Monday, November 9, 2009

Walter Wick at Work

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.


Rob Fullmer said...

Walter Wick's stuff is amazing! I wasn't familiar with his work until I caught a museum display of it while visiting Brigham Young University last spring. My kids and I were riveted to the pictures and walked out of the museum with several of his books. I admit I spent the most time with a large diorama they set up for the Puss and Boots photo above.

Tyler J said...

I really love his style, its wonderful.

The video was fantastic. What a great instinct for entertainment to film the "takes" on the unbuilding. I supposes that its not surprising that his art has a similar quality to it.

Steve said...

Very cool video.

When I was teaching 4th grade, every week students checked Wick's books out of the library. The covers were shot and the binding falling apart. The great thing about them is that both virtual non-readers and strong readers could sit side by side and share the wit and intelligence his books provide. I bought a class set of his book, "A Drop of Water", subtitled "A Book of Science and Wonder." It has incredible photographs of water droplets, snow crystals, etc. His sense of wonder is revealed as clearly as the objects he photographs.

J. R. Stremikis said...

Love the video - the quality is fantastic !
Please note that the video frame, embedded within this blog posting has about one-quarter of the right-hand side truncated.
The video is better viewed in Youtube - to do that, just right-click within the frame, and then "view in Youtube". That way, the video frame is complete, as well as in larger size/resolution.
Sure wish I knew the about the camera that Wick uses - and more about his techniques. Imagine Wick capturing Jim Gurney, as Jim put his pencil to paper - just imagine the detail !

Roberto said...

This Guy is Wonder-Full! His book ‘Optical Tricks’ is Awwsome. I’ll have to take a look at his ‘Drop of Water’, sounds great.

Jimmy G.- Your posts continue to be amazing, even as you travel coast-to-coast and across-the-pond. ‘Yues’ must have a whole herd of ‘maintenance crews’ working for you. Keep up the good work! -RQ

Eugen Caitaz said...

If he can to build this, he need to be Physicist. Yes????