How to Create Whimsical Photo Illustrations Using Characters


How to Create Whimsical Photo Illustrations Using Characters

The central character in many of my illustrations is the little monster. Here at Manfrotto Imagine More I wrote an article last year about the beginnings of the little figure, what it is all about and the type of stories it tells through its pictures. It is somewhat cheeky, up to a bit of mischief, and quite often with a twinkle in its eye. During the course of the year the little monster kept changing its appearance. Sometimes it had large, lopsided eyes, sometimes its expression was serious, sometimes it was grinning from ear to ear, but it always remained what it was: a small, round ball with two pointy ears and two short legs.

Last winter, out of the blue, a new, second figure was developed as part of a collaboration with the Instergramer Eric @littlecoal. I had the idea at the time to reconstruct one of Eric’s fabulous pictures in my own style and with my own materials, and it was obvious that the little monster didn’t fit here. Therefore I drew the figure of a little boy with a few simple lines, cut it out carefully with scissors and incorporated it into the scene.

The little boy very quickly morphed into a little girl, and the new possibilities and the new way of expressing myself that I could achieve with this figure suddenly really appealed to me. Even if the difference is almost minute, I did all at once have a figure with a body. This was for me and my limited drawing skills a distinct advantage when it came to implementing the one or other illustrative idea. Because it really only consists of a head, even just the question where the monster’s arms would sit has driven me close to despair on several occasions. And so this new figure, whom I named Little She, appears in my gallery more and more frequently as a fixed character.

In contrast to the little monster, Little She is the dreamlike, magical and sometimes a little enchanted element in my illustrations. Maybe something little girls would love. A figure which hides new associations inside itself and therefore also brings new stories.

When I create a new picture, i.e. when I have a new idea or connotation connected with it, then I know right from the beginning of my work which figure belongs to the respective story of the picture. This isn’t random or something I have to make a conscious decision about. Both figures represent two very different parts of myself so that both have a very fixed place and their assignment in my illustrations is completely unambiguous.

There is one single picture in which both figures, the little monster and the little girl, meet. The idea for this came after talking to a friend about the inner parts of myself, and how I implement these in my illustrations. On a personal level this is one of the most wonderful pictures, because it shows so much of myself and my outlook on life. It is like bringing together the two different parts – when I look at it I smile ruefully and think: Yes, that’s it!

both sides

Kerstin Hiestermann
Teacher, illustrator, and photographer from Hanover, Germany



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