Colossal Expedition of the Humpback Whale

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

My third year final major project (FMP)!!!

Three years have gone so fast and doing the last project of my degree is a big thing, not only does it hold a large amount of credits towards my final grade, but it is my opportunity to use the skills I have leant to create something that I want, that will show the direction I would like to take my future career.

My project is to create an illustrated book for children (7-11 year olds) which is about the 'colossal' journey that humpback whales go on during their yearly migration, it will include facts about the whales, maps plotting their journey and information about other marine life they might meet on the way. I am going to document my progress on this blog.

I started putting ideas together for this project last summer, so by the time the third year started I had all of the research just about finished and was starting on experimentation, I am so glad I did this because it gave me time to concentrate on the live briefs when term started knowing that the ground work of the FMP was already well on the way.

In the beginning I wanted to create a book that featured the migration a variety of marine life, so my first sketchbook is full of sketches and notes, both written and printed, of so many different animals (still something I might do in the future!)

Above is a slide show of images from sketchbook number one. This is the work I did in the summer before the start of the third year, just generating ideas, putting together the starts of the research with online searches, relevant books for reference and creative inspiration, from creatives such as Oliver Jeffers, Clover Robin, Axel Scheffler, Eric Carle and Dieter Braun.

Above is a slide show of images from sketchbook number two. By this point I had decided to base the book on the humpback whale with other animals featuring along the way, so there is more specific research and notes, and a lot more experimentation to find the right style to suit the book. I was lucky that there is so many websites, documentaries and books about marine life full of information that I was able to learn from whilst putting the text together, and living close to London had access to the Natural History Museum which was amazing for photographs. I also had some amazing help from an employee at the museum who sent me some very helpful links and book titles to look at for research.

I have in the past had good feedback on my sketchbooks so I had decided to keep this style when designing the book, to make it look hand made, with my own handwriting and imperfect illustrations coloured with watercolour and inks. An illustrated book in the style of a journal. To keep in my own style I also had my own handwriting made into a digital font to make the process so much easier when it came to adding text to the pages.

I wanted it to have interactive elements to it with cut outs, fold out maps and pages printed on different paper textures and thicknesses.

The theme of the book is that you will be going on a 'Colossal Expedition' with the humpback whales as they migrate from the freezing Arctic waters of the North, and travel 7000km South through the Atlantic ocean, towards warmer waters for the winter. Along the way there are lots of facts and information, not only about the humpback whales, but also about some of the animals they might meet along the way, such as minke whales, narwhals and loggerhead sea turtles.

Above is a slideshow of images from the final book. The first image is of eight screen shots of finished pages. It is quite difficult to see from the image but there are some pages, such as the one that is titled 'Behaviours' that have a page printed on acetate, it is slightly see through and give an example of what the whale will look like above and below the waves, there are also some pages overlaid with tracing paper to give depth to the illustrations on the pages. There are also pictures of the dust jacket, which I think really emphasises the colossal size of humpback whales and the hard back cover, which I had to try to create my self, I had found a local bookbinder to put this book together for me but due to the lockdown I was obviously unable to do this, so for now my own attempt will do. You will also see the interactive map I have made from paper cut and water colour paint, the overall size of this map is 520mm-280mm and will fold to fit perfectly inside the book, along with the sticker sheets that go with it. In the back of the book I have added a page that has a pocket that contains a selection of postcards, four of them have illustrations that feature in the book, and two of them are blank except for a dotted border which is for the reader to design their own postcard. These are to encourage the reader to get creative and to tell someone they know about an adventure or a journey that they have had.

The finished books overall size is 260mm-190mm and has just over 60 pages. I decided to make this book in landscape because it suited the size of these enormous animals, even though I know that it can be difficult to get books printed in landscape. Also for the sake of my project, because there are fold out maps, pockets stuck in and cut outs in the actual pages, I had to print the pages myself for my ideas to work. If I was able to get into university I would have printed three or four books to display at the end of year shows, along with extra postcards to display with my details on.

In the future I can play around with the layout to see if it can be suited to a square book without cut outs to get it professionally printed and bound in a hard back cover, and maybe send them out to publishers. You never know!! I am also going to try to create two more books to add to the animal migration theme. Having done the oceans, I would like to do migration by land and by air.

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