The Public Domain đź“š

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Every once in a while, a com­mis­sion makes me smile even more than usu­al. And David from the NoSleep Pod­cast ask­ing me if I’m up to do art­work for the sea­son finale makes me smile so hard my face hurts.

The sea­son finale of sea­son 11 was even more of a nice sur­prise than usu­al, because not only did it fea­ture mul­ti­ple sto­ries, but the main sto­ry (which the team asked me to focus on) was writ­ten by Hen­ry Gal­ley, one of my favorite NoSleep authors and a per­son­al friend.

So, before I talk about the process a bit more, let me first present my art­work for The Pub­lic Domain:

NoSleep - The Public Domain

Mak­ing use of the Pub­lic Domain

Henry’s sto­ry revolves around, with­out giv­ing away any­thing too impor­tant for the sto­ry, char­ac­ters from the Pub­lic Domain com­ing to a dan­ger­ous mock­ery of real life. Fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters that were not copy­right­ed any­more, the sto­ry award­ed me with an awe­some oppor­tu­ni­ty: I could actu­al­ly do a kind of fanart and draw depic­tions of well-known char­ac­ters in my style!

The first step in my art process involved, as it always does, research. So I sat down with a nice cup of cof­fee and vis­it­ed Project Guten­berg. After giv­ing it some thought and get­ting input from my girl­friend, I set­tled on the char­ac­ters of Robin Hood (from ​“The Mer­ry Adven­tures of Robin Hood”), Alice (from ​“Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land”) and Sher­lock Holmes (from ​“The Adven­tures of Sher­lock Holmes”).

My goal was to find the author’s orig­i­nal descrip­tion of their respec­tive char­ac­ters. I want­ed to find a bal­ance between those descrip­tions (to stay true to the source mate­r­i­al) and the way they are usu­al­ly depict­ed in pop­u­lar cul­ture (to make them more recognizable).

Shad­ing with text

While I was work­ing on my first char­ac­ter, Alice, my girl­friend and I came up with an awe­some idea: Why not use lay­ers of text to cre­ate the faces? To try that out, I copied huge chunks of the orig­i­nal text into Pho­to­shop using a small font size and used the lay­er mask fea­ture to make them appear in cer­tain places. 

This enabled me to basi­cal­ly ​“paint” with text! By lay­er­ing dif­fer­ent pas­sages of the source mate­r­i­al on top of each oth­er, so that the let­ters of one text fill out the spaces of the oth­er, I could achieve the look of a dark­er shad­ing while I used anoth­er lay­er writ­ten in a white font to cre­ate high­lights.

If that sounds con­vo­lut­ed, that’s because, well, it kind of is! So I record­ed a lit­tle video to explain it better.