Caroline Gray is a painter, illustrator, printer – and long time good friend. In addition to these talents she also creates brilliantly witty greetings cards under her Teeny Tiny People brand.
Loved and respected for her skill, Caroline’s imagination is really what set her apart from everyone else we were at school together as teenagers. Her ability to think of fantastic scenes and at times charming, and often slightly unhinged new creatures made her work wildly popular, and utterly original.
Having delved into the world of children’s book illustrations over the past few years, Caroline is now quite literally bringing these unique images to life by creating 3-D models and diaromas. She has kindly shared some of these with us, together with the processes involved.
My recent children’s book illustrations are created in a style broadly known as ‘three-dimensional illustration’. My process involves the creation of miniature scenes, or dioramas, which I populate with characters, light and photograph. If necessary the images are lightly retouched and edited in Photoshop.
Three dimensional illustration, although often extremely challenging and time consuming, allows me to achieve a level of detail and complexity that I was unable to achieve through drawing and painting alone. It also allows me to work across a wide variety of media, and to draw inspiration from some eclectic sources (painting, sculpting, taxidermy, dollhouses, theater design, stop motion animation, tiny things)!
Although the finished illustrations are photographic, the process of sketching and drawing remains integral to the formulation of ideas. After sketching a scene, I will often build a very rough model to figure out lighting and positioning of main elements. Then it’s time to start sculpting the characters; I use a variety of polymer clay called Sculpey, which you can bake at home in your oven and it becomes rock hard.
Next, I apply acrylic paint to give the character a more realistic appearance.
Sometimes, I add fur or ‘flocking’ for the fuzzier critters.
Recently, I have started to use ‘needle felting’ over a wire armature to create bendable, poseable characters with interchangeable heads. I create one body, and a variety of heads with different expressions.
Photography is the stage I find most difficult, and least enjoyable! I still have a lot to learn, and it can be frustrating trying to achieve the perfect shot. I try to experiment with different lighting situations: for this forest scene, I cut holes into colored tracing paper to simulate the effect of dappled light.
And to sign off, here’s a self-portrait.