Constructing the castle for Once Upon a Time

Production for Can You See What I See? Once Upon A Time began with sketches, I drew freehand using a Wacom tablet and Photoshop software. The sketches, like the one shown here for Puss in Boots, were necessary to provide a color palette and guide for model making.

Because Puss in Boots was to be used for the cover image, I made adjustments in the drawing to accommodate the cover type. Models and sets were then built to conform to the drawing so that the final photograph would work for both the cover and the interior spread.

Using the sketch as a guide, artist Randy Gilman made a cardboard mock-up of the castle. Digital photographs were taken and further adjustments of the mock-up were made as needed. Size and general configuration of the landscape was also worked out at this stage.

Studio Manager Dan Helt turns a castle turret on a lathe in my workshop. The castle is made of high density polyurethane foam, a lightweight, carvable material that’s often used in signage. Details such as bricks and roof tiles were carved by hand.

The high density foam, which can be heated and bent, was also used to make the cobblestone road that leads to the castle. Here, artist Mike Galvin carves stones one by one with a small rasp. The road tapers in to enhance the sense of depth - an illusionistic technique called forced perspective.

Here I make final adjustments on the finished set prior to taking the castle photograph with a 22 megapixel digital camera. The foreground gate and road (not shown) was photographed separately and later composited with the castle using Photoshop.

The iron gate was laser cut in plastic from a design I made. The cat, the lion, and mouse were sculpted by artist Michael Lokensgaard. Details in the gate post were carved by Randy Gilman. I digitally painted the sky using Photoshop, replacing the solid blue color in the castle scene above.

Puss in Boots ©2006 Walter Wick,
from Can You See What I See? Once Upon a Time