Thursday, 20 May 2010

Institutional and Domestic Discipline: An Illustrative Collaboration 2 - Evolution of an Image

Those of you who have been following this blog over the last few weeks will now that I'm now involved in a collaboration with a digital artist or illustrator the aim being to provide an illustrated version of the new volume (see Institutional and Domestic Discipline: An Illustrative Collaboration, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 - just click to view). I was just thinking the other day that some of you may be interested as to how things were progressing on the illustration front so I thought I would put together an example of the evolution of such an illustration. Of course you will understand that this particular piece of art work is presently very much a work in progress but it should be sufficient for you to get the idea without giving too much away as regards the storyline. In the context of the latter, one thing I can tell you - so as to set the scene without providing too much of a spoiler (I hope) is that one of our three hapless heroines, having now come under the personal care of an institution’s somewhat domineering section psychiatrist - a rather overbearing woman with questionable ethics and even more questionable aims - finds herself incarcerated in a claustrophobic, secure and isolated little cell-like anteroom leading directly off from the good doctor’s consultation room, dressed 24/7 in institutional green striped pyjamas, denied any human contact other than with the doctor herself and subject to stringent discipline and corporal punishment for the slightest fault.

Generally speaking I have been restricting myself to writing the text and generating ideas (although of course ideas flow both ways thus nurturing yet more branches and avenues to explore). In the development of this particular image, my collaborator has sent me the three-dimensional artwork shown in the first couple of examples but then I've taken the liberty of attempting to change the background colour to better fit the narrative - which to be honest I cocked up to some extent, obliging me to digitally repair the kneeling nurses hairdo (badly) - and added in the girl’s room’s barred security door and her nemesis, Matron, approaching outside in the doctor's consultation room, purely as an experiment to see how it might add atmosphere. In the first image the girl is of course naked and unblemished, free from any evidence of prior correction. In the second and third images she has on her institutional shapeless and baggy pyjama jacket and a healthy red blush is apparent colouring her behind.

The nurse came from an old scanned catalogue illustration and is supposed to represent the stern hospital matron placed in charge of the hapless young subject. Although in this version she is carrying a cane, in the storyline it is a folded leather belt that is put to use; but I didn't have a suitable strap / belt picture to hand and has always being full of enthusiasm and having little patience I was in a hurry to try the idea out. The final version, if it indeed it is decided to go ahead and include the bars and Matron approaching from outside, will have her carrying the leather belt or strap. The idea is that the nurses outside the girl's cell in the doctors consultation room (obviously) and as she is more distant she does not have to have such a high degree of 3D-ism. In the storyline the bars of course painted white but are not too sure how well this will appear in the final image and is something I have yet to experiment with.

The image of the nurse is actually a horizontally-mirrored version of the original photograph for reasons of perspective and so I first of all shifted the nurses’ fob watch in the original to her right hand side so that it would actually appear on her left in the final shot, as it should. I was especially keen to allow her belt buckle, trim around the collar and fob watch to be seen as I think these details all add to the sense of authority I intended her image to engender. In the final version, if used as a concept a freshly constructed nurse image will be used

The bars themselves came from the original version of those that I used on the book covers of INSTITUTIONALISED volume 1 and INSTITUTIONALISED volume 2 and I used an image shearing facility on a Linux-based image processing application called ‘The Gimp’ called to simply pull them into shape to fit the perspective of the 3-D image as judged by eye (there is also a 'perspective' tool available on ‘The Gimp’ but that doesn't seem to work so well - at least not in my hands, LOL).

I have since fed back the results of my manipulation to my collaborator who has now sent me a version re-coloured to suit the narrative but minus the mess that I made of it. This latter modification is of course based on the original art work, so next one or the other of us will add in the extra detail as in my experimental changes, such as the external view and matron outside (always assuming of course that we decide to continue down that route). Any opinions / comments will as always be gratefully received. With external nurse / bars or without? Which should it be - that sort of thing. One thing that I should point out - and that I have pointed out before - is that the institutional aspect is balanced by the domestic discipline aspect in the final work and even a little ecclesiastical discipline: It turns out that one of my characters may - or may not (depending on who you believe - and even the subject herself is uncertain as to how much is memory how much is delusion) have suffered expiation (both sexual and otherwise )and physical chastisement under the guise of ecclesiastical care in a church-run home for wayward young women. This of course came to light during the events unfolding in INSTITUTIONALISED volume 2 but in the new volume we learn more of her trials and tribulations and perhaps discover the truth.


Orage said...

I must say I'm a bit uneasy when looking at that picture of the nurse compared to the one on April 28th.
She looks too much like a doll while on the previous drawing she looked like a woman.
I'm definitely in favour of the external nurse and the bars.

Toyntanen said...

Ah! Well, you see the nurse in the picture that I published on the 28th of April is a real person photoshoped into a 3-D rendition of a padded cell and girl in a straitjacket. In this case both the rendition and the photoshop manipulation were carried out by my collaborator, ‘Snooze’, across the pond in the ‘States - very successfully, I might add - but there can be copyright issues even when a back view is used let alone the more personal issues if and when the model is identifiable. In this case the illustrator himself took the photo, but generally speaking, bearing in mind the cost of hiring professional models etc as compared to the meagre revenue generated through this genre of literature from my experience (okay, distribution and publicity have been issues and these are areas I have been working on of late - more on this when I know more myself), the most hassle-free and flexible way to generate illustrations is to do so de novo, so to speak, through 3-D rendering.

Madmonkey said...

I don't know, maybe I'm stuck in the past, but I prefer to illustrations or photographs to these computer generated images. To me they just don't seem to capture the drama or depth of the situation very well unless they are very well rendered and detailed, which is very time consuming and expensive.

Orage said...

I quite agree with you!