Final Pieces: King Popiel and the Mice Tower

It took me a while to recover from all the all nighters that I had to pull out in order to complete these beauties! I am really proud of myself although I wish I didn’t leave everything to the last minute.. I don’t think I will ever learn.

I have completed 5 illustrations for the exhibition, which I will speak of later in my posts so keep updated! Four of the illustrations are for the legend King Popiel and The Mice Tower, and one is Wars and Sawa that I decided to revisit from my first semester. I wasn’t sure how to proceed with posting them so I will just go through one legend at a time and then go into the detail on how the exhibition went an the process of setting it up. I will also go through designing the book

but for now…

The legend about King Popiel is very known in Poland and it goes;

Popiel was a great ruler, his castle was built near a town Kruszowica. Although he couldn’t take care of his kingdom well and wisely, and treated his civilians badly. Popiel was cruel and spent most of his time on feasts and amusements. He wouldn’t think about his people at all and did not consider their opinion. His wife had a similar attitude towards the poverty. Only the relatives of the king were worried about the fate of the residents of the kingdom, they couldn’t let all the fortune to go to waste. They decided to influence his consciousness and shortly announced a visit.


Meanwhile Popiel’s wife plotted a sinister, cunning plan. To once and for all get rid of the arriving guests she poisoned the wine with a mixture changing anybody that has contact with it into mice.magdafinal4

The plan succeeded and soon everybody were bewildered by the poisoned liquor. When king Popiel was just about to rise another toast, the participants of the gathering started changing into mice, one by one.MAGDA FINAL2

Unaware of the enormity of what was about to happen the King and queen ran to hide at the top of their castle. The mice reached them with no trouble and soon the couple was bitten to death.


This is how I translated the legend basing it on my memory and some resources I found and I am really happy with how it turned out. The book contains the exact same text.


Experiments for the book design

As I have to design the book I had to produce some visual enchantments for it. I decided that ink splatters will be the most suited for the black and white design I’m going for. I want to link a little of contemporary with Gothic/vintage theme. Some of these will be used as back grounds of the pages and a front cover, and some will be cropped and pasted as if they are merging from the corners of the illustrations . Hopefully the program that I use (inDesign) will allow me to do this effectively after a couple of tutorials. I suck at Photoshop and this is worryingly similar to it… I am concerned if it will look interesting rather than like a huge mess .

I have also practised some ornaments for decorating the pages with the text. I want to put them at the bottom of paragraphs or stories and some at the corners or along the pages. Scan_20170506.jpg

1st Final finally finished

Yes. This bad boy is finally complete and it was a nightmare that definitely taught me some lessons for the future. It is the first time I have worked with a dip pen in such scale and it was messy. Frustrating.  And it payed off.

I have previously exercised mark making with copying Albrecht Durers and Bernie Wrightsons work in my sketchbook. It allowed me to feel confident with the techniques and developed my mark making. I know for sure the illustration could be cleaner, as the texture of a scratched and painted over paper looks rough in different light. This is why for the exhibition I will be scanning the finals in and printing them in high resolution to eliminate the texture of paper.


Business Cards

As I keep ranting, the Final Exhibition is coming fast. All the deadlines are piling up and I am feeling very excited but also very anxious!

On the other hand, my personal Business Cards have arrived and I couldn’t feel prouder! Hopefully giving these out will guarantee some interest for future commissions. I really hope that my work will encourage audience to contact me.


Process of working on the finals

The Final exhibition is coming towards me with real big footsteps now. I have been photographing the process of inking the first final piece for the legend called King Popiel and the Mice Tower. The legend is set in very old times as the previous legends I attempted illustrating.

It is about a King and Queen living in a town called Kruszwica in Poland. They were both really bad rulers and not very liked by their people. All they did is feast, drink and spend money on big parties. One time they got a letter from a family that lived near by, announcing they are coming for a meal. This message really enraged the couple as the visitors were cherished by the people. The queen has plotted a plan of changing everybody into mice during the meal by serving spiked wine.

During the meal, as supposed all guests changed to mice. The King and Queen ran to hide away at the top of the tower. They got attacked by all the mice and died. Since then the tower has its name The Mice Tower.

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The process of completing this piece was somehow still experimental, because I haven’t worked like this before. First, to make it easier for myself and also estimate the lights and shadows, I applied ink washes. I found later that doing so adds more depth together with the darkness of the ink. Compared to my previous way of working with fine-liners the difference in tone is drastic.

Next I started to add mark making here and there. I covered the brick wall first a that was the largest and darkest area. I decided to do dot work on the hog roast and meat as I believe the texture matched the form. Then I proceeded to the fabrics, the texture and folds have come easier for me this time. Then I proceeded to the wood on the table and darkened the brick wall as it seemed too light. I’ve done the Kings clothes before I moved on to sketching the planes of the faces. I have left the faces last as I find them most challenging so to make sure they are as accurate as possible I take my time working the tone around first.

The mark making has developed as I don’t use cross hatching as often as before and instead I follow the flow of the form and thicken the line where necessary. This creates much more variety and seems more genuine.

Business Cards Ordered!

YES! A very proud moment for me as a growing artist! Building up to the Final Exhibition there’s a lot of things that need to be done. One of them was getting our own Business Cards, other are more major and stressful ; writing my dissertation in third person (HOW ON EARTH AM I GOING TO ACCOMPLISH THAT?!?! help much welcome!) and printing our catalogues.. Together with finalising the Illustrations and magically change them into a book on time.. Hold me

Developing Illustrations for my Final Exhibition…maybe

When I develop my drawings I need to make sure I practice plenty before doing a large design. This is all done in my sketchbook, together with notes and small crappy sketches or photographs of me and my boyfriend for body reference!                                                      When I feel comfortable to move the composition onto a bigger page that’s when the official final is perfected. Here is a bad image of my work space and 2 out of 3 compositions I have done so far. This is how they look before I start inking. These two are too small for my preference, so I’ve scanned them so I can easily trace them larger and basically draw the images again. Oh the joys… 🙂

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This semester I have changed my approach to adding tone a little from the last semesters work. Practising with dip pen and ink washes made me realise how much faster it is and how easy it is to build tone in this way. The way I worked before required a lot of time, all of the tone was build with hatching technique! So working with washes first and then adding stippling is much faster and in my opinion more effective!20170331_171522

Another bad photo of my development! What is important is that hopefully you can tell how much different ink and fine liners are. With fine liners I can comfortably do dot work and detail but they are not as dark as ink and fade easily.. which is good for error I suppose as I can rub the marks off with ‘ink rubber’.  20170402_180444