Friday, 18 December 2009

Book Cover

Obviously, the direction that I ended up taking the project moved away from cover design and towards producing images based on a theme. I decided to frame my final three images. It seemed the appropriate way to treat them - I imagined them being like the sort of things that Alice would have passed mid-air on her way down the rabbit hole. But I would also have wanted them to be displayed so that a viewer could contemplate their origins. I wonder if they would make the connection? However I thought I should have a go at making a cover with my images, especially since these are illustrations that should go alongside text and accentuate its imaginative possibilities. I think my teapot image signifies Alice and her wonderland quite well and when put in the context of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' is like a wink to the reader who knows at least the basic story and the associated imagery and would hopefully be amused by my take on it. Making a cover also allowed me to use my exploding pocket watch image that didn't work very well with colour, but was quite strong in black and white. I think this communicates the chaotic, warped nature of time in the wonderland as well as being a major signifier of Alice and her quest for the white rabbit.


I then played around with them on photoshop to colour them, and I'm actually quite happy with the result. The major drawback was that these were less developed than if I'd explored different ways of executing the final image. If I'd had more time, I would have tried mono-printing, which i think would have been perfect for the aesthetic I was trying to achieve, and also a quentin-blake like method of using pen and ink and watercolour and a careful use of negative space. I think I could have come up with a far more rounded outcome, but I think these are simple and successful in their own right. Three of the images I tried didn't work as well in the series of images, or with colour, but here are the final three that did make the cut.

Change of plans

My work didn't get a fantastic reception at the class presentations with Marcus Oakley ( and when I spoke to our tutor Joel, he said that the work he preferred the most was my first drawings of the tea cups. It sounds as though I'm just trying to please my tutors here, but I did realise then that my process so far had been quite forced and unnatural in my attempts to reach an 'cleaner' aesthetic. It wasn't me, and it was different to the approach I had taken with my more successful Anorak work. So I decided to start over. It was rather too close to the deadline for my liking, but it wouldn't have done me any good to continue if my approach wasn't working.
It was evident that I was better at drawing objects with character, rather than characters, so I decided to play to my strengths and continue to visualise the familiar objects of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - the things that signify the story immediately. The following are the sketches I came up with.

We're all mad here..

I also tried to create the Cheshire Cat, as he is a great symbol of all the madness and total nonsense that characterises the book. I tried to show him blurry and not 'all there' - I wanted to accentuate the Alice's odd experience of talking to him. I think it works, but obviously it needs far more doing to it.
As for the mad hatter, I wanted to create a feeling of chaos and madness but the way I envisioned the tea cups integrating into the image (in that 'chaotic' way) just didn't work.

Down the rabbit hole...

So far, I had tried to go for a balance between hand drawn elements and collage. I was particularly happy with the way Alice's hair had turned out and had also given her converses and a simple blue dress. Every image I've ever seen of Alice has her wearing a blue dress - that and blonde hair are signifiers of her really, so I thought I'd stick with that.
Then I moved on to photoshopping - to create the 'rabbit hole', however abstract - but it was really hard going. I didn't want the images to be too flat, or to 'steal' too much with my collage. I failed miserably on both counts. The last image was the closest I got. I liked the dark, multi-faceted look of the collage. The continued flatness I had to put down to the nature of collage full stop - its unavoidable, but the images can still have character and continuity, which thus far had evaded me. Here are my many attempts to get the sentiment right with Alice's fall down the rabbit hole.

The Mad Hatter

I wanted to move on to other characters after I'd done a few of Alice. This was my first attempt at visualising the Mad Hatter.

Visualising Alice...

I moved on from these to again trying to visualise Alice. I thought the best way to represent her would be when she's falling down the rabbit hole. I love how she is so unsurprised by what she finds - she gives herself over willingly. I also made another image along the same theme of Alice exploring the wonderland - her creation. Here is what i did.