magpies - a tale of two

The process

Writing the story was the easy part: everything was done in less than two days years ago and it hasn’t changed much since then.
It took me several years (and countless failures) to finally set on a visual treatment that I was satisfied with for this project.
Then each chapter has been roughly storyboarded by a first grader (not really… but it looks like that. I just suck at drawing). I just needed to break down the text making sure that I had an idea of what was going on in each panel.
At this point I re-drew the sketches very quickly and imported them in Indesign, to make sure I knew the exact dimensions for each and every panel. This was a really important part of the process, as reframing a photograph usually ends up being a pain in the ass or just plain ugly.

I built the masks using paper and masking tape (isn’t that what masking tape is for, after all?) and then I used white paint and fiber paste to add some texture to them.
At first I did some test shootings without masks, but I was missing the surreal quality I liked about the sketches and I wanted both character to be almost unhuman.
At this point I shot the characters on a neutral background, making sure I was matching the lighting I had in mind for the final scene, in terms of direction and quality of light.
Since all the work has been done an ocean apart from my studio and all my gear, during a three month sabbatical spent in L.A., I just moved all the furniture in the living room to use the white walls as a background and I lit everything using speedlights.

Each character was then printed on a Canon Selphy printer, cut out with an X-Acto knife and placed on my little cardboard set that I built.
Using speedlight proved to be the best way to really control light on a small scale project like this, and controlled lighting is what really makes this little world come to life.
Almost everything has been shot with a 100mm macro lens, except for the super-close details, which were shot with an inverted 50mm (a.k.a. poor man’s macro).

The only thing I did in Photoshop was the tinting, to make sure there was a consistency between images, and balloons and text. That’s not because I’m against compositing or heavy post production, it was just more fun this way (and WAY faster).

[Use the slider on the image below to reveal the before/after images]

Magpies - the process