Friday, November 11, 2011

Cole Sutton - Poor Richard's Virtues of Character

This project ended up skewing off the original guidelines a bit. My initial search for stock images resulted in finding hi-res scans of a 100 dollar bill. I decided to use the portrait of Benjamin Franklin as the character of my illustration, and the image of Independence Hall as a background. I did a little research on Benjamin Franklin and learned of a set of 13 virtues he wrote for himself in his early 20's. I decided to separate the set of 13 into 8 "personal" values and 5 "social" values.

Here's a summary of the values:

Benjamin Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of 13 virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. His autobiography lists his 13 virtues as:

—"Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."
—"Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."
—"Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."
—"Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."
—"Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."
—"Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."
—"Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."
—"Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."
—"Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."
—"Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation."
—"Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."
—"Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."
—"Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

Franklin did not try to work on them all at once. Instead, he would work on one and only one each week "leaving all others to their ordinary chance". While Franklin did not live completely by his virtues and by his own admission, he fell short of them many times, he believed the attempt made him a better man contributing greatly to his success and happiness, which is why in his autobiography, he devoted more pages to this plan than to any other single point; in his autobiography Franklin wrote, "I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit."

Process 1 - Initial sketch/layout
Poor Richard's Virtues of Character - Process 1

Process 2 - Composition tweaked
Poor Richard's Virtues of Character - Process 2

Process 3 - Color being added
Poor Richard's Virtues of Character - Process 3

Final - Detail 1
Poor Richard's Virtues of Character - Detail 2

Final - Detail 2
Poor Richard's Virtues of Character - Detail 1

Final (a "smart blur" in my document affected the words in the bottom left. refer to the detail shot an accurate representation) Go here for a larger version:

Poor Richard's Virtues of Character - Final


  1. This is a really nicely composed piece, the colors work really well together! I'm not really getting a story out of this like I should be though. I would also really like to see some of your own drawings incorporated.

  2. it looks super nice, clean and organize, really like you chose different colors for each portrait

  3. I really like the concept behind this piece and I think the way you've interpreted it is smartly done. I think you've done a great job making all of the assets in this piece feel like they're well integrated, too. I particularly like the framing of each of his heads with the virtue below - the banners are small, as I think they should be - since the don't overwhelm the faces, but are more of an accent/ detail. I also like how you're using type to treat the ground - that's a nice, different, and textural asset that I think fits well with the mood of the images you have, but it feels good to have another lesss rigid texture in there. In fact, I would even suggest adding another, maybe less refined, maybe, antiqued texture to some of the background. I could see you using the cream space as a place to explore aged paper looks, or maybe it's more of a stamped, ghosted texture of larger writing or etchings. I like the writing texture so much because it really does feel complimentary, but adds something else that the 100$ bill items need, do you know what I mean???? I do like your minimal use of color- nicely done as well. I could also see you adding a bit more room around the whole scene, maybe letting the left franklin be large and bleed off the edge as he does here, but give more green space to the border containing them? Just a bit. OR - maybe the left franklin just gets a tad larger, so the cropping of his shoulder on the left is sheared further into his collar. Really nice piece. You'll have to also walk me through why the heads are only focusing on those particular 5 virtues, and why main Ben is holding on to the other ones. Is there a reason? :) Great job.