When first creating my initial sketch, there were only two things I mainly focused on. The first thing was research on the lettering in the Book of Kells. I looked at not only how the book structured their letters, but also how they built and contained them. I paid close attention to how they developed and integrated complex ideas and compositions while still keeping a good contrast with the letter itself still being legible. I also looked at how they used values and space within their own pieces and tried to apply these ideas to my concepts. The other thing I focused on was strictly my open creativity. I believe that the best way to start a piece is to let you mind flow to create imaginative designs with limited boundaries. I tried to think up ideas that represented me the abstracted them. After that I worked on letter layout, deciding on whether or not I would use my full name, initials or a nickname. Once I had these layouts in place, I found ways to integrate some of these abstract ideas along with other building blocks in my life. The one major idea I picked up was how in the Book of Kells, while everything is together, they are all separated by boxes and solid lines. After looking at not only my design, but the designs and line weights in the Book of Kells, I decided how I wanted to vary my line weight within this piece. From there I moved on to inking using a mixture of sharpies and fine tip pens to create a lineart. I eventually made some minor adjustments to the linework after discussing with some fellow students and getting their opinions. They recommend creating a way to enclose my work further and so I made a border with some icons that represent my frustrations. After that I decided that the best way to fill the remaining shapes would be to use things that represent me within the “J” and things that represent my family in the “G” of my initials.
Once I created my final linework with these adjustments, I began to put more consideration into how the Book of Kells worked with color, values, texture, space and contrast. The texture in the book came from the both the paper and the paint so following this, I water colored the outlines and thicker lines to try and keep up with the textured color feel of the originals in the Book of Kells. Following this I moved my image onto the computer and into photoshop. Moving forward and looking at contrast, I went in a different way than how the Book of Kells presents their letters. In the Book of Kells there is minimal contrast, and they used a lot of warm colors like yellow and reds. However for my project I took some liberties with my color palette in comparison as I feel like I live a very colorful life. This difference is most noticeable within my textured watercolor and my digital coloring as I use a wide range of values and colors. Finally, to finish my project I observed how the Book of Kells handles their space. For the most part their whole work is very busy and most of the space is filled. To counteract that I used textures from real life to help give the remaining space some movement and life opposed to the flatness they previously held, while still trying to keep the balance of the piece. After all of my editing, I printed the final as an 11 by 14 print on Matte paper.
Overall this project has helped me learn more about drawing inspiration from other sources while keeping the work my own. While this piece is heavily influenced by the Book of Kells, it is not something for the Book of Kells, it is something for me. Hence, while it shares similarities, it still holds it own as an independent piece. The project also was the first time I used multiple mediums on this scale, so working like this was definitely a rewarding experience. A lot of trial and error went into this piece during the process and with that came a lot of knowledge. It was also one of the first major projects I have ever completed using photoshop. While I have a basic understanding of the program, there is a very large amount about it that I am unfamiliar with or am unknowledgeable about. Overall the experience gained from working in it will will definitely transfer over to future projects and other classes. I hope I continue to learn valuable information from projects like this in the future.
Water Colored with Finalized Linework: