Building a “Coraline” pop-up diorama

I posted last week about my newfound love for the movie “Coraline;” I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I just might try to go see it in the theaters again (especially when I’m in Minneapolis in a couple of weeks and hopefully might have a chance to see it in 3D). The visual style of the movie inspired me, like nothing else really has in a long, long time. Even while I was watching the movie the first time, a set would flash by or there’d be a closeup of one of the characters, and I just kept having these thoughts go through my head of “I could build that, and it would be awesome.”

Then by chance at work last week, I ran across this fantastic sample booklet for Corbis stock photos. It’s an extremely thick book with popups constructed of a variety of images from their stock photo library, as a leadin for the sample DVD included with this dem. Here are some other images of the book; it has a plastic dust jacket that you have to remove or open to get to the popups; here are straight-on and oblique views of the first of the book’s four popups; and finally a side view of the fourth popup and the DVD pocket in the back flap.

I immediately stole it from our designer (after asking nicely first if I could) and took it home, and I spent many minutes just looking at it – flipping the pages, opening and closing the popups, looking at them from a variety of angles.

The splash page for Coraline.com is tailor-made for this sort of treatment. So, I decided to build it.

After breaking down the frontpage, the project will be a four-layer popup diorama, and I’m going to do a couple of layers of sky and have a button on a rotating wheel that I can turn to cause the lunar eclipse. My plan is to build the layers as paper collages rather than just have a flat image on each; we’ll see how that turns out. You can see some rough sketching I’ve done to start breaking down the house and see how I might attack its construction.

I’m going to document my progress on this project here; for now, take a look at the initial engineering prototype as I start playing with layer positioning and relative sizing. I threw this one together in about an hour and didn’t really do a whole lot of measuring; I just eyeballed the scale for the most part, and I actually think it turned out really well.

This prototype is built with 8 1/2 x 11 65-pound cardstock. I’m probably going to build the final product out on a 12×12. The proportions will be very similar; it’ll just end up being quite a bit wider, which will fit well with the feel of the Coraline.com menu. I’m still considering whether to do a second engineering prototype at the larger size; it’d probably be a good idea.

Stay tuned…

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