Last Saturday we visited the Hartford, Connecticut studio of Walter Wick, the photographer and children's book author who has produced the “I Spy” and “Can You See What I See” books, sales of which have totaled over 19 million copies.
He is a master model builder, creating layered scenes of found or created objects that he carefully lights and photographs. Readers of his books enjoy looking for hidden objects in the complicated sets. Many of his books involve clever progressions from one spread to the next.
Read about the making of this "Puss in Boots" photo-illustration here, showing the contribution of his collaborative team of artists.
He has a beautiful workshop where he translates his storyboards into wood, foam, or cardboard sculptures. Some of his miniature worlds are so complicated that he calls upon sculpting assistants to help him with the workload.
Here's a cool video called "Balancing Act" showing the building (and unbuilding) of a teetering stack of toys.
Some of the rough bases for models were made from blue insulation foam hot-glued (low-temp) together and cut with a band saw or electric carving knife. This is a timesaving method that we illustrators can use for building reference maquettes. The foam bases can be surfaced with gesso and modeling paste.
Walter Wick's official website has lots of behind-the-scenes features that show more of his methods.