Monday, June 27, 2011


I recently participated in a project called "What is the Use of a Book Without Pictures?" I think it's best to explain it using the words of its creator, Mike Schneider:
"We are collectively translating Alice's Adventures in Wonderland into visual artwork. Open to artists of any style, media, or motif." The picture below is the introduction to the Facebook album for the project (still in progress):

I was assigned paragraph 205:
‘Why should it?’ muttered the Hatter, ‘Does your watch tell you what year
it is?’
‘Of course not,’ Alice replied very readily, ‘but that’s because it stays the same
year for such a long time together.’
‘Which is just the case with mine,’ said the Hatter.

Armed with that citation, context written by Mike and submission guidelines, I sat down to do some character designs. It was then I realized that it was hard for me to draw my version of the Hatter. With all of the imagery of the Hatter that I'd been raised on and the very recent feature starring Johnny Depp, I was vacillating between Walt Disney and Tim Burton, and struggling to stay true to how I would draw a character using my sensibilities. I took me three sessions to finish my design of the Hatter, then sitting down with some thumbnails for two sessions to work on the composition. Here's the art from those stages:

That last one is my sketch for the finished piece. That took me another three sit-downs - rough first, then two sessions of adding detail/tightening. Then I scanned it and "inked" it in Photoshop:

That was a few hours at the Cintiq. At this point, I referred back to the submission guidelines, which brings me to challenge number 2: I misread the dimensions. I thought the panels were 9" wide by 6" tall, when in fact they are 9" TALL by 6" WIDE. Whoops. The good thing is that I don't "ink" the pieces of my illustrations on the same layer, so re-arranging wasn't the end of the world.

A few experiments with composition later, and about 4 hours of coloring, the finished piece can be found below. The submissions call for black and white images, but I was so excited to play with mood and drama that I did mine in color then converted it to grayscale:

I loved this project - it's been about 10 months since I've done a complete illustration, and I'm proud of the results!

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