Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cel Wall Art (as in animation cel, not prison cell)

After hanging a few framed pieces of poster art in my apartment last year, I stood back and realized that I still had a really bare patch of wall space in a corner. I started to think about ideas to fill this space which at floor level is occupied by a set of three nesting end tables. Since space is limited and I like to plant my tree in that corner annually in December, I decided against a tall floor lamp. Yet at the same time, I didn't want more posters.

I'm of the mind-set that the right idea/solution to something will come along eventually if you just kind of marinate on it. In this case, inspiration arrived months later in the form of a visit to IKEA. I came across a huge pallet of two-pack, 8 1/2" x 6 1/2" frames and thought I can do something with these. I also thought about something a friend of mine once suggested: he said, 'you have so much of everyone else's work, why not display something of your own?'

Taking what was already in place as a basis for my decor - namely a reflection of my love of early-American animation and film as well as the contemporary stuff - I decided to create an homage to all of that using characters from my comic strip, Five & Tension. I would use a personal favorite from my existing strips as the subject, remove the dialogue from the panels to create the cel compositions and re-purpose the dialogue as silent film title cards.

What follows is the process:

I hand-inked the characters onto acetate sheets using a Rapidograph.

I next flipped the inked acetate sheets over and began to paint the cels using a black and white/greyscale acrylic paint palette.

Then I created the title cards in Photoshop using the font Hypatia Sans Pro and printed them on inkjet transparency sheets. I debated going truly period-authentic by adding the ornate curlicue frames around the text. I ultimately decided against it feeling that the 3" x 5" working space [after the addition of the mat] would feel cramped and busy or render the font too small.

Moving very carefully and deliberately, I hand-cut my own mats using a mat-cutting tool.

The cels were then attached to the mats using drafting dots. Canvas paper would act as a simple, yet textured background.

Finally, the completed cels and mats were framed.

The entire composition in close-up looks like this:

The featured gag is anachronistic to the period it's paying tribute to, which I guess also makes it a little tongue-in-cheek, too.

And this is how it looks mounted:

Now I just need to come up with an idea for the space to the left of it.