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Fútbol en examen


Santiago en 100 Palabras is an annual short story writing competition held in Santiago, Chile by a nonprofit organization called Fundación Plagio. The competition asks Chilean citizens and residents to submit 100-word stories about life in the city. There is an accompanying illustration competition to select who will illustrate the winning stories, which are then displayed around Santiago in public areas.

In July 2022 I was selected as one of the 12 finalists of the illustration competition, with the prize being a commission to create a new original illustration to accompany the short story winner of the "Young Talent" category. A translation of the story follows:


Soccer at the test (Fútbol en examen)

Cruz passes the answers to San Martín, San Martín has problems passing them to Quintana, the teacher blocks him, Escudero distracts the teacher and – Gooooaaal! The whole class passes the test.

by Adriel Ortiz Pinedo, 12 years old



My research included reading and annotating the story for clues about how to depict it visually, and of course doing some research on the two main parts of the story: soccer and a school test. Since the illustration would likely include images of students, I did some searching for images of Chilean classrooms and talked to friends to make sure that I had a good idea of what standard school uniforms and classrooms looked like. I also looked for reference images of soccer players, goal celebrations, trophies, etc.

S100P futbol-01.jpg

After I was sure I understood the story and had collected my reference images, I started sketching soccer and classroom scenes and then created some thumbnail sketches of possible compositions. One of the requirements for the image was to leave the left side of the illustration relatively empty because the story would be placed on top of the image in the upper-left corner.


Eventually I had a few compositions that I liked and I did some color tests to help me decide which to bring to the client.

S100P futbol-02.jpg

After some consideration I decided that one of the compositions was more compelling than the others, but I was torn between two quite different color schemes. I ended up sending the sketch and both color options to the client for feedback, and they responded that the team loved the sketch and didn't want any changes, and they chose to go with the brighter pink and blue color scheme.

S100P futbol-03.jpg

Since my original entry to the competition was a linocut print, my intention was to use the same technique for the final illustration to maintain the same style the foundation was expecting. However, knowing that the illustration would be turned in digitally and printed out in various formats, I decided to not make a traditional layered print but rather print the two colors separately and combine and edit them in Photoshop to have more control over the final image. I also chose to add details to the illustration digitally in a separate layer.

S100P futbol-04.jpg

After the prints were ready, I scanned and edited them in Photoshop to make sure the colors and textures were balanced. Since one of the diplay formats of the illustration was to be on a billboard, it was necessary to work on a very large file and to create RGB and CMYK versions for web and printing.

After a detailed revision to make sure nothing was missing, I sent final files off to the client.

S100P futbol-05.jpg


The result was an illustration of the students in the story celebrating passing their exam in full winning-soccer-players style. The poses reference celebratory soccer poses, and the 7 on the test paper is because in Chile grades are given on a 1 to 7 scale. The illustration was displayed in various settings (a few of which are shown above in photos!), including magnets, the prints that winners received, and on the contest's social media pages. The most visible display was on bus stops around Santiago, with the story printed underneath it, to promote the contest and reading and writing among citizens.

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