Friday, 15 February 2013

Exercise: the history of illustration

Exercise: The history of illustration

On reading through the list of illustrators, one in particular jumped out at me - E. H. Shepard. I knew the name, but couldn’t quite place it. After a quick internet search, I was reminded. Pooh. I had a Winnie the Pooh book growing up and read it constantly. I loved the illustrations. The way they almost looked like people, their movement and features. It was E. H. Shepard that did the illustrations.

I also read Roald Dahl when I was a child and remember how Quentin Blake’s illustrations were fascinating for a completely different reason.

I will focus on E.H. Shepard first and get a bit of background information.

Born in London in 1879, Shepard showed promise in his drawings at St Paul’s School and enrolled at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art in Chelsea, before winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools.

By 1906, Shepard had become a successful illustrator. He illustrated special editions of Aesop’s Fables, David Copperfield and Tom Brown’s Schooldays. He also illustrated for Punch.

In 1915, Shepard made good use of his illustration skills working for the Intelligence Department in the Royal Artillery by sketching the combat area from his position. He also sent jokes about the battle to Punch during his time in the war. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in 1918 for his services in the First World War.

In 1921 he was hired as a regular cartoonist for Punch, and became lead cartoonist until Malcolm Muggerage removed him after becoming the new editor.

After being recommended to Milne, he illustrated his book of poems, When We Were Very Young. Milne was very pleased and insisted Shepard illustrate Winnie the Pooh. After realising Shepard played a part in the book’s success, he arranged for Shepard to receive a share of the royalties and inscribed a copy of Winnie the Pooh with a personal verse:

When I am gone,
Let Shepard decorate my tomb,
And put (if there is room)
Two pictures on the stone:
Piglet from page a hundred and eleven,
And Pooh and Piglet walking (157)…
And Peter, thinking that they are my own,
Will welcome me to Heaven

(From Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, Shepard began to think that his work for Winnie the Pooh overshadowed his other work. However, his Pooh illustrations were so famous, that 300 of his sketches were exhibited at the Victoria and Albert museum in 1969. These have also been exhibited all around Britain, Australia and Holland.

Pooh bear had a personal trait in that he was modelled on a bear owned by Shepard’s own son, rather than a toy owned by Christopher Robin.

There only seems to be one oil painting of Pooh bear in the world. It was bought at auction in London for $285,000. It is displayed at the Pavilion Gallery in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg, Manatoba, Canada.

Shepard illustrated for many other authors, including Kenneth Grahame. Shepard was the fourth illustrator to draw the characters in Wind in the Willows and the only one who captured the essence of the animals.

Shepard’s two children also became illustrators.





Yahoo images

These illustrations are drawn using lots of lines in an almost ‘rough’ manner and give some depth to the drawings. This works well and had they been drawn more ’carefully’ this element would be missing. These are not coloured illustrations so the use of more lines to add shading and definition is included. I notice Shepard uses lots of lines that tend to run parallel with each other Rather than cross hatch or other types of line. These seem to help show direction and movement as well as add to the character.

Looking at some coloured versions of Pooh, I notice these lines are still there in addition to colour. I also notice that colour doesn’t ‘take over’ the image. It’s there, but in a subtle way. It adds to the illustration rather than being there for a main purpose. The illustrations work well in both colour and without colour and I think this is very important. They do not rely on colour to show the meaning or essence of a character.

Looking at more work from Shepard.

Again, the use of lines is evident and seems to be a part of Shepard’s style. Here is another illustration by Shepard from the book: The Cuckoo Clock.

I think some of Shepard’s most famous works show a British influence in the style of the clothes as well as showing the character’s personality.

In the Wind and the Willows, Mr Toads clothes are particularly interesting in that they look like the style of dress at that time in history. The checked jacket, the tie… it reminds me of some of the old Sherlock Holmes. A similar style of dress.

Another thing that strikes me is that he makes the animals look almost real. They have the same look, features and proportions of the animal but also have a humanistic side to them. Very clever.

Mr Toad’s clothes fit in extremely well with the way his character’s personality is portrayed in the illustrations. You can see exactly what his attitude would be and I think this is something Shepard was extremely talented in - showing the characterisation of a character. He brought them to life.

I wonder if he portrayed a part of his own life in his work. At that point in time, the fashion and style would have been similar, however I think he maybe went back a bit further than that, maybe to the style of when he was a boy himself. Perhaps he has purposely used a stereotypical British idea in his work. Checked (possibly Tweed?) suits, ties, pocket watches and cigars.

Alex Trochut

I came across Trochut by accident. But I’m glad I did. I like the interesting way type is used in his illustrations. These illustrations are created in a more controlled and careful way. I imagine most of his designs are digital.

Trochut is a new addition to the illustration world. Born in Barcelona in 1981, Trochut studied at Elisava and began working as a freelance illustrator in 2007.

Trochut has an amazing client list including Adidas, British Airways, MTV and The Guardian. He has held exhibitions all over the world and has already won many awards.

Trochut’s work is very modern and digitalised. His illustrations are colourful, his lines are solid and controlled. Some of his illustrations are bordering on abstract and show his unique style. The way he uses type to create some of his illustrations is also very controlled. His designs are clearly the subject of a lot of hard work and planning. Each part has been created to perfection.

I particularly like this one. They all work separately but also come together as part of a larger design. Colour is also used very well.


Yahoo images.


I think there is a huge difference in these two illustrators. Shepard’s style is more loose and relaxed while Trochut has a more controlled and organised style.

Shepard looks to have done drawings in pen and pencil on a white background. Some of these are in colour, maybe watercolour. There is not a big difference between the two, it looks like colour has been added in addition to the drawing. These have a historic look to them as well as a cultural feel. Perhaps it is because there is a lot more finer detail in Shepard’s illustrations.

Trochut’s designs look to be done on a computer, maybe using Illustrator. It looks well organised and thought out. Planned. The colour in his illustrations need to be there, rather than in addition to. His designs perhaps would not work as well if the colour was removed, whereas Shepard’s works either way. His designs are more modern and I can’t see any relation to culture or history. Anyone from any part of the world could have designed these. While they are brilliant in their own way, they don’t have the same ‘feel’ about them as Shepard’s do. They don’t have that extra characterisation. They do however, convey a message and a meaning.

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