I posted this image a few days ago on Google Buzz (here)—you may have also heard me mention it on Twitter (@bobjinx). If not, I was recently invited to participate in an Alice in Wonderland-themed group show at the Canteen Gallery up in Ottawa, Canada. The show is called "Two Days Slow" and will be opening on March 4th. So if you're in the neighborhood, mark your calendars. (I unfortunately will be unable to attend).
As promised, here's a bit of process coming your way.
I chose the Caucus Race first on a tip from my wife, and secondly because it seemed like a fun opportunity to create a cast of animal characters. Especially birds, because I like drawing them. The story lists that
"there were a Duck and a Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet, and several other curious creatures...They were indeed a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank—the birds with draggled feathers, the animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable."
(A few pages of preparatory pencil sketches.) A handful of these character studies made the final cut. You'll notice a thumbnail in the upper left corner. This was my first idea—to have Alice standing grumpy and wet in the middle of the parade of creatures. I even sketched out various iterations of Alice wringing out her wet hair.
And then there's this.
(I'm not always a focused doodler.)
After some thought, I thought it better to get Alice into the race—as it is described in the story anyway. It seemed like it would make for a more active composition, too. Here's the thumb that launched the image.
From this point, I decided to leap into Flash. I knew that wrangling all these critters into a ring would be a difficult challenge, and I wanted the ability to freely edit, scale, and tweak as needed. Here's my resolved sketch, where I worked out the kinds of animals and how they would all weave together in a circle.
And then it came time to ink.
This was by far the most time-consuming part.
When drawing on the computer, it's easy to fall victim to detail because you can zoom-in indefinitely. In this case, because I new I'd be printing it large, I wanted the characters in the back to be just as rendered as those in the front. The line-weight is thinner to imply depth (heavier in the front), but every character is equally considered from a drawing standpoint.
Underneath my inks, I roughed in a color study (line-layer turned off):
After many hours of coloring, this was my near final output from Flash (everything you see here is created in Flash).
Using watercolor paintings I've scanned, I added an addition layer of texture in Photoshop. It's very subtle, but it's there. I think it helps separate the characters from the background (giving it a look similar to an animation cel). Here's the final again:
With the illustration complete, I had an archival-ink fine-art print made up (an edition of one), and then framed and matted it. The size of the print is 16" x 10" in a slightly larger frame.
I took a few photos before I packed it up.
And now it's on its way to Canada.
If you're in Ottawa and make it to the show at Canteen, let me know! I also sent ten copies of ARGH! along with the framed print, so the gallery will have issues #2-#6 in short supply.
Thanks for reading!
Heeby Jeeby Comix artist (and pal o'mine) David Degrand just posted his "Elongated Alice" illustration over at his blog. It's also the featured image on the Canteen website (GO DAVID!).
Wonderland extraordinaire, Meg Hunt, is not only doing a series of illustrations for the new Picture Book Report blog (view here)...she's also featured in two Alice-themed shows!—one at Canteen (the other at Gallery Nucleus). She uploaded her painting for the Canteen show to Flickr ("A Royal Stroll"), so go check that out, too.
**UPDATE 2** (2-17-10)
Promo image just arrived from Canteen:
Poster art by Casey Weldon.
(click to view large)