Designing the Wicked Circus Tin

As I mentioned yesterday, the second I read about the “Wicked Circus” swap, I knew the subject I wanted to craft… but how to approach it? Well, I knew the type of design I wanted to do almost as immediately.

Knickertwist's Paper Theatre

Click image to read all about Knickertwist's Fairyland Theatre at Craftster.

Just recently, I had seen Knickertwist’s entry in a Craftster Challenge (see a closeup to the left). It reminded me of the forced perspective used in medieval theatrical scene design called “Italianate Staging” or “wing and drop.”

I fell in love with the design and knew it was a perfect plan for designing the interior of a tin. And all of this happened before I knew Knickertwist was my swap partner.

So I had my theme and my format. Next I needed to find some images. I have tons (yes, tons) of copyright and/or royalty free disks of clipart and multiple accounts at various clipart sites. Thinking about all those resources, I knew I wanted a vintage look and I knew Dover Publications was my most likely source.

Original Girl GraphicSure enough, I found this little girl in one of the Dover collections. She was the perfect age and style, plus (and this was the toughest requirement to fulfill) she was standing full face forward.

She was an excellent beginning. I spent some time altering her in Photoshop. Adding her “twin” was not all that difficult, but when I did the first test print, I discovered that I had to print her so small (to fit in the tin) that her eyes turned into black blobs.

And she was obviously way too cheerful. But Photoshop is the cure for both black-blob eyes and cheerfulness.

Altered Girl Image

Window Drapes When it came time to look for stage curtains, I was out of luck. Search as I did, I found nothing usable… until I started looking at window drapes. I found the image to the left and after some quick editing in Photoshop, I had a perfectly suitable stage curtain.

The accordion, the cloud backdrop and the fairy wings are from collections that do not allow me to post the originals here, but they started out as photographs (sadly, the wing picture was of a butterfly, not a fairy). A few Photoshop filters later, they took on the woodcut style of the girls and the drapes.

As you may now suspect, all of the coloring was completed in Photoshop.

Once I was somewhat satisfied with the colors (though I hadn’t yet corrected the eyes), I decided it was time for a print out and mock-up. I didn’t spend much time (or finesse) when cutting the pieces — and the mock-up is held together (just barely) with scrap bits of wood and soft clay:


I cannot begin to tell you how invaluable this stage of the process was — for one thing, in my head the girls were just standing there on the stage, but I hadn’t even considered how I was going to attach them to the piece. Secondly, when I wasn’t satisfied with the printed leg chains, I remembered that I had some teeny-tiny real chain that would look awesome.

And the real chain would eliminate the need to hand-cut all those teeny-tiny links. Bonus.

You may have noticed that the girls’ hands have been removed. I was trying to find the best to keep their arms attached to the body while having them hold the accordion. I could have just printed her body and the accordion as one image, but I really wanted the depth provided by two layers, so printed them separately. Removing just the hands did not work. In the end (after this picture was taken), I cut their arms off at the shoulders, re-attached the arms (at the hand) to the accordion and then re-attached them (at the shoulder) to their body.

It’s this sort of modification you really don’t want to be experimenting with on your finished piece, so “yay!” for mock-ups.

With the overall design in place (though not finalized), it was time to start prepping my tin.

Tomorrow’s Topic: Heat Set Paint, One Altoids Tin, and The Devil Oven (subtitled: “I don’t think I should be breathing this.”)

3 comments for “Designing the Wicked Circus Tin

  1. April 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Yes! And it is awesomeness indeed. It appears to be crafted by angels. I loves my dear chained girls and will never ever let them go 🙂

    • Jivvy
      April 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      You have no idea how thrilled I am that you love the girls. Had I gotten another partner, the fairy element probably wouldn’t have happened, but once it happened, I knew they were always meant to have wings. <3

  2. Carolyn
    April 5, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Splendid indeed! I am most happy to know that I am not alone in mocking things.

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