Saturday, 5 May 2012

A is for Alice

A is for Alice
Once upon a time long long ago, I woke in terror to the random realisation there had never been occasion to to illustrate Wonderland. We all know what these famous characters look like right? Actually no, not in a situation where I am responsible for creating my own version of them. I've never had to think about it before because I've always been spoon fed Alice imagery and there have been so many iconic visualisations since 1865 it would be almost impossible to think one could stay within the bounds of the original idea and still create something totally unique. I have enjoyed the relatively recent trend of moving the story on to Alice's teen years where she is often depicted as a stripy socked knife wielding psycho goth, but I wanted to avoid that (for now) and go back to my very first introduction to Wonderland. I can't remember my exact age, but I would have been between five and ten because we performed Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as an end of year school play at infant school. I played the Dodo and still remember being horribly embarrassed at having to wear green tights. That's right, girls' tights. Green ones. How I suffered for my art! Thinking back to that time my overriding impression was a confusing riot of nonsense, noise and colour and I had no idea what was going on. This was nothing like a normal story where all the elements related to the world I knew, but like millions of kids I completely loved the idea of escaping
Rabbit Detail with reverse Clockface
humdrum reality through mysterious portals. I kept the focus sharply on the characters by leaving the background less detailed which, together with some aerial perspective has the effect of making the characters stand out more. I also made the Tweedles and Chesire Cat larger than they should be as a nod to Alice shifting size through the story. This is unsettling as our brains know that objects further away should be relatively smaller (that Father Ted sketch still makes me laugh!)

Crayon Tool Settings
Edit Layer Texture
This image was an attempt to capture my initial impression of some of the more famous characters. It was created in ArtRage Pro with the humble crayon tool which is actually much more powerful than it first looks. The image (left) shows the crayon tool settings - just two: Pressure and Softness, with a reset to default button. For this image I set Pressure to 40 and Softness to 0 which, together with a graphics tablet has the effect of laying down colour with hard pressure but blending colours together with light pressure. These two characteristics make the crayon tool very intuitive to use as you can colour and blend in the same stroke. For this image I reduced canvas textures to a minimum but you can add texture via the master canvas settings or for even more control, on a layer by layer basis by using the layer pop-up command, Edit Layer Texture. In addition you could also add texture with the powerful stencil system. If all my digital painting tools were taken away and I was left with just these, I'd still be pretty happy. :)
Click on images to Zoom.