Working on a book project

Schermata 2016-02-21 alle 13.25.20

I’m presenting my project for my final test. I decided to illustrate a tale written by Neil Gaiman, an English author of short fiction, comic books, graphic novels audio theatre, films and novels for adult, young adult and children.
I came upon a little book last summer, “Odd and the frost giants” and even though if it was a children book, i bought it, read it and love it.

I appreciated it so much I decided to set my last work around it: I made 10 illustrations: graphite and photoshop works.

First I did a research about the argument: the book draws on Norse mythology and also the historical vikings.

Odd is a young lame Norseman whose father, a woodcutter, drowned during a Viking raid. His Scottish mother marries a fat widower who neglects him in favor of his own children, and when the winter drags on unnaturally long, Odd leaves his village for the forest. There he meets randomly the great gods Odin, Thor and Loki: they are in big trouble and Odd tries to help them at his best.

The atmosphere is not too dark, but quite intense. I watched lots of films and tv shows about vikings and made an illustration references resource, trying to figure out the best way to give birth to my work.

I used graphite to create intense lights and dark spots, also because is my favorite art technique and sometime i lost myself in drawing.

The palette was an important component of the work: it had to recall a frosty and north environment, wild and magic, of course. I show the gods in their anthropomorphic forms only in their last drawing, to maintain a mysterious shadow upon them.

For their iconography, I totally ignore the design created by Marvel for them, indeed I chose to study and follow the classic representation of the norse gods.

For the animal forms of the gods I researched not only realistic photos, but other representations of them in the illustration world (actually, the book I chose already came as an illustrated one, so I checked out all the works made by professional illustrators).

The final result was a series of illustrations with a short note from the book (for copyright reasons, I can not transcribe all the original text), thought for a ten-years old target.

I really enjoyed to create this project and the way I felt let me know that that’s my way, my future, my way to work being happy at the same time.

How My Illustration Came to the World

The Theory of Everything, illustration by Jessica Morichi

The Theory of Everything,
illustration by Jessica Morichi

First of all to do an illustration you’ll need a subject. I’ll take one of mine to show you my steps from the very beginning to the final illustration. It was almost an year ago, when i saw the movie “The Theory of Everything” and i totally fell for that. There was this scene, where the two leading characters were hugging each other on a bridge and it was night so there was this magical atmosphere and they were illuminated by this string of lights and every light shaped out a circle of light in the air. I knew that this would be my next illustration.

I came back home that night and i made a sketch, cause i needed to make it out of my head. Next morning i sat at my table and started to improve that sketch. It wasn’t easy because the picture wasn’t any longer so clear in my head. I surfed the web looking for some references, but i couldn’t find that one.

I had to wait some weeks to see the picture in streaming and finally do the drawing. It was really simple, but i knew that painting it wouldn’t be easy at all. I copied carefully the drawing on a sheet of Arches paper ( a fine art paper, as expensive as good) and i set up my table for painting with gouache. When you start coloring you need to begin from the background, so i started from the sky. I knew that at last, i needed the sky to be almost black, but i couldn’t start with making it all black, because i needed space for the lights: so i started mixing primary blue and burnt umber with a lot of water, then i did a first faint layer, paying attention to stay distant from the lights. I continued adding layers to layers and getting closer to the lights and the characters. When the sky reached the most darker color it could reach without black, i started to take care of the character. When i paint a character i always start with coloring their skin, than i move to the hair, if they don’t compromise the clothes ( if they aren’t overlapping). As far as I had completed the characters, i painted out the bridge using the same layers technique i employed with the sky. Now it comes the hard part: i softened the dark color of the sky with water, making it closer to lights circles. It took a lot but it totally worth it. So i applied a thin layer of naple yellow to make the lights pop out and a stronger layer of yellow to the light bulbs. Done.

I was rather satisfied with the result, but when i scanned it i realized that it needed more contrast between light and dark. So i adjusted it with photoshop and as i worked i noticed the hand of the girl wasn’t right, so i fixed that too. At the very end, i was really satisfied, i loved how it came out and i feel it’s a good tribute to the movie.

Tortoise doorknocker

This project starts from a life philosophy in which I belive very much and which I use in all my works: recycling .

We live in a society where everything that is broken, malfunctional or simply old, is seen like useless junk or trash.

As we know the garbage problem has terrible effects on our planet, damaging its delicate ecosystem, both on the ground and the sea.

This waste of resources affects also our lifestyle: we become consumerism slaves.

People spending all the night in front of the closed doors of an Apple Store, kilometrical ques in front of high fashion stores in sales time, tons of food being thrown away, as to make fun of underdeveloped Countries.

Consumerism pollutes. It pollutes the environment, the minds and the bodies.

Consumerism kills. It kills the environment, the minds and the bodies.

When I was asked to project a zoomorphic doorknocker, I naturally thought how to make it following my usual ecologist line of work, so I begun making a sketch of a frog made of an hypothetical “piece of iron I would find around”.

The same day, while I was coming back at home, I found the fallen lamp of a street light in the parking, next to my car; it looked to me as a turtle shell, so I took it and put it in the trunk of my car. Once at home, I washed it carefully to get rid of all the pieces of broken glass and then I chose some other metallic pieces from my “personal collection of interesting trash”: a crooked tube for the neck and an old doorbell for the head. I used an iron base to support the main body in order to favour the knocker swinging. At that time were missing the legs and I struggled very much to find them: I looked for any tube for a long time but I wasn’t able to find them and I was tempted to buy them at the hardware store but this would had gone against my philosophy of work.

On a wonderful morning I arrived at the Genua station and just outside there was a construction side, where I saw a beautiful mountain of old iron and inside it a long tube (maybe a former of a street sign support), so I went to talk to the workers that gently gave me this tube and so I finally could make the legs of my tortoise.

This is a kind of work that I prefer because I’m a very practical person and I don’t like to make many sketches and projects, I love to take action immediately, following my inspiration. This type of work doesn’t need a lot of planning and this gives me a big artistic freedom.

To me  transforming the waste into a newborn functional object means to connect in a more spiritual and grateful way to the environment.

I studied theatrical scenography and I always applied this philosophy also in my  models because I find that if you use real materials without reproducing them artificially already during the first part of the work, you can tell a truth and not a fiction of a fiction.



This is the procedure I followed to structure the story of my character design project.
I’m not a screenw iter, so I decided to design a number of characters for a MMORPG game, where the story has a marginal role and does not substantially affect the profile of the characters, as it is the players themselves to create their own route through the game depending on the choices they make.

However, a setting and a background narrative situation are still required, though marginal. I thought of a world in conflict, with two opposing factions, completely different from each other, fighting for enough land to be able to live in peace.

Thus Friguwera was born (from Latin frigus, “cold”, plus wera, “hot” in Maori language).  Friguwera is a planet hit by such a critical reversal of climate to have its two hemispheres split into two opposite territories, one desert and very hot, and the other completely frozen.

Over the centuries, the climate has increasingly tightened from both ends, so as to force the two factions (the Glacietech, a population that has managed to survive to the extreme cold through technology, and the Tumarokee, a population that has survived to the drought thanks to magic, and their connection with spirits), to push closer and closer to the equator, and fight against each other for the conquest of the milder territory.

In this game, you can choose which faction to belong to, and which to fight against. For almost the entire duration of the game, the player will believe that the blame for the climate change lies with the other faction; rumour has become history because of the many years of conflict. On the day of the final battle, however, a divine entity will manifest itself as the real culprit, and the two sides will meet up to defeat the real enemy. To create the style of the two opposing factions, I drew inspiration on science fiction on the one hand, and tribal magic on the other.



Character Design and Reference

“Reference” for the character designer can be defined as “the ability to view photos and real life to ensure the graphic reliability of what you want to represent.” For example, if you want to draw a wild animal that it is not possible to study from life, you cannot think of being able to draw it without recourse to some referent. At that point, it would be advisable to take a trip to a zoo, or search for images on the Internet.

I started using references very late in my work, because it seemed like cheating to me. But recently, while gathering notes for my thesis, I have learned that even the most talented artists use referents, and I have realized that using them would be fair. For example, there are many methods to draw people, and this is a good thing, seeing that most of character design has to do with the representation of the human body. The best way to ensure proper representation is definitely practice, and referents are essential to this purpose. The best source of reference is definitely real life, and what we perceive from our surroundings. Your first drawing course surely will include sessions of drawing from life; in fact, after attending many art lessons, I frequently happened to come across this kind of evidence, with both male and female models, or with fruit and plaster busts.
Obviously, it is not possible to have a drawing class on a permanent basis. So the idea is to draw anyone you may meet around, from friends to strangers in a train or a bus.


ll you need is just walking around, and observing the shape of things, or people’s expressions, gestures, movements. So why not exploit this opportunity? The difficulty is definitely in being able to copy movements and faces “on the move”. But this will certainly help to hone your skills as well. Also, after learning the basics of anatomy, drawing from life is useful to learn how to handle draperies and clothes as they loosely fall over the body.


Another great advantage in practising with people depicted from life, just sitting on the bus or walking in a department store, is that you grow familiar with “gesture drawings”, a technique that teaches you how to capture their energy and mood in no time, just by sketching the subject.


My First Installation

I have researched some of the main concepts of contemporary art and summed up my study with a final project; an installation inspired to Wolfgang Tillmans’s work.

In his photos, Tillmans (born 1968) has consistently represented the youth subculture of his time, as well as showing the transformations European society was undergoing over the years.


He has documented young people breaking rules up, and has been a most sensitive portraitist of the evanescent trends stirring their imagination. Tillmans has revolutionized the way viewers may feel photography by introducing new exhibition parameters: from the portrait to the landscape, including abstract picture models. In short, he has reinvented photo aesthetics, seeking beauty in vulnerability and instability. In order to exhibit his work, he employs an original method: he alters the size of the pictures, without any order or hierarchy.

Our project arise from his experience. We built our installation with pictures of different size, and scattered them on the wall without any real logical order, wisely using the space at our disposal. Tillmans stated: “I take pictures in order to see the world”. Just like him, we wanted to display our world and the people we are sharing our lives with day by day.

The favourite subjects of Tillmans’s pictures are people hanging out at bars and rave parties in the 90s. He has explored relationships of genuine love and friendship with a personal and intimate insight. He shuffles postcards and newspapers scraps in such a way to inspire emotions and feelings. Tillmans denies the canonical exhibit form in which images are framed and aligned on the walls, so creating a new way to show pictures. Our installation considers Wolfgang’s work in its most practical meaning.

We also took into account the human body and the clothes we use to get it covered. We collected different types of clothes: jeans, trousers, skirts, shirts and jackets.

On the Accademia’s open day, we completed our project: we filled a wall with a lot of pictures representing our daily lives to describe our contemporaneity.


Love Letter

The project that I’m going to illustrate was a part of an exam, called “Project Methodology”, that I took last year. The objective of the course was to choose among different stories, read them, and come up with a personal, artistic interpretation of their meaning. The story that I preferred was “Love Letter”, so I decided to represent it through a painting on a wood panel.

The story is about Rocco, a business man in love with a woman, Ornella. The reader doesn’t know much about her because there are no details about her life, for example her job or other personal facts, but the reader knows her through a letter that Rocco is writing. In fact, he wants to write a love letter to tell her how much he loves her and how important she is to him. During his day at work, he tries to write the letter but, unfortunately, he is constantly interrupted by one of his employees. At the end of the day, while he is still working, he finds the letter but, reading the addressee’s name, he realises that he does not know her, so he will never send the letter.

QuadroWhen I read the story I imagined the conflict between mind and heart, because the story is mainly about that. This is the reason why I decided to represent it through a painting with a brain, that is the rationality, at the top, and a heart , which is passion and love, at the bottom. In the middle, I chose to put a scrap of paper, the letter, pierced by a red rose. I chose to add the detail of the rose because, first of all, I think that it is the symbol of lovers, and, secondly, because red is the colour signifying passion and love. The background is divided into two parts: the upper one shows clouds and thunders, which represent the ongoing conflict, and the main colour is grey; the lower one is made up of many different colours to represent the happiness of a person in love with someone.

I used different materials for the painting. First, I painted the wood panel, then I made the heart and the brain. Both of them have been made by modeling plaster and painting the brain in grey and the heart in red. Finally, I wrote the letter, pierced it, and slid the red rose inside.

100 Steps

I created a painting project from the analysis and design of a plaster cast. I called it “100 Steps” because I was inspired by the eponymous Italian film I cento passi by M.T. Giordana. Then I did a series of paintings that are the study and the analysis of movement in the space. This is represented by some paintings in Futurist style where I experimented a variety of collage techniques using various materials.

1) Movement of one leg below the sky and a red sun: in this painting I explored the Eastern concept of emptiness and harmony. Tempera and oil on paper. 70 x 50 cm

English1 cento passi

2) Speed of some legs: I tried to recreate the sensation of speed inspired by Futurism. Oil on canvas. 70 x 60cm

English2 cento passi

3) Mixed collage: I imagined two legs in a city street. Oil and newspaper on canvas. 80 x 80cm

English3 cento passi

4) Mixed collage : Sometimes my collages take on a surreal dimension. Oil and printed newspapers on canvas. 70 x 50cm

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5) Mixed collage: oil and printed newspapers on canvas. 80 x 80cm

English5cento passi

6) Mixed media collage: in order to create perspective lines, I used a zipper. Oil and newspaper on canvas. 70 x 50cm

English6 cento passi

My Fansub Group

In 2009, with some of my friends, I created a fansub group called AnimeMagicFansub. Fansubs on the Internet are non-professional translations of films or TV programs into other languages, and deal with the synchronization of subtitles to audiovisual work. My fansub group takes care of translating Japanese animation.

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Generally, the roles of the people who take part in a fansub group are:

Raw providers: they are the ones that look for the raws the subtitles will be printed to. The raws are the original videos, without any subtitles, usually acquired from a Blu-ray, DVD or TV source.

Translators: they translate the dialogues. The knowledge of Japanese language is not always required: lots of fansub groups translate into their own language from English subtitles.

Timers: they are concerned with timing. This process consists in synchronizing the time of appearance and the duration of every subtitle line to the original audio.

Typesetters: they take care of the graphic styles of the tests. They have to choose the font, the color, the size and the position of subtitles.

Karaokers: they are responsible for the creation of karaoke effects for the opening and the ending songs of every episode.

Quality checkers: their task is to revise the translation, and to make it more fluent and enjoyable.

Encoders: they are those who, using specific computer programs, combine raw and subtitles, creating the subtitled version of the video.

Upper: they upload the final video on the Internet using some uploading websites.

Sometimes each role is played by a different person, but this is not necessary: the same person may have more than one role.

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