Rapunzel: The challenge of keeping up during the first trimester.

2 12 2010

Continuing the work for Zoodles.com I was commissioned to do Rapunzel. I was very excited since it is a tale that holds a lot of drama, so I wanted to show that in the illustrations! However, we had to tone down the drama a lot because of concerns that the parents would see it too violent for small children. As usual, I am usually oblivious to those things, so I am glad that my AD does keep the public in mind.

Rapunzel character design (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

I set up to do some research about the origins of the tale. It seems that the tale as we know it was written by the Grimm brothers in the 1800’s, but there are medieval versions coming from Italy, however, I opted for the German 1800’s look, since it was more true to the version we were working with and the look is much better recognized than the medieval attire. I designed Rapunzel’s dress based on traditional German dresses (not nobility) from the time, the prince with a nobility military uniform from the 1800’s, and for Gothel I had two options: one in which she had a very strict look, ascetic and puritan, in contrast to the more carefree Rapunzel’s, and another one in which she had a more nature witch look. Dave chose the wild witch look and we just went with it.

Because of its evident and strong preeminence in the tale, I treated the tower as one more character and did as much research (or more!) on towers as I did on outfits. I chose to base it on the Pioneer Tower that is located in Ontario, Canada, for its strong German style and stylized looks.

Rapunzel's tower (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

After the concepts were approved, we started with the story board. I have to thank my AD, Dave, for his incredible patience, I became pregnant soon after I was commissioned this tale, and by the time we got started I was in the middle of a very rough first trimester. I was unable to eat anything for 2 1/2 weeks and that made it really hard to get any work done, the nausea was really bad and some days I could not sit at the computer for more than one hour at a time. Fortunately, he was very supportive and understanding and slowly but surely we got this tale finished on time before Tangled was released!

There were a few panels that were very hard to pull off, mainly because of trying to keep the action in the image while keeping it appropriate for 2-8 years old… or their grandparents, but with some work and brainstorming we achieved the look that Zoodles.com wanted. If you want to see the full tale, please go to their site, registration is free.

In the meanwhile let me show you a selection of my favourite images!

Climbing (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus for Zoodles.com

Prince visiting (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus for Zoodles.com

Reunion (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus for Zoodles.com

And do you know what is really neat too? The promotional video for the e-books was made with my Princess and the Pea tale! Yay!

At the moment I will be taking a break from large commissions, I am just starting to feel better but still do not have my energy back and I do relapse into nausea every now and then. Next year, I hope to be able to draw for them once more. These jobs are challenging and it is gratifying to know that kids around the world will be looking at my illustrations!


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