Week 8: Titus Groan

For our illustration project we had to do something based on Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake that would feature a character/scene from the book. I found it very difficult to get time to read it and have still only managed about 5 chapters- but the descriptions of scenes and characters are great.

I struggled a bit with this one, changing my mind on the characters I  wanted to do. Having only read some short character descriptions first-I initially started on Countess Gertrude which I drew too young, then Flay in the room of cats-too children’s book illustration.

As this was still part of exploring materials-I wanted to use collage and some kind of textured background so I finally went for Lord Groan as he sits down to the breakfast table which is of course laden with food he doesn’t eat.  I’d cut out party food from a 70’s cook book-all aspic jellies and Russian Salad wreaths. The children’s author Lauren Child (Charlie & Lola) makes good use of this technique-mixing photocopies of low res images with her illustrations. I based Lord Groan’s character on Velasquez’s Prince Philip IV of Spain -a rather sad looking character although my drawing looked like Shakespeare!

For the textured background I used the text from the book printed in an antique font in varying sizes collaged on to  a large piece of card and washed over with yellow. I drew the face of Lord Groan over some text and laid that on top.

However, I was thinking of the image over the weekend and it was driving me mad -faces and text! All I kept thinking of was bank notes! When I went back to college the next week I went over the whole thing with charcoal. I was thinking of illuminated manuscripts and so  decided to give a gold halo to the character. I also wanted to place the cut out food in the border but this didn’t work at all so in the end I used real leaves mixed with ivy shapes cut out of black paper.


I’m sort of content with the outcome, no actually I’m not as I don’t feel it represents the book. In the real world I’d read the whole thing and then think about it-at this stage we’d too many projects on the go. I like the textured background, and using the charcoal but I overworked the face, the torn paper crown was a last minute thing but that’s my favorite bit. Hmm…




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