GD216 – First Assignment: The Classical Elements

A publisher is producing a book on the history of the classical elements and has asked you to produce graphical representations of Earth, Water, Air and Fire. There are no restrictions on style, only that the illustrations be executed in black and white and represent a unified set.

The original classical elements were thought to represent the four states of matter:

  • earth = solid
  • water = liquid
  • air = gas
  • fire = plasma

I recommend the following working method.

  • Begin by doing research, visual as well as non visual research. Get to know your subject. What is it? What are it’s effects? What other things are associated with it? Create a folder on your hard drive and download some images of your elements (or create a page on Pinterest).
  • Create an association map. Think 360 degrees. Start examining possible combinations of previously unrelated associations. Think about the effects of these elements as much as the elements themselves.
  • Using your reference photos do many preparatory drawings, try to find and replicate the shapes that repeat in your element.
  • Choose a theme and/or formal approach and apply it to all four elements to create a unified set.

Specs – Each illustration is to be six inches square in black and white on either bristol or watercolour paper. You may use dry or wet media. Please mount the final illustrations.
Due Week three – Jan 18th.

Click to see previous student work for this project.