I gave my final design an egg shape and replaced my previous design’s luscious locks with moss, but kept the face relatively the same.


Although inspired by the look of trolls, I don’t think my character fits the description of one enough to merit being called a ‘troll’. Trolls are steeped in highly established folklore history- my character is much too small small and friendly, and there are other aspects of the characterisation of trolls that I do not want to include in my character.

I decided to research gnomes to see if he could fall under that category. Gnomes are far less defined characteristically, but seem to typically be diminutive forest dwelling creatures that live underground. Specific attributes are often redefined in various interpretations. Most depictions (including the most famous Garden Gnome) are of gnomes resembling little old men.

The Secret Book of Gnomes by Will Hugyen, Illustrated by Rien Poortvliet depicts gnomes that look like traditional Garden Gnomes, and describes their lives in detail; from courtship to marriage to how they build their tiny underground houses. I love the way the gnomes are depicted as living in harmony with nature; delivering first aid to the creatures of the forest, and their kindly craggy faces.

Rien Poortvliet


I want to include some of these attributes in my interpretation of Gnomes. My gnomes don’t have any limbs; they move around by rolling. Most of their egg shaped bodies is covered in a fur that closely resembles a blanket of moss. I like the idea that the saying ‘a rolling stone gathers no moss’ began as a warning against gnomes- if you see a rolling stone that is covered in what appears to be moss, it’s probably a gnome. WATCH OUT. They live in small groups in underground burrows, they are predominantly nocturnal and are not friendly towards humans. Their bites are poisonous and they have long powerful tongues used to pull leaves off low branches of plants; something between that of a giraffe and that of a frog.

This particular gnome is a bit of an anomaly. Somewhat dimwitted, he occasionally slips out of the burrow while the others are sleeping. He has gotten into trouble more than once because of his unwillingness to use his poisonous bite to defend himself. He loves nature and has various collections of oddities he has found during his furtive morning rolls. Pride of place is his collection of buttons and coins which he does not know the difference between.


It is pretty much impossible for my gnome to take photographs so my idea of having a series of photos taken by my main character is out the window. However I still like the idea of physically making him and displaying a narrative through photography.


I came across this article about Pjotr Sapegin’s stop-motion animation The Last Norwegian Troll on animationmagazine.net– http://www.animationmagazine.net/features/the-last-of-his-kind


I loved the look of his puppets and I thought it would be a great idea to make a model of my final character that I could use in my final photographs; have my character take some selfies or have him in the background of some of the shots.

I did some preliminary character sketches based on my research. I gave them a basic bullet shape and focused on the facial features, leaving the body almost entirely formless.


None of these initial sketches quite had the personality I wanted to portray; a younger, friendlier creature. I most liked the facial features of my 5th sketch, particularly the long nose which would make for an interesting profile. I decided to forgo the facial hair and keep the lopsided grin with the irregular tombstone teeth.


I really like this design, particularly his face; he looks young and friendly. I like the idea that his limbs are completely concealed or maybe he doesn’t have any at all and just rolls around. I might make the most of this and make his shape more rounded. I do however feel that he looks far too clean for a creature living in a cave or a hole in the ground and I don’t think he would be that camouflaged in the forest. I think in my next redesign I will change the hair to something like hay or moss.

My first thoughts when thinking of creating a wood dwelling fictional character were of Radagast the Brown.

I really loved the look of Radagast in the recent adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit movie, so in tune with nature that he almost looks like a part of the forest himself; a bird has even nested in his hair and excreted down the side of his face. I would like my character to be less humanoid than Radagast. I like the idea of my character being a part of the forest, heavily camouflaged and a natural part of the ecosystem- something that humans are not yet aware of.

I started to look at various representations of trolls as, in most folklore, they fit pretty well into my idea of a creature that humans are unaware of, lives in the woods and can sometimes literally comprise the landscape, as they turn to stone when exposed to the sun. In Scandinavia notable landmarks are sometimes said to actually be trolls that have been petrified. This research led me to John Bauer’s beautiful illustrations. I love the character in his trolls’ faces, how kindly they look, and their bodies look like a part of their own terrain. I also love the long and/or bulbous noses and cragged faces.


I like the idea of my character being mostly formless; maybe due to the fact that his body is covered in hair or some kind of fauna. This would also make it easier for him to be mistaken for part of a rock formation or some other part of his habitat.

When I read in the brief that we were to present our characters via a blog, it started me thinking about how well personality can be presented through blogs and other forms of social networking. Sites like Instagram allow users to present our lives, our likes and dislikes to an audience on an entirely visual platform.

This gave me the idea of creating a character and literally showing people the world from his/her perspective through a series of photographs ostensibly taken by the character themselves.

I wanted to create a non-human character to more dramatically demonstrate the difference in perspective; a character with drastically different lifestyle. I decided to make a character that lived in the woods or somebodies garden, somewhere where he could conceivably have found a lost camera or smartphone.

I have been so excited to be working on this summer project before I start at Kingston, mostly because it’s given me SOMETHING TO DO but also because it’s all about characterisation.

We’ve been given The Pickwick Papers as a starting point; famous for its host of distinct and memorable characters and been asked to create a comprehensive character of our own and demonstrate their interests and personality through a short narrative.

I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of Dickens. I’ve always found his lengthy and incredibly detailed description of his characters somewhat jarring, often leaving me (after several pages describing the precise angle of his nostrils) with a static, incredibly structured image floating almost disembodied in a much less developed environment. I prefer it in literature if I am allowed a little bit of control over the visuals.

Looking through various illustrations, I find it interesting how few differences there are between different artists’ interpretations of Dickens’ characters. Despite having such humorous and exaggerated features, his characters have such depth of personality and decisive appearance that they could be real people; the illustrations could be actual portraiture.


Mr Pickwick by Hablot Knight Browne
Mr Pickwick by Joseph Clayton Clarke


Mr Pickwick by Robert Seymour