Fairy Tales continued: Rapunzel

At long last, post-holiday, post-show, post-flu, I’m sitting down at the drafting table once more to carve a new fairy tale block. This one: Rapunzel.

Having set up the convention of printing the blocks in black ink and then hand-coloring a bit of red in each print, I find myself re-reading fairy tales with an eye towards what would fit that color scheme, along with what presents an interesting visual scenario. In Rapunzel‘s case, the sharp thorns at the base of the tower stood out as prime candidates, both for their bloodiness (red) and for their twisting, intertwined design. (The prince, having been discovered by the witch who has imprisoned Rapunzel in the tower, is thrown out the window and lands in the thorns, where his eyes are poked out. Nothing like a fairy tale for a little blood and gore!)

My other challenge is the format. For this series, I’m using blocks that are four inches wide, by either 5 or 6 inches tall. Even using the taller block, I had to work a bit to fit the tower. By twisting it and distorting the perspective this way and that, I think I’ve been able to give a sense of height. I’ve also decided to have the top of the roof protrude beyond the border of the print, in order to further give a sense of reaching into the sky.

Here is a picture of my sketchbook, where you can see me playing with different perspectives and nuances. I write lots of notes and reminders to myself, along with random unrelated things that pop into my mind while I’m working out the design.
Rapunzel sketches

In this series, for the most part, I’m living a bit dangerously and drawing directly on the block, as opposed to working out a tight drawing and then transferring it to the block. I think working this way adds a bit more spontaneity and looseness to the final print. It gives me permission, mentally, to change things as I go and play a bit more. You can see where I’ve erased the top of the tower and moved it a bit to the right, and where I’ve narrowed the base a bit on the left. Even with my goal of looseness, there’s a good bit of tight carving, especially on the roof tiles.

I worked on the block over the weekend, and am almost ready for my first test print. Here’s where I am so far:
Rapunzel block in progress

The main things I need to see in the test are whether I need to broaden the thorn branches; how dense the hair looks before I start carving individual strands and braids; how much “glow” I need to add around the moon; and how I feel about the transition between the trees and night sky. So far, I’m pleased with how it’s turning out.

FYI: I just learned, in Googling “Rapunzel,” that Disney is in the midst of creating an animated version of the story, in 3D CGI. It will be interesting to compare and contrast my version against theirs.

1 thought on “Fairy Tales continued: Rapunzel

  1. I know I tell you all the time in person, but I just want to put in writing how awesome you are. I really appreciate that you document the process of your art. It makes the finished product all the better.
    Thanks Melissa!

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