbit to life and see the original art work used for the book's first privately-printed run.'

I saw these in real life!

Well, I actually saw the original black and white illustrations from Beatrix's very first published work. You could still see the pen marks, and scratches from the nip on the illustration. There also a few colour illustrations celebrating 100 years of Mr. Todd. These were so amazing to look at, you could see the brush strokes, and where she placed the watercolour paint. As amazing as the Peter Rabbit illustrations were, you hadn't seen anything until you saw the colour illustrations. They were truly inspiring and completely magical. The only downfall was you weren't allowed to take photographs, so I couldn't capture the magic. I would recommend anyone who had the opportunity to go visit the gallery; the gallery is even housed in Beatrix's husband, William Heelis' old office!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Hayfever time... part 2!

So, you may remember, I posted some hayfever packaging designs in a previous post. Well, I received some feedback on this, and so improved it, but have only got round to posting it on here now. Anyway, feedback was, the girl seemed a little obvious, and needed some more personality, the colours should be fun, and the dandelion seeds need to be made more of. Well, here is my (hopefully) improved design for the main medicine packaging and the bottle label:

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Callling all French readers!

Lately I've noticed that my blog has attracted various readers from countries outside of the UK. I don't know if you just come across it, or whether you follow my entries, but I could really use some of your help please!

We were given a new brief for the Macmillan Prize 2012, which is to illustrate either an original story, or a traditional story, e.g. a fairy tale. After some researching, I have found a fairy tale that I am interested in illustrating, but I'm really struggling to find some information on it. The fairy tale is a French tale, called 'Starlight'. I only came across it on Wikipedia, but I really like the storyline, and think that it would make a great visual story. So, if any of you have any information on this fairy tale, and any books that have it in, it would be very much appreciated! Thank you!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Creepy Crawlies everywhere!

So, after the Caldecott brief, we were given another brief with a list of creepy crawlies facts. We had to choose 3, and illustrate each statement, and then place them in a grid, with the right typeface and spacing. Well, today we had a a group crit on our final pieces. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it went really well! My tutor was really happy with it, she said the concepts were really lovely, the halftones and shapes were really nice, the text grid was good, and the same with the typeface, weight and spacing. The only thing I needed to tweak was the text on the ant and rocket, as they were too close together. I have done that now, and here is the final piece:

I'm so incredibly happy that they liked it! Hopefully you do too! Drop me a comment, and let me know. Thanks.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Oh, hello again!

Sorry it's been a while. We've had our Creative Futures week this week, so it's been pretty much a full on week. I can tell you this though, I have never been so tired! (That's what 3 days a week does to you!) Most of the speaker's provided valuable insight into the industry, and gave us lots of advice on how to break into it. Some memorable lecture were from illustrator/animator Karen Cheung, Andy Cheetham from Cheethambell JWT, and Jonathan Edwards who did a smashing talk on Character Design.

We have been given a new brief (one of many, at the minute) to do a blog on Creative Futures week, and the sessions we attended, critically evaluating how the information we received can and will help our work in the future, along with research etc. Anyway, this will be going up soon in the next day or two. (I still haven't decided whether to set up a new blog, or add it on to my Contextualising Design blog.) Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Caldecott = Done!

So, as I previously posted, we were having a group critique on our final pieces for the Caldecott Competition brief. Well, it went quite well, actually. The tutors liked my piece! Which is such a relief right now. Just had to tweak a few things, colour wise, but here is my final piece:

This is the Cat,
That killed the Rat,
That ate the Malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.

I know this style is quite different to how I have worked in previous pieces, but this is how I would like to work in the future, i.e. a collage effect, with patterns and textures.

Well, now we've got this one out of the way, we have been given THREE new briefs! One of these is about our dissertation for next year; to come up with a proposal for the final piece. Got to get my thinking cap on!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Caldecott rough

So, I have previously mentioned that we have been given a brief to illustrate a text that has been illustrated by Randolph Caldecott. I chose 'The House that Jack Built,' and chose the verse: "This is the Cat, That killed the Rat, That ate the Malt, That lay in the house that Jack built." After designing a initial idea, and having a group crit on it, I was advised to concentrate more on the narrative. During another feedback, I was told that some of my images/designs can seem quite naive and too simple. If I am to carry on working in a simple style, then I need something that will make me more quirky and original. From this feedback, I went away and designed another rough for the rhyme, and it was (finally) okayed. So, here it is...

This is the Cat, 
That killed the Rat,
That ate the Malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.

I know it still looks quite simple, but I plan to change this, when I add media/colour. I am planning to use a collage effect, making the most out of pattern etc.

Final piece coming soon...

Monday, 30 January 2012

Hayfever time

Final-ish pieces for the Hayfever brief; had to design packaging for a children's hayfever medicine. Should get some feedback on it a week tomorrow, when we're back after assessments.

Above: Packaging for children's hayfever medicine

Above: Label for bottle of medicine

Friday, 27 January 2012

A Day with Caldecott...

As I have mentioned in a previous post, there is a Randolph Caldecott Gallery at my local Heritage Centre. Well, today I finally visited it. They didn't have as much as I remembered, but still, it was good to look at Caldecott's work in a gallery setting. Got a postcard and print of two pieces of his work, and a leaflet about him.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Reliving my childhood...

Now, I didn't know that I wanted to be a children's illustrator until I was choosing universities and courses. But, now, I am surprised at how things keep popping up that should have made me realise a long time ago. For instance, now that we in the midst of assessments, we have been given two briefs to complete while we don't have any contact time with the tutors. One of these briefs are based on the Caldecott Medal competition. When I was a child, we always used to go to the Heritage Centre in the town, and there they had various displays, and even a mini-gallery on the work of Randolph Caldecott (he spent quite a bit of time working in Whitchurch, and used some of the buildings in his work). It never clicked until I was researching Caldecott's work on the internet, and I came across the picture below, which is my most memorable piece, and I realised that this was a massive part of my childhood, and seeing his work has taken me right back to when I was younger, when I spend hours playing around with the various games/attractions on display, and reading about Randolph Caldecott and Sir Edward German. The good thing about it is, the Heritage Centre is still up and running today, and I think, the Caldecott gallery is still there, so I will be able to get some very good first-hand reference for this brief. I know what I'll be doing either this weekend or next week.

1 Conservatory + 1 Desk + 1 Fancy Chair = NEW WORK SPACE!

Recently brought this great workstation from IKEA, and, after a week, it is finely ready for use.

 Let many a illustration take place here!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

This will get a giggle...

While looking for artists on the internet, I came across this piece by a children's illustrator called Julia Woolf. I had to laugh at it.

A Christmas Story - final pieces

So, I previously posted the four images I designed for the Christmas Story brief, however, since then, we have had the group critique, and I have received feedback on these pieces. Now, I wasn't happy with these pieces anyway, and I knew they weren't as strong as the Pinocchio brief, so appreciated the constructive criticism given to me on Thursday. Anyway, I tried to take everything on board, and these are the improved versions (well, hopefully improved!)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Well, Happy 2012!

So, it's 2012! Hope it's started with a bang for everyone.
As previously mentioned, I am currently working on the Christmas Story brief. Anyway, the deadline is tomorrow! These are the pieces I have created, which I will receive feedback on in our group crit in tomorrow's session.

We will have the group crit tomorrow, where I will find out if there is anything that needs improving on it, and then it will be ready for assessments! And yes, these assessments actually mean something! The marks from these go towards our final mark at the end of the year, which in turn goes toward 30% of our final year mark. So, no pressure!