Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Illustration Style

With this project relying on illustration as well as factual information, it is important that I find a style of illustration which is appealing to children.

I really like this style as it's the kind of style I like to draw in often, however I think it's far too detailed for the type of work that I'm doing and I can't imagine it printing very well on worksheets.

Image shows concept art of the movie 

I think something like this would be much more appropriate. It's humorous, fun, simple yet effective. To a child of 9, I also think this is much more appropriate than the one above. I have to remember it is worksheets I am illustrating, not a book...or a Disney movie! 

This image has the same kind of humour. I think I'm leaning much more towards the similar side of things with inspiration from images such as these. 


So far I have done a few illustrations just to warm up and try to find out which style is most appealing for me to then put to use. Once I have a few more, I aim to get feedback on this, but here are a few for now...


This is a style I wanted to try. Egyptian artists drew flat and never twisted the body. Shoulders were broad, the face was in profile and no face was ever pictured from the front. The eye was also placed directly on the side of the head. I quite like this because it's simple, easy to cut out and I could see it sitting well on my worksheets with information. 

These drawings I've done are more 'free,' perhaps more in my own style I'd say, but still trying to keep it 'Egyptian-y' with the flatness (especially of the Pharaoh in the front) 

Action - Develop more illustrations and find a style that suits best 

It's 'reading' week, so I've been reading...

During reading week, I've been researching - reading books both for my client brief and for my Critical Reflective Studies.

Although I'm waiting on a response from my client, I've began my sketchbook, started to experiment with illustration styles and found valuable research into the Ancient Egyptians.

A few weeks ago I bought a couple of books -  'Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonder's - Egyptians, 'Horrible Histories - The Awesome Egyptians,' 'Horrible Histories - The Awful Egyptians.' Last week I finished reading 'Weird World of Wonders' which has really given me great insight into the style I want the information to come across in. Tony Robinson is great at taking factual information and putting it across to children in a humorous way - one that is memorable and easy to digest. It can be hard for young children to remember historic dates ad facts, but I think the way Tony Robinson goes about it makes it much easier.

Here is an advertisement for his book 'Weird World of Wonders' where he does exactly that...

Horrible Histories does this also, although I have only just begun to read through 'Horrible Histrories - The Awesome Egyptians,' I'm familiar with the Horrible Histories t.v show from my days at school. I've refreshed my memory on some of their t.v shows by watching them on Youtube. This was one of my favourites I found...

I love the way they have taken the facts of Egyptian medicine and turned it into a comedy sketch, making it all the more easier for children to remember. This video makes the facts comedic, but still true non-the-less

As I've been reading through the books and watching these shows, I've been taking notes and thinking a lot about how I could do the same way with the information I'm finding on Ancient Egypt. This is my secondary research and I think it's an important aspect because this project relies heavily on target audience and having to create the right tone for children to take in the information.


Action - Consider target audience and how humour can be incorporated into the general approach of this activity pack

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The three different learning types

An important area for me to consider when planning my client project is the different ways in which children learn.

There are many different types of learning, but I have listed the main three below:

Visual - engaging with written information, concept and ideas, seeing written instruction

Auditory - Learning through listening to instruction

Kinaesthetic - Engaging in physical activity and taking a hands-on approach. Trying for yourself.

Sometimes educators use a combination of these so each learning technique is covered in the classroom. Students all have different ways that they find comfortable to learning new things, so by covering each of these learning types, it gives children an equal chance to learn with their preferred technique instead of favouring one learning method over another.


Action - I'm aiming to do this in my activity pack. I have already gone over the things I want to include and made sure that the learning techniques were varied to be able to cater to each different way of learning.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Amended and posted off my letter

This one sounds a lot better and straight to the point. It only needs to state three main things;

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I contacting them?
  • What I do want from them? 

Dear Mr. Beard, 

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Donna Mallett and I am studying Creative Media and Visual Communication at The Manchester College. My tutor, Alexandra Jackson’s son Jay goes to your school and recommended I contact you as I’m doing a project you might be interested in.

As part of my third year degree module, I aim to develop an educational activity pack based on Ancient Egypt, that includes facts, puzzles, illustrations and craft based activities. The pack is aimed at Key Stage 2 children.

For this purpose I need to be in-touch with an established educator who would act as my client. If at all possible, it would be beneficial for my research if I could visit the school to hand out questionnaires and gather feedback so I can determine the needs of the stated target audience.

Any help that you can offer would be beneficial to my studies.

Thank you for taking your time to read my letter.

Kind Regards,

Donna Mallett


Action - Also send an email to Libby Moony who may be able to help me out with finding a tutor if this doesn't work out. 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Contacting Schools

Here are some of the schools I've contacted:

Benchill Primary
St. Wilfred's Aided Primary School, Nortenden
St Aiden's Catholic Primary School
Acacias Community Primary School
St Andrews Primary School
Medlock Primary School
Plymouth Grove Primary School
St Margaret's Primary School
William Hulme's Grammer School
St Brigid's Primary School
William Hulme's Grammer School
St Patrick's Roman Catholic Primary School
St Anne's RC Primary School
St Anthony's RC Primary School
Northenden Community Primary School
Ringway Primary School
The Willows Primary School
Manchester Enterprise Academy
Rack House Primary School

I've taken a special interest in Northenden Community Primary School because my tutor Alex has a son that goes to the school and has offered to hand a letter over to the headmaster for me....


Dear Mr. Beard, 
Hello, my name is Donna. I’m a student studying Creative Media and Visual Communication at The Manchester College. Alexandra Jackson as has a son, Jay that goes to your school and recommended me to contact you as I’m doing a project you might be interested in. As part of my third year degree module, I’d like to do a project aimed at Key Stage 2 children. I aim to come up with an educational activity pack for primary students based on Ancient Egypt that would include facts, puzzles, crafts and illustrations.  
For this purpose I need to be in-touch with an established educator who would act as my client. As I’m planning on taking my PGCE next year, it would be beneficial and much appreciated if I could spend a few hours in one of your classes to observe learning techniques and hand out questionnaires to a few students to determine my target audience.
"If you would be able to help me with my proposal I would be extremely appreciative as it would benefit my studies no end."
Thank you for taking your time to read this letter.
Kind regards,
Donna Mallett

Action - Get feedback on letter, amend if needed and email it off 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Intro to Indesign

I've had InDesign on my Mac for a while but I'd never really looked at it until now. I think it's going to become my friend! Yesterday we were taught the following:

  • How to set up a word document with the correct sizes, margins etc
  • How to set up a grid that's essential for the correct placement of text and imagery 
  • How to amend text
  • How to bring in imagery
We put together a basic letterhead using our own logo (which I unfortunately I accidentally deleted, but I'll be making another copy of it shortly which I'll post) 

I found the intro helpful and something that is definitely going to be beneficial for the type of research files we'll be producing for this module as well as the one for Sarah. It beats doing it in Microsoft word anyway! 

Personality - goals

After taking the personality test, we were asked to answer questions in tie with our goals and aspirations:

What do I want to start? 
  • Working more from my own initiative and experiment more without needed the reassurance of others opinions. Be more free. 
What do I want to stop?
  • Over-thinking things, live in the now, do my best in the moment and accept what will be will be instead of worrying about what could happen in the future. If I worry in the 'now' then it could make the future turn out for the worst. Focus on the good things. 
What do I want more of? 
  • More time to develop my illustration style and add pieces to my portfolio.
  • More time to read. I have a lot of books on design concept which I've barely touched.
  • I'd like more time with my family that live 5hours away.
  • Manage my time well so that I can split it effectively between uni work and my own projects. 
  • Travel to places and take a mature responsibility to my own finances.
  • Make sure I do well on this course so I can take a PGCE.
  • It's important that my family is proud of me as well as myself.
What would enhance my life? 
  • To finish my degree so I can progress and get to where I want to get to
  • A good solid career in teaching with freelance illustration on the side
  • Financial stability - home/security
  • To be able to take trips and holidays
  • Developing my illustration skills so I can illustrate children's books and magazines 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Finding my personality type

Today's lesson was spent exploring personality types and finding out whether we are an introvert or an extravert. These are my results after taking the test. The result I got was ESFJ, which was explained like this...

Extraverted Feeling - ESFJ - The Caregiver
Warm-hearted, popular and conscientious. Tend to put the needs of others over their own needs. Feels a strong sense of responsibility and duty. Values traditions and security. Interested in serving others. Needs positive reinforcement to feel good about themselves. Well-developed sense of space and function.

This sounds accurate to me! I'm an extravert which means I have an energetic behaviour, I'm talkative and enjoy the company of others, I like to express my thought and feelings and openly show a lot of enthusiasm.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Calling clients

"Tomorrow will be a productive day" is what I told myself last night.

This morning I woke up, got on the phone and called a list of clients that I had already written down the numbers for, in hope that atleast one of them will get back to me regarding my client brief. 

Well, it proved hard to get past "the gatekeeper" so to speak and I tried 18 schools all-together. Contacting the head teacher directly by phone seems impossible unless it's an emergency or regarding something very important. The receptionists told me to send out emails so that's what I did. 

My brief 

After having a think about what I'd like to do for a client brief, I've come up with something that would be beneficial to me in terms of my future and the route I'd like to go down. Since I'm planning on taking a PGCE to work with Primary School children, I wanted to do something that would be aimed in this area. If everything goes well and I receive good responses, I'll be creating an educational activity pack for children which will be heavily illustrated and consist of factual information, crafts and puzzles.

This would be a great opportunity for me to be able to combine my illustration with educational purposes to make learning fun. 

I've chosen Ancient Egypt as a topic for this pack because it's something I already know a lot about. It's also a topic I think children develop a strong interest for and engage with well. 

If I get a response from a school, I'd like to be able to visit and sit in on one of their classes just to observe learning techniques. I think this will help me a lot with what I come up with as a finished piece and hopefully I'll be able to hand out a questionnaire too! 

Fingers crossed on my response! 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Artist's Bio

Having a bash at an 'artist's bio' written in 3rd person. It's not so easy talking about yourself or describing your work this way! .....

Donna Mallett is an aspiring illustrator, teacher, Disney nut and all around creative enthusiast who loves to express herself.

With a background in Graphic Design, she went on to study animation and is currently working up to her degree in Creative Media. Her passion to become a children’s illustrator is what drives her as well as the world outside her window from which she absorbs inspiration on a daily basis.

By using bold colours and expressing personality, Donna likes to give her illustrations a fresh and appealing look that’s pleasing to the eye.   

She can often be found at her desk with her sketchbook, scribbling away her creations, drinking tea and eating Oreos.

Coming from a small town of cows and sheep, she came to live in Manchester where she now resides happily in the hustle and bustle of the city centre. 


I approached it this way because I've seen a lot of people approach bio's in this way, however, a more formal approach was required .........

Donna Mallett is an aspiring illustrator, teacher, and all around creative enthusiast who loves to express herself. She moved from a small town in the countryside to live in Manchester where she now resides in the hustle and bustle of the city centre. 

She spent her time in Norfolk enriching her imagination with daily inspiration and then went on to take a BTEC in Graphic Design, which allowed her to explore different mediums. Within this, she got to experiment with Photography, Typography, Print, Graphic Design and her most favourite – Illustration.

After studying in Norfolk, she then moved to Manchester to take a foundation course in Animation, which was something she was always interested in but something that was never available to study in Norfolk at the time.

Studying animation had the appeal of being able to bring her drawings to life, but Donna’s personal preference lay more in the design aspect than the technicality of animation software.

From September 2012 she took a top up year to work her way up to a degree in Creative Media and Visual Communication.

Following on from this, Donna aspires to illustrate children’s books in the future, but also plans to take a PGCE course to become a primary school teacher. During this year, she is working on various projects that allow her to combine illustration with educational benefits.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Message House

Today we talked about Message Houses. A Message House is a visual theory that shows what is it that you do - i.e) your profession and what it is that holds it together.

This is my own message house to represent what I aspire to be (top) and the pillars that I stand on that I feel personally make me stand out.

We talked about selling ourselves and asking ourselves these four questions:

What is your product?
What is your product about? 
Who is it of use to?
Why does it stand out?

My product would be children's illustration 

The purpose would be to provide book/magazine and merchandising illustrations appealing to children aged 7-11 (this I'm working on, I'm not sure of the age range yet but it'll range somewhere between 7 up to 16, although I may be pushing it slightly there - there's a big difference between a 7 year old an an 11 year old. It's something I really need to think about!)

It would be of use to publishers, writers and advertising

It stands out because it's unique and stylised


After writing that I've realised that this age range for my illustrations is something I need to analyse and think a lot more about, perhaps asking others to give me feedback on this too.

"Make someone care"

While we were on the subject of 'Make someone care' after listening to Andrew Stanton talk about Pixar and how he expressed emotion through this story telling, I think this is an excellent example of just that!

This video is from Disney Pixar's 2009 movie UP It shows the story of Carl and Ellie through the stages of their life from young children growing up together to growing old together. For myself and for many others, it left me with tears in my eyes in the cinema because it's been put together in such a beautiful way - no dialogue, just relying purely on imagery, emotion through strong character design, brilliant animating and a soundtrack to go with it. 

It's a tear jerker! No other animation company can express emotion quite like Pixar can, in my opinion. 

"Make someone care"

My Story

Throughout my early teens, although I had friends and was an expressive and sociable person, there were certain parts of me that kept myself to myself. I was never one for going out because I didn't like the crowds in the places my 'friends' would go to, neither did I like the fact that they were drinking and getting up to things that I wasn't even thinking about at that age, even when I was 15 and 16. It wasn't my thing. People said "How would you know it's not your thing unless you've never tried it?" But I didn't want to try it, I had no desire to. I didn't need to try it because I knew it wasn't 'me.'

After school we all split and went our own ways. You realise after school that the people you spent the last 5 years or so hanging around with really aren't your friends and that females can be very bitchy and bitter.

I went to College to study Graphic Design. I wanted to study illustration but there was nothing like that available in the dead end town where I was and I couldn't afford to move away, so I took Graphic Design. After a year I finished because I ended up moving to London for a while. You could say I should have finished my course, but by this point I'd realised that Graphic Design really wasn't for me, I didn't like the people there and I really wasn't enjoying it. Plus, I had the chance to move to London which was an amazing uplift for me, coming from a small dead-end town in the countryside. Also I'd fallen in love for the first time so my head was away with the fairies. I really did just want to escape. The opportunity was there and BOOM - I was gone!

In London, I got a job and I worked on my illustrations in my spare time but never really branched out to anyone and still didn't feel like my work was up to a professional standard. I was in London six months before I went home. My boyfriend and I decided to save up for a place together. A year later we moved in together again in Bristol. Long distance was incredibly hard but we made it work. We'd take 5 hour train journeys to see eachother every 2 weeks.

In Bristol I carried on with my illustrations and had a job, but again I never branched out to anyone. Music took over my life for a bit and I spent the next few years in a daze, not really having any 'real' friends still and finding myself excluding myself from a lot of social gatherings that involved alcohol, which for a lot of people these days unfortunately means almost all social gatherings, so I never went to any of those. I spent a lot of time writing journals and reflecting on people in my life. I had a comfortable lifestyle but still didn't feel right, parts of me felt lonely and for a long time I felt like I was existing and not living. At the time I didn't have a lot of confidence in myself career wise, I didn't bother to look into things. Instead, I imagined them as being the impossible dream.

It wasn't until me and my first boyfriend of 5 years split up (an amicable split) and I had to move back to Norfolk. It wasn't until then that I actually started to put the thoughts in my head into practise. I spent a lot of the time thinking. By this time I had met my now boyfriend of almost 5 years on a visit to Manchester through friends and started spending a lot of time here. I got to know more people and a after a while, one night in my room I sat at my laptop and I applied to do a course in Animation.

I remember the moment where I sat down with my mum, upset, telling her how I wanted to leave. I'd already applied, had the interview and got accepted before I even told her. We got into a big emotional talk about how I've never felt right in Norfolk and how I feel like this could be the beginning of my life and me actually 'doing' something with it. She sympathised and told me if it'll make me happy, it'll make her happy.

So now here I am! I'm on my third year and happier than I've ever been in my life! I can honestly say I'm content. When I told this story to a friend of mind, he said the way I describe Norfolk sounds like everyone has 2 teeth and sits around playing the banjo! In compassion to Norfolk, I speak very highly of Manchester because Manchester to me has been like another world. It's been a world of opportunity where I've 'finally' got myself on a course in something I feel passionate about. There are so many things I love about this place and I'l often refer to it as 'the first place I've ever felt at home.' The multi-culture is one of these reasons, the busyness, the networking and the career opportunities. And for other reasons - I've met some wonderful people - true friends who have really nested into my heart.

Manchester has changed me. I'm more confident, motivated, more ambitious, more independent and happier than I've ever been before

Smiley face!

What makes a good story?

What makes a good story? 

Yesterday in Paolo's lesson we spoke about the subject of Story Telling.

In my opinion it comes down to a good plot - having a beginning, a middle and an end is the core. When we were discussing this I thought about storyboarding and how throughout my animation course, we were taught not to think about the fiddly bits inbetween so much, but to focus on what the beginning would be, what the middle would be and how it would end. Of course there are many other things that make a good story in terms of what we see on TV or in movies whether it be the genre or the way people can relate to certain situations and characters that are part of a movie or TV drama.

We watched a video of Andrew Stanton (writer of Pixar movies such as Toy Story and A Bugs Life) speak about this very topic and he boiled it all down to three words - "Make someone care."

So with this in mind, we had discussions and were told to have a think about our own lives and think of a story we could take from it in which we could tell people and 'make them care.'