How to paint a Grimm fairy tale

Min Yum says plan­ning ahead, keep­ing things sim­ple and hav­ing fun are all key to cre­at­ing a com­pelling Brothers Grimm fairy tale il­lus­tra­tion

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Min Yum says plan­ning ahead, keep­ing things sim­ple and hav­ing fun are the keys to cre­at­ing a com­pelling Brothers Grimm-style fairy tale il­lus­tra­tion.

Cre­at­ing a pic­ture isn’t easy. There are so many things to con­sider: ideas, com­po­si­tion, sto­ry­telling, mood, colour and ren­der­ing, to name but a few. It can eas­ily be­come over­whelm­ing.

At least in this case I have the Brothers Grimm sto­ries to take in­spi­ra­tion from. The editor asks me to paint a scene from a fairy tale, and I choose The Six Swans, in which six brothers have to be re­leased from their avian curse by their sis­ter. I don’t have a set paint­ing process, but I do fol­low a few guide­lines. First, I plan ahead, and that means lots of re­search. Of­ten there are go­ing to be el­e­ments I’m not fa­mil­iar with, and that means lots of sketch­ing. I’d rather solve any prob­lems at the start than leave them for the fi­nal stages. Fur­ther­more, if it doesn’t work as a sketch then it’s not go­ing to work as a de­tailed colour work.

Se­cond, keep­ing it sim­ple: de­sign, colour, story… nice and sim­ple! I of­ten have to re­mind my­self of this be­cause it’s prob­a­bly the hard­est one to stick to.

Fi­nally, the great thing about dig­i­tal me­dia is how it’s so for­giv­ing of mis­takes. So take ad­van­tage of it. When I get stuck I’ll just go back and take a dif­fer­ent route.

Oh, and have fun! For this work­shop it’s an op­por­tu­nity to show a dif­fer­ent side of fairy tales. There’s some­thing very dry, melan­choly yet ro­man­tic about them. And it’s th­ese qual­i­ties that make them such an en­joy­able sub­ject to paint.

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