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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

This is the final book cover and two of the inside illustrations for the first project of second year illustration at NUCA. We had to choose a short story from a list of options on the brief, to illustrate a front cover, and four inside illustrations, for which 80% of the mark was for development work. My short story was 'An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge', written by Ambrose Bierce.

The story is about a man who is condemned to death by hanging from Owl Creek Bridge during the 1860's in the Civil War. It has quite a dark and dream like theme, which is what I have tried to use in my illustrations, for example, I gave the Civil War Soldiers faces without eyes to keep them very dark and uniform, without much personality as a contrast to the victim in the story who has eyes, as the story is told through his eyes, therefore the reader can visualise and connect with the character more.

For the typography, I researched type, handwritten and printed from the 19th century. I decided to go to a local graveyard, which dates back to 1856, and photographed some headstones from the 1860's. The typeface I used for the front cover is very similar to some type on one of the gravestones I used. I also distressed it, to give it a more dark, 'deathly' feel.

Copy of Brief:

Briefing: Monday 1 October Deadline: Friday 23 November


In this project, you will produce a body of work culminating in a book cover and inside illustrations for 1 short story selected from the story list posted on Moodle. Your audience is one that is literate and adult. Most importantly, you need to read the stories carefully. Select one and begin making notes and drawings about the narrative. You need to collect and develop specific and appropriate research for your chosen book and develop ideas and images to select from, produce thumbnails and mock-ups and develop appropriate typography.

What you need to do Book cover: The book cover for your chosen short story needs to incorporate the title and author’s name. The function of the cover is different from the inside illustrations. It needs to be bold and simple and quickly sum up the story. It needs to draw in the reader – a book is an object that someone chooses to pick up and read – you need to entice them!

Typography: The typography on the cover needs to be considered with as much care and attention as the image. You should thoroughly explore appropriate typefaces and if appropriate, construct your own. The typographic treatment, if strong enough, might even form the basis or content for the cover on its own. Whatever your solution, it is important that the image and text fit together and are appropriately considered and well researched.

Inside Illustrations: Produce 4 interior illustrations for your chosen short story. The images need to convey the narrative, BUT do not necessarily need to depict ‘scenes’ from the story. You need to consider and fully research key aspects suggested within the narrative - the era and historic setting, the location, the play of relationships, the ’characters’, the atmosphere, the ‘colours’ and ’mood’. Your ideas will grow from research and visual development of these aspects.
Each one of the inside illustrations needs to be placed on its own page. However, they can be ‘full bleed’ (going right up and over the edge of the page), sit within a page border or be a freeform and floating shape. It is important however, that you consider the design aspect of your work - how your images are ordered and fit into the book in terms of the visual narrative you are constructing. In design terms, think about pace, scale, rhythm and composition.

Specifications: The stories to select from are on Moodle. Dimensions of the book cover are 159 x 240mm and for inside pages 156 x 234mm.

An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge: Book Cover by Ellen Salmon
An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge: Inside Illustration by Ellen Salmon
An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge: Inside Illustration by Ellen Salmon