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The Tunnel

monotone black and purple illustration of two children at the mouth of a tunnel looking up at a flying bat.

I grew up in a little two up, two down mid-terrace in the north of England. It was a long street and so had a tunnel in the middle for people to access the alley at the back, their back yards, garages, and take the bins round. It was always just called “The Tunnel” and for a few years there was often a little brown bat living in it. I never spotted it during the day time but it would venture out at night and swoop back and forth through the tunnel and over our heads.

original sketch
black and white line drawing of the tunnel with two children and a bat
black and white line drawing

The final illustration is not a true representation of my old street because the tunnel is not surrounded by houses on all sides. That was my plan to start with but it wasn’t feeling right so I added the moon for the bat to be silhouetted against. That then looked really odd, like an optical illusion, until I added the side wall and darkened the sky. The tunnel is accurate though; after my first attempt at the line drawing from (not much) memory I thought to have a quick look on street view to check the shape and was surprised that I hadn’t remembered the shaped stones at the top.

Here the purple is a blank wall. To keep this accurate to the street I grew up on I would need to add windows, etc. and I thought this would detract from the focus of the children and obscure the bat.
adding the moon creates an optical illusion as your mind flicks between reading the purple backdrop as sky, then wall, then sky again.
almost equal space given to the building and sky counterintuitively throws the image off balance

I wasn’t completely happy with this as the final image though; my mind felt uneasy. I realised there was tension between the two focal points (children and bat). Because they each took up approximately half the width of the image, they were fighting for dominance. In the image above, your eye isn’t sure which to look at first. I want people to look first at the children and then follow the pointing boy and flight path of the bat up to the moon, so I moved the wall right and made a few tweaks and it was done.

monotone black and purple illustration of two children at the mouth of a tunnel looking up at a flying bat.
Final illustration

I could have added a window or some other detail above the tunnel, but I quite like the simplicity the way it is.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Charlotte Glaze

    It looks great. I love how you tweaked the image to fix the balance and bring attention to the bat.

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