Coraline house: Construction underway!

After having this project shelved for a couple of months now, I finally got around to starting construction of my Coraline house popup that I started back in March (Adam will surely be excited 🙂 ). I built the top and bottom for the popup and started working on the “Coraline” logo for the front cover. The logo is silver foil cardstock glued to a piece of grey paper for the shadow; the first letter I tried to make, a “C,” turned out OK; I’ll just need to take a bit more care in gluing the pieces together for the final product. This first letter was mostly to see how this would look, and whether it’d be worth the effort to worry about the paper shadow. It looks pretty good, so I think I’m going to continue with it. Pics over there –> in the Flickr sidebar.

Update: Coraline popup construction

Popup house planning - 3/7/09 updateHey, first post for awhile… I was out of town for the first three days of this week at a training conference (which was actually really good), but during some of the spare time I have had I’ve been doing a little more work on the “Coraline” pop-up diorama project I started last month.

Most notably, I think I’ve basically completed the planning for the house; that’s a big step, because it should prove to be the most time-consuming layer to complete (although I’m still tossing around some ideas in my head on how, exactly, I’m going to do the sky…). You can take a look at where that stands here.

I also did a construction mockup for one of the “lids” to the pop-up; the 65-pound cardstock I’m going to use for a lot of the primary construction would be too flimsy to support the weight of the diorama layers, so the two outer layers are going to be backed with foamcore for stability and strength.

However, I didn’t want to just slap a piece of foamcore onto the back side of each lid of the popup and call it done; that would’ve looked incredibly sloppy. So I decided to wrap the foamcore in paper so it would have a nice, consistent edge.

I wanted to build a mockup of one of the backer boards, just to test out the concept and see how it would turn out before being in position to do a live run on the final project. I initially cut two 8.5×11 pieces of foamcore, intending to wrap them and end up with a standard letter-sized final product. But the paper I wanted to use for the wrap was also 8.5×11 – and that obviously wouldn’t work. So I decided on a final size of 7 9/16 x 10 1/16 inches; it allows for a standard letter-sized page to be cut and scored so it can cover the 3/8-inch edges of the foamcore and leave a quarter inch flap to glue to the back of the foamcore and secure the edge.

The mockup I built is blue; the final product will be black, but I didn’t see myself using this particular pattern of paper very often, so I used it instead. I didn’t think to take any pictures of the build process; I’ll do that when I’m assembling the final product.

I think it turned out really well; it was good practice using a bone scorer, which I’ve only used a few times now (and yes, I learned you can tear through paper if you push too hard with the scorer – valuable lesson for the final product), and I learned that the Elmer’s glue stick I raided from Helen’s art box dries *way* too fast to be useful for a precision project. And I’ll want to be a bit more careful with the corners, although the ones on the mockup turned out pretty well.

I attached a piece of cardstock to the mockup just to see how it would fit; the cardstock is a 16th of an inch narrower than the backer board, because I wanted to leave some room for the hinge attaching the final pieces together. On the final product, I think I’ll make it an additional 1/16th of an inch narrower and an eighth of an inch narrower on the long side, too – to leave a 1/16th-inch border around the entire area. That’ll look really nice.

So – final dimensions for the actual popup are going to be 9-15/16 inches wide by 7-7/8 inches deep.

This is really starting to come together, especially considering I really haven’t done anything quite like this before. Hopefully the final product measures up, but so far I’m excited about the progress.

Construction planning for the “Coraline” house

Coraline house - startI began the process of designing and planning the construction of the house for the “Coraline” popup diorama I’m working on; it’s proving to be more straight-forward than I had originally thought it might be. I’ve spent about an hour and a half getting it to this point; it shouldn’t take more than a few hours more to complete it. Then I’ll plot out the other three layers and begin construction. Should be fun.

The roof overlay will need to be reworked a little; I didn’t catch the little area of roof that’s visible between the turret and the front eave, and I’ve lost a little detail there. Will be easy to fix. Then I’ll need to work out which details I’ll build up with paper and which will be added in with score lines or colored pencils or watercolors later; at this point, the majority of the major features look like they’ll work well as paper. Will adjust as necessary during construction.

I’m liking how this is going so far. It should be a fun project to complete.

Coraline house planning - layer plans

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…

“Coraline”

Coraline

I went to see “Coraline” with Mel & Helen today; it was one of the best times I’ve had at the movies in a long time. The trailers I’d seen for “Coraline” over the last few months had me really interested to see the movie, but they really didn’t do it justice. It’s an amazing film in all aspects: it’s visually remarkable, the voice acting is superb, the story is compelling, and it has a fantastic soundtrack.

It’s a very dark movie in parts, and if you’ve got very small children you might want to consider their penchant for fright before taking them. Helen’s just turned four and she did pretty well, but there were certainly some parts of the movie that freaked her right out. The imagery in the movie can be genuinely creepy; it’s not “hey, something jumped out and solicited a scare” style fright, but the basic atmosphere and feel of the film that gives the scare. It’s incredibly well-done. Helen loved it, and I don’t regret taking her in the slightest; but if your kids are easily scared, you might want to weigh that when deciding whether or not to see this.

Also, keep in mind when you’re watching “Coraline” that every single thing you’re seeing on screen is an actual, constructed object – there’s no CGI in this movie. It’s completely hand-built, sets, props, backdrops, the whole works, shot in stop-motion. It’s a remarkable technical achievement.

I’ve left plenty of movies wondering why I wasted the $20-30 that it takes to get tickets and snacks for a movie at the theaters; this was not one of those movies, not by a long shot. The experience of seeing this on the big screen was worth every cent

My only regret: not living in a city where I would’ve been able to watch “Coraline” in 3D. I’ll bet that’s an amazing experience. Comment if you’ve seen the 3D version and let me know what you think.