A Real Life Brief
Although not strictly part of the course this is work I undertook in my job at the time of taking this course. It is interesting from the point of view that I left out so much of the procesess that are studied on this course which may have made the end product less than its full potential… but that can be how real life is – no time for the niceties.
The work was set during a short phone call in which the director verbally sketched a concept for the poster… it was something like Medea with an axe facing her child about to kill him. If you know Medea that will make perfect sense. When I saw this as he’d described it in my mind’s eye my mind’s immediately tracked around to behind the boy to look at Medea over his shoulder. There was no exploration of ideas on paper or through brainstorming – I just jumped to this idea in my head and said I’d send over a sketch.
This initial sketch I scanned into Photoshop and made more intelligible then sent it over for proof of concept.
He liked it so I set about working out exactly how this should be done. The director had mentioned one thing which was to make the figure of Medea more feminine.
These images served as moodboard and inspiration for the style of lighting.
I did a number o sketches to work out how Medea should stand, looking at figures posed similarly in images on the internet. I also tried out the poses myself – trying to work out what Medea’s reason for standing this way would be. For example, I held a heavy mic stand (standing in for an axe) and walked through a door pushing it open to observe what my body needed to do just to execute the move.
This is shown in the sketches… altering the angle of the hips and distribution of weight on the legs to reflect the weight of the axe and door. I also wanted to portray Medea as both as a ‘conventional’ woman and one who was about to do the unthinkable. This intent went into her stance – tension, juxtaposition (the normal looking figure but holding an axe), facelessness. The direction of her gaze is unmistakeable even though we can’t see her eyes.
Composition development began on paper until I decided that I could continue in Illustrator and transfer into Photoshop later when needed.
Drawing Medea’s body by referring to my sketches was very rewarding. I was able to incorporate the subtleties that I’d homed in on using pen and paper when working in Illustrator. The light spilling into the room through the door onto the floor seemed a natural progression and would lead me to add her shadow later.
The reason I suddenly turned the axe around so that the head was up was to show intent – the woman is about to wield it rather than just carrying it around. I looked at my sketches and stood and practiced holding an imaginary axe to work out how to express that feeling in the image. Her arm is more bent, emphasised by the highlights, in order again to show active rather than passive axe-holding.
This is the first complete image- Medea lit from behind from outside the door and the boy lit by the computer screen. Both outlined in light in a way seen in the ‘mood board’ pictures.
I tried out many different colour combinations in Illustrator which lead me to get rid of the green screen and use blue instead. By this point I’ve mad the axe stand out with some highlighting that probably wouldn’t work like this in real life. I’ve also added a partly open door at this stage to make more sense of her stance… she’s pushing the door open.
The director was very happy at this stage but suggested making the computer screen smaller – less TV-like and more computer monitor.
I played around with the size, position and even the presence of the screen in the picture but it seemed to upset the original premise that the boy was lit by it. Taking the screen away all together seemed to disconnect the boy from his mother. It is interesting that the screen is logically in-between the two like a divider but removing it makes the division. Perhaps it’s the 2D space that then does not overlap that makes this happen.
I finally decided to try making the boy lit only from the direction of the door. This unlocked the image for me as it instantly made a connection between Medea and her child. Even though there are no eyeballs visible there is an inference of eye-contact between the two.
The final image which then goes to a graphic designer for the text to be added. Finally the boy has normal hair… he had started to look old and fuzzy in the previous versions.
Although this is completed in Red, White, Blue and black there is a degree of simularity with the Black and White exercise – a strong emphasis was put on the dramatic impact of this image and it suited a graphic style. Although I did introduce a soft-edged highlight at one point it seemed to be at odds with the overall feel so the hard-edged graphic look won out.