Sci-fi Adaptation (II)

Before achieving the final design for the space station, I explored the idea of having it partly built on a meteor. I thought that it could be interesting to mix organic shapes with man-made features.

meteor station

I tried to imagine an original shape for the meteor by looking at different things, mainly, the human skeleton. The skull is interesting because it has many different aspects. However, it is always a little unsettling to look at. I tried to imagine a space station built on a meteor which would overall look like a human skull.

Image numérisée-5

With arches derived from teeth and a labyrinth of buildings in the eye socket, I thought that it could end up working well. While I liked the idea, I decided to got back to my previous one, finding the skull too distressing for a fairy tale adaptation. Perhaps it could still be used as the lair of dangerous alien life-forms seeking to destroy human kind?


Sci-fi Adaptation (I)

The main genres that I wanted to explore included the fantasy genre, historical fiction and Film Noir. I also wished to look into science fiction, and explore the possibilities that this genre gave for a fairy tale adaptation.

There were different possibilities for a futuristic adaptation. A story set in a post apocalyptic future was one of them. However, I did not want to look into this too much as it has already been done before. I can cite A.I (2001) which was similar to the tale of Pinocchio.

Therefore, I decided to explore the possibility of setting Donkey Skin in a distant future where space is no longer unreachable, and where it is possible to live in outer space.

With the many sci-fi films released every year, it was a daunting task to imagine a scenery that had not been done before. I began by sketching ideas. Through the many sketches I did, I eventually found a design that I decided to further develop.

Space Stations

The space station’s design is about having curves instead of straight hard edges. It may seem like a strange decision for a futuristic style but that is where its originality lies. With a shape similar to the moon’s, I imagined the buildings to be made out of a bright yellow metal, with domes and round landing platforms.

Space Stations blog

This is the equivalent of Donkey Skin’s kingdom. The space station would be divided between the upper and lower towns. The bigger and richer buildings would be located on top, in the upper town, overlooking the energy source. This is where the equivalent of the castle is located.

WORLEY. A., 2005. Empires of the Imagination: A Critical Survey of Fantasy Cinema from George Melies to the Lord of the Rings, McFarland & Company

Book Layout (I)

For the past weeks, I have been looking into book layout and design in order to have a more global view of my project and analyse what’s missing and what I can improve. However I was quite surprised to find that creating a book not only visually attractive but also with a certain harmony and identity is quite a challenge.

Last Tuesday, my supervisor Deborah Kerby’s brother David Kerby kindly offered to meet me and discuss my book and its layout. This being his job, the tutorial was extremely enlightening and helpful in learning more about layout and composition. Talking to a professional helped me in understanding how to assemble my work so that the finished piece is not just another portfolio but rather a finished book.

He had an idea about beginning the book with a small paragraph about Charles Perrault, in order to explain to the reader who was the author of the fairy tale that I am about to discuss. It is a way to inform but it’s also a little homage to a very famous French author.

With a hand drawn portrait of Charles Perrault and a small paragraph about his famous work, here is what I ended up with:

Page 3c 150jpg

Looking at the page again, I realise that perhaps it would be better to have ‘Charles Perrault (1628-1703)‘ as a title so as not to confuse the reader with the paragraph (or at least leave a blank line between his name and the beginning of the short paragraph).


Murrey. S.A., 2014. Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy. 3DTotal Publishing

Curtis, G, 2013. The Art of Oz the Great and Powerful. Disney Editions, New York.

Falconer, D. 2012. The Hobbit an Unexpected Journey Chronicles Art & Design. London: HarperCollinsPublishers.

Falconer, D, 2013. The Hobbit the Desolation of Smaug Chronicles Art & Design. London: HarperCollinsPublishers.

Kurtti, J, 2010. The Art of Tangled. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Singer, M, 2010. The Answer is Yes: The Art and Making of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Disney Editions, New York.

Solomon, C, 2010. The Art of Toy Story 3. San Francisco: Chronicle Books

Modern Film Noir (II)

Film Noir and Neo-Noir

There is a slight difference between the two genres. I defined the Film Noir genre in an earlier post and will now look a bit more into Neo-Noir films.

Neo-Noir which stands for a sort of Film Noir revival, characterises films that feature elements of the classic Film Noir period, however with updated themes and contents, then, absent from the 1940s films. The elements of these classic films include conflicted heroes, complicated/ depressing situations, unusual camera placement and a striking use of light and shadow.
Films don’t need to be in black and white to have a Film Noir feel. The colour palette used, with desaturated tones and darker hues, can work just as well to create atmosphere and give the movie a striking, personal visual identity.


Homages to Film Noir

Something I have noticed when watching modern TV shows, are the numerous ‘specials’ that usually pay tribute to classic genres of the film industry: Film Noir, Musical, Animation and so on. Sometimes, these genres are even mixed together to create a very interesting episode, that is not always at the centre of the main plot of the series but that in a way, explores possibilities and the character’s personalities more thoroughly than any other episode of the season.

I can site the episode Charmed Noir that was the 8th episode of the 7th season of the TV show Charmed that aired in 2004. The show, which is originally about witches, took on the look and style of classic Film Noir for this one episode.

In the science fiction TV show Fringe, the 20th episode of the 2nd series called Brown Betty does not only borrow features from Film Noir but is also a musical. The episode which is actually a story that one of the protagonists tells to a child, is not in black and white and features science fiction elements. However it still does a good job through the costumes, the music and the camera angles of reminding the audience of the Film Noir of old.

More recently, the TV show Pretty Little Liars also featured a Film Noir episode entitled Shadow Play. This season 4 episode was shown in black and white and while the protagonists’ outfits are said to have had very striking colours, the audience never saw them as anything but grey.


To conclude, it is interesting to note that although Film Noir may have lost its importance after the 1950s, the genre never died and is still a source of inspiration for directors nowadays. The fascinating visual identity one can create through the use of lighting and camera angles is what probably appeals the most to artists. While serious films can be classified as Neo-Noirs, several TV shows use the features of this genre in a single episode as an homage to this period that heavily influenced Hollywood a few decades ago.

When looking at the examples cited above, perhaps a Film Noir Fairy-tale isn’t that far-fetched after all.


DIRKS, T., Film Noir [online]. American Movie Classics Company. Available at: [Accessed April 2015]

Modern Film Noir (I)

Why this Genre?

The Film Noir period dominated films made in Hollywood in the 1940s and the 1950s. However, even after the classic Film Noir trend came to an end, the characteristics of these films carried on and are still influencing directors today.

Some of the films that come out nowadays do not entirely belong to the Film Noir genre, but it is debated that several do have elements that were present in classic Film Noir movies.

The features that are most often used in modern Film Noir usually include either a downbeat or morally questionable hero, a femme fatale and a particular visual style.

While it is not always obvious, when looking into a film, one can sometimes see and pick out Film Noir aspects that defined the genre all those years ago.

For example, I can cite the 2011 film ‘Drive‘. From the first few minutes, it is clear that the film has got its own visual style and is not a classic crime movie. The nameless protagonist is mysterious, and ends up involved in criminal activities after developing a romantic relationship with his next door neighbour.

Another movie that takes on aspects of the classic Film Noir is the 2005 crime thriller ‘A History of Violence‘. The protagonist tries to escape a criminal past that eventually catches up to him and ends up threatening the new life he has built. Again, a morally questionable hero, criminal activities and a sense of despair can remind the audience of classic Film Noir. For example the 1955 ‘The Man with the Golden Arm‘ that features Frank Sinatra as a heroin addict who fights his addiction in prison but struggles with it once released into the real world.

There is also a possibility of including ‘Black Swan‘ to the list yet it is debatable. The whole visual aspect as well as a mentally unstable protagonist are key features of the genre. Mila Kunis’s performance as a femme fatale was spot on.

I can also site the ‘Sin City‘ movies that are both categorized as Neo-Noirs because of their striking visual identity, and the crime themes that they deal with. While the first instalment was released in 2005, the sequel ‘A Dame to Kill For‘ is more recent, dating back to 2014.

The list goes on but I should also mention the crime thriller ‘Nightcrawler‘ (2014).

Some TV shows also seem to feature aspects of Film Noir and can be seen as belonging to the Neo-Noir genre such as ‘House of Cards‘.



Campbell.C., 2014. 11 Modern Film Noir Movies You Must See. Fandango. [online]. 27th October. Available at: [accessed 2015]

Searle.T., 2012. 10 Outstanding Neo-Noirs of the 2000s. Listverse. [online]. 1st February. Available at: [accessed 2015]

Akande.Z., 2014. Why we have film noir to thank for ‘Twin Peaks’ and other hit TV dramas. Indiewire. [online] 27th December. Available at: [accessed 2015]

The Film Noir Genre – Donkey Skin’s Family Residence (III)

I then continued developing my idea of the gothic revival mansion for Donkey Skin’s family residence in the 1940s. I looked at ways I could personalise the design so as to remind the viewer of the original tale. Like with the donkey gargoyles, I had fun trying to imagine a donkey door knocker.



For the interior, the style would probably be over-ornate as a way to show off the family’s wealth. I had the idea of a huge main hall with an imposing staircase at one end. It would be the perfect place to organise receptions and formal events. These are also a way to remind the audience of the iconic balls that usually occur in fairy tales.

Entrances ideas

The Film Noir Genre – Donkey Skin’s Family Residence (II)

With the last design shown on the previous post in mind, I decided to concentrate on the details and to give possible design solutions for particular aspects of the residence. I hoped to convey the gothic revival feeling present in some of the grand New-York buildings. With a clock tower overlooking the whole infrastructure, a large balcony from which the heroine can contemplate the big city to forget her problems and an entrance made to impress visitors, the mansion should not only convey the idea of wealth and grandeur but also be imposing. One would not dare wander into the house if not invited by the owners.



A feature I particularly liked researching were gargoyles

Gargoyle studies film Noir


These studies of existing gargoyles gave ideas for the feel that the building could have. I even decided to design my own, inspired by one of the most important feature of the original fairy tale: the donkey.

Donkey Skin Mansion Architectural Features


Balcony and stuff


I began contemplating the different ways in which I would convey the importance of a Donkey for a film set in 1940s New York. A donkey that produces gold isn’t something one comes by easily in our world. So instead of the donkey producing riches, perhaps its real wealth lies in the value of the donkey itself. Donkey Skin’s father could be the owner of a very particular artwork: a beautiful donkey skin woven with gold and diamonds worth billions. One of the heroine’s demands could be that the donkey skin be turned into a coat. However filling this demand would mean that the skin would loose its value. Therefore, like in the fairy tale, the princess didn’t think her father would give into her demand.