Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Danelle Cheney: Alice In Wonderland

I have been working on two separate concepts but i think i have made up my mind as to which would be the better option.

my first idea was to pull lewis carroll's photographs of alice liddell (the girl who inspired the stories) and pair those with the text rather than the illustrations from the original publication. i love his photographs and they have a very interesting backstory so i think a book such as that would appeal to not only those who love the story of alice in wonderland but those who are interested in the history behind the story and carroll himself.

my second idea is very simple: treat the book so it looks as though it is a stacked deck of cards. the front cover will be the ace of hearts, the back cover will be a pattern that is reminiscent of those found on the back of playing cards. i want to pull this theme through the entire text and use very simple chapter heading illustrations to continue the playing card theme. i can use the cards to denote chapters and headings. i want to create a custom title and drop letters to accent the style of illustration i hope i can pull off.

my mood board shown here (last image) demonstrates the basic color scheme, symbols, and graphic nature i want to achieve... the text examples are in a similar style to what i think would work very well as the title and drop caps.

i would like to use the 8x10 blurb book format, preferably the hard cover with image wrap. i will choose premium matte paper for the inside pages. i am curious to know how many copies of this book we should anticipate on ordering... if i order two copies, that would be $100. i will budget myself $150 for this project as i will need illustration supplies and proofs of the book to look over before sending to final press.

if anyone is interested, you should check out this blog post by jessica hische. if you do not already know who jessica hische is, you should spend some time on her website. she is not much older than many of the seniors in the program and she is an amazing designer, known especially for her custom typography. she taught a class in philadelphia and assigned a similar project to this and posted the results. i think some of her students came up with very inspiring solutions... they were all illustration majors and that definitely shows, but maybe someone will find inspiration by looking at these like i did.

Here are my refined cover and chapter spread sketches.

As you can see, they are very simple. I want the book this way so the design is complimenting the story, not overwhelming it. The chapters will work out very well as I am assigning a suit to each chapter (chapter one=spades, chapter two=diamonds, chapter three=clubs, chapter four=hearts, chapter five=spades, etc) and there are twelve chapters total.

The one thing I am omitting is the chapter titles. I think they can be easily sacrificed for the sake of my design.

On each chapter spread sketch, I included a small mockup of what I will do on the following chapter pages as corner markers. Chapter one shows a complete set (all four corner treatments). The symbols will mirror the layout of playing cards.

I am going to work with oil paints for the cover and chapter pages (except for the body text. all symbols and drop caps will be painted). I will use vibrant colors and a painterly but neat aesthetic. See the link I posted above for an example.

Next I will start to work out the details of the title lettering. I have a basic layout in mind but I will start sketching for that.

Happy weekend!

Cover & Chapter Spreads:

I spent the evening trying different mediums to see what is going to work best. My main concern is the lettering as it is very delicate in some places and you can imagine how nerve-wracking that is going to be to paint.

lettering in oil, gouache & prismacolors:

chapter spreads (minus the text... but see sketches above for placement)





now these all look similar on your screen... if you click on each image to make it bigger you should be able to see the different textures and tones each medium is pulling up. my second concern (after being able to accomplish the lettering) is the texture. right now i am leaning toward using gouache as it can be applied smoothly and still obtains the rich colors i was wanting from oil. i think that i would like to try the markers jay bought for the department.. whatever those are called... and see if they might be suitable too.

i have the dimensions all mapped out:

and this is the cover layout ( i am doing it as one image since i want the image-wrap cover):
with lettering... check out the back cover.

without lettering

next, to start painting all the chapter spreads and drop them in the layout so i can see how the text falls.


  1. I love love love your mood board.

  2. Me too. Danelle, thanks for getting everything in the post, size, cost etc. Very well thought out and comprehensive.

  3. Jay, just so you are aware... I posted my refined sketches at 8pm. I'm not sure why its showing as 11:30pm instead.

  4. Danelle, I really like the illustrations so far. I think out of the different mediums I like the gouache the best, from what I can see it looks more clean and refined. I can't wait to see how everything comes together!

  5. Great idea! I love it. Gouche or Acrylic is your best bet. I would say it would be good to decide what you want your illustrations to be exactly, you could really tighten up the draftsmanship and make it look perfect or give the suit symbols just a bit more of a hand made look. You could go either direction if that makes sense? I really think you're on the right track though, this will be great.

    And I would vote FOR lettering on the cover, though that is a tough call, it could be really cool without.

  6. I like the gouche the best out the options out of all the mediums that you tried. I like your color scheme as well, I'm excited to see the final product.

  7. I love what you have. I had the same idea for the page spreads but could not find an appropriate cover to match. You nailed this with your moodboard. Im extremely jealous.

  8. I personally like Gouche the most but you could really go with any of them.

    By thinking everything out before hand like you have been doing finishing up should be much easier. I always leave everything open ended and it takes forever.

    I like the idea of lettering on the cover as well.

  9. I like the way you are tying it all together with the suites. It gives me an impression of a giant deck of cards. I like the lettering on the cover

  10. Your lettering is amazing...so talented!:) I personally like the shading that the prisma allows, but I see what you mean about the rich tone of the gouche.
    I am very impressed by your planning and exactness, it will be great!:)

  11. Ah...i think the choice of medium is personal preference...your a perfectionist...i mean designer, so either one would work great.
    Great job with tackling the deck of card design first...since it should look like a deck of cards in the end.
    One thing I noticed is the repetitious us of the ch. heading on the ch. spread. Maybe you were looking at the different options, or maybe one will carry out throughout the ch. but I just had to point that out.
    This is going to look AMAZING!

  12. The lettering is great! I like the shading as well with the prismacolors. Although I think you would be good with picking any of them.

    Cant wait to see more!

  13. i love the typography that you have used (created?) its so much fun and i love to just look at it. The cards are awesome, when you explained that in class i was like dang, i wish i would have thought of that.... i cant wait to see the entire thing together

  14. I really love the simplicity and clarity of the illustrative elements. I am not exactly sure but it seems like the unique typography is going to be your key element so if that is true really play on that. I looks great, keep it up!

  15. Prisma colors show more character i think, but any would work. Text is looking awesome good job.

  16. Your "map outs" of the cover are great! I like the rabbit design for the cover, and your typography screams alice. I'm not crazy about the red and green you showed above - green seems like a departure from your playing card paintings/drawings/etc that you have right now. But I'm excited to see how you combine and pull things together, i'm sure you can prove the colors to me then!